When I read what is being applauded in the US House of Representatives as great legislation, I have to wonder when we became a nation of such meanness. It's not the way I was brought up to believe in America. I was raised to believe that America was a nation of endless possibilities that was founded on a belief in the common good; a nation that cared for its citizens and worked to see that the rising tide raised all boats. It just made sense. Leaving no one behind made us a stronger and better place. It's why, I was taught, everyone wanted to come to America. You were free to pursue your dreams and you had a government you didn't have to fear because it was by, for and about the people.
Now that the Supremes have managed to stretch the definition of people to include corporations, we seem to have carried the idea of caring for people to whole new heights. In a world in which you now need to be a multi billionaire to make Fortune 500's richest people list, our House of Representatives has done its best to make sure that no one takes even one red cent from them, while making major cuts in the Food Stamp program.
The House is the same group that fights any attempt to raise the minimum wage on the theory that every extra cent you make will deprive some corporate CEO of his or her second yacht. The fact that by keeping the minimum wage so minimum you also keep working families from being able to afford both heat and food doesn't enter their equation. If you can't afford food when you are working full time, you simply aren't budgeting your money properly. You're probably blowing it on silly things like dental care or electricity. And really, why do you need electricity unless you are just wasting it playing video games on your 94 inch TV set that you bought on that minimum wage.
I understand that America is in debt. I understand that we must get our financial house in order if we are to leave a country to future generations that isn't in hock for the next millennia. What I don't understand is a mentality that seems to feel the only people who should pay the price for the mistakes of multiple administrations and congresses, to say nothing of the greed of Wall Street, should be people who can least afford it - people who, if cut off from food stamps, may have to start living in their cars because they can no longer pay rent if they want to feed their children. These are our working poor, people one step away from complete destitution even though they are often working multiple jobs to meet their basic needs.
But the same House that wants to cut millions from food stamps screams like banshees if you even whisper the idea of taxing the uber rich. These are, after all, their benefactors, the people who put them in office and keep them there. They can hardly be expected to turn around and bite the hands that feed them. And they certainly can't let the hungry poor get anyway near those hands for fear they will see nothing more than a protein fix.
We have unaccounted billions of dollars lost on pallets that were sent overseas in small denominations to support countries that actively hate us. Our money did not, surprisingly, buy us the love we so financially sought. Wall Street crashed the savings and future of millions of Americans and no one is being held accountable. Much to the contrary, America's richest 1% is the group most benefitting from the grindingly slow economic recovery we keep getting told is happening. The rich get richer but the poor are apparently not getting poorer at a fast enough rate for our House of Representatives. So they cut food stamps to hasten the process.
Am I the only one who gets the feeling that the only people the House represents is that newly defined class of people called corporations? And if corporations are people, when is it going to be their turn to have the family over for the holiday meal?
It's been said before and it bears saying again. Throw the bums out!
Elise Patkotak's latest book, "Coming Into the City," is available at alaskacalendarsandbooks.com and at local bookstores.
By ELISE PATKOTAK