The Punishment Posse

Compassion from the right is in short supply these days, in spite of the fact that compassion is an essential element of the Christian religion, and virtually all conservatives proudly profess their Christian faith. Instead, the prevailing emotion is anger. You can see this inchoate resentment in the tight lips of Tea Party faces. Republicans are doing their best to harness it. The targets they have chosen are the poor and the liberal.

In a way it is understandable that people are angry. Their future is threatened, their homes and jobs are threatened, and they think they need to blame someone. But they don’t seem to be able to figure out just why it is that the country is in such a mess. It’s so much easier to believe the preacher who says it’s all because of the gays and abortion, the sheriff who blames the Mexicans and parents, the mayor who blames teachers and welfare bums, the politician who says its all the fault of the liberals.

And so, instead of directly addressing the unemployment problems that cascaded from the failure of conservative policy and the unregulated greed of Wall Street, we are instead doing our best to destroy the social safety net that protects the less fortunate from personal disaster. The goal at the national level is to destroy Social Security and any sort of health care program, along with any other program some Republican has deemed a waste of money because he doesn’t understand it. At the state level the goal is to destroy all public labor unions and have everyone carry a gun. At the local level the goal is to destroy programs that provide things like medication for the mentally ill, and emergency housing for the desperate.

Name calling is rampant. Teachers, all teachers, are lazy, incompetent, spoiled, worthless baby sitters, wasting time until pension. Women who seek abortions are criminals, as are health care workers who serve them. Unions, particularly teachers’ unions and other public sector unions, are considered the real cause of state and local budget problems. People with an education are considered out of touch with reality, people whose real goal is to establish communism.

The larger goal is to punish those that conservatives have come to believe are the cause of it all. Their anger falls especially heavy on the poor, those who have essentially no representation in the legislative halls, who live from day to day with too little. There is a large element of racism in this. Some politicians have gone on record as believing that people of color, that is, people who do not look and behave exactly the same as they do, have no ambition beyond laying about and living off the taxpayers’ money.

Thus, the Arizona state legislature wasted the last hours they could have changed one word, “two”, to another word, “three”, that would have extended unemployment benefits an additional year to those who have been unable to find work, because they are presumed to be lazy. And what did the legislature do instead? They debated which should be the official state weapon.

Michigan proudly passed a law that will make it legal for any person to carry a concealed weapon, and Georgia worked on making it legal to carry a loaded gun to class.

The common goal of all these people is punishment. Punishment for the worker whose pay is too little to live on. Punishment for middle class people who daily work at jobs that they know and do well. Punishment for the disabled, the ill, the aged.

I think there may be better ways. Just my opinion.


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