Tuesday, May 09, 2006


An acquaintance of mine, an avid Republican who considers me a Pinko Liberal Communistic Dingbat told me that the gist of the rightwing philosophy is that a man be able to “enjoy and keep the fruits of his labors” as he claims the Founding Fathers intended.

Republicans talk a lot about Founding Fathers. They never talk about Founding Mothers. I guess the women were so busy giving birth to little Pilgrims back then they didn’t have time to found anything. That has been the plight of women through the ages, and a plight the Republicans strongly approve. These women Rush Limbaugh call “FemiNazis” have the temerity to have brains and declare a type of independence. Imagine that!

But, in researching those stalwart Founding fellows, I can tell you they were not Republicans. The majority of them were rather liberal, and although most of them called themselves Christian, some weren’t, and other than one minister, they weren’t zealots about religion.

Jefferson was the intellectual, but his personal life would not have pleased the Christian Right. He did have children with his beloved black slave. What a scandal that would have been! It would have kept Ken Starr on the payroll for another few years.

George Washington, the first president, was a charismatic farmer turned warrior who definitely believed in equal rights for all and whose soldiers gave him a loyalty that nearly brought them to starvation. He was a big, blonde giant of a man, I understand, one of those people who enter a room and command attention. I wish I had known both of these men. I might have learned something!

The Fruits of my Labors have seemed to disappear before I could enjoy them, what with car payments and shoes for the kids. In fact, one might say the only Fruits I was left with are my children and grandchildren, and sometimes I wish my orchard had been less fruitful, especially on birthdays and on Christmas.

But my acquaintance was not talking about progeny at all. He was talking about taxes and this has been the true inspiration for the Rightwing movement, taxes and a fire-in-the-gut hatred for Bill Clinton which they continue to this day.

I’m not fond of taxes, but I am also irritated by snow-piled streets, bumpy dirt roads, and houses burning down because of inadequate firefighting equipment. The thing is, some taxes are a necessity, like toilet paper. No one likes to spend money on toilet paper, but they must. When I was a girl, my mother saved catalogs and newspapers for use in the outhouse. Unfortunately, these won’t flush…..and if you have ever lived through a bathroom flood, you will know what I mean, a wretched calamity we have all endured. So we pay taxes and life goes on.

The Republicans, who call themselves conservatives but seem to spend money as though they are enjoying a daily plush Golf outing with Tom DeLay, do not seem to complain about the money spent on the War, but have fixed their gimlet eyes on the money doled out to what they describe as the “lazy poor.”

Now this is a low blow. Having been poor, I can say that most of them are not lazy. True, some are alcoholic. True, some are addicts. But the majority of poor people are proud. They are so proud that the idea of Faith Based Charity and asking church members for help in a crisis would cause them to balk. Our country is filled with old folks too proud to ask someone to give them a can of tuna. Allowing neighbors to know of their needs would cause poor people to starve before making the request.

Throughout the years on the Farm, when our livelihood depended upon the corn crop grown on a gravel pit and the money my brothers could spare, my mother kept up her sense of pride. No neighbor of ours ever knew that pantry was empty . If the kids went barefoot, it was because they enjoyed it, not because their shoes were ragged and worn. Pride was a fragile, but wonderful thing. It kept our family intact, our sense of worth a tangible thing, and our vision of the future hopeful.

Surely poor people in what is described as the Richest Country in the World can get help without enduring humiliation or embarassment.

Government is impersonal. Government does not maintain an attitude of superiority while giving a person a helping hand. Government does not feel a sense of achievement. It is simply a check arriving in the mail from an anonymous source. The person receiving this help need not feel shame, need not worry that the neighbors will talk…..because it is a helping hand extended by everyone, the entire country, to those in need. And no one need know the desperate straits you are in.

This is why I do not like Faith-Based Charity. I do not like the attitude of Do-Gooders, smiling and helpful, but faintly condescending, assured of their own comfort, their own safety and getting a faint sense of satisfaction that others are not that fortunate.

Welfare programs should not be endless. But this reminds me of two young men I did stories about before I retired. We'll call one of them Ben, the other Bob. Ben had an IQ of 38. Bob had a little more sense. His IQ lingered at about 40. Neither could read, write or tell time, and no amount of instruction could penetrate the fog that fate and bad genes had cast upon them. Ben spent some time in jail, for he was caught breaking into a school, going into the library and looking at the pictures in the vast array of books there.

Both Ben and Bob had volatile tempers and could be set off at a moment's notice. They fought over petty arguments that most people would walk away from. And despite the number of shelters that had tried to help them, neither of them had any concept of day or night, morning or evening, right or wrong.

Neither could hold a job more than a day or two. They either didn't show up, didn't do the work correctly, or got into a fight.

It seems the Republicans are going through some kind of epiphany, where they envision a stern, strict world filled with rules of behavior outlined by themselves, and aimed at the Po Fokes, while the richer ones are left to enjoy the parties. What they would do with the Bens and Bobs of this world is beyond me. Perhaps leave them to starve. And there are thousands of them!

I can tell you right now I don’t know what to do with people who are on the bottom rung of the ladder. Who does? What does one do with the Homeless, the Addicted, the Neglectful, the Unfortunate, the Mentally Challenged? Will the Republican Way be successful? Is it better to give up Social Security and let people fend for themselves? Is it better to forget Medicare and let the Elderly fade away, with or without medical attention? Will this Ayn Rand philosophy make things better? By cutting off help, will these derelicts go to work, will the Addicted become clean, the Homeless find shelter, the Neglectful gain good habits, the Unfortunate find patches of marvelous good luck? Will Ben and Bob become successful Nine to Fivers?

Danged if I know! But drifting down to Third World status, with beggars on the streets asking for crusts of bread, sick people moaning on the sidewalks, dying in the trash bins, women feeding their kids by working as prostitutes, old folks stuck in back bedrooms, hordes of hungry people fighting for food, stealing for it, killing for it…..is not my idea of what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

But maybe I’m just a Pinko Liberal Communistic Dingbat!