By Clyde Ussery
Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner, said it is a good thing to rescue people from drowning, but we need to send someone upstream to see who is throwing them in. The 1.3 million Americans who are out of work and have lost their unemployment benefits may not know who threw them in the river, but I am pretty sure they know who is holding their heads under the water.
One of the reasons Republicans use for not renewing long-term unemployment insurance is that their focus is “on employment, not unemployment.” Eric Cantor whines that Senate Democrats have blocked dozens of House-passed job bills. The bills they are sending to the Senate are not “jobs bills,” they are all about deregulating the financial industry, pulling the teeth of the Environmental Protection Agency, and lowering taxes on the rich.
Good example: the Republicans offered to pass the unemployment benefits extension if Senate Democrats would pass a bill gutting the federal hazardous-waste cleanup law. While they are pushing that bit of insanity, West Virginia is under a state of emergency due to a chemical spill along Elk River in Charleston. Businesses are closed, and 300,000 residents in the area have been warned not to drink, bathe, cook, or wash clothes using their tap water.
Another reason Republicans give for not extending unemployment benefits is that it will discourage people from looking for jobs. A large percentage of American citizens are constantly being humiliated and insulted as being “takers” by the people who are supposed to represent them. The super-wealthy who own our lawmakers worship money, and they have nothing but contempt for people whose reality is very different than theirs. And kicking people who are less privileged is obviously considered a smart career move by Republican politicians.
Sure, there will always be some who will game the system. For instance there is Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Agriculture, and the list goes on. The lesson here is that if you cheat, cheat on a grand scale and be celebrated as a “job creator.” The penny-ante stuff will only get you a room at the Correctional Corporation Hilton.
The decisions Congress makes affect our lives every day. That is why it is so important in the upcoming elections to separate the BS from the real issues. Americans are often manipulated; the lies and nonsense we hear repeated constantly become truth. That is the conservative game plan.
It isn’t easy to be optimistic when we have a Congress that is like a bunch of knot-heads who have hijacked a plane and don’t know how to fly it. But I am big on hope. I have little patience with people who always act like we are doomed, like we’ll be hit with floods and pestilence or the second coming of prohibition at any minute, and there is nothing we can do about it. I have hope because I remember when this was a can-do nation. And, I believe there are still people who believe that compassion, tolerance and human dignity trump the worship of money.
We have problems. We can fix them.
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This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at email@example.com.