Sunday, October 2, 2011

Compassionate Conservative is an Oxymoron

The Republicans and their Tea Party supporters want to turn back the hands of time.

They must remember a different past than I do.

The world that existed from the beginning of the industrial revolution until the great depression had no child labor laws and no minimum wage. Employers could force you to work seven days a week with long hours and with no additional compensation. Forgotten, now, are the days of company towns where employees were little more than indentured servants. Employees who protested against their working conditions had to battle the scabs the strike breakers as well as the local police.

Back then the elderly and disabled were dependent on children or family and the charity extended by doctors and hospitals if they were to survive.

All of these problems and many more were overcome by our government. But perhaps even the Tea Party appreciates Social Security, Medicare, child labor laws, minimum wage and hour laws, collective bargaining and workplace safety. They may only want to go back to the 50’s and 60’s, a time I can remember...

I lived in New Jersey then.

On most days you weren’t able to see across the Delaware River because of the smog. When you drove across the Walt Whitman Bridge you had to roll up your windows and hold your breath because of the smoke and fumes being generated by the businesses below. You couldn’t swim in the bays behind the resort islands along the Jersey shore because of pollution. A good way to commit suicide was by eating a clam or an oyster.

During tourist season you closed your windows to reduce the smell from a nearby sewage plant and to prevent smoke and soot generated by a nearby electric power plant.

Many of you out there must remember the cancers caused by living near Love Canal. We still see the deformed people which resulted from the use of thalidomide.

All of these problems were created by private enterprise and were fixed or reduced by the government: by the Clean Air and Water acts, the Super Fund Act, and increased efforts to make sure medicine doesn’t do more harm than good.

Again... I have to believe that members of the Tea Party appreciate clean air and water and might want to make sure it stays that way. Perhaps the Tea Partiers want to reduce the size of the FBI, the DEA, Customs, the TSA and all the other federal agencies that do their best to make us safe. Or perhaps they want to reduce the budget for the Energy Department which is responsible for overseeing our nuclear material both for military and private use and oversees almost all basic research done in this country?

It is hard to believe they might want to reduce our investment in education at a time when we are trying to catch up to the education provided by other countries.

While I believe we could reduce spending on our military, the Tea Partiers don’t seem to be the type of people who would agree to that.

Perhaps we could stop maintaining our highways and bridges or our national parks? (Some people say we already have)

Tea Partiers would like to cut foreign aid and our contribution to the UN, although this would greatly affect our status in the world and the savings would be minimal.

Maybe they would like to cut funds available to fix the damage caused by hurricanes earthquakes and tornadoes. (They just tried that). Perhaps they could cut funds for the National Institute of Health! People can just do without those studies of the next drug to combat cancer and other diseases or to fight the next flu virus, right?

All of these expenditures benefit both conservatives and liberals and therefore I doubt if they want to seriously reduce or abolish them.

I am afraid that they are aiming at our safety net which exists to help and protect the poor, programs like food stamps, unemployment insurance or Medicaid. I also believe that these programs are what make this a benevolent, caring and civilized society. Apparently that belief is not shared by conservatives.

I was shocked when a question addressed to Governor Perry during the recent debate which noted that during his tenure over 200 prison inmates had been executed, received a loud ovation from his audience. I was even more shocked when Congressman Paul's reluctant admission that the man in the hospital who couldn’t afford medical care would be left to die also received loud and enthusiastic applause.

Congressman Boehner said when he ended the discussions which were an attempt to reduce the deficit, that there is a large philosophical difference between him and the President. I am proud to say that there is a large philosophical divide between me and the conservatives attending that debate.

Perhaps we could find a better way to bring our budget deficit under control. Perhaps increasing taxes and eliminating tax breaks for special interests combined with thoughtful cuts to spending would work. I hope that most Americans recognize that this is the only way forward.


  1. I remember the atmospheric change that happened to philly between the 70s and 80s. I remember not being able to see, or breathe, when crossing that bridge.

    Now, it's always clear... but I note, few factories are steaming, or operational, anymore, in that city - as we offshored many of the pollution causing jobs during this period, rather than clean up the emissions, the factories shut down.

  2. We need more of this from people who have actually lived through the time the Tea Partiers & Neo-con's want to return us to. If you believe their double-mouthed-backward-talk, it's the Demoncrats that are responsible for every problem we face. Fear sells. I don't buy it, it doesn't add up. What I see is lies, half truths, & deflection of blame in the interest of winning for campaign donors rather than governing for the rest of us. In the last 30 years, the Democrats have had control of both houses of Congress and the White House for a total of 4. The first 2 years of Clinton, and the first 2 years of Obama. There is clearly a blame game going on and A healthy dose of perspective is sorely needed. Keep it up.