It hit me that the complaint from Conservatives about taxes is partly a complaint by them that their tax dollars are paying for the poor to live off their hard-earned money.
Duh. For the longest time, I was thinking that the resistance against paying higher taxes was just because they want to hold onto more of their money, as do we all.
But a columnist, Brion McClanahan, wrote in The Daily Caller an article which expressed his, and, I would suppose many others’, resentment that people on government assistance are living high on the hog off the backs of “hard working tax payers.”
These are fine examples of what many Americans witness on a regular basis. The other day, while my family and I were waiting in a check-out line at Wal-Mart, I noticed that the woman checking out in front of us was texting on her $200 cell phone (which probably costs at least $100 a month in service fees and may have been paid for by the government as well) and holding what my wife says was a $100 designer purse, with a stack of junk food, beer and cigarettes on the belt behind a line of subsistence products like milk, cheese, cereal and meat.
People pay for “necessary” items with their EBT government debit cards and then use cash for their smokes, beer and munchies. Yet, I have to fork over my hard-earned dollars for every item in my cart (and in essence theirs as well, since I pay taxes while they probably get “refunds” every April). Something is wrong here. Why is the average taxpayer both screwed by the system and forced to watch his tax dollars being wasted on people who abuse the system?
He goes on to suggest that people on government assistance ought to lose their right to vote, ought to be limited to shopping in government-run stores that have less than quality merchandise, and not be allowed to shop in major food stores or drug chains. Everything they would have access to would be blatantly tagged as being provided by the “government.” People on government assistance are “slaves” to the government, and ought to be treated as such.
After I caught my breath, it hit me that what this man wrote is probably the foundation of the cry against new taxes. The belief by many is that only the poor abuse the system and siphon tax dollars away from “honest tax payers.” There is not this kind of resentment for the rich who also take advantage of the system, at the expense, again, of “hard-working Americans.” The double standard is amazing. The difference between what those rich or poor intent of taking advantage of the system is that what the poor do seems to be more readily visible to ordinary Americans, while the abuse of the system done by the rich is more sophisticated and is blanketed by their ability to use their wealth and status to their advantage.
I wonder if Brion McClanahan is aware of the peonage system used by people in this country for years after the Civil War, where African-Americans, and some others from other races who were poor enough, were blatantly exploited by the rich and the wanna-be-rich, who wanted to make money and did so off the backs and labor of people they barely paid. It’s recorded; McClanahan should read Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackmon. It’s all there, what was done in this country. Should those people who so exploited others have been vilified? Should they have lost their voting rights?
Ah, no…because they were not “slaves of the government.” They made slaves of others with the consent of the government. Now I get it. Now, I finally get it.
Thanks to McClanahan’s article, I will never hear the complaint against higher taxes the same again. The complaint is rooted in resentment that we in America don’t want to be our brothers’ keepers.’ Higher taxes, for many, merely means that we are paying into a social system that creates “lazy” Americans, and dag nammit, we don’t like that! We would rather they pull themselves up by their bootstraps, even if our government has taken their boots from them.
I listen to and read a lot of history; it is fascinating to me, but it also helps me see the world with a little clearer lens.
And one of the things I am seeing more clearly is the horror of war. Veterans come home with memories burned into their souls, as one veteran said, and they never go away.
What shook me was a documentary on the Civil War I was watching. Yes, we know that there was a bad war and people died, but the depth of the horror, and the breadth, eludes us. When I heard the narrator describe how it was bad for people in the Civil War to be killed, but even worse for them to be taken to a hospital, I shuddered.
There was no sterile technique. There was no anesthesia, or if there was, it was highly ineffective. Doctors didn’t wash their hands between taking care of different patients. Men were as likely to die from painful infection as they were from actually being shot.
Bodies of dead soldiers were left in the fields in the Civil War; even in the World Wars, dead bodies and horses often lay in fields, rotting in the sun. In World War I, I read that soldiers often stood for days in the trenches in water, so long that their skin began to come off their feet. In World War II, men often wore shoes that did not fit. In the Civil War, African-American soldiers often had no shoes at all.
The more I read about war, the more I shudder. We so romanticize it. What did Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like after the atomic bombs were dropped? A witness who was there said that the people were screaming, little children wailing, saying, “It’s hot! It’s hot!” Some of the people were so badly burned that this witness, a reporter and photographer, said he could not tell who was male and who was female. One account I read contained this description:
“A huge fireball formed in the sky. Directly beneath it is Matsuyama township. Together with the flash came the heat rays and blast, which instantly destroyed everything on earth, and those in the area fell unconscious and were crushed to death. Then they were blown up in the air and hurled back to the ground. The roaring flames burned those caught under the structures who were crying or groaning for help. When the fire burnt itself out, there appeared a completely changed, vast, colorless world that made you think it was the end of life on earth. In a heap of ashes lay the debris of the disaster and charred trees, presenting a gruesome scene. The whole city became extinct. Citizens who were in Matsuyama township, the hypocenter, were all killed instantly, excepting a child who was in an air-raid shelter.” (http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html)
We are quick to talk about the “bravery” of the men and women who fight in these wars, but we at home really have no idea. We hear wonderful, patriotic music; we see men and women in uniform and say we are proud of them…but what they have seen, we cannot even begin to imagine. It is easier to see a returning soldier hug and kiss his girlfriend than it is to take the time to read about and study what war does.
As war rages in Syria and in other places in the world, I shudder. I shudder to think that there are people, in quest of power, who want a war; they think, I suppose, that war is a sign of strength, but all it is is an exercise in human cruelty. GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich criticized President Barack Obama because he apologized for the fact that Korans were burned in Afghanistan. Better an apology, a sign of respect for other people, than an arrogance which only feeds those hungry for war. The leaders of Pakistan and Iran seem to be hungry for war. It’s a scary thought.
The more I read, the more I want and need to read. It makes me wonder what this nation, this world, would be like if there had never been wars. It would seem that, given the horror of war, we in this country and in the world have a lot of men and women who are mentally ill, stressed beyond repair from the ravages of war and the horror they have seen. Post-traumatic stress syndrome might be causing post-war problems in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. We don’t come close to honoring and taking care of these men and women, our veterans, who have seen what no human eyes ought to see.
That cannot be a good thing. War is not something to be romanticized. War is to be hated and avoided.