The only problem I have with this...

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The only problem I have with this...

Post by T on Sun Nov 08, 2015 8:30 am, Mr Slavick's time and effort is wasted as Tea Partiers are too dumb to understand what he has to say.


Humanity indifferent to suffering

by William Slavick


The sad, embarrassing state of Maine governance is not just Paul LePage’s bullying demonization of the poor, jobless, disabled, ill and aged, lest any have it easier than he did. Nor is it his appeal to those who would pay lower taxes and short the common good.

If the people of Maine really saw themselves as “the way life ought to be,” LePage would have been run out of Augusta his second day there, when he told the widely-esteemed NAACP, serving the continued victims of slavery, to “kiss my butt.”

Instead, after four years of his arrogant abuse, close to a majority re-elected him. So we share culpability for his murderous denial of health insurance to 70,000, for callous dismissal of refugees from the horrors of African genocide, lost solar jobs, squandered millions looking for minuscule welfare fraud, petulant vetoes, and for his criminal abuse of his office to deny Good Will-Hinckley leadership chosen through a legitimate search. The last may be his undoing, not ours.

How has Maine become a laughingstock?

LePage became governor through a perfect storm of circumstance — tea party champion in a crowded primary and winning election despite independent candidates getting more votes. Actually, he is much like current presidential candidates who share his strong disaffection for our constitutional obligation to “promote the general welfare,” vying to outdo Trump’s boastful indifference to others.

How have we, as state and country, come to this pass?

The Great Depression precipitated decades of government commitment to serving the common good exemplified by the Social Security Act, TVA, labor legislation, interstate highway system, Medicare and Medicaid, the G.I. Bill. The middle class grew; poverty shrank from 31 percent in 1949 to 12.4 in 1979.

Then corporations unhappy with modest profits campaigned to disempower unions, reduce business taxes, regulations, and government. Enter Karl Rove to drown society’s skeleton. Reagan’s hero, Margaret Thatcher, dismissed society altogether: the individual is all.

Civil Rights marches, Vietnam, Central American repression, and the abortion liberty served as distractions as corporate mass media turned the populace into mindless consumers absorbed in spectacle and a self-centered culture hostile to welfare, taxes, and government. Washington, in turn, became mired in military extravagance, waste and adventuring.

Since our gratuitous mass slaughters in Hiroshima, Dresden, and other cities, American exceptionalism and dominance have airbrushed the millions we have killed, maimed, poisoned and starved. We lose no sleep over Iraqi dead, oppressed Palestinians and Syrian terror. War, torture, assassinations, destruction of whole countries and our indifference have become routine. The Red Sox, Patriots, Star Trek, the Kardashians matter. Disenfranchising voters, destroying K-12 education and unions, and shredding the safety net do not.

Privilege reins. Economic stability has been sacrificed without a whimper. Arbitrary government spending ceilings casually abandon the poor — especially children. Affordable Care opt-outs kill many thousands. Billionaire Charles Koch would abandon the minimum wage. Income inequality grows. Everything is commodified. The planet can fry to serve profit. No one is accountable.

As Henry A. Giroux observes: “A politics of inequality and ruthless power disparities is now matched by a culture of cruelty defined by the slow violence of debt, impoverishment, wartime military recruitment, criminalization, incarceration and silent misery.” Structural impoverishment and exclusion are acceptable.

The new barbarism is authoritarian. Government is bought, science denied, whistle-blowers jailed, ignorance licensed, thought discredited. The young, feared dangerous in their dashed hopes, are controlled. Prison population is up 600 percent. Militarized police shoot first and crush protest. We subvert democracies everywhere, with arms and violence.

It is very late to recover our humanity, which is social and caring. As Pope Francis is arguing powerfully, humanity is the basis for restoring public values, justice and accountability.

That recovery requires understanding the coercive shaping of culture today — new political parties, protests and education directed to critical thought, justice and democracy. We must figure anew how to govern to overcome authoritarianism and the paralysis of fear; how to become community again.

LePage is merely the ready instrument of the new barbarism, our failed, abandoned, citizenship. We must confess our guilt and assume responsibility — study, organize and act to restore a human social order — to complete and move beyond our stiff and seemingly endless penance for electing him.

SJ Link


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