Posts Tagged With: gay marriage

MINOR MIRACLES

Sometimes, in the affairs of mankind, it will come to pass that flickers of human decency and just plain common sense will shine through in the most unexpected places. For example, a few weeks back, the state of Nebraska, a solidly red state, voted to repeal its capital punishment laws. The Republican governor actually vetoed the new legislation, but a heavily dominated Republican legislature overrode his veto. Thus, this relic of biblical times, (an eye for an eye type mentality) where the state is allowed to legally commit murder in the name of vengeance, now exists in one less place. Also about that time, Ireland, a heavily Catholic country, voted, in a public election, to overwhelmingly approve gay marriage throughout the land, much to the chagrin of its Catholic clergy. While states in this country, mostly in the South and West, still battle furiously to deny such unions. As I said, just small flickers of light in an otherwise dismal landscape.

Here in Nevada, where I reside these days, another minor miracle has also recently occurred. When the Republican dominated state legislature convened in January, our Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, was actually and actively promoting tax increases, mostly on businesses, in an attempt to remedy the state’s deplorable public education system. Nevada’s public school system, year-after-year, indeed, decade-after-decade, has consistently been ranked between 45th-50th place in quality of performance. In short, Nevada public schools are among the worst in the nation. To fix this, Sandoval is seeking more tax money to pour into public education in hopes that its rankings will dramatically improve. Of course, he wouldn’t dare call for personal income tax increases, which would invoke howls of protests from his fellow Republicans in the legislature, as well as from the public at large. So he sought increased business taxes, which, as everyone knows, is eventually paid for by ordinary citizens, since all businesses pass on their costs in the price of the goods or services they provide.  As it was, there was strong protest among many GOP state legislators at the thought of raising any taxes at all. But Sandoval eked out a narrow victory with enough Republicans joining the handful of Democrats left in the legislature to enact the new statutes.

Predictably, the far right fossils entrenched in the state of Nevada, screamed about the heresy of Republicans raising taxes. Aren’t Democrats the only ones supposed to do that? The dreary rag in Las Vegas that laughingly calls itself a newspaper, couldn’t get over this Republican betrayal. Continuing editorials, as well letters-to-the-editor from known right-wing looney-tuners continually denounced the tax increase and referred to Sandoval and his cohorts as RHINOs, (Republican in name only), who had, indeed, drank the kool-aid. They had absolutely violated the free-lunch-counter mantra of government, established during the Ronald Reagan era in the 1980s.

I have written before about the free lunch counter mentality among Americans, but it’s worth repeating because this mentality is still alive and well in today’s society. It first started during the great Depression of the 1930s. Just about everyone was broke and especially hard hit were bars serving alcohol. After all, who could afford to spend what little money they had on drinks in a bar. So these bars, desperate for business, established what came to be known as the free lunch counter. For the price of a nickel or dime beer, one was allowed to migrate over to the free lunch counter and avail themselves of free food. One can only imagine about the quality of this food, available for purchasing a really cheap beer, or similar spirits. When the Depression ended, the free lunch counters also disappeared, but the thought processes behind this concept remained alive and well.

When Ronald Reagan became president in 1980, he kicked the free lunch counter concept into high gear. Reagan  was supposedly a fiscal conservative bent on cost-cutting throughout his administration. In actuality, however, Reagan spent like a drunken sailor, and the U.S. budget deficit mushroomed beyond belief. The accumulated budget deficit from the George Washington thru Jimmy Carter administrations totaled just under one trillion dollars when Reagan first took office. In the following 12 years under Reagan and Bush the Elder, the deficit ballooned to to $4 trillion, a 300% increase. Reagan was given his conservative chops because he supposedly trimmed social programs, mostly around the edges. But when it came to Defense, Reagan spent like there was no tomorrow on military hardware and troop increases, in order to do battle with the old USSR during the cold war. ( I guess the theory was that military spending would be funded by the money tree that grows in the Pentagon courtyard.) At the same time, Reagan pushed through a slew of tax cuts, mainly for the rich, which further exploded the budget deficit. The free lunch concept was thereby firmly established. You want vastly expanded military hardware and forces, but you don’t want to pay for it all. No problem. Just gorge yourselves at the free lunch counter of deficit spending.

The budget deficit did moderate during the 8 years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. But it once again picked up steam during the Bush the Younger and Obama presidencies, and now stands at over $18 trillion. Remember, that 35 years ago it was only $1 trillion. Along the way, the GOP agenda, carved in stone, is that taxes can only go one way, and that’s down, especially for the rich. It must be because the food is so enticing at the free lunch counter. Obama did manage to squeeze through a very minor tax increase on the super-rich a few years back, but Republicans in Congress are still belly-aching about that. In any event, when a Republican governor in a mostly rural state does manage to achieve a tax increase with the help of members of his own party, one should consider this a minor miracle. In the meantime, I think I’ll have myself a sandwich down at the free lunch counter.

Categories: human affairs, politics, Ronald Reagan, the Depression | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

MORE SUMMER FOLLIES

I’ve written before about this being the summer of our discontent, with some very real problems, and some that are totally fabricated. On the real side, there’s a very severe drought gripping at least two-thirds of the country causing some serious pain to many of the nation’s farmers. Crops are withering on the vine, and a huge shortage of corn and other grains needed to feed animal livestock has developed. Prices are sure to surge dramatically in the ensuing months because of fruit and vegetable shortages, and the increasing costs to import food for farm animals. A real problem with no end in sight as the severe drought appears to be locking itself in with increasing intensity. Then there are the manufactured problems that a lot of people love to indulge in because they’re so much easier to attack as well as feed into people’s delusions.

Recently there has been a big kerfuffle over the fact that the president of a fast food chain has said on the radio words to the effect that we are incurring God’s wrath if we allow gay marriage in this country. The food chain is called Chick-fil-A and it’s major distinction is that it’s closed on Sundays in deference to God’s wishes. (I had never heard of them until this latest tizzy.) Now I wonder if the president of Chick-fil-A gets regular e-mails from God (or the invisible man, as George Carlin used to say) specifying exactly what God’s wishes are, and if he does, how come I never get these e-mails. Or maybe he gets a steady stream of tweets directly from God. Maybe my problem is that I don’t belong to Twitter, so I never get these proclamations. That must be it, since God never let me in on what His definition of marriage is, or why people of the same gender should be forbidden from such unions. My view is that homosexuals should be allowed to indulge in the same marriage sufferings as heterosexuals.

Of course what’s really in play here, is the fear among religious fanatics they if we don’t adhere to what their perceived notions are about how God wants us to behave, He will crush us like a bug. Also if we allow gay marriage, it’s tantamount to accepting homosexual behavior as a legitimate life-style. The bible-thumpers and those that are holier-than -thou can never accept that because in their minds, such behavior will always be sinful. It must be all laid out in those tweets I’m not getting on Twitter. So playing deftly to those fears, delusions and prejudices, a guy on Fox News (where else?) named Mike Huckabee, who used to be the governor of Arkansas when he had a real life,  declared that all right-minded thinking folks like him ought to show their support for Chick-fil-A by buying their greasy fried chicken, en masse, on August first. Sure enough, on August 1, thousands of people lined up at fast-food joints throughout the country in the summer heat to chow down some of Chick-fil-A’s artery-clogging offerings. There were reports of lines that were hours long to dine on fried chicken and other greasy, fast-food venues. But, a small price to pay to show their disapproval of what they considered a sinful life-style, and support someone willing to oppose such sin.

After all, gays are the perfect minority to scapegoat and demonize since they are supposedly less than 5 percent of the population. If they were, say, a quarter to a third of the population, I can assure you that politicians and corporate execs, including all the “family values” nut-cases would be falling all over themselves trying to curry favor with the gay community. Interestingly, in ancient Greece, historians estimate that nearly half the population was homosexual, which was considered on the same level as heterosexual behavior. The Chick-fil-A types would have undoubtably had a lot tougher time in that period.

In other fascinating summer news from looney-tunesville, the state of Texas just had a primary to fill the Senate seat of out-going Senator Kay Baily Hutchinson, a moderate conservative. The winner in the Republican primary normally has a lock on winning the general election, since the Democrats in that state are apparently too inept to be competitive. So the winner of the Republican primary was a far, far right-wing tea party favorite, who as one of his first actions after being sworn-in, has promised to do everything in his power to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA.) And why not. For example, those of you that have seen aerial photos of Pittsburgh in the 1950s, can remember seeing huge billows of toxic smoke belching forth from the steel mills that were dominant in that area during that period. It added such ambience to the scene. Now that EPA has come into existence, all those billows of smoke and particles are gone. If you take an aerial shot of Pittsburg today, all you see is plain ole blue sky. How disappointing. And have you noticed how bland the water tastes these days, since chemical companies have been prevented from spewing some of their toxic waste into local streams and rivers. Nothing like just the right amount of arsenic to spruce up the taste of the local water system.

But never fear, we will all be well protected. In Idaho, which along with Montana and Utah, is the paranoia capital of the country, a new militia has formed and they are armed to the hilt. They have weaponry that the Army is envious of, and they claim sovereignty from every form of existing government, especially from the Feds. With just the right-mixture of uber-nationalism, hate and defiance, they recognize no governmental jurisdiction over any of their activities. With Americans like these, marching through the western countryside, who needs enemies. And so the summer continues on, as all the nut-cases and haters have seemingly been given the green light to come slithering out from under their rocks, and display their craziness and delusions in the bright sunlight.

 

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