Who are we as a nation, a people? We claim to be a Christian/Judeo society with the values we learn from our religious beliefs and our belief in Democracy and its associated values. We claim and even expect a belief in God both for ourselves and our contemporaries. We or at least a vocal voting element want “In God We Trust” on our walls, the Ten Commandments mounted on our courthouse steps, yet these same people oppose Gay marriage and abortions. A small percentage of us actually attend church on a regular basis and even less can recite the Ten Commandments. Many of us know and claim to accept gay people but not their lifestyle and no wedding bells allowed. We believe in adoption but so few of us adopt. Nor do we want to help poor and or unwed people through any public financial assistance. We claim goodness unique to us unlike other societies. Is there a test to validate this? We test our children and insist on testing their teachers. We test many things in different ways and do not need a pen and paper or pad and key pad for the results to be known. How do we test us, the good, the moral society?
We should value and respect our elderly whether family or not. I believe Pope Francis said words to the effect that headline news should not be the status on Wall Street but rather the death of an elderly person unable to survive the frigid cold weather. Poverty among the elderly should be a priority concern for us, I would think.
How about children, not our own but others? Are children, all children, given the opportunity to be children with adequate food, shelter, clothing, education and homelife? If I read any daily newspaper or watch any local news station, do I get a good feeling about this, not only in the US of A but other places? Maybe our concern ends at our national geographic borders, or state borders, maybe our city limits or is it our front door?
A bit more mundane but how about the basics in life such as driving our cars or shopping at the local grocery store. This alone places us a notch or two or twelve above most other people and many in this country as well. Are we leaning on the horn because of all those other idiot drivers who deserve to be cut off? When we walk the aisles of our fully stocked grocery store shelves do we need to push ahead, ignore the workers in the store, complain about having to wait for the mother trying to control two children in the checkout line? A smile, a helping hand, a thank you would be the marks of a good people, I think. Perhaps that is a bit presumptuous.
We see ourselves as moral but do we change from a moral man to an immoral society? We seek the security of numbers, group decisions. You know we believe or act a certain way as a group which makes it OK. How about immigrants? We are a nation of immigrants. My grandparents arrived here by boat. I expect many of us have a similar background. I’m sure our ancestors arrived with trades, and family and jobs and money and good English speaking skills and not “With Out Papers.” Green cards were ready and waiting and the locals greeted them warmly. Although some came not of their own free will, after some struggle managed to fit in and climb the economic ladder. Possibly I am misreading my history book. We see many immigrants and refugees who have arrived in the current times. How do we as a people see these contemporary arrivals to our country? Many have no or limited skills and perform menial labor. Generally have no social security cards and many have no green cards. These people work at low paying jobs, pay rent, pay sales tax and various fees and manage to send money home to their families. Others have families here including children, some even born here. There’s a problem, children born here are American citizens, just like us. Well not just like us, our parents were citizens and therefore we have more of a right to be here; or do we? How do these harm us that they should be considered less than us and should be returned to their country of origin and then come back legally. Now comes the catch, they probably can’t come back because there is no legal way even if they can return to do what? Menial labor, low wages perhaps pay income taxes assuming they earn enough to qualify, be eligible for social security which they were not previously and probably send money home. Despite what despicable politicians may verbalize these people are not terrorists or coming here to do harm. They come for safety and economic opportunity just as many of our ancestors did. We need to review our beliefs, and misbeliefs and attitude on this issue.
How Much Government Is Enough?
Government is a place where we can all agree, I don’t like it. Keep it small. Please note I don’t hate it nor do I love it but I do acknowledge it is critical to us as a decent civilized society. We must insure that it provides the services we need to the people who need them, ie. all necessary services. Defense, police, fire, trash pickup are essential but these are not the only essential services. Social Security, health care, a court system, various social services and others are essential administrative functions. We have administrators to oversee these agencies but elected officials are the ones who set policies to be implemented by the bureaucracy. In our form of government we all vote for our elected representatives. If only those who are opposed to something or hold an extreme position vote then our government does not put forth the policies which we as a society claim we want or need. Voting therefore is essential to insure our government is reflecting and enforcing our values. When about 15% to 50% vote depending on the election, then what would we expect? Look around and you will see, we have what we allowed to happen and I don’t like it one bit. Many have no idea who our elected people are and if they do know they have no idea what legislation they introduce or vote to approve. These elected “leaders” may say things that are misleading or outright false, a lie. Still we accept it and reelect them. Their lack of leadership and lies pervert our system, distort our beliefs and create a distortion of reality which we accept as the truth. If we fail to fulfill our duties as citizens by being informed voters who vote, then the government we get, we deserve.
Various companies now outsource which sounds better than displacing our own workers for cheap labor working under conditions overcome due to labor unions or actually made illegal in this country years ago. No matter we purchase their products in the stores that are understaffed and provide minimal assistance. The workers often times are paid near minimum wage without benefits. These stores survive and grow because that’s what we can afford. Henry Ford understood if you pay your workers a decent wage then they can afford to buy the products you make. Corporate America today thinks of the bottom line in terms of minimizing production costs which translates to cheap labor. Corporate profits are soaring, CEO pay is in the stratosphere and the overall wages for Americans remain stagnant as it has for thirty years. The so-called business elite blame unions for the need to “outsource” or fire American workers when in actuality it is poor or slipshod management. Somehow no one considers that management agrees to and sets the provisions within a union contract. These so called high personnel costs aren’t imposed on a company by the union. In fact if it wasn’t for unions, working conditions would still resemble those of years earlier or like those for employees working in factories to which our companies “outsource.” We obviously can’t change the decision of so many companies in abandoning our workers. Actually we don’t have to, just pick one. If we all of us refused to purchase the product of one company which has transferred its production overseas, I think the message would become loud and clear. If you as a corporation choose to abandon us, then we will abandon you and your products. We don’t want to nor could we change the direction of the global economy. We all need to grow and benefit together.
Time to Act
As citizens in America we have two enormous powers to control our lives and life styles, the power of the purse string and power of the ballot box. If we use those powers properly then we create the society and the people we claim to be. Perhaps we are all satisfied with how things are. Complacency or acceptance is not a substitute for responsibility.