Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rant: Why I Hate All Politicians

I got a tweet this morning that said, "404: Government Not Found."  It would be funny if it weren't true.

All throughout Banned Books Week I was getting het up about politics; ironic that I'm sitting down to write about politics on the day the government shut down. 

Here's the thing:  I don't like any person in government.  There is absolutely no one I support.  There is no side with which I mostly agree.  I have no good options.  The last presidential candidate I truly admired was Theodore Roosevelt.   I'm feeling relieved I don't have to vote this year.

By nature I am a less-government kind of person.  I like efficiency, not bureaucracy.  I want a small federal government.   No Child Left Behind, anyone?  Ask any elementary school teacher if they think that was a good idea.

So in general I don't agree with Obama, who is above all else a Big Government kind of guy.  Remember when he said that the Affordable Health Care Act would result in no new taxes?  How's the individual mandate tax, the employer mandate tax, the Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans, the Tax on Health Insurers, the Tax on Innovator Drug Companies, the High Medical Bills Tax, the Medicine Cabinet Tax, the Tax on Indoor Tanning Services, and the Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals? And a small number of multi-billion dollar tax hikes on things like the Medicare Payroll tax and the “black liquor” tax and the HSA Withdrawal tax.  None of these really surprise me, since the idea that we could all get more and better medical insurance for less money seemed intuitively disingenuous. 

What I hate is the willful blindness of most, shall I say all, politicians to the real-world effects of their actions.  The other night I got home from a long day at Faith in Action to see Obama on television vehemently denying that any employers were cutting employees' hours so that the employers wouldn't have to contribute to health care.

Bullshit.  I could have hooked him up with three separate people from that day at Faith In Action alone, who had seen their minimum-wage jobs cut to no more than 20 hours per week, because 25 hours is the magic number at which the Affordable Health Care Act provisions start to kick in. 

If you are 53 years old and did not graduate from high school, and worked for over 30 years at one of the 1200 manufacturing jobs my town of 40000 people lost in the past 2 years, you've gone from a salary that would support your family to a minimum wage job.  There are very few other choices.  Now you're working 20 hours at that minimum wage job.  Good luck.

Yep, it's true that companies only have to follow the 25-hour rule if they have over 50 employees.  Guess what?  My local McDonald's has over 50 employees.  So does Lowe's, Home Depot, Food City, Target, Pizza Hut.   And they're currently making very sure that they don't give any of their employees more than 20 hours of work per week.  It's far more cost-effective for them to hire 100 people at 20 hours per week than 50 at 40. Meanwhile, places that have, say, 40 employees, and pay decent full-time wages with health insurance and other benefits, are now never, ever going to expand to 50 employees, because of all the extra constraints that kick in at that number (I could give real-world local examples, but I won't.).

Obama's refusal to believe this is happening makes me feel like he lives in some sort of ivory tower.  I'd like him to come to Faith in Action, just for one day.

Meanwhile--same day last week, same television show--a bunch of Republican blowhards, several in a row so I don't even remember their names--started justifying their decision to cut food stamps by averring that anyone who receiving food stamps--1 in 7 Americans--should be ashamed.  That they hoped the social stigma of receiving food stamps would motivate people to go back to work.

This made me want to throw things.  Yes, let's shame those people who are trying to get by on $7.25/hr, 20 hours/week.  Let's make them feel worse about their hours being cut.  Let's cut food stamps, too, so their children can be hungry.  That'll learn 'em.

No matter that the burgeoning number of Americans on food stamps is caused by a decline in wages, not by an increase in benefit amounts.  No matter that food stamps are considered one of the most efficient federal programs.  No matter that children receiving food stamps, and therefore better nutrition, are more likely to stay in school and less likely to receive federal aid as adults.  

I am pretty sure that the Republicans are sharing Obama's ivory tower.  I invite them to Faith in Action, too.

I know that some of you reading this will start to rant about people who don't need federal benefits but get them anyhow.  People who buy steak and lobster with their SNAP cards.  People who trade SNAP for cigarettes.  Whatever.  Justice admits that some people do take advantage, but truth and mercy stand with the poor.  People need help.  They need work, and if they can't find enough work, they still need food.

Meanwhile I can't see a single person in the system who deserves my precious vote.