How the Republican's "Contract with America" Affects You

By the time you read this, many of the laws Republicans promised in their "Contract with America" may have passed. I, for one, surely hope not; but with the American voting public in such a mean and punitive mood it will probably be so.

The following is but a brief synopsis of what our Congress says is going to make your life better.

"It's a sin to help people who ought to be helping themselves", said John Kasich, House budget chairman, to "60 Minutes". His committee is showing their resolve to stop this unnecessary "help" by cutting back rental assistance to the poor while increasing by one third (to $15 billion) annual federal subsidies, in the form of mortgage interest deductions, to people earning more than $100,000. They are also slashing programs for subsidized lunches for poor school children while leaving intact the taxpayer subsidized 50% deduction on corporate meals and entertainment. The committee is trying to destroy welfare and AFDC while insuring Americans with more than $100,000 in income remain entitled to $40 billion annually in health and Social Security benefits. As a final example, they are attempting to dismantle the Public Broadcasting System and the Legal Services Corporation while maintaining the Pentagon budget at 92% of our Cold War level a decade after Russia's defense spending dropped by two thirds.

Now they are considering an amendment to the constitution against desecrating the flag. This is not an issue we should take seriously, folks. The flag is only fabric. It is not America or the democratic way of life. It is nothing but a symbol. The government itself designed a postage stamp with a flag which was defaced by the post office each time it was used by placing a black cancellation stamp over it. There have been only three publicized incidents of flag burning since 1990 so this isn't exactly a "burning" issue for America. The more salient point, though, is that we, as a people, have many more urgent priorities to confront.

Understand this above all else, both parties are completely wrong in their ultimate goals. The Democrats firmly believe that no problem is so huge that throwing a sufficient amount of your tax dollars at it can't cure it and if it doesn't work, throw more. The Republicans believe that if the rich can simply get a little richer, then all sorts of grand benefits will trickle down upon the poor. Well, that ain't money that's trickling down. Twelve years of the "Trickle Down Theory" has only brought us a situation where the average salary of top corporate executives is $3.8 million dollars (that's over $10,000 a day, 365 days a year) and each day two thousand more people are unemployed through layoffs . Chief corporate executives in the 70's pulled in about 35 times the average employee salary; it's now close to 150 times more.

Gentle readers, there is something drastically wrong with this scenario. If Congress were really serious about improving America they would not be treating the poor, the children and the elderly as if they were a burden to the rest of the country. They would be enacting laws which would enable all Americans to strive towards the vision our founding fathers had when they proclaimed our rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". They would equalize the tax laws so that everyone paid their fair share, corporations included. They would provide adequate health care for all and an education commensurate with the wealth of our nation. They would search for ways to insure all people who want to work have a job which provides a respectable standard of living. They would reserve prison space for those who are truly a danger to the community, not those who break laws enacted to punish them for not living within some narrow moralistic viewpoint. They would do all this and more, but don't hold your breath. "We the people" no longer own this country, money does, and unless we get angry and demand change towards a less divided system we will only get the government we deserve.

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