Friday, August 10, 2007

It's time to redefine compassion

I have to give credit where credit's due. The person responsible for "compassionate conservatism" was a marketing genius. He/she managed to paint Republicans as people who really care about the needs and concerns of average Americans. The public knows otherwise now and sees the hypocrisy behind the words, but I wonder if the person responsible for that term ever felt any remorse?

Moving along, Mother Jones has a rather
lengthy list of the ways all that compassion dings the poor and middle class. You can read the whole thing for yourself, but here's a sample.
1 in 4 U.S. jobs pay less than a poverty-level income.

During the 1980s, 13% of Americans age 40 to 50 spent at least one year below the poverty line; by the 1990s, 36% did.

Bush’s tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those earning $1 million are saved $42,700.

Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50%.

83% of those earning $75,000 or more work for companies that offer insurance, versus 24% of those who earn less than $25,000.

2 in 5 elderly live on less than $18,000 a year, including Social Security benefits.

Since 1983, college tuition has risen 115%. The maximum Pell Grant for low- and moderate-income college students has risen only 19%.

Credit card late fees are 194% higher than in 1994.
And the item I found absolutely horrifying was this one:
Last fall, Minnesota firefighters let an elderly man’s mobile home burn down because he hadn’t paid a $25 “fire fee.”
Why is that allowed to happen in a country as rich as ours? Is that how a "compassionate" country treats their elderly?

Reading through that list again, I find myself shaking my head and asking is that how a "compassionate" country treats their poor, their uninsured, their students, and the people who work hard to provide for their families?

It's time for the Democrats to step up and redefine "compassion." The Republicans have corrupted and twisted the term to exclude the majority of us. They don't even respect our troops serving our country, as witnessed by their unwillingness to give them more time at home with their families between tours of duty. In fact, they don't even respect our troops after they serve. The Bush administration said it will resist restoring full educational benefits for returning veterans.

Some compassion, eh? You have to be a corporate crony if you expect to get any compassion from the Bush bunch.


expatbrian said...

The dems cannot re-instill compassion , honor, or respect for our fellow man. Americans have lost these qualities, since WW2 for many reasons. The result is our greed, mega consumerism, selfishness, and complete disregard for others less fortunate than us on a global scale. I agree it is disgusting but this is not the fault of dems or repubs or bush. Not this time I'm afraid. This is the result of consumer oriented capitalism let loose with no controls.

Living in a foreign country, and I think largely because it is an Asian country, where honor and respect are still highly valued as is care for the elderly, help for the poor, etc. make the problem with the US attitudes blatantly obvious. And its not just obvious to me. It is obvious to all other nations. While they struggle to get even a minute piece of the global resources pie, the US behaves as a glutton grabbing way more than their share. Makes the US look greedy and bullyish and makes other countries, even allies, dislike us. And they are right to.

Praguetwin said...

Yes, Brian hits it on the head.

Funny I was just saying on a right-wing blog how I believe in capitalism with the caveat that you shouldn't let your people starve.

As an ex-pat in the Czech Republic, I see the common sense woven into the system. Even though communism is dead here, the basic idea that you don't let people starve or let their mobile home burn down is still very much alive.

Yeah, rich people have to give up something in the process, but is a little wealth is worth parting with when the result is humanity.

And in the end, if they hoard too much, the poor will rise up, especially in unstable times.

They are flirting with disaster.

Parting thought: who would have thought that we'd be glad to have some Reagan Republicans in office.

Oh how times have changed.

Kathy said...

Expat, maybe you're right and the Dems won't re-instill compassion, honor and respect, but the politicians who continue status quo do so at their own peril. I think people are hungry for new leadership based on those qualities. (No lies or sound bites. People want leaders who can back up their words with their actions.)

Also, while I agree that Americans have lost their way and consumerism is rampant, I think the vast majority of us are decent, caring people. I see it reflected in polls showing people are willing to pay higher taxes in order to provide health care for all Americans. I see it in polls indicating people believe the war in Iraq was wrong and they want it to end. I see it in polls that indicate people want higher minimum wages for workers. I see it in polls that favor keeping social security intact and protecting our elderly.

I'm not saying we're angels, we're not, but a lot of what is wrong with our country is the result of big business and government being in bed together for too long now. Please, don't judge us all by them. The vast majority of us care about people and want the best for everyone.

Praguetwin, I believe in capitalism too, but I also believe capitalists need to have a soul. Let me give you an example from an asphalt paving company here in Michigan. The company succeeded and thrived to become a big operation, but the owner decided it was time to retire and sell his company. He got many millions of dollars (sorry, can't remember the exact figures), but he didn't leave his employees behind. He took 50% of his earnings and set that amount aside to be split between his employees. One long-term employee who had been with him from the beginning got around a million dollars as I recall, and even some relatively new employees got a check. His point in sharing the profit he made was to recognize their role in making his company what it was. He knew he became a millionaire in part because of their efforts and hard work.

Could you imagine that happening today? Workers efforts aren't valued anymore. It's all about maximizing profits for the shareholders (who don't do any work) and the CEOs.

So, yes, I believe in capitalism too, but I don't believe in the kind of greed we're seeing today that comes at the expense of people's basic necessities. I also agree that our country is flirting with disaster if it continues down this road.

Anonymous said...

Why is that allowed to happen in a country as rich as ours? Is that how a "compassionate" country treats their elderly?

Well...what else you gonna do when you've got to come up with $500B for a war? Oh to be a country as rich in wisdom as we seem to be in weapons.

Larry said...

The Democrats may not instill compassion if they get control, but it is safe to assume the flow of hatred and indifference will slow considerably, especially to the poor and working class, as well as the elderly.

expatbrian said...

The Dem's like the repubs speak poly talk. They try to avoid being clear on the issues and instead of telling us what they WILL do in office we hear a lot of what we SHOULD do. That gives them the perfect out when those things don't happen.
Corporations are rich, not because of the tax breaks given to them by government. They are rich because the population buys their products, often at ridiculously high prices, and believes all their marketing BS which convinces us that we HAVE to have these products. They depend upon the American public to support their huge profits and we willingly comply.

Of course normal Americans are good, honest and hard working people. I don't dispute that for a moment. But these are the same people who have allowed our government to behave the way it does, and we will once again elect a person who is not really qualified to be the most powerful single person in the world. Jeez, just look at the choices! I don't care if its Guliani or Clinton. Neither one is going to be a Mandela or a Ghandi. Sorry for my skepticism but I think we are in for a disappointment no matter who gets elected out of this bunch. They will end up having to compromise with the same old power brokers in industry and on Capitol hill.

Kathy said...

Kvatch, good point. We're going to be in debt for a long, long time, so you would think a compassionate government would raise taxes on the super rich and ask them to sacrifice for the least of us, wouldn't you? Yeah, right. It won't happen as long as the "moral majority" has anything to say about it.

Larry, I'm hopeful that the indifference will slow too. As the pain continues to trickle up to the middle class, there will be more and more pressure on the politicians to do something.

Expat, I have to agree that our choices for president are pretty weak this time. Maybe that's why Obama is polling so well. He's a relative newcomer and people are looking at him to be the next King, Mandela or Ghandi. Personally, I'm still undecided.