BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
There is a large political group among us who wear their religion quite visibly on their sleeves, i.e. these people loudly avow allegiance to the Almighty, claim to follow the teachings of the Bible, and declare to be followers of the Way. Although both inappropriate and unnecessary in political elections, there is nothing inherently wrong with individuals who do this in their private lives. They can be so zealous as to be obnoxious to others, but little harm is done and perhaps some good on occasion.
While making a show of personal religion may be inappropriate in politics, it should also be irrelevant in a nation that values freedom to worship as one chooses highly enough to put into its Constitution a clause which prohibits government from making any laws establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. But it becomes logically ludicrous when those very same religious/political zealots become a part of a political movement which is contradictory to their avowed religious values.
Although religion should be irrelevant in politics, when candidates interject it into their qualifications and agenda for their candidacy it becomes open to scrutiny. How their religious proffers square with their politics in issues of economic policy and societal good is of appropriate concern. What about all this caring for the poor, the widows, and the orphans stuff? What about ethics of social justice? How does that square with rugged individualism?
How do those who claim such teachings and endorse such values, then be supportive of an unbridled capitalism that would prey upon the weak and the poor? How can they oppose a definite role for government as a mediator or enforcer of fairness in the economic, social justice, and political systems?
How can government for the benefit of all the people, rather than the few, be considered an “enemy?” The answer would have to be: “Not by rational and ethical people.”
Republicans, the party favored by the “religious” crowd, are fighting tooth and nail to extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 rammed through by the “reconciliation” procedure, now so demeaned by that same party. These cuts produced $1.65 trillion in deficit. Without those cuts, the debt would now be $5.2 trillion, or 37% of GDP. Instead, it is $7.5 trillion, or 60% of GDP. The greatest increases in debt come from those tax cuts and the $1.3 trillion Iraq War, not the mere $780 billion stimulus spending effort to avert our sliding into a depression.
Nearly all of the money from continuing the cuts, beyond Democratic proposals, goes to the richest 1/10 of 1% among us. That is the richest one in 1,000 among us, who make an average of $7 million a year.
How does all this square with principles of fairness and equity? Campaign money comes heavily from the rich, so does this speak to political corruption? The Republican court has opened the way for corporations and the wealthy to pour huge sums into campaigns. What does it say about the blindness of many of our citizens to the discrepancy between their religious principles and their politics?
But there is still another side of this selfishness manifest by the rich in preserving their advantage over all the rest of us.
Almost any financial news section will call attention to the enormous sums of cash that corporations are hoarding at this time when the nation is so in need of money being put into productive circulation. Our companies continue to be extremely profitable, made so primarily by cutting workers or moving jobs abroad in search of cheap labor. Right now the S&P 500 companies alone are sitting on roughly $1 trillion in cash, a huge and unnecessary amount above security levels.
Instead of investing this $1 trillion in productive activity and hiring back their workers, these companies are sitting on hoards of cash. Instead of distributing these earnings to stockholders as they might, these companies are hoarding the cash. Other than paying executives exorbitant sums, all that cash taken out of our system in profits is doing absolutely nothing to stimulate revival of prosperity.
Corporate cash hording is a manifestly selfish act on the part of big business, a complete disregard of the common good in our country.
Why such selfish corporate behavior? Some might say it is worry and insecurity about the future. But others say there are political motives attached to delay of a jobs comeback until after another national election. Who knows? The motive is not certain, but it is suspect. It is unhealthy for our nation.
The manifest selfishness of those who have big money is prolonging the hardships of those who have no jobs. The unwillingness of the wealthy to pay their taxes is running the nation further into debt. How about all those patriotic folk with “Christian values” who claim to put country first? With whom will they stand?
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer