I’ve been reading all the editorials and letters to the editor about bills in my state legislature that aim to further diminish the economic power of the working and middle classes in Missouri. It seems each week the writers are getting a tiny bit closer to the bull’s eye but are still missing the main point.
Whether it is defunding health services and public education, or undermining the unions that protect workers’ benefits, whether it is skewing the political process to favor corporate campaign donors or shifting the tax burden down the income scale, or whether it’s just down and dirty dishonest fact manipulation, the goal is the same. The real goal is to bankrupt the state so the pretense of “lack of funding” can be used while destroying all public programs and services. Privatize everything. Let private companies offer those services for a profit. Pay no attention to the obvious financial problems when 20% to 30% of a program’s income has to go for overhead as opposed to 3%-7% for a public run program. The goal is not delivery of the best product. It’s delivery of the greatest profit for the investors.
One letter-writer comes closest to the bull’s eye when he says that the American Legislative Exchange Council is behind the draining of resources from public education. The “free market” extremists in control of the current Republican Party, both in Jeff City and in Washington, do not believe it is government’s job to help individuals. Anyone who wants to understand the common thread running through all of the attempts to reduce government services should go to www.alecexposed.org and read all about it. The goal is to move the country away from the progressive political philosophy that produced the social programs of the mid-20th century, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, the EPA, and Head Start. Reducing taxes is not just about fiscal conservatism; it is about “starving the beast” so there is no money for social programs. Hysteria over federal deficits was not a problem when “big government” meant boatloads of money to defense contractors. Any honest fiscal conservative would know better than to start two wars and cut taxes simultaneously.
No, the real agenda is something much baser. And this is the political choice we are going to have to make. Do we value each other enough to “just say no” to the Republican leaders pushing us further and further down into the kind of poverty where we have no power to defend ourselves? Do we really want to go back to the days when only the rich could afford to go to school? Or when elderly grandparents slept in the cellar near the furnace? Or when the air was so black with coal soot that no amount of power washing could clean out our lungs? This is the “vision” of the people currently in control of the Republican Party. The Speaker of the Missouri House, Rep. Tim Jones of Eureka, is co-chair of the Missouri delegation to the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Let’s at least force them to say openly and honestly what their real intentions are. All of their arguments for not expanding Medicaid have been knocked down by professionals who know more than they do. What’s left is the ugly truth. They can’t expand Medicaid when their real goal is to destroy it and all the other social safety net programs. Bull’s eye.