Our real challenge

( – promoted by Sue Prent)

    Because of my Saturday job, I wasn’t able to attend the last Franklin County Legislative Breakfast of the season, held at the Enosburg Legion on April 11. From some descriptions I heard, it sounded like a doozy. Social services programs were one prominent topic of discussion. It seems that all but one of the legislators present answered that, while there had to be cuts to these programs, they really didn’t want to make them, especially those helpful to the person who was asking them for their position on this!  Considering that all our Republican delegation campaigned on cutting spending while not raising any new revenue, this position doesn’t sound particularly honest. The one more forthright legislator, Rep. Steve Beyor, allowed that he thought some of the social services should be cut, though he didn’t specify which ones. Many in the smallish crowd actually applauded him for his attempt toward honesty. Some individuals held forth, as some always do at these events, about all the “welfare cheats” they had known – those who sold their “fuel assistance” oil to someone else, or those who cheated on “SNAP”-funded groceries in some way, etc., etc.

I always wonder how many of these folks have reported such cheaters – seems like the right course of action if you care about assistance getting to the people who need it. For each “cheater” I’ve heard about, I know there are dozens of people in need who receive the help and boost up that makes all the difference: disabled, elderly & alone, people struggling with long-term illness, single parents working at low-wage jobs, those with finances devastated by health care bills, children needing foster-care, young people needing help with training or education, etc., etc.

Latimer Hoke of the Franklin County weekly, the County Courier, had a thought-provoking editorial in the April 9, ’15 issue, attempting to get us to try imagining just how much a billion really is. He was right to say it is something that most of us cannot fathom. But it’s time for us to start trying to understand what it really means these days when we talk about “the billionaires” buying our government, keeping the playing field permanently tipped in their direction, calling the shots. Whether you’re progressive, conservative or tea-party, you should care about how much “big” money is now in charge of things….

It’s getting all too clear now, since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that “money is speech,” and individuals and corporations both should be allowed to pour in unlimited amounts of it into political campaigns. We are already getting used to elections costing “billions” instead of millions, and this year we hear that the two Koch brothers have decided to spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 elections. That is as much as each of our two national parties budget for the national elections. Not only are our elections becoming ridiculously long – this one has started a year and 7 months ahead – but we have allowed the creation of an unofficial but equal ” Koch Party.” And of course we hear about quite a few other billionaires making their own plans on what candidates to back (no, actually that should be “purchase”).

One thing that the Republicans have done excessively well is to convince the middle and the working classes that the poor are to blame for their economic problems.

Folks, it’s really time for us to shift our sights a little bit higher……

6 thoughts on “Our real challenge

  1. Fox news… rich people paying other rich people, to convince middle class people, to blame poor people for their problems.

    Lets drug test Presidential candidates?

  2. … is going to have some choices to make. Do we want dedicated public servants who are going to make decisions that are designed to help our community in the long run OR are we going to continue to support ineffective legislators who complain and point fingers? 2016 is going to be interesting up here and we’ll need to work on our messaging to convince our neighbors to support candidates who do more than grouse about taxes and march out tired old “welfare” tropes.

  3. It’s the problem with a minority party in a legislative body. They’re not used to governing, because all they do (with a very few exceptions) is say no. They offer no alternatives, and few facts, preferring to grumble and grouse and play off the fears and comforting myths of a narrow slice of their constituencies. It’s called being a demagogue: “to [attempt to] gain power by appealing to people’s emotions and prejudices; to elicit people’s emotional and prejudicial biases on an issue.”

    Thanks for the analysis, Paula.


    I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party…. Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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