An open letter to the Idaho state legislature

(From the Sermon on the Mount)

What you do even unto the least of these in my kingdom, you do even unto me…

Yesterday, the 20th of March 2011, my mother discussed with me some rather grim news; more people were asking for donations to pay their bills at the church she goes to.  And the church itself, the Church of the Nazarene, was also asking its congregation to dig a little deeper, so that the church could pay its bills.  Why is that any surprise really?  Unemployment in Kootenai County runs around 10%.  Points north, it can get as high as 15%.  Overall, around 17,000 Idahoans are unemployed.  And the Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho plans to hire a minute fraction of them for seasonal work.  What about the rest of them?

Yes, I intend to bash the Idaho state legislature.  Dave Oliveria of Huckleberries On-line bemoaned the silly to outrageous legislation coming out of the Idaho state capitol in recent weeks.  Tom Luna’s “education reform” that is one part union-busting and from the looks of things two parts favoring special interests.  But offers no guarantees that it will further Idaho education.  Especially at the same time, as it has been reported, the Idaho state legislature is also hell-bent on cutting funding for higher education.  Or, insisting on banning abortion after 20 weeks.  Or insisting that college students can pack heat (carry guns) on college campuses.  Pushing a “nullification” of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Voting against (especially members of the legislature from the five northern counties) extending unemployment insurance (to the very people who ask for charity from their church to help pay their bills).  Wanting to repeal the 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Deciding that addressing illegal immigration won’t be a matter for discussion.  And oh, yes; listening very attentively to the agenda of one Wayne Hoffman.  However, has Mr. Hoffman swung by to ask any of the churches he is presumably representing before the Legislature how they are making out?  I’m quite sure that the Church of the Nazarene would be more than happy to tell him all about it.  How economic tough times in Kootenai County has made it increasingly hard for the church to “operate in the black.”  Thus, the reason for today’s post.

The latest Dana Milbank column that was originally published in the Washington Post and republished Sunday in the Spokesman-Review also described what can also be a related topic as to what is going on and failing to happen in the U.S. Congress, especially in the House of Representatives.  He is a completely fair guy, taking the long knife out for both Republicans and Democrats.  But in particular, he wasn’t about to be sparing of GOP foibles that had become so glaringly obvious that a poll conducted by his newspaper showed an increasing voter disgust and regret (only a few months into the 112 Congress) of whom they voted for in November of 2010.  Says a lot about how the GOP manipulated voter frustrations and other emotions during the mid-term election cycle.  But it also should be recognized (as also proven by the Idaho state legislature) what the GOP weren’t prepared to do to keep their promises.  They’d rather engage in loony legislation, push forward loony budget cuts, and totally forget about the American economy and jobs.  Well, just the same as the Idaho state legislature.  What it comes down to, is when a church in Kootenai County, Idaho has to ask it’s congregation (who are also likely to be tapped out as well) to tithe more so that it can stay in operation, then you have to realize that we are in serious trouble.

Which is why I don’t feel that we can afford any more ideological fads.  Yes, I did say fads.  Because the people who adhere to the latest political “kick” (a word my late father loved to use) tend to purposely blind themselves to the reality of what’s around them.  They used to say of “liberals” that they became conservatives the moment reality bit them.  Well now, how about a modification on the theme?  That conservatives are former ideologues the moment reality bit them.  The reality that in truth, ideology of any stripe has created bitter partisan warfare.  But that it has no longer afforded people a decent living, an improved economy, or a better future for this nation.  And yes, we need to move beyond it.

Anti-abortion legislation is not a “right to life” or “pro-moral” agenda.  Not if the people who push this quasi-religious view do not consider what unemployment will not do for the safety, health and welfare of the “child” that the GOP through statist legislation wish to force into the world.  Unemployment makes it extremely difficult for women to raise and care for the kids.  Unemployment makes it extremely difficult for women to financially carry a child to term and give live birth at a hospital.  The costs of even doing so would be considered astronomical (when you consider that these people are impoverished).  Then there would be the costs of trying to feed, clothe, provide a home to, and educate the child.  Unemployment means that it would be extremely difficult to do all that.  But, so some of our GOP members of the Idaho state legislature who deemed unemployment insurance as another form of welfare declared rather callously, get a job.  Oh yeah?  If there were a lot of businesses with loads of listings for new hires in the papers, I am quite sure that the unemployed would be applying.  But Mr. Oliveria himself recognizes, that jobs are hard to come by.

I regard ideologues as navel-gazers.  People who are thinking only of themselves and the agendas they currently push.  They don’t actually see people as people, but only as warm bodies that either must agree with them 1,000% 24/7 or as faceless entities who are deemed the opposition.  It is because of this ideological radicalism that has embedded itself in the nation that we have our own humanitarian crisis that unfolds every day and in every way possible.  But also, goes unaddressed.

The GOP at one point regarded itself as the party of God.  Well now, to fail to feed the hungry, to fail to clothe the naked…  Is to beat the pulp out of Jesus Christ.  Oh yeah, when it comes to the poor, the sick, and the generally vulnerable; we can’t have too much government.  That would be “socialism.”  But, in this country, and in the state of Idaho in particular; we have too many special interests who invest wads of dough into the government they definitely want sufficient of, and not enough into the people…  That if they (the people) don’t have the money, can’t help the less fortunate through charitable donations.  They too are less fortunate.  If they can’t help others, then they can’t tithe sufficient to keep their churches in operation.  If they can’t tithe, then neither can they pay taxes.  If they can’t pay taxes, then neither can they participate in the free market.  If they can’t participate in the free market, then neither do they make a profit for the special interests who spend their wads of dough on the best government that money can buy.

No, we can no longer afford these fads.  They are simply self-serving and do nothing for the people.

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