Conservatives vs. Liberals

A few election cycles ago, Conservatives tried to turn “liberal” into a dirty word. They spat it out in a negative light over and over. And Democrats took the bait.

Suddenly, no Democrat wanted to be called a liberal. By avoiding the label, they reinforced the Right’s claim. And “liberal” became a dirty word in politics.

But what does liberal mean? It means generous. Is being generous a bad thing? Not according to Jesus. Remember the parable of the widow’s mite? It was a small offering in monetary terms… but it was a big chunk of this poor woman’s savings.

Or the parable of the prodigal son. When the foolish son returned to his family, the father killed the “fatted calf” – feast food – to welcome his errant son home.

Giving freely was kind of Jesus’ thing. Which makes it seem odd the political Right claims Jesus as their own. Because…

Jesus Condemned the Religious Right Over and Over

Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. He criticized the Pharisees – the Religious Right of his day. And he often broke bread with the poor and sinners.

Fast-forward 2,000 years, and who advocates for the poor? Mostly liberals. Programs to help prisoners re-integrate into society? Mostly run by liberals.

On the other hand, who fights against universal health care? Conservatives. In spite of claiming to be “pro-life.” Which also makes the Right’s support of the death penalty seem odd. You can add a few other choices to that list, too.

If you’re pro-life, why would you oppose the SNAP program, which feeds poor children? Why would you oppose a minimum wage that brought the poorest Americans out of poverty? Why would you oppose universal health care.?

If you’re pro-life… all of these programs preserve lives. Fighting them tooth and nail makes no sense.

Unless you’re not really pro-life.

Today’s Conservatives Aren’t… Conservative

To conserve means to save for the future. This is something political Conservatives don’t have built into their DNA.

Take climate change as an example. More than 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is driving rapid climate change. And that change is a catastrophe.

Ice caps are melting… and low-lying nations are threatened with extinction. Super-storms are becoming more common. And the growth cycle of plants is changing. Bumblebees may disappear – along with many other species.

Yet Conservatives in the U.S. cling to the tiny percentage of scientists – mostly on corporate payrolls – who dispute climate science. And they push for continued use of fossil fuels.

In spite of our quickly diminishing supply of these fuels.

“Conservatives” aren’t trying to conserve energy sources. Instead, they back over-use of limited resources. There’s nothing conservative about that.

These “conservatives” also aren’t trying to conserve states and nations facing obliteration by the over-use of fossil fuels.

According to worldatlas(dot)com, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands are among the countries most threatened by climate change.

In the U.S., Florida – with a highest point of just 345 feet above sea level – faces catastrophic flooding as sea levels rise.

Yet, Conservatives – who supposedly want to preserve the status quo – are fine with most of southern Florida disappearing beneath the waves.

That includes Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s multi-million-dollar social club. Which is barely at sea level already.

The Accurate Name for Modern “Conservatives”

So, todays conservatives actually favor massive climate change… and the economic disaster that would follow. All for short-term economic gain.

Are they pro-life? Only before birth. Do they care about the environment? Not if it costs them money. Are they concerned for their grandchildren’s future?  Not based on their choices.

Because today’s Conservatives show no concern beyond themselves.

To conserve means to save for the future. Which makes it clear these folks aren’t really conservative. So, from now on, we have to use different labels.

“Liberal” is no longer a dirty word. It means giving generously. Which is a concept Jesus promoted.

But “conservative” doesn’t describe today’s political right. They aren’t trying to save for the future. But there is a word that accurately describes these people.

We can still call Liberals “liberal.” And they can hold their heads up, proud to be generous to others. But, from now on, we have to call today’s conservatives what they really are… the Greedies.

Republicans Adore Socialism… But Only for the Rich

You hear the Right’s new battle cry all the time now – even from the President… “America will ever be a socialist country!”

Yes, evil socialism has raised its ugly head once again. And the Democrats are trying to force it upon us. Except we’ve had socialism for generations. And it’s mostly the rich who now benefit.

Don’t believe me? How about we deal in a few facts… instead of the fear-mongering the Right likes to use?

“Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare!”

The rise of the Tea Party brought us plenty of forehead-slapping moments. But none quite as idiotic as these limited-government fans defending their most precious rights.

At multiple rallies, Tea Partiers displayed crude handmade signs reading “Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare!” – or something similar.

Except Medicare is a government program. And a socialist one. If you’re over 65, chances are you love socialism. Because Social Security is alsoa socialist program. Medicaid? Socialist. Most veterans’ benefits programs? Yup… socialist.

My dad had a government-issued vets’ life insurance policy. It was only $10,000… but it was cheap. And the annual dividend – for every year I oversaw his finances – was larger than the premium.

As a WW II vet, he also qualified for government-sponsored healthcare. After the war, he and his young family lived in housing just for vets – and built with government subsidies. Uncle Sam underwrote education benefits for vets. If he’d wanted a civil service job, the government would have given my dad extra points on the civil service exams.

I’m not opposed to any of these benefits. Our vets deserve plenty of consideration. But veterans’ benefits are a good example of socialism at work.

But there’s a darker side to socialism. The side Republicans don’t want you to see.

The Handouts the Right Doesn’t Want Cut

To pay for Trump’s tax breaks for corporations and the rich, the GOP wants you to accept cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But they’re not farm subsidiestalking about cuts to corporate welfare. And corporate welfare is huge.

Take the fossil fuel industry. Vox News reports that direct federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies come to $14.7 billion dollars every year. State subsidies add another $5.8 billion to the total.

And those are just the direct subsidies. The International Monetary Fund estimates indirect subsidies to fossil fuel producers are many times higher.

That’s billions in corporate welfare the Right not only accepts… but jealously protects. Even as they call for cuts to retirees’ health coverage.

Here’s another interesting fact: 17% of fossil fuel subsidies are for “remediation.” That is, Uncle Sam paid up the bill for cleaning up the environmental mess fossil fuel companies left behind.

Another great socialist program benefitting the rich? Farm subsidies.

Starting in the 1930s, Washington used subsidies to keep struggling farmers afloat through such disasters as the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Since then, much of the money poured into these programs has benefitted the rich.

Forbes Magazinereported on data showing just how far the abuse has gone.

  • A quarter of farm subsidies are now paid to farms earning over $250,000 a year.
  • “Farms” in locations such as New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia receive millions in subsidies every year. From 2015 through 2017, $140,000 went to zip code 90210. Yes… that’s Beverly Hills!
  • 6,618 agricultural enterprises have taken in at least $1 million in federal subsidies every year since 2018.
  • The owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves received $116,502 in farm subsidies in 2017. He’s #350 on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans.
  • In 2017, Uncle Sam paid farmers $1.8 billion to notfarm their land.

Here’s the kicker: In 2017, farm subsidies went to a dozen members of Congress. Their haul? $637,059. And that’s on top of their Congressional salary.

All of this is socialism. It’s the government pooling tax money to pay out to those “in need.” Except, with corporate welfare, there’s often no need. Just greed.

Keep in mind, these are just some of the payouts in only two categories of corporate welfare. Payouts members of Congress seem unwilling to talk about – let alone cut.

And then there’s the Trump tax “reform.”

Handouts for the Rich… Benefit Cuts for the Poor

If you’re under 60, you probably don’t remember Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was a war hero. The Supreme Allied Commander in Western Europe during World War II. A career military man. Wildly popular at home. And the 34thpresident of the U.S.

Eisenhower – a Republican – served two terms.

He also warned Americans against “the Military-Industrial Complex” and served when the highest marginal tax rate was 90%. Yes… 90%. And he made no moves to lower it.

Eisenhower also saw the minimum wage increased… the creation of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW)… and an expansion of Social Security. Eisenhower wasn’t perfect, but he certainly saw the benefits of socialism.

That’s a far cry from today’s Republican Party. Trump’s tax cuts benefitted mainly the rich and big corporations. Middle class voters saw cuts to withholding… but often discovered their tax bills hadn’t gone down at all. In fact, many found their tax liability was higher.

Meanwhile, corporations poured most of their new-found riches into boosting share value by buying back stock. This made shareholders richer. But the promised “trickle down” pay increases for workers were few and far between.

The rich became richer. The dwindling middle class now struggles to keep their heads above water. And the poor have been all but abandoned.

Yet socialism is alive and well in the Trump era. It’s just that the Republican version of socialism benefits the rich, while making the rest of us poorer.

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Cesca, B., “Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare!” HuffPost(dot)com. Dec 6, 2017.

Roberts, D., “Friendly policies keep US oil and coal afloat far more than we thought,” Vox(dot)com. Jul 26, 2018.

Andrzejewski, A., “Mapping The U.S. Farm Subsidy $1M Club,” Forbes magazine. Aug 14, 2018.