The Noble Task to which we must call Congress

The Greek Tragedy of this last couple weeks has left me astounded. Allowing one person from a Greek chorus of what in any other time of common sense would be called ‘a bunch of nut-cases’ to hijack what should have been a simple process has greatly shaken my faith in the Legislative branch of our Government. What bothers me most is that they were willing participants in this Joe-McCarthy-in-an-Elmer-Gantry-disguise tragedy. I would have expected these people to be more objective than to just follow fantastical falsehoods.

And as of today anyway, not ONE apology. NO APOLOGY for screwing up people’s credit ratings because they couldn’t pay their bills. NO APOLOGY to people who couldn’t feed their families. NO APOLOGIES to the children in Head Start who have been set back; for their parents who are both working and so use Head Start as a daycare. NO APOLOGY to the millions of people who had their lives disrupted and will be paying the price of this shutdown for months.

Shame on you people. Shame on you for being so small-minded. Shame on you for letting so many millions of people down! SHAME ON YOU!

I want to direct your attention for a moment to the times when the Temperance movement was strong in this country: it was essentially the same thing. Government was hijacked by people with high-sounding ideals, yet the only thing they wanted to accomplish was to push forward their personal agenda in the form of the 18th Amendment. Prohibition. And we all saw how well that worked.

The parallel here is that a very small but vocal group, in listening only to themselves, essentially hijacked the economy and negatively affected the well-being of hundreds of millions of people. The Volstead Act was actually vetoed by Woodrow Wilson, who was very principled and a person of deep faith – because he saw and understood the dangers. But the veto was overridden.

And Prohibition had long-lasting effects, beyond the short-term ones. Because of Prohibition, crime rates soared astronomically. This was the era of widespread gang violence, all driven by Prohibition. We see it now on Saturday night TV as black and white moves that seem too absurd to believe. For those who lived through it, it was sheer terror. The police were overwhelmed, because it came so fast and was so incredibly ruthless and violent. We would call it terrorism, today.

All created because of a small but vocal group who thought they knew better than everyone else.

Because of Prohibition, we went from a simple system of the Government able to keep itself and the country running through the collection of liquor taxes. It was a relatively simple system, where the greater the cost of the commodity, the tax was incremental to that cost. In short, if you bought more expensive booze, you paid higher tax. Guess what: that also meant that the wealthy paid more and the poor paid less.

But this entire system got hijacked by the 18th Amendment.

And because of the sudden lack of funds to run our Government, the Internal Revenue Service was created. I don’t need to say any more.

Taking this full-circle:
It’s been known since the 50’s that the United States needs some kind of universal health-care system. We need a way to care for those who are crushed by high medical bills; we need a way to care for those who are unable to care for themselves; we need a backup plan for our young people (who think they’re bulletproof) but are just as subject to the vagaries of our world.

I’ll state the obvious in saying that we already KNOW the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. But it’s a start. Let me quote FDR from when he began to get the New Deal enacted: “We have to start somewhere. But we have to start. We’ll make it better as we go, but we first have to get started.”

So instead of trying to kill the Affordable Care Act, let’s make it better. Let’s work within our system of Government and make the ACA better.

THIS is the noble task to which we must call our Congress.


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