The current incarnation of the Republican Party simply doesn't care about anything but money, and the people at the top who have most of it. They no longer care about you or me, or anyone who isn't among the elites in this country.
What Willard Romney said in May in front of his rich investors (and let's face it; no one donates $10 million to anyone without expecting a return) shouldn't actually surprise anyone; this is how the current version of a Republican thinks; that people with lots of money are the brains behind the country, and all the rest of us are just a bother. Ironically, the biggest freeloaders in this country are among the richest companies and people in the world, and the states getting the most actual welfare are red states. Also, consider the fact that the guy who handed you your fries paid more in payroll taxes than Wlllard Romney paid in income taxes that one year he's let us see so far, but he thinks that rate is too high and should be cut in half.
The most bothersome part about the Romney diatribe, though, is how ingrained his attitude has become throughout this formerly great country. If you start working once you graduate high school, you'll be in the workforce for 50 years or more. During that time, you'll pay hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in taxes, health insurance premiums and other various and sundry charges that come along during that time. Yet, many who ask for help are looked upon with scorn or pity, and that simply should not be the case. The vast majority of us pay far more into the system than we'll ever take out of it, expect possibly at the end of our lives, if we happen to be one of those unique individuals who gets to live more than a century.
And it's not just the taxes we pay. The taxes large companies pay also largely come from us. We pay for their goods and services, or we work for them, and they make money from our hard labor. We all work for each other in this society, even though 32 years of neocon politics, beginning with Saint Reagan, have caused us to forget that basic reality.
Well, it's time we remembered; this country became a great country when millions of people worked together to build it. We have become less great in recent years, because there is now too great a tendency to think of ourselves as 308 million individuals, all working on our own thing. We used to work together to build great cities and towns and communities. We built schools, and police stations and court houses and roads and bridges because we needed them, and the cost wasn't a major factor because we knew that all such infrastructure projects paid for themselves many times over. We gave people college educations, because an educated populace was worth more on the world market. We helped small businesses get started because we knew that, at some point, such businesses would create more taxpayers and revenue than they would ever cost at the beginning.
A large number of people have forgotten all that. We call them right wingers. They used to be on the fringe of society, but they've essentially taken over a major political party, and it's time we stopped them. These people are cynics who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. But their worst trait is, they don't care about the country. They don't care about community. They have placed money above everything that used to make this country great in the first place.
Greatness starts with a sense of community and a sense of a higher purpose. And no, that does not mean selfishly invoking God's name to cut off debate. This is a secular country, and the "higher purpose" in this case is creating a nation that is worthy if the title "greatest country on Earth." I know we say it a lot, but too many don't really mean it.
How do we get there? Two steps.
One step is obvious; get rid of the current Republican Party, or at least help the sane ones get rid of the cynical right wing. Such people have always been around; I'm not sure why we find it so difficult to ignore them these days.
The second step is to develop a set of standards; something like a Second Bill of Rights. These are ideals that we should always aspire to, no matter what. These are minimum standards that everyone who lives and works here should come to expect. They're goals we should aspire to for ourselves. We work hard, we deserve it. We are the richest country in the world, and WE made it that way, not people like Willard Romney. We should be an inspiration to the world, yet under GOP rule, many other countries have already set such standards, and higher, while we lag behind.
Here is the least every American should expect while living here:
- Everyone should be entitled to at least basic shelter, clean and safe drinking water, and enough basic, nutritious food for themselves and their families to keep them healthy.
- Everyone should be entitled to the cleanest possible air to breathe.
- Every attempt should be made to make all communities safe and secure, not just from crime, but also from the effects of past activities and pollution.
- Everyone should be entitled access to a free and fair justice system that is not dependent on what lawyer you can afford.
- The government always has to prove guilt; no individual should ever have to prove innocence.
- Until we can create a perfect justice system, there can be no death penalty.
- Everyone should have access to basic health care that meets their needs. No American should ever have to die or lose everything they have worked for because they happen to get sick or injured.
- Everyone should have a reasonable expectation that every product sold in the marketplace meets minimal reasonable safety requirements.
- Because our first economic goal should be a highly skilled workforce, everyone should be entitled to a quality education that meets their needs to become a contributing member of society, and the cost of that education should be as close to free as possible. Such education should not be limited to academic pursuits, but also vocational training. The world needs auto mechanics, construction workers AND lawyers.
- All public school teachers should be supported in their efforts to create good citizens to the extent possible. Less administration, more funding would be a start. But no teacher should ever have to use their own money to pay for materials necessary to teach their students properly.
- Every working person in the country should be entitled to make at least enough money for his or her family to live reasonably comfortably.
- No executive of any company that employs workers who are not making enough money to live on should be able to "earn" a bonus for doing so.
- Corporations are fictional persons for purposes of protecting individual assets. They are not people.
- Everyone should have equal opportunity, regardless of any subjective criteria, including skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or even disability.
- People should be encouraged to work, and should be provided with the means to work, such as accessible public transportation systems and free or inexpensive quality child care.
- Every working person should have the right and the support to unionize and collectively bargain with their employer in every state in the union.
- “Right to work” laws should actually feature the right to work, not the right to drive down wages by coercing workers into shunning unions.
- Every worker should have a right to expect a workplace that complies with all laws and rules regarding safety, and which put worker safety above profit.
- Every worker should expect to work a fair number of hours, be entitled to adequate medical and family leave to meet their needs, and at least four weeks of paid time off every year.
- Every worker should feel free to report issues regarding his employer or his company's clients to authorities without fear of termination or harassment.
- Everyone should have complete control over their own bodies; the government should never be allowed to insert itself into any medical decision between a doctor and patient.
- Marriage should be defined as a social contract between two unrelated consenting adult humans. The definition should not be extended by government.
- No one should be denied any civil right due to any arbitrary factor, including, but not limited to; skin color, religion, gender assignment or sexual orientation.
- Taxes should be progressive, based on ability to pay, and not engineered by high priced lobbyists and attorneys. A 20% tax on $2 million per year does not have the same impact on quality of life as 20% on $20,000 per year.
- No corporation that makes a profit should ever get away with not paying taxes.
- Earned income and unearned income should be taxed the same.
- Improvements to society should be based on necessity and benefit the “general welfare” of the country, not whether an individual or corporation can profit from them.
- Everyone should have access to a high-functioning, reliable energy grid using renewable energy sources to the extent possible, regardless of profitability, and make energy conservation a key goal.
- Everyone should have free or cheap high-speed Internet access to the Internet, to maximize educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for everyone.
- Not everything is a “free market” and we should nationalize those industries that have become necessary elements to maintaining quality of life, but which have ceased to act as a “free market.” If we have to nationalize it or heavily regulate an industry to make it work, we do it.
- Everything we manufacture and/or consume should be made from sustainable and/or renewable materials whenever possible. All commerce should be conducted with an eye on maximum environmental benefit.
- Consumers should receive at least as much protection from businesses as businesses receive from consumers.
- The government is mandated by the Constitution to regulate commerce to make it fair for all players, from large to small corporations to sole proprietors and, especially, consumers. We should hold them to that mandate.
- All corporations, large and small, should be required to comport to strict ethical requirements that put the public interest at a level equal to or above their stockholders’ interests, or even their own.
- The government should invest, not spend. Every dollar used by government should be evaluated for its benefit to society as a whole, not to the bottom lines of a few.
- Our approach to all drugs, both illegal and legal, should maximize access to treatment and minimize the negative effects on individuals and families.
- All politicians should understand that it is OUR government, not theirs, and that they have to act honorably in the conduct of their office.
- Campaign finance laws should allow every individual to express support for his or her favorite candidate or issue, but that support should never be marginalized by any other entity.
- No individual or group has more rights than any other individual or group, regardless of the size of their bank account.
- All candidates in all political campaigns should be required to maintain the highest ethical standards at all times, from the moment they decide to run, until they leave public service..
- All lobbyists should be held to the highest possible ethical standards and everything they do should be overseen by an impartial third party representing the people.
- The United States should never, ever start a war.
- The United States should never mistreat anyone in its care, including prisoners of war.
- The United States should promote peace and democracy everywhere, but it shouldn’t dictate terms to any other country.
The problem with people like Willard Romney is, they think they're entitled to run our lives, but we are the bosses, ultimately. It's time we asserted ourselves, and made our wants and needs known. They sure don't care about us.