IT'S CHRISTMAS - HAVE A HEART
The news brought word today that Congress has just appropriated another $50 billion for the war in Iraq. We are now spending over $6 billion a month on the war. Last night the news reported that the new F-22 fighter plane was unveiled. They will cost over $300 million each and 150 or so of them will be ordered.
The local paper also brought word today that Congress refused yesterday to boost emergency heating-oil assistance by $2 billion, a severe blow for poor and working people in the north who are now having to choose between food and heat this winter.
Due to oil price increases, and downturn of the job market, the numbers of people in Maine applying for heating-oil assistance is up 25% this year.
We are also told today in the news that there are now more than 38.2 million Americans, including 13.8 million children, who live with "food insecurity," meaning they either go hungry or don't know how they will get their next meal. This is a 12% increase over last year. On top of that Congress, who has just given themselves another pay raise, has also just voted new restrictions on Medicaid and Medicare.
We've heard alot of grumbling in recent days about how hard Congress has been working of late, and how they are having to miss their normal holiday break from Washington. Yeah, like scrooge, Congress has been working overtime counting out more tax cuts for the rich and more tax give-a-ways to the big corporations. What do they have for the people - for the poor and those one pay check away from being poor? They have nothing. A sack of coal and a bag of sticks. Bah-humbug, Congress says. You are on your own. This is the era of responsibility. Every dog for themselves now buster!
Well, as we come upon the holiday season I beg to differ. I remember a story about the great Lakota leader Sitting Bull. After he had been brought onto the reservation he went for a trip to England. He was sitting on a door stoop one day in downtown London and poor children all gathered around him begging for some money or food. He went back to South Dakota and told his people that in the big cities the white man abandons his children. He said the Lakota people would never do that. The white man, Sitting Bull said, should not be trusted with our lives.
We now see the "Great White Father" in Washington not only abandoning his children but millions of people - children, elderly, working people. The government cares nothing about them. They are no longer needed. They will be set adrift to fend for themselves. This is the holiday reality in America today.
Those of you who have a heart also now have a responsibility. You must help fight for the "least of these." After all, you or your loved ones might be next to suffer.
Happy holidays to all of you. Best wishes for a much better year in 2006.