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2.24.2011

I'm really scared.

...of what's going on in politics right now. More scared than I have ever been. Setting all party biases aside, there is a marked short sitedness going on right now that I think is going to do masses of harm in the near and distant future. Let me give some examples.

I understand that we need to cut the budget, and that things need to be cut. I get that. But I don't think that all of most of the large scale programs should be cut. The recent elimination of funding for public broadcasting may seem superficial now, but think about the ways public broadcasting has affected your life- at the very least, you watched Sesame Street as a child. But public broadcasting does so much more- they are an outlet for truly fair and balanced (unlike other news outlets who like to use that phrase) outlet for news and information. They present programming that, while it may not appeal to the masses (the commercially driven, over entertained, "I want what I want and I want it now" masses), is important to those who want more out of life. And while it's impact on lives like mine is mostly superficial (I will be sad if my station disappears, but I won't be hugely impacted), the impact on lower income households could be more. Families with limited income can't afford cable. They also can't afford quality child care, early education, high quality educational toys, books, and enrichment programs for their children. And they often don't get to spend much time with their children because they have to work long hours to support them. Programs like Sesame Street and the other quality kids shows on PBS help to bridge the gap between underprivileged and middle class preschoolers. No, it's not enough to do it, but it's something. Further, I say why does something have make a profit to be considered worth continuing? Public radio and television may not make a profit, but they are community resources and as such bring communities together.

Another example- recent cuts have also been made to both WIC and Planned Parenthood. This is, sadly, consistent with the Republicans stated desire to "improve family values" and their actual drive to eliminate all support for the lower classes while at the same time increasing cuts and funding to their own endeavors. First, these cuts are going to be hugely damaging. The Planned Parenthood cuts bother me the most, because they are another example of political misdirection. Republican supporters, most of which make their political affiliation based solely either on their beliefs concerning abortion or gay marriage, are all cheering this cut right now. What they don't know (or refuse to believe) is that ABORTION IS NOT ANd HAS NOT BEEN funded by any state money for years (was it ever?). It is done by Planned Parenthood, yes, but it is done by different personel at different facilities than other Planned Parenthood services. So, the funding they just cut is going to have no affect on abortion services. It is going to cut the amount of education, support, health care, and low cost birth control available to low income women. What do you think is going to happen? MORE of them are going to have babies because they can't get birth control. So either more abortions are going to occur, or more babies are going to be born into low income families. And then they turn around and cut WIC (a program I don't love as it exists, but that's a different post altogether). Basically they are condemning infants to die from starvation, or to get taken away from parents who can't feed them and thrust into an already overtaxed foster care system where the children are vulnerable to foster parents with less than stellar intentions (and where, BTW, they will continue to cost the government money). This will snowball to create problems with crime, overpopulation, lower overall education, and then these babies will grow up to have more babies (because it's all a cycle). It's really frustrating to think that this is what we're headed for simply because the Republicans are too self involved to cut things more conservatively and raise taxes on people who can absolutely afford to pay a little more. Cutting these programs is not the solutions. Restructuring them to include stricter guidelines and more restrictions would be a better choice, as well as INCREASING funding (or at least making it more efficient) for personel and resources to accomplish this.

And don't even get me started on the outsourcing of public services. Two judges recently got caught taking millions in kickbacks from a private juvenille detention system. In a nutshell, these judges were sending kids to Juvy for minor first time offenses that would normally only be punishable by fines (and they were getting away with it because Juvenille court judges pretty much have carte blanche). More kids in jail = more money (our money, paid by the state) in their pockets. And this went on for years. Hundreds (if not more) of children's lives were ruined so that a few selfish old upper middle class men could line their pockets. This may be an isolated case now, but as more and more agencies begin to contract out these state services to for profit agencies I'm afraid this will become less and less isolated.

But I think that the number one thing that frustrates me (and I touched on this a bit ago) is the ignorance of the American People. Most people base either don't care (and if anything is un-American, not caring should be) OR they base their political support decisions on one or two issues, usually ones that don't affect their own lives directly. Case in point- the midwest. Most middle and lower class midwesterners are staunch Republicans. But Republicans systematically rally against issues that most directly affect the lives of the middle and lower classes (tax cuts for the wealthy, fewer social programs, anti-union, etc). And they base their political decisions on either abortion, gun control, or gay marriage. None of which have changed, on a national level, much in the last 30 years. And none of them really will.

But the big deciding factor for me is and will always be children. What is best for the children of this nation? I know, right now you're calling me a hypocrite. I am not pro-abortion, morally. I think that it's wrong. But I don't think it should be illegal, because there are enough situations where abortion should be done to save the life of the mother. And because making it a legal issue isn't the answer. The best way to battle abortion (besides sterilizing everyone until they earn the right ot be parents, which I would support 100% but unfortunately wouldn't probably go over well) is through education, health care, and by breaking the cycles that cause it to happen. In fact, abortion would be reduced if the Republican party would actually do something to support one of their most frequently used catch phrases- "support family values." The same Republicans who are anti abortion also fight against having day cares in schools, funding for birth control and sex education, and other means to reduce teen and unwanted pregnancy. They just want to ignore the problem and hope it will go away, and then blame the family unit when it doesn't. Well, it's a cliche but I'm going to say it anyway- it takes a village to raise a child. When is everyone in this country going to realize that we have a great opportunity to turn the United States into one big village where we can raise happy, healthy, well fed, and loved children- children who grow up to become contributing members of society at the least and who will help us compete in science and industry with China. This would cost us money, yes... at first. But the eventual savings would be staggering, and the even if they weren't the increase in quality of life would be well worth it.

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