Thank God for nuns
Last week, a bus full of nuns came through Iowa and stopped in front of the office of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. The nuns came to publicly protest the Republican House budget because they think it will cause further economic injustice.
The current economic situation calls for someone to step up and fight for the rights of the less privileged, and I for one am thankful for these nuns.
Today, our nation is in a very sticky situation. The median individual American income was $29,730 as of a 2010 BLS report. We have more than 8 percent unemployment, and the workforce only includes 58.4 percent of all working-age U.S. citizens. Retirees have lost their retirement and so are reliant on Social Security and Medicaid, and government spending makes up 23 percent of current U.S. GDP.
The federal government is spending far more than it gains through tax revenue, which causes a debt that is crippling the private sector and halting economic growth. More people require social-welfare assistance than we have seen in the past few decades; basically, the economic inequalities in America are resembling those of France, just before Marie Antoinette supposedly said "let them eat cake."
Even though the recession "ended" in 2009, these problems are lasting and not isolated to the United States. We can see it in many European nations as well. Something's got to change, and with a Congress divided and unable to compromise, we have two starkly different options trying to correct the situation.
One option, the Roadmap Plan, a budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., offers plenty of statistics to remind the American people that social programs are expensive. He also projects that if we keep up the current trends, things will get really bad. What he seems to have forgotten is that no one wants to maintain current trends, because things are already pretty bad, and we're all trying to make it better.
Ryan thinks, and rightfully so, that the federal government has overstepped its boundaries by taking partial ownership of the auto industry, and the majority ownership of the secondary market for housing mortgages (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), which is too risky and expensive.
However, the agreeable parts of his argument stop there. Ryan's actual plan for correcting the recession calls for cutting all the so-called "wasteful" spending on social safety nets, entitlement programs, and health-care coverage.
Among Ryan, myself, and the American nuns on the bus, someone does not fully understand the importance of social-welfare programs. Sure, the government is spending way too much on welfare, health care, and Social Security but only because the American people need these things.
Ryan believes that providing someone's health care gives them a false impression that they believe that they no longer need to work. The nuns however believe, quoting Pope Benedict, "charity and justice are both based in love, but you can't have charity until everyone has justice."
Ryan is a smart man, but he should really try just being a good person first. As the nuns made quite clear, it's both the Catholic and the American way.
There are some things to which all Americans should be entitled. Those things include an education, food, health care, due process, and a trial by a jury of their peers — to name a few. The government certainly has overstepped boundaries in some areas but still serves a valuable purpose.
The government is for the people and by the people, not for 1 percent of the people. Someone has to play Robin Hood — at least until there is economic justice in the private sector and employers are paying employees what they are actually worth rather than manipulating those who already have less.
I'm happy to endorse entitlement programs because they support things Americans are actually entitled to. Health care, food, and shelter are all important and necessary things. Thank God for nuns who know what they should fight for and teach everyone else a much needed economics lesson.
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