Friday, April 08, 2005

Culture of Life

As the leadership of the Republican party and its MSM mouthpieces give non-stop attention to the death of the pope one phrase occurs repeatedly: the culture of life. This is a phrase used by the late Pontiff to describe the Roman Catholic church's opposition to contraception, abortion, the death penalty, right to death legislation, and virtually all forms of war, including, specifically, the war in Iraq.

Now anyone familiar with my views knows that I strongly disagree with the church's position on almost all of these things (opposition to the war being a main point of agreement). But regardless of my disagreement, I can still respect the self-consistency of these views, especially as they fall into line with other of the churches views on the need for charity and good works.

And it is in these prerequisites for a true culture of life that our Republican controlled government falls far short.

For even as they demagogue about the evils of abortion and an individual's right to die, Republicans continue to, not just ignore, but exacerbate the suffering of those in our society with the greatest need.

From today's New York Times:

Much as the diners at Holy Apostles peered ahead to see what was being dished up at the steam tables, soup kitchen administrators across the country are currently eying governments' trilevel budget season and wincing at all the politicians' economizing vows. They know that "budget tightening" eventually means longer lines outside their doors.

"It's a desperate thing," said the Rev. Bill Greenlaw, director of the Holy Apostles charity, one of the largest among 1,298 kitchens and pantries regularly helping more than one million residents in New York City. "Every level of government seems to have the same mantra, that these programs are vulnerable.

"We're bracing that all three levels of government are coming down at the same time."

Most immediately, food charities are pleading against further cuts in the federal emergency food and shelter program, which directly fights hunger. Last year, 48 soup kitchens closed in the city as supplies were exhausted, and hundreds of others reported to be making do by cutting back on daily portions.

Beyond that, however, administrators know that the myriad of severe program cuts looming in Washington - for everything from low-income wage supplements to health care spending for poor people - can only lead to further cuts down the revenue food chain in statehouses and city halls and, finally, longer lines of people silently begging for food.

The budget debate in the Republican-run Capitol presents a Hobson's choice between the House's five-year, $30 billion-plus in program cuts for the poor and the Senate's $2.8 billion in cuts - one-tenth the pain, but focused most heavily on nutrition programs. The compromise cuts are likely to lean toward the House, levying more than their fair budget share on the poor, even as President Bush and the G.O.P. leaders argue that still more upper-bracket tax cuts are somehow justifiable.[Emphasis mine]
And be clear, tax-cuts for the comfortable are only a part of the problem. Currently the US military budget (over $400 billion) is approaching its highest cold war levels and equals that of the rest of the world combined.

Now before you complain that we're at war, consider with whom that war is to be fought and just how effective our most expensive military programs will be aginst that threat. Stealth fighters aren't much help with suicide bombers after all.

Until this country, tis citizens and its government are prepared to re-examine the needs and functionality of the US military, culture of life will remain only a meaningless catch phrase.

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