Friday, December 11, 2015

God On Our Side

A burst of interest from Russia this past week.  Hard to tell which post has generated the increase but I have seen an overall jump in hits on my 2011 post called Assisted Suicide which I wrote to mark the passing of Jack Kevorkian.

I recently began borrowing CDs from our local library.  Among last week's bunch was Bob Dylan's 1964 effort called The Times They Are A-Changing.  Of course, the song of that same name is very interesting, a symbol of the intensity of the 1960's in terms of social change.  But the song that struck me the most is titled With God On Our Side.  I had never heard it before, but strongly believe it is worth, not only discussing in light of today's issues, but also worth replicating the lyrics.  See below.

Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that the land that I live in
Has God on its side

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side

Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
l’s made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side

Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side

I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side

Through many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side

So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

PA Budget

No chance to post last few weeks.  Sorry.  Working extra shifts and family obligations.

Just wanted to make a quick comment on the continued gridlock in Harrisburg concerning the next yearly budget.  Apparently a framework for agreement had been established and agreed upon by the principle negotiators, but was rejected by a small but vocal coalition of GOP reps.  They do not seem to believe that any compromise is needed.  As I recently said to a friend of mine, it is admirable that many in the GOP feel strongly about their principles.  There are times when I wish for such tenacity in the actions of the Democrats. 

However, when the electorate chooses a new governor, historically rejecting the reelection of a sitting governor as was done in the last gubernatorial election, then it may be incumbent for those elected in the House and Senate to understand that the public wants a new approach, and that the same old tired policies are not acceptable.  Certainly, no one expected that newly elected Tom Wolf would get everything he wanted in the new budget talks, but it seems that some members of the GOP have decided that he should get nothing, as if his election did not matter.

So, 5 plus months into the new financial year, funding for our schools, and public institutions which provide needed goods and services for the disadvantaged is still on hold.  Whether a new budget accord can be reached by Christmas seems doubtful which means that while our public servants in Harrisburg spend the holidays with their family and friends, enjoying all the benefits that their job and their citizenship as Pennsylvanians provides, thousands of our fellow state citizens will struggle through the holidays without the services and benefits that they need to survive. 

I would suggest that we deny our governor, state representatives and state senators an enjoyable holiday season by withholding their paychecks, or closing their homes due to the budget impasse, but that would just make me like them, public servants who have forgotten their duty to make the best, sometimes tough choices for all of us, but who prefer to swim in a pool poisoned with ideological blinders.  And spiteful to boot.

What is truly galling in all this, is that while, as I have said before, the window of opportunity to gain some much needed revenue from the natural gas industry is rapidly closing, we still could have provided a base tax, which, should the industry gain traction again when the current oil glut recedes, it has been clearly indicated by the GOP in our state that no additional tax shall be enacted.  Better we continue to rank in the bottom fifth of all states in terms of our contribution to public education, and that our infrastructure continue to fall apart.  

I am not sure when the GOP joined in lock step with the business community to decide that taxes should only be paid by individuals, but it seems clear that our democratic system of decisions made for the benefit of all citizens has been hijacked by those with the most money.  Capitalism, for all its benefits, is no better than any other economic system, if all the benefits flow to a small percentage of the population.  As a nation we seem captive to the influences of big money flowing from big business, and particularly in Pennsylvania, we are hostage to the belief that anything that helps the business community helps the state.  It doesn't seem to matter if by giving the business community a pass on their responsibility to share in the cost of life, we burden everyday working people with additional taxes, it only seems to matter if they provide jobs not withstanding if in providing those jobs they pollute our environment or pay such low wages that the citizens need additional local, state and federal assistance to survive thereby increasing the need for more revenue which results in higher taxes for the working class again. 

Like a noose around our neck, this cycle is strangling the middle class while our reps in Harrisburg argue over how much more they should tighten the rope.