For Whom the Bells Tolled

By on December 21, 2012
Cantor

bellsAt 9:30 this morning, the town of Sandy Hook Connecticut tolled the bells 24 times for the victims of last week’s massacre. The President, to his credit, has stepped up immediately, expressed his feelings, declared that something needs to change, assigning Vice President Biden to come with a proposal on a fairly short time line. Meanwhile the opposition party has remained largely silent, awaiting words from the NRA which will have a press conference later this morning before reacting. This is not leadership. This is an insult to every family with small children in these United States who is rightly concerned. Now is the time for moral courage, not testing the wind or waiting for instructions. Now is not the time for crafting a careful statement protecting special interests. We have a lethal problem on our hands.

tea partyObservers have pointed out that Republicans in Congress fear a primary challenge from a right-wing extremist if they offend the so-called tea party element of the GOP. That means some very extreme and slightly nutty types are tying up the mechanism of government over weapons control and fiscal responsibility. Is there no voice of reason or moral courage on the right?

Some small gun owners have correctly pointed out that mental illness and our management of it has been a factor in these travesties. That is true, but again this has been another example of people who want some result without paying for it. Social services like institutionalizing the mentally ill cost money. Placing a police officer at every school and multiplex in the country costs money. There is mental derangement at work here all right, among those who feel they need to arm themselves like a one-person military outfit to protect their rights. There is also mental illness at work when elected officials and responsible adults propose to turn the country into an armed police state.

CantorTaxes are not inherently evil. Every government taxes and has since biblical times. If you want police, fire, public safety, an army, a navy, some body in space, somebody restraining the psychotic and mentally ill, then you have to pay for it. Taxes are a time-honored way to collect the revenue for this. We pay less per capita in taxes than almost any industrial nation, and expect more. We spend way more on defense, artillery, armies and intelligence that the rest of the world put together. That costs money and that makes further reducing taxes delusional. We do not outspend the rest of the world on internal domestic and social programs per capita. If our tax code needs reform, stop talking and make a serious attempt to fix it.

Most Americans understand that fiscal sanity means balancing spending and revenues, money coming in and money going out, and that means all sides need to come to the table in the spirit of cooperation and settle their differences NOW. It is plain to the electorate, according to a recent CNN Poll, that only one side is seriously doing that. The other side keeps acting like they have received the word of God and will not budge or engage in any serious dialog. Today we wait for the NRA to come down from the mount to tell them what to do about the issue of artillery. God save us from our self-appointed saviors.

namesThis all adds up to very serious problems for this country in 2013. We have urgent matters at hand only we, through our elected representatives, can address. Watching Eric Cantor and the Republicans leaving last night for the holidays with matters unsettled and unaddressed is reprehensible and irresponsible. We owe it to those two dozen people in Connecticut for whom the bells tolled, to do better. Much better.

 

Tom Godfrey

 

 

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