Nuns on the Bus

Sister Simone Campbell

Sister Simone Campbell

Earlier this month Wisconsin governor Scott Walker held off an attempt to recall him as an influx of $63.5 million flooded the state, predominately from wealthy conservative donors from outside the state in support of the governor’s anti-worker, anti-union, anti-women, pro-big corporation tax break agenda.

Walker’s slogan “Moving Wisconsin Forward” has become GOP-speak for organized labor-bashing; suppressing the vote for students, minorities, and the elderly; attacking public employees, collective bargaining, and women’s rights; and fomenting tax breaks for big companies, which immediately created a state deficit the Republicans balanced off the backs of the working poor, cutting state services, and personnel lay-offs.

At first, Wisconsin residents expressed righteous indignation, but the financial propaganda machine, fueled by the limitless coffers of “Citizens United,” derailed common sense. Walker’s confederates boasted the distortion that the reason they prevailed was “because the residents of Wisconsin were fed up with paying out the exorbitant and inflated salaries and retirement packages (for public workers specifically targeting unions that represented the police, fire fighters, teachers, and prison guards).”

Gullible voters refuse to see past the fear-mongering tactics the GOP has adopted as national policy. Even in my home state of Alabama, as well as this entire geographical region, because this propaganda campaign has been so successful, the average uneducated white voter associates state workers with affirmative action and darker skinned people, while viewing organized labor as some type of Communist front activity that is anti-American and anti-Christian.

The silent message, and one few talk about, is the justification of honest, decent, “real Americans” funding a “gravy train” for those that don’t deserve it! Since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the overnight switch by the “Solid South” from Democratic to Republican, the GOP has maintained this wedge issue as a means of insuring this kind of prejudiced voter will appear at the polls and vote “correctly.”

After listening to the Walker people earlier in the week, I decided it was time America addressed the real issue of unbalanced budgets. As it is apparent the GOP will not allow their cronies running large corporations to assume their fair tax burden, we need to examine what they (the lawmakers) are costing us.

Congress works on average less than 3.5 days a week; yet many in Congress qualify for a 401(k) retirement package AND a pension AND social security. This is not available in the private sector. Additionally they have what can only be described as “socialized medicine,” apparently a program they ‘deserve’ but is not right for the rest of the country. The American taxpayer foots the bill for the healthcare packages of the wealthy and affluent, while buying into their propaganda that somehow the system they enjoy would be unworkable and inappropriate in this country. W

hat is never discussed is that the United States already has a model socialized medical scheme outside of Washington D.C., it is the Veterans Administration Hospitalization system.

The basic Congressional salary is $174,000 with an additional $900,000 available for salaries for up to 18 permanent employees; an additional $250,000 earmarked for travel, postage, office expenses; home state office furnishing allowances of $40,000; and special tax deductions, among numerous other perks and benefits for being a public “servant.”

Bear in mind that all these benefits, and more, apply on the Senate side.

Additionally, Congress takes exceptional care of their own; as an example, when Senator Robert Byrd (R-WV) died, his family was given his entire yearly salary.
Congress members can retire, with full benefits, after serving only five years, if they are 62 years of age or at age 50 with 20 years of service. These are the same people that are now conducting a national campaign against the “extravagant” retirement packages of unions and any other group that may vote Democratic.

As far as the corporations they protect are concerned, according to the Wall Street Journal, over the past decade the ‘job creators’ at G.E., Catepillar, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, Stanley Works, Merck, United Technologies, amd Oracle have collectively terminated over 2.9 million American jobs, while outsourcing over 2.4 million jobs.

The average C.E.O. of these companies makes above 400 times what their rank-and-file employees earn. According to A.B.C.’s Alice Gomstyn, the C.E.O. of Wal-Mart makes more in an hour than what the vast majority of Wal-Mart’s workers make in a year. During this time period, a study in Georgia indicated that one in four children of Wal-Mart employees were enrolled in PeachCare for Kids, a state health insurance program for uninsured children.

This is the current trend in America, C.E.O.s and special interest groups are allowed to legally pillage their employees and the people they serve. How is it possible to make over $30 million a year and not provide health coverage for the workers that made you wealthy? Since when did greed become a right to be utilized to exploit others?

This is the GOP vision for America. State Republican lackeys, as Scott Walker, are being utilized by the national party to destroy the American middle class for the benefit of the few. America needs to examine what is really going on and stop voting against the best interest of what made this nation great.

In the meantime, serious adjustments need to be implemented in what we pay Congress. We need an immediate budget reform for Washington. It’s past time for the rich to stop stealing from the poor. It’s also past time for well meaning Republicans to allow their party to be utilized as a source of hate and discrimination!

Apparently I am not the only person to feel this way. Shortly after Walker’s victory, Sister Simone Campbell felt a compelling need to witness on behalf of economic justice for all. She organized a “Faith, Fairness, Family” bus tour that is underway and is visiting social service agencies, members of Congress, and the public throughout Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

The motivation behind this tour is the life and teachings of Jesus and how the Paul Ryan (R-WI) budget, supported by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, will adversely affect the poor, middle class, and single parent homes.

Sadly, because the nun’s bus tour covers key tossup states in the general election, their right to freedom of speech and religious expression was, of course, opposed by the Republicans as being “political.” Apparently, when the Republicans use the Catholic church on their behalf to suppress and oppress women that is not political.

jim rhodesEven worse, the fear-mongering suppressionis, actually got the good ole boys men’s club, the Catholic Bishops, and the Vatican to agree with them! In spite of all this pressure, the nuns were not intimidated and are on the move comparing real religious values with corrupt, special interest ones bought and sold every day in our Congress.

The Republicans fear this type of woman as they expose their morally corrupt agenda. Indeed, if Jesus were to appear in Washington today, He would again be executed! The time is now to put our prejudices, fear, racism behind us and open our eyes to what is really going on in this country!

James Rhodes

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