From before the Christian Era people of different faiths have been anointed by God or some other deity for their beliefs, their works, their history, to be singled out above all others. In the Biblical story, Moses’s receiving of the Ten Commandments transformed the Israelites into the “chosen people.” Unfortunately for many, being chosen came with the dubious honor of being looked at under a microscope and suddenly these same people became the target of prejudice, scorn, and stereotyping that placed them in mortal jeopardy.
As last week came to a close we saw in Washington D.C. the 11th hour rescuing of the federal government from a shut-down. This was accomplished by sacrificing another a “Chosen People,” one without affiliation to a particular religion, race, or history. Last night the Democrats and Republicans from the House, the Senate, and the White House reached a compromise on the 2011 budget for the federal government. It will cut $38.5 billion dollars from non-military discretionary spending. They also compromised the futures of many Americans in this country.
For the cuts from this category of spending will directly affect a group of people who were struggling before a even a single dollar was eliminated from this year’s budget. The people who rely on government programs for food, health services, and education are now being subject to a “historical cut” in spending (as some in Washington have called it). Pragmatically, we as taxpayers will see that in the long run, these cuts will cost our society much more, as we try to rectify the damage of this years budget.
Ironically while these cuts in spending were made there was not one dollar cut from the yearly Pentagon budget which remains over $500,00 billion (close to $1 trillion when Homeland Security is added). It was not so long ago when it was revealed that the military spent exorbitant amounts of money for hammers, coffee makers, and toilet seats. Capable of the most of the egregious expenditures because of an inflated and nearly untouchable budget. When has it ever been reported that a clinic that treats the poor, or a school that provides learning and training for young men and women, spent $100 on a hammer?
The politicians in our nation’s capital, led by the Tea Party wing of the Republicans have indeed put a target on the back of the poor, the undereducated, and the chronically ill as the new “chosen people,” to be persecuted in the name of deficit reduction.
But in reality, when one looks beyond the rhetoric of the right, the old prejudices truly become the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Convinced that poverty is a reflection of laziness, and that one who is chronically ill is unworthy of care and comfort if they do not have the money to pay for it, the right shows an utter lack of compassion—an instinctual yet ignorant animal who hunts and kills his prey with no reason and no mercy.
We have heard and will continue to hear the cries that bringing down our nation’s debt will be painful. But painful for whom? Republicans decide that raising taxes on the richest one percent, or closing loopholes in the tax code for the largest corporations, would hurt that segment of our society. So instead, they inflict their Ayn Rand philosophy on the most vulnerable—or, as Rand would describe them, on the “parasites.”
There will be more debate as decisions on raising the debt ceiling, and on the 2012 budget, will be next. Once again there will be those who will clamor for more and deeper cuts in social programs with no concern for the consequences.
How the new “Chosen People” of the 21st Century will survive and gain the footing for a better quality of life will not be determined only in the halls of Congress or in the Oval Office, but rather by all of us. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change government.”