Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jesus Christ for President

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
-Pretty Boy Floyd by Woody Guthrie

Mornings begin with coffee and the newspaper around our house. Usually it includes my wife reading an article from her paper to me and vice a versa. Today I found myself thinking about Woody Guthrie’s line “Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.”

On Monday my paper ran an article about the Indiana state candidates laying out their priorities for the new session of the legislature. It stated that the state’s Republican leadership had come under fire for refusing to abolish a deeply discounted health care plan for retired lawmakers.

This was quite interesting since last week’s edition of my wife’s paper ran an article about Indiana Senator Vi Simpson, a member of the Indiana Health Finance Commission. Apparently the legislative council had requested that the commission examine what other states are doing in order to make recommendations for a health care system that can work.

Senator Simpson wrote that such provisions should include: Cover all citizens, focus on disease prevention and health promotion, provide prescription drug benefits, and vision and dental care options, improve affordability and access to health care, and finally, ensure privacy and choice of medical providers. I would definitely support Senator Simpson in this endeavor.

Less than a week later it appears to me that those in power in the past made certain that they would have access to affordable health care on the backs of those who may not be able to afford the same. -“Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.”

Today, July 12th, my wife reads me an editorial column about the minimum wage. This issue is dear to her like the health care issue is to me. No shortage of liberal politics in this household!

The column noted that the last raise in the minimum wage occurred in 1997 and that today it buys less than it did then. It also stated that while the minimum wage has been losing ground to inflation, the members of congress have been raising their own salaries which the columnist stated was $165,200 per year. -“Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.”

I am sure that many of these politicos, state and federal, are Christians. Why even some are probably card caring members of the religious right. Of course it is hard to see the grace and compassion in their decision making. Woody Guthrie drawing from the Bible sang it like this:

Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land
A hard-working man and brave
He said to the rich, "Give your money to the poor,"
But they laid Jesus Christ in His grave

Perhaps the system that was intended to benefit all Americans is beginning to look like the old domination system that Jesus opposed in the first century.

When Jesus come to town,
all the working folks around
Believed what he did say
But the bankers and the preachers,
they nailed Him on the cross,
And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
-Jesus Christ by Woody Guthrie

Sure would be nice if being a Christian politician meant demonstrating grace and compassion. Perhaps if it did we would already have universal access to health care and a minimum wage that kept up with inflation. I suggest that these politicos who think of themselves as Christian remember the words of Woody Guthrie when he wrote Christ for President.

God above our king
With a job and a pension for young and old
We will make hallelujah ring

Every year we waste enough
To feed the ones who starve
We build our civilization up
And we shoot it down with wars

But with the Carpenter on the seat
Way up in the Capital town
The USA would be on the way
Prosperity Bound!

Not a bad idea, Woody. Jesus for President!


Blogger gawilli said...

Minimum wage, at $5.15 an hour, the same as it has been for the last ten years, will bring in a GROSS pay of $206.00 a week. We are looking at an annual income of a little over $10,000 a year and remember, that is not take-home pay. Unfortunately most employers do not give minimum wage earners enough hours to qualify for benefits. Now they have less than 40 hours a week and no insurance. The poverty threshold for a single parent with one child is $13,000. This song is as appropriate today as it was in 1940 when it was written.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In order to have order, people need jobs that produce a reasonable living wage. Affordable health care should be for everyone. Think of the jobs that would provide. The supporting health care jobs are needed, not just more doctors.

Please, don't forget quality PUBLIC education. The school year should be 220 days of quality education per year for students in this country, just like many other parts of the world.

9:29 PM  
Blogger willi said...

daddy d,

Definitely like the emphasis on PUBLIC. Education is important public or not, but our PUBLIC education is threatened.

Ever notice how most school reform somehow contains provision for charter schools or tuition tax credits? In Indiana it seems that our governor, mitch daniels (lack of caps intentional)is mounting an assault on free pubic education.

Things are not much different on the national level.

In Arkansas when the schools were going through cross town bussing nearly every church in town opened a private school and it remains that way today. Of course some of the private schools are integrated, but you can be certain that they are segregated by class.

But our society needs education for all, not just the elite.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although the assault on public education is not at all funny, I could not help laughing out loud at the lack of capitalization for the Indiana governor. I was going to say “our governor.” But you know that he is not my man, and I know that he is not your man either.

Of course, the crime of such a low minimum wage is multiplied in that those working poor cannot possibly afford healthcare. Additionally, as gawilli points out, employers usually do not allow minimum wage earners to work enough hours to earn benefits like health insurance. Some of these laborers work two and three of these low paying jobs.

I think that there are about 800,000 uninsured people in Indiana. We will have to watch for legislators like Senator Simpson that are ready to move their pens in the right direction.

9:51 PM  

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