The WALTHER REPORT
By Tony Walther
Something that has always irritated me is that Republicans are against government intervention or support until they need it for themselves. I’ve witnessed this fact ever since I was old enough to understand current events (and that was pretty early thanks to mom and dad).
Of course the biggest example of that is the recently enacted business bailouts (at least $1 trillion, I believe). To be sure, there was some resistance to them on both the GOP and Democratic side, but as the stock market crashed even constituents who had just e-mailed their congressmen to stop the bailouts e-mailed back, bring them on to save us!
And you couldn’t be more blatantly hypocritical than Republican presidential candidate John McCain Wednesday night calling for the cutting of taxes and even an across the board spending freeze (and why doesn’t the media play that spending freeze up?) and then on the other side of his mouth implying that his administration would go to bat for “special needs” children and that his running mate Sarah Palin is an expert on that because she has a “special needs” child (she recently gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome). Palin herself was the first to suggest that under a McCain/Palin ticket special needs children would get help. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems counter to the calls for self-reliance (government is not the answer, they say) and no tax hikes or even tax reductions. But it is as I say a common trait among so-called conservative pull yourself up by your own bootstraps types to be the first in line when they need help.
And that “my friends”, as McCain would phrase it, is why I could never buy the Republican line (and I’m talking about Republicans of the last three or four decades, post-Eisenhower).
And then there is Joe the Plumber. I have worked with his type and worked for one of his type. I respect their initiative if they actually do what they say. For almost a decade I worked for a trucking company, the owner of which started out by driving his own truck. I met an old truck driver one time at a coffee shop out on the road. He said he worked with him when they were younger. “He always bragged that he was going to run his own company one day – we just laughed at him,” the old boy told me. Well, he admitted, “he did it.” I don’t know the whole story and can’t guarantee the accuracy of it, but it went something like this: instead of buying a truck from his employer, he rented one from his father-in-law and expanded from there (if true, he knew better than to get caught up in that lease to own trap, although he subsequently used it on others). I admire his initiative and savvy.
Then there are the types who remain employees but spout off about how they don’t believe in big government and anything that gets in the way of business, but meanwhile they take advantage of every social program they are “entitled to,” unemployment benefits, disability, Social Security, OSHA safety standards, etc.
And while I have never been a union person (save for a few months and didn’t go to meetings), I find it a little hypocritical to rail against unions when I know that in my final trucking job, in which I was well paid (not the one run by the entrepreneur), while I was working for a non-union terminal, I knew that the reason we were so well paid was that there was pressure from other union terminals. The company did what it had to do to keep us happy, hoping that we would not vote the union in. And they did keep us happy, and I appreciate them for that. But I also appreciate the fact that the union was there in the background.
(But I am not pro-union because unions are often corrupt and I have witnessed the difference between union and non-union operations. In non-union operations people keep busy. In union operations people often watch the clock and refuse to do work they claim is not part of their job. The pace is often slower. However, that said, unions can protect their members and if they run their own internal quality control, and realize that the health of their employer is necessary to maintain their jobs, it would seem unions could work. And I did not mean to get off on a tangent on unions. But I have to say one more thing. The word is – don’t know if it is accurate – that an Obama administration would support the move by unions to institute the so-called card check method nationwide. This means unions can force themselves on an employer if they can persuade or intimidate enough workers to sign union cards. I believe a secret ballot is better. No one should be intimidated to sign up for a union or not sign up for a union).
The ugly hot button subject of abortion came up in the final debate. McCain unintentionally I think wound up cruelly insulting women by using that silly popular gesture nowadays of air quotes when he referred to “the health of the mother”. He claimed the phrase has been stretched to justify any abortion. I understood his point (although I don’t know if it is accurate), but his mocking and disgust ridden tone did not serve him well. Obama danced around the super delicate subject.
Both men say they are against abortion personally (of course being men they would never have to have one), but Obama supports a woman’s right to have one. McCain said he feels the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, which ensures that right, was wrong. I think McCain claims he would not interfere with the right, nonetheless, although I think he has been equivocal on that position – kind of depends upon the audience to whom he is speaking.
My personal position on this most uncomfortable subject is this: abortion is something that is the business of the patient (always a woman, of course) and her doctor. The concept that the state (the government) cannot or should not intrude on one’s right to deal with or control their own body seems to me intrinsic. And now after all of these years, after writing that last sentence, I think I finally understand the Roe vs. Wade language where the opinion stated that while there is no actual wording in the Constitution (and its Bill of Rights) that gives a woman a right to privacy (thus a right to abortion), the right is contained in a “penumbra” of the Constitution. Put in my own English, if one does not have a right to control her or his own body, what right could one have?
I should stop while I am ahead, but I have to go on. It is true that we do have laws against taking life. So there is a conflict here. Then there is the question of: when does life begin? The easy answer is: at conception (I don’t know, but I would guess that an historical check would show that in times past, life in a legal context was always assumed to be the state of being once out of the womb and into the outside world). So we come full circle. A woman choosing to do something with her own body, but something that will result in the ending of a life. Ah, if things were simple we would not need written laws and judges. But I maintain we have to have a right to our own bodies and if we believe in a higher power, then we may reach out to the power for guidance and if we don’t follow a higher power, then we have to reach within ourselves. But again, if an individual, and in this case we really are talking about a woman, does not have a right to control her own body, that is so basic, how can you say a person has a right to anything?
And now, if you have read many of my other blogs, you will note that I am repetitious in the next thing I have to say:
If you go by their words (fact checks aside), the stark difference between Barack Obama and John McCain is that Obama is for an activist government that backs up and supports its citizens and McCain claims to be for one that calls on more sacrifice and self-reliance from the citizenry, albeit he has exceptions, such as for Palin’s family needs and others so situated, and talks about helping folks out there who are hurting (how?).
If the economic situation was not so dire, McCain would win, I have no doubt. But the U.S. and the world is facing what appears to be the biggest economic challenge ever. The only way most folks can see out of this (and they know it’s no guarantee) is to change horses, or should I say, replace the Republican elephant with the Democratic mule.