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The Caligulan death of working class America

The evil Roman emperor Caligula, who reigned from 37 to 41 A.D., would sentence a person to death by small cuts all over the body.

That monster then delighted in watching until the unfortunate individual perished from loss of blood, shock or both.

Apparently sensing they might be next, some of Caligula's own bodyguards eventually murdered him.

A kind of death, in a way by small cuts, is occurring to a huge number of Americans today.

Not in a manner, however, that conservatives or those on the right wing of politics would have us believe.

Take the attempts to expand health care and insurance to more than 30 million Americans.

According to Republicans and those on the right, that's taking away our liberties (freedoms).

How?

I'd say losing one's job, their home or health care (insurance) has absences of liberty. Money is freedom and power.

Outsourcing, downsizing, stagnant wages, benefit and pension reductions for tens of millions of our citizens the last 30 years are a mountain of small cuts that lead to a slow death of sorts.

Yet, corporate profits continue to set records yearly. The Wall Street thieves who we bailed out, are again scamming and skimming us full tilt.

The economic gap between the have-mores and the have-nots in the United States is already wider than in all but a few countries in the world.

If you claim you're saving the taxpayers money, though, you can get away with anything.

This tyrant who now runs Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich, once said, "Get on the bus or it will run over you."

It has.

Kasich brags about balancing the state's budget without raising taxes.

It's a lie. He did it on the backs of you and me.

Kasich dried up education funding. Local municipal cities and agencies that aid the less fortunate.

The trick is, many of them have been or will be forced to seek tax hikes - a cruel irony.

How many human beings care if the budget is balanced if they can't make a livable wage, keep a roof overhead, food on the table, clothes on the back, afford to educate their children, don't have health care, a vehicle that operates or be able to put something away for retirement?

Even in hard times, the arrogance and ugly behavior of some people astounds me.

As a bastion of conservative, right-wing ideology, Logan County is epitomized by politicians and bureaucrats like Dustin Wickersham, a Republican county commissioner, Paul Benedetti, president of the Logan County Area Chamber of Commerce and Susan Bailey-Evans, new director of the Department of Job and Family Services.

A short time ago, Wickersham was quoted in the Examiner on the subject of unemployment compensation. He contends it's "too generous" and is also an incentive for those out of work not to look for it.

It's a typical conservative rant: Blame the victims.

Success in life is determined by personal responsibility goes one of the right's favorite mantras.

Luck, or the lack of it, plays no role. Don't hold your breath on that one. A bad break - perhaps a job loss - and it can be you or I kicked to the curb.

The author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, the Blind Side), in a commencement address at Princeton University remarked:

"People really don't like to hear success explained away as luck, especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don't want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives ... recognized that if you have had success, you have also had luck and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your gods, you owe a debt to the unlucky.

In other words, have some humility. Benedetti, who is also a founder of the local tea party branch, chimed in with his two cents on the topic of unemployment. 

Prior to a local job fair, the first in more than five years, Benedetti offered the following:

"Some of those (unemployed) are people who will be losing unemployment benefits in December.

"This is a wakeup call for them."

Heartless, I call that.

Although Benedetti was not then president, he still might be able to shed light on what the chamber did - or did not do - to prevent Siemens and Daido from walking out of Bellefontaine a few years back. Between them, those industries provided nearly 1,000 jobs.

The point is this: Wickersham and Benedetti know they're on friendly turf around here when mouthing such preposterous and insensitive rhetoric.

It isn't courage to say what a majority of others likely agree with.

The popularity of their words in one setting, however, doesn't imply wisdom. Or, in these cases, any compassion, either.

Bailey-Evans, meanwhile eliminated $5 to $20 gas cards for 234 Medicaid clients, which helped toward the transportation to appointments.

Bailey-Evans asserted that the Medicaid clients were using the cards instead to supplement their family expenses.

Does anyone honestly think that sum of money could make a significant difference in today's living standard? It's beyond petty.

But there hasn't been a peep from the general public on behalf of the Medicaid clients.

Of course not.

The folks, being together with their draconian tactics are the voiceless in this nation especially in a Logan County environment.

I scoff every time I hear or read the conservative argument that liberals want to "redistribute wealth."

Most of our economic eggs are collected in one basket and delivered to the rich. The rest of us are left to jumping through hoops for the remaining scraps. That "redistribution" is kosher with the right.

Here's the question we should be asking ourselves in this nation:

How do you convince a great majority of the American people to get by on less and less, so the wealthiest among us become even wealthier?

That's happening and it was never supposed to work that way in the "Land of the free and the home of the brave."

The most succinct answer to the above inquiry that I've noticed was supplied by Peter Edelman, a professor of law at Georgetown University, who writes about poverty (46 million Americans included).

Edelman recently said "As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top than with those on the bottom, we are doomed."

Just like that old Roman Emperor Caligula was.

Jerry Turner

Quincy

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