Conservatives deal in absolutes: You must never raise taxes. You must cut the debt. You must have a small government. You must not get caught in the men’s room getting a blowjob from your “friend” José. The problem with absolutes is that they leave no room for intelligent decision making. True intelligence is not latching on to one ideology and riding it off of a cliff. It is a never-ending journey of educating yourself and creating strategies based on all of the data you obtain. The failure of people to see beyond their own front doors and realize that other ideas have value is one of the fundamental reasons our country is a verifiable toilet bowl of crazy people.
I pondered these notions as I considered one of the more popular waves of hate spewed by the Teabaggers. Many seem to believe that government aid programs like food stamps and welfare are only used by people who do not want to work. That essentially, these people are lazy and a burden to our society. Whenever I hear this it makes me sick. I grew up in a low-income area with a single mother who worked two and sometimes three jobs to get us by. A few years ago, she was permanently laid off from her company. A company she had dedicated 30 years of her life and had received multiple commendations for exceptional work. She never made much money, but she worked hard. She looked for other employment, but Michigan was (and still is) in a depression and there were no jobs. She spoke with one employer who told her that he had received 300 applications for a part-time gas station attendant for the midnight shift. Yes, some people probably take advantage of the system however, that is a problem of enforcement. The fact is that in Orbson’s world when someone falls, you pick them up. What type of society do we want to be? One that turns our backs on our neighbors, or one that will try to help each other thrive? In the end, helping them thrive will be far more beneficial economically and morally.
To illustrate my point further, here are two conflicting stories:
The Teabagger Story of John and Mary
John and Mary live in a $250,000 house in a nice suburb in southeast Michigan. They both work fulltime and earn a combine $75,000 per year. They are in a “debt crisis”. Oh no, what should they do?! Well, the Teabaggers say, “Gee whiz John and Mary. You have been spending way too much. It may be time to tighten your belts.” So John and Mary look at their budget and find that by trading in one their Lexus SUVs for an Audi, getting rid of HBO, taking out a small loan against their house to pay off their credit cards and setting the thermostat to 74 during the day instead of 71, they can balance their budget and live happily ever after. The Teabaggers celebrate! Yippeee!
Unfortunately, reality is a little different:
The True Orbsonwood Story of John and Mary
John and Mary live in a house they paid $250,000 for but due to the economy is now only worth $140,000. They still owe $210,000 on their mortgage so selling is not an option. Mary lost her job when her company outsourced her position. Even with a Master’s degree she has been unable to find full time employment because there are no jobs. John was forced to take a pay cut this past year and now their combined annual income is $30,000. They have sold all but one of their vehicles and now drive around in an 8-year old Toyota Corolla that needs repairs. They have cancelled cable, entertainment, date nights and Christmas but are barely scraping by on John’s salary and credit cards. Their total debt grows rapidly with no end in sight. Unfortunately, John slips and falls on the sidewalk and injures his back. The medical bills mount quickly. They try to collect food stamps but are turned down because they “make too much money”. They sell clothes and heirlooms on Ebay, but are finally forced to declare bankruptcy. John and Mary lose their house to foreclosure and are forced to move in with John’s parents after John loses his job due to too many sick days after his accident. They apply for welfare. The Teabaggers and those suffering SUVitis call John and Mary “lazy” and a “drain on good hard working people.” Welcome to the new America.
The moral of these stories is simple. There is a major disconnect between conservatives and the rest of the people in this country. Many of the well-off do not know what it is like to be poor or to struggle to live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t condemn them for their good fortune; however I despise them for their lack of empathy. There are millions of people like John and Mary. However, the Teabaggers of the world don’t see it. They put on their silly hats and talk about how “Tyrone and LaQuisha” are lazy criminals.
Orbson sees a world where the “government of the people” gives a helping hand to people like John and Mary and Tyrone and LaQuisha. Not just a simple handout, but the tools to change their futures for the better. Programs like job retraining and a volunteer requirement to receive aid can better the nation while putting the couples into a position to pay into the tax system later. Invest now to see results later. You can’t do that without government. You can’t do that without taxes. You can’t do that without empathy. In the end, the only "absolultes" Orbson Rice supports is compassion and vodka.
Orbson on the News: Christine O'Donnell walks off of her interview with CNN's Piers Morgan after Morgan has the audacity to expect her to answer questions. I'm on the Teabag Witch's side on this one. Nobody should ever expect Christine O'Donnell to be able to answer a question. It's like asking a sheep to do calculus - it just stares at you.