The current administration has given the green light for hate and bigotry. It has also given those in power (particularly of the Republican ilk) a newfound freedom to display the contempt they feel for the people they are supposedly elected to serve, many of whom put them office.
A few examples from recent news:
Congressman Robert Marshall
Congressman Roger Marshall is a physician on the GOP Doctors Caucus, a group of physician lawmakers who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He recently dismissed poor people and homeless people as a group “that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves”. They won’t take advantage of preventive care even if you give it to them. And why should we give it to them when they won’t eat healthy or exercise. I’m reminded of a single mom I once knew who held down an office job, got her kid to school every day, and then returned home to her car every night after a hard day’s work to help her kid with her homework. Eating was a goal, not eating healthy. Surviving another cold Chicago night was a priority, not getting to the gym. Dr. Marshall described the hospital of his dreams as “more like a hotel with customer service that delivered five-star health care.” But gosh darn it that pesky Affordable Care Act that provided coverage to all those poor, sick people got in the way.
Work requirements for those on Medicaid
Republican governors are pushing for work requirements for those on Medicaid. Not new, I know. Neither is the paternalistic holier than thou belief that if we provide a helping hand we’re just giving people an incentive not to work. In this case, health care is at issue, specifically Medicaid and its expansion in some states through the Affordable Care Act to more adults without disabilities. The fact is, most adults on Medicaid are working and most of those are working full-time, but that doesn’t mean they have health insurance. In fact, for many, Medicaid coverage has allowed them to get the care they need so that they CAN work.
Drug testing people on welfare
Drug testing people on welfare is also gaining popularity. Those who support it claim it saves money by getting rid of drug users and reducing spending on benefits. So far states who have done this have spent millions of dollars to discover that welfare applicants actually test positive at a lower rate for drug use than the general population. And yet, other states are forging ahead to root out all those mooching addicts.
Rampant unemployment fraud in Michigan
And, finally, one of my favorites – the automated system designed to uncover the rampant unemployment fraud that the Republican government in Michigan was just sure must exist. Automated systems are programed by humans. Clearly this one was subject to the biases of its developers because it made wrong accusations in at least 20,000 cases. Ninety-three percent of the accusations made via this system were wrong. The huge spike in fraud after putting the system in place didn’t apparently raise any red flags, presumably because it supported what those in power expected to find. Meanwhile, innocent people are losing unemployment, being fined thousands of dollars, and having taxes garnished.
To my mind these stories not only lay bare a contempt for a huge swath of our citizenry, but they also reveal a great deal about how those enacting these draconian rules think. They assume everyone is trying to cheat and game the system. Why? Because they are always trying to cheat and game the system, in their case perhaps the tax code or the world of commerce.
I still have my moments when I hope the Republican establishment will step up, come to their senses, and help stop our free fall into fascism, but each time I see one of these types of stories, that hope fades a little more.