I would imagine that the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut would have brought out the best in conservatives. Children ought to be societies greatest asset, the one sector of our society that we should never abandon, the most vulnerable among us. Conservatives love to speak about family values, when they value families not at all.
To hear conservatives talk, it is easy to believe that conservatives are so enamoured of their children that to do harm to them would be unthinkable, and anyone that tried would be dealt with swiftly. If there was ever a time when the country could band together to eradicate the menace posed by an armed society, surely this tragedy would be the one.
If appears that one would be wrong to think anything of the sort. Rather than ensure that weapons never enter a school building again, Republicans want to increase the number of weapons on the street and in schools. They are creating an environment in which school children will be placed in even greater harm, not only in their schools, but wherever they go in society. If Republicans have anything to do with it, guns will be everywhere, and with them comes the fear of violence, the fear of death, and the reality of those two things.
I have written at length about the gun problem ever since the school shooting in Newtown, and there is still much to say. The conservative argument for guns must be destroyed, for the sake of freedom, for if they have their way, freedom will not last long in this country. You cannot live peacefully and freely in a society if you fear each day, each place you go, each encounter you have with people.
It is not just regarding school shootings that Republicans have betrayed their children, they betray them routinely, in every piece of legislation they propose. The reason is simple, they have no interest in the family, or the sanctity of marriage, or abortion, these are peripheral issues. What conservatives want is absolute power, power to implement whatever agenda they see fit.
To carry out their agenda, there are many things they need to do, but the youth are at the core of their policies. First, they must remove education. An educated mind is one that can question authority in a rational, rather than emotional way, it can use rules of logic to discern whether an argument is soundly based or an appeal to emotion. An educated mind can compare decisions made by authorities to what they have learnt or read and decide whether those decisions are valid or not.
This is why conservatives do whatever they can to cut funding to the educational system. The more they can cut into the system, the less the children will be capable of questioning their world. When primary education is cut, children can no longer attend universities or colleges with the background required to get degrees or qualifications allowing them to succeed in modern society.
For the same reason conservatives love home schooling. They are well aware that parents are not going to have the skills necessary to impart the correct information to their children. This leaves children woefully unprepared for the realities of life in an advanced technological society. Parents will also not have the equipment, or the training necessary to create a science lab, to study chemistry or physics.
Closing schools, firing teachers, reducing education for teachers also has a tangible effect on the education that children get at public schools. This is why conservatives are so eager to cut spending of any sort. They know that schools are the easiest place to cut.
This is also why conservatives dont want to make university or college easier for children. They want to make it impossible for children to go on to university and college. That, they want to maintain for the wealthy only, giving the wealthy a huge leg up in the earnings stakes.
Conservatives also refuse to allow classes to include sex education for the same reasons. If teenagers are unaware of the biology of sexual reproduction, the are far more likely to experiment, leaving young girls with unwanted pregnancies.
Studies show repeatedly that young, unmarried mothers are far more likely to live in poverty. it is to the advantage of conservatives who want an easily manipulable society to make sure that young women, especially among the poor have no access to contraception, or to abortion, or to sex education.
The current struggle over the fiscal cliff and the refusal to raise taxes on the wealthiest people in the nation also has a tangible impact on the children. While the net effect on the very wealthy is negligible, at a mere 4% increase in taxes, the effect on people at the other end of the economic scale is devastating on a far grander scale.
The cuts that conservatives are proposing in their fiscal deal with Obama will have a devastating effect on the poorest families in America. This will have a particularly harsh impact on the children in those families.
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was expanded in the stimulus program implemented by Obama in 2009 to help vulnerable families with an extra credit for children. Under Boehner’s plans in the House, this credit will disappear. This amounts to a tax increase on poor children in return for no increase for millionaires and billionaires.
Another hit for the poor will be the end of the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), another program designed to prevent poverty in the poorest families in the land. Again, it is the children that will be most affected.
Another program that the conservatives are eradicating is the American Opportunity Credit, which provides tuition assistance for Middle Class families. Again, this will have a dramatic effect on the families ability to provide education for their children.
While wealthy families will be able to afford to send their children on to Harvard and Yale, or foreign universities. the poor and Middle Class will be left struggling to pay for their children’s education. Again, conservatives are targeting the poor in their passionate affair with the obscenely wealthy.
The working poor would see their taxes rise by up to $1500 per year just with the lapsing of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax credit. When you are living on $20,000 per year, with one or more children, an increase like that can tear at the family fabric. Parents have to make difficult choices about where to allocate their financial resources, and too often they make poor choices.
Conservatives are chomping at the bit to cut Medicaid, a program that affects mostly low-income children. Parents would be left with few options in the case of medical emergency other than expensive emergency rooms at hospitals, and those are extremely expensive. That often leaves the poor with staggering debts.
The other program that conservatives want to cut is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food assistance for the poor, and especially poor children. Despite the fact that recipients receive a tiny amount, in September 2012, recipients received an average of $134.29/month, conservatives want to cut the program.
This would destroy one leg of a program that at least alleviates the worst poverty today, abandoning many children to hunger. The intense scrutiny of this program began under Ronald Reagan’s administration in the early 1980’s, and severe restrictions were implemented on these programs. It was only under president Clinton that some semblance of decency was reintroduced in 1993 with the Hunger relief Act.
The small value of food stamps forces recipients to buy foods higher in sugar and processed carbohydrates, and less fresh produce which is more expensive., This leads to higher incidence of obesity and related problems like diabetes and heart disease, both of which are having an effect on children, and especially poorer children. A responsible program would allow families to buy healthier foods. The children, as usual are the victims in this irresponsible conservative-led problem.
Conservatives care little for these arguments and invariably blame the poor for their predicament, and by extension the children. Instead of doing whatever they can to ensure that children are protected, they make sure that the poor are driven even further into poverty.
Conservative targeting of children is unethical and lends the lie to their statements about family values. They should really stop targeting children, and start putting more of a burden on the wealthy where it rightly belongs.
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