August 02, 2005

Harmful Government Programs?

Human Events, a national conservative weekly that's been in publication since 1944, has published its annual special report on the ten most harmful government programs. These programs were selected by a group of thirty-six conservative judges, including: former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, American Conservative Union president Don Devine, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Eagle Forum president Phyllis Schlafly, Concerned Women for America senior policy director Wendy Wright, and many others. Just to give you some idea of who's deciding which government programs are the ones most harmful for America.

The list, from least harmful to most harmful, is comprised of: sugar import quotas and subsidies, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Title X Family Planning Funding, Bilingual Education Grants, the Endangered Species Act, Medicaid, Tax Withholding, Medicare, Social Security, and (coming in first place) the Internal Revenue Code. In recent years, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and the Legal Services Corporation have ranked number one.

Human Events also listed a number of "dishonorable mentions." One of my favorites was Title IX, which banned discrimination by gender in education programs, including athletics. Others include the Agency for International Development, the Violence Against Women Act, the U.S. Postal Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Affordable Housing Program, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Child Support Requirements, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Why do I mention this? I mention it because this magazine, and this list, are directly related to our government. This is a good, hard look at what President Bush and the extremist conservatives he's aligned with want to do to our government. And they want to do these things even though some of them are directly opposed to causes they claim to represent, such as the pro-life movement. Can anyone tell me what's pro-life about opposing Title X funding for family planning, opposing Medicaid (which often helps young mothers and their children), opposing Title IX gender non-discrimination laws, opposing the Violence Against Women Act, opposing the Affordable Housing Program, and opposing Child Support Requirements? They don't want young mothers to have abortions, but they don't want the government helping them in any way, either. I'm appalled that the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America would be a party to such anti-life policy statements.

What about the elderly? Conservatives don't want euthanasia, but they don't want to help the elderly maintain their quality of life, either. They don't want Medicare to help seniors cover their health care costs, they don't want Social Security to help make sure that seniors aren't eating dog food for dinner, and they don't want prescription drug coverage for seniors. They're similarly hostile to the disabled, opposing the Americans with Disabilities Act. What gives? You can't have your cake and eat it, too. You can't ask the elderly to live longer, while refusing in any way to help them with their quality of life. Such a notion is hypocrisy in its purest sense.

What about helping people who are less fortunate than us in general, and preserving the ethnic diversity that our nation was founded on? Conservatives will have none of that! No to Bilingual Education Grants, no to the Agency for International Development, no to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

What about America's infrastructure, our national security, and the environment? No, no, no! They're opposed to the Endangered Species Act, they're opposed to the Food and Drug Administration, they're opposed to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and they're opposed to the Transportation Security Administration. In the post-9/11 world, I don't know how anyone could be opposed to the Transportation Security Administration. These people are even opposed to the post office!

What's even more appalling is that many of these people would claim to be Christians, while refusing in the strongest terms possible to help "the least of these." They don't want our government to help the poor, unwed mothers and their children, the elderly, the disabled, diverse ethnicities within our own country, and the poor and vulnerable abroad. It is time for the Christian Church, and especially the Catholic Church whose social teaching speaks out strongly against this kind of ideology, to disconnect itself from the conservative movement. This is what conservatism is all about; pro-business, pro-rich ideology that leaves "the least of these" horribly neglected.