Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"Compassionate" Conservatism, My Ass

I was dismayed to see this article in the New York times today about how the federal government is going to forgo more than $7 billion in royalty payments from oil companies in the next five years for $65 billion in oil and gas pumped from federal (that's taxpayer-owned) territory in the next five years.

In the State of the Union, Bush said Americans were "addicted" to oil and needed to explore alternative fuels, but obviously, this is only lip service. Exxon Mobil had record profits last year of $36 billion thanks to high energy prices, and the government doesn't expect oil prices to drop below $50 a barrel over the next five years, either -- meaning the fat cats are going to stay well fed for years to come. Obviously, they don't need more money.

The irony (and, this time it really is irony) is that the Republicans try to paint themselves as "compassionate conservatives" and their voting base is largely made up of people who identify themselves as "Christian fundamentalists" or "evangelicals." Forgoing money that could go to prop up failing safety-net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and letting Exxon Mobile shove it in its bulging wallet doesn't sound very compassionate to me. And "Christian" fundamentalists -- all those so-called "values voters" -- should be ashamed at how the man they voted for wants to spend their money.

Aren't there better things to do with billions of dollars than give it to oil companies whose bank accounts are already threatening to explode like the Exxon Valdez in the Prince William Sound? Let's see if we can find a better place for the money. For all of my Christian fundamentalist readers, let's see what Jesus has to say. What would Jesus do? Huh? You're always asking that.

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18

[Jesus said]: "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." They will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment." Matthew 25:42-46

I wish Christians would worry less about things like gay marriage, abortion and fornication and think more about taking care of people.

So I'm going to go all liberal-media-bias on your ass for a moment. Please indulge me. I have an idea of what we could do with that money instead of giving it to Exxon Mobil et al.

According to bread.org, "the UN Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world's poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year [to what is being spent now]." Incidentally, that's about the same amount that pet owners in the U.S. and Europe spend on dog and cat food every year. We can feed Fluffy and Muffin and Tweety, but poor little Udugu in the Congo can't even get a scoop of porridge. Six million children in developing countries die every year, mostly due to hunger. Even in the U.S., 10% of households skip meals or eat less than they want because they don't have enough money.

Maybe we could take that money and feed some people who are actually hungry, instead of buying more caviar for Exxon execs and the company's shareholders.

I am now stepping off the soapbox. Back to your normally scheduled insipid programming.

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