11 May 2011

Cause and Effects

I've struggled for months now to pinpoint what the inherent problem with conservative policies really is and I finally happened upon it just now.  Republicans live in a fairy tale world in which only their desired consequences are possible.  There is a willful ignorance of anything beyond what they wish to hear or consider.  Allow me to demonstrate this ceteris paribus doctrine at work.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has just signed legislation to cut off all funding to Planned Parenthood in the Hoosier State.  Now, every anti-abortion voter in the country will herald Daniels as a champion of morality, which bodes well for a guy considering a run for the presidency next year.  Of the 28 Planned Parenthood Health Centers in Indiana, only four (Bloomington, Georgetown, Lafayette and Merrillville) provide abortion services.  The remaining 24 PP Health Centers merely provide referrals.  But to spite those four locations, Gov. Daniels has thrown under the bus an estimated 22,000 Hoosier women who rely on Planned Parenthood for services entirely unrelated to abortions.  That's not even accounting for the fact that not one federal dollar pays for an abortion.
The courage to throw 22,000 women under the bus because he has a vision
of the White House and a willful ignorance of the results of his actions.
Consider the patients who rely on PP in Muncie, Indiana.  If you visit the official website for that city, you won't find Planned Parenthood on their list of health care providers in the city, nor any center or clinic overtly dedicated to the needs of women.  There's Central Indiana Orthopedics, Meridian Services (behavioral needs) and the Muncie Eye Center among others, but not one health care provider worthy of recognition on the City of Muncie web page says a single word about pap smears, breast examinations, LGBT services, HIV, HPV or STD screenings or women's health services.  Not one.

In the minds of those who champion this legislation, they will now make unwanted pregnancies go away by trying to mortally wound the most notorious provider of abortions.  Except we know that's nonsense.  If I don't take prescribed medication, it doesn't mean I don't have Crohn's disease anymore.  It just means I'm no longer doing anything responsible about it.  Unwanted pregnancies are unfortunate, upsetting, etc. and yes, we as a society should actively seek to reduce their instances.  Cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood does absolutely nothing to address the demand for abortion services; only the supply.

Elsewhere, the state of Florida has just agreed to reduce unemployment benefits to 23 weeks.  If you're unable to find gainful employment before six months elapse, you're entirely on your own.  Mind you, unemployment benefits in Florida are a paltry $275 a week--the 47th lowest benefits in the union, ahead only of Alabama's $235, Arizona's $240 and Alaska's $248.  I'm willing to bet $275 doesn't go as far in Florida as $235 goes in Alabama.  The reason for these meager offerings?  Florida has some of the lowest business taxes in the country, which is of course where the revenue for unemployment benefits originates.  Again we see the unrealistic obsession with cutting taxes.  If low business taxes were a lure for businesses and the cornerstone of prosperity, Florida would not have the third highest unemployment rate (11.1 % in March 2011) in the U.S.  These people cannot find work because those lowly taxed businesses aren't hiring.  Denying unemployment benefits does not create one job.  Not one.  It does, however, subject people already hanging on by a thread to complete and utter ruin.

And, oh by the way: Florida is now also moving forward with plans to require mandatory drug testing of anyone who receives money from the state, be it recipients of state programs or employees of the state.  Maybe it sounds good to those who still have jobs that continue to demonize those less fortunate, but has anyone considered how expensive it is to drug test that many people?  Now consider that Gov. Rick Scott's executive order calls for these tests to be conducted "at least quarterly."  Just where is Florida going to get that kind of money, and what exactly is it going to accomplish?  Will it put anyone to work?  Only if they're qualified to work at a lab conducting drug screenings.
You there, unemployed Floridian: Pee in this cup.
No, there's no job for you.  We're just hoping to deny you exist.
We hear from the GOP on a daily basis about personal responsibility and accountability.  There is, unfortunately, an insulating side effect of that rhetoric, which is that it leads to the belief that one's actions occur in a vacuum.  We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that children who grow up in unstable environments are much likelier to exhibit socially unpopular behavior as they mature.  Contrary to popular myth, people are not born knowing "right from wrong."  It must be instilled in them by parents, other family members, their teachers, peers and friends.  Don't believe that stuff matters?  Ask anyone who has ever told a child one thing and had another adult contradict them.  Or has ever tried to be responsible for a child who was never instructed to respect others and obey an adult in charge.  I've been saddled with that task on occasion and I can tell you this: I hated the parents far more than I resented the misbehaving child.

My point is this: What we do--or don't do--matters.  We cannot deny funding to a nationwide provider of health services to prove a point without having a plan in place to pick up the slack and address the very real, immediate needs of the patients now placed at risk of having to find another health care provider they can afford and can take on new patients.  We cannot afford to gut our safety nets on the basis of blind hope that doing so will promote an economic boom.  These are fantasies, and an exercise in willful denial of the consequences of our actions.  In short, they are a direct violation of the very concept of accountability.  We cannot cherry pick the consequences of our actions for which we will claim responsibility and disavow the remainder.

4 comments:

  1. I wasn't aware of the specifics of these examples, Travis. But you do make a logical point. I hope your blog attracts many readers! People need to discuss these issues!

    ReplyDelete
  2. "A logical point?" Moi? And to think, I was just frustrated! Sadly, it seems that even when I do attract readers they rarely post replies so I have no idea what reaction(s) they're having to this modest little blog. In conversation with people, I find only two real reactions: affirmation because I've given voice to something they already knew and cared about, or a rebuttal because I'm challenging something they support.

    There's no real room anymore for anyone to say, "Huh. I hadn't thought of that." Everyone is conditioned now to consider such a concession a sign of weakness and surrender, rather than a mature response to a differing perspective. I just post my thoughts to record them, more than anything. I'd love it if I actually provoked discourse--which was one of my primary reasons for even venturing into the blogosphere--but thus far that's been a rare occurrence.

    Thanks, therefore, for the instances when you've taken the time to comment.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "A logical point?" Moi? And to think, I was just frustrated! Sadly, it seems that even when I do attract readers they rarely post replies so I have no idea what reaction(s) they're having to this modest little blog. In conversation with people, I find only two real reactions: affirmation because I've given voice to something they already knew and cared about, or a rebuttal because I'm challenging something they support.

    There's no real room anymore for anyone to say, "Huh. I hadn't thought of that." Everyone is conditioned now to consider such a concession a sign of weakness and surrender, rather than a mature response to a differing perspective. I just post my thoughts to record them, more than anything. I'd love it if I actually provoked discourse--which was one of my primary reasons for even venturing into the blogosphere--but thus far that's been a rare occurrence.

    Thanks, therefore, for the instances when you've taken the time to comment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wasn't aware of the specifics of these examples, Travis. But you do make a logical point. I hope your blog attracts many readers! People need to discuss these issues!

    ReplyDelete