Charles Dickens was revolted by the hypocrisy surrounding Christmas and wrote A Christmas Carol. That hypocrisy is still with us.
Ebenezer Scrooge is conservatives’ role model. He paid starvation wages and despised the poor. Republicans preach “family values,” then make life harder for poor families. They believe poverty disappears if they ignore it hard enough. And Christmas is the ideal time to cut unemployment benefits. You now challenge this cruelty posing as responsible policy. So Christmas dinner with your family and loony Uncle Max got pretty interesting.
Max was glad the Tea Party had shut down the government. You said that cost $24 billion and made America look stupid. Yes, replied Max, but it was a “worthy sacrifice” to show the GOP “meant business.” You said “business” had severely criticized the GOP for it. And even The Wall Street Journal called them “kamikaze pilots.”
The “real killers” were “welfare queens,” retorted Max. You asked him how he knew that. He wasn’t sure. So you said that corporate subsidies were “far and away the real killers” of fiscal prudence. The average family earning $72,000 per year pays $48 for food stamps and welfare, but $6,000 for corporate subsidies (commondreams.org/view/2013/09/23). (Yes, six thousand dollars: Taxed Enough Already?) Yet didn’t Max know that food stamps had been cut even more?
He did, and thought it was a “great idea.” Then it dawned on you. Facts don’t matter to conservatives. One must demand straight answers to straight facts. So you asked if it wouldn’t be “an even greater idea” to cut those outrageous subsidies to profitable corporations like banks and oil companies. He looked at you blankly. “I’ve never heard about corporate subsidies.”
My friends, here is a fact of life. If something isn’t hammered and banged every day on right-wing media, conservatives tune it out. They live in a fantasy world of mythology. One must say the same thing over and over until it’s drilled in.
So you repeated the facts to Max. Around 48 million people receive food stamps. They’d starve otherwise, because Republicans “destroyed America’s once-proud economy” purely to make their rich pals richer. Did Max want to see beggars dying on the streets? Would he say. “Bah, humbug” every time he passed one? And why should robber barons be subsidized but not destitute Americans? Many had no Christmas dinner this year. Was his answer “Bah, humbug?”
Actually … it was. He said they were “freeloaders.” Whose fault was that, you asked. Millions of Americans work for immensely profitable corporations but need welfare to survive. If you work, but need welfare, your subsidized employer’s the freeloader, getting “socialism for the rich.” You quoted President Carter: “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying that you want a country based on Christian values.”
You continued: “What happened to ‘love thy neighbor?’ How about the Parable of the Good Samaritan? Wasn’t charity its point, not ‘fine shows of piety on Sunday?’ Wasn’t he worried that his hypocrisy would ‘shock Saint Peter’ when he ‘got to the Pearly Gates?’ Wasn’t hypocrisy the human failing that Christ despised most? Christ wanted ‘Christian charity, not Christian cruelty.’ ”
Your moral clarity got to him. Turning red, he told you his “pastor” said anyone who didn’t vote Republican would “go to hell.” Roaring with laughter, you said, “Send him back to Divinity College! He has it exactly backward! Christ was a flaming liberal! So’s Pope Francis! Why else does he condemn economic inequality? And help the homeless personally? It’s because he’s a true Christian! That’s why he fired Limburg’s ‘Bishop Bling’ for blowing $40 million on his fancy palace! Something stank to high heaven and it wasn’t his cheese!”
Republicans are “victims of a perverted religion” that worships money and despises the weak, in “direct contradiction of Christ’s teachings.” You quoted Christ’s words: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). Unless Max followed “true Christianity,” he could “forget the kingdom of God” due to his selfishness. “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; thirsty and ye gave me no drink” (Matthew 25:41-42).
After the stunned silence, you told everyone that you believed God gave you a brain “to actually use.” Helping the poor isn’t just morally right, it’s economically sound. Didn’t he know that for every $1 given out, the benefit to the economy via the “multiplier effect” was around $2? But if parked in the Cayman Islands by the super-rich, its benefit to the economy is zero.
The atmosphere lightened up, and Aunt Laura said brightly, “To be continued next year!”