Ethics and Politics

Bird Droppings April 9, 2023
Ethics and Politics

So many things are happening in our world that are often whims of a politician we voted for or, in my case, against. Industry is being remade, wars are being fought, jobs are appearing and disappearing, and health care reform is possibly off and on the table. We see oil prices going up due to an international price war. I find it amusing that our elected officials have given themselves unbelievable health care, a retirement package, and other perks and yet only offer to restrict and eliminate our own, especially in times like we are experiencing now. Our officials have unlimited health care and a retirement package second to none for serving in the Senate or Congress and a decent retirement for life. That seriously bothers me in light of some of the allegations being raised against certain members of Congress.

With jobs rising in most areas and inflation climbing, maybe it is an excellent time to ponder minimum wage. Our officials raise their salaries and perks yearly to sneak them in. It is amazing how politics works; working people and those trying to work and lift themselves to get nothing, and Senators and Congressmen can vote for a raise for themselves. In another session a few years back, Democrats were trying to tie the minimum wage to their salary raises, an interesting thought. I liked that idea; however, it didn’t fly. Sadly, many workers are below the national poverty level, even with a minimum wage. Many are working and, for whatever reason, extremely limited or hindered in the jobs they can get.

Who knows what will happen in a world of budget-cutting in some areas, colossal deficit spending in others, and a four-plus trillion-dollar stimulus package? Some politicians even offer to reduce the minimum wage and increase the hours children can work, almost as if we are taking steps backward. Other legislation calls for deregulation eliminating OSHA and EPA, yet deaths in industry under OSHA have significantly been reduced. Not many of us recall days of no PPE in industry. Pollution across our nation has been reduced because people stay home, which shows the human impact on pollution. In a time of crisis internationally, it is still about the profitability of corporations that find many politicians offering plans to help the industry improve their profit to survive and pay dividends—dumping coal ash into rivers in coal regions as an example. Asbestos is coming back, some are saying.

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps because he hears a different drummer.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Funny, why should we worry about money and success? Who needs it? I recall only a few years back when gas was nearly four dollars a gallon; we all looked for bargains and stretched each dollar. It is true that many folks do not need to keep up with the trends and are content with what they have. But it is how we tend to overlook selfishly those with less. The raise recently proposed for members of Congress per year would be more than a full-time minimum wage paycheck for a year for a family. It is like saying I am more than your equal, so I deserve this money, actually a slap in the face to the working man or woman.

“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

At what point is a lot of money too much, and what do you do with billions of dollars? I watched our former president rant and rave, yet few are as selfish as he regards his human dealings. I read yesterday that an investor lost billions but was still worth ten billion dollars. Why does anyone need ten billion dollars? I am not sure a speculator in real estate is a good choice for a president ever again. It was not too long ago he was bankrupt multiple times. We idolize the wealthy, and as Steven Colbert pointed out in his humor one night, we like rich people. Thinking back to a good friend’s comment about where sociopaths end up, many are politicians.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, and he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

We have to be able to dream, and often that is stripped away by the attitudes and structures imposed by various sectors of society.

“What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates his fate.” Henry David Thoreau

As the ancient Greek philosopher said so many years ago, self-esteem, self-understanding, or knowing thy self. We need to know who we are and why. I started arguing about the selfishness of so many people, including our leaders in Washington, who I am sure will justify their raises in some fashion. I am sure lobbyists will justify not granting a raise to minimum wage. It is incredible what a few fast-food lobbyists can do and business owners. Maybe that is how you justify a raise for yourself through savings from not raising the minimum wage.

I am looking forward to a day of testing high school kids. I would much instead write and read and take a garden break, and I forgot to visit the local nursery and garden shop this weekend. As you ponder your place in this world, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your heart’s namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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