Pyle: The poor are revolting!
Above: "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"
Imagine that the many worthies of the Republican Party and the conservative thinking class in America all woke up one morning, looked in their bathroom mirrors, and said to themselves something like this:
"You know, I really hate poor people. I mean, really. They dress badly. They listen to ugly music. They smell funny. They clutter up the streets, the hospitals and the schools. But, most of all, they are just so, well, poor. Ick. If I'm really honest with myself, I have to admit that I don't dislike blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, even gays. As long as they are not poor.
"So, what to do about it? Well, we could spend a few bucks on better schools, universal health care, parental leave and day care, like they do in Finland. Plus public works upgrades that are only about 50 years overdue, stuff like that. That's a rising tide that would lift a lot of boats and, before you know it, there'd be a lot fewer of those revolting poor folks out there.
"Wait. What am I thinking? That would be doing something nice for poor people. And I really don't like poor people.
"I know. We'll do everything we can to make life even harder for the poor. Crummy schools. Unaffordable colleges. No health insurance. No entry-level jobs. A banking system that sucks up all the money for the rich and invests precious little in real job-creating, economy-stimulating activities.
"Double down on all that and, pretty soon, poor people will figure out that being poor is a dead-end job and they will become something else. They will oh, what's the word? self-deport!
Of course, it would be hard to get anybody to admit that they think like that, not since Mitt Romney got caught dissing nearly half the country in his famous 47 percent remarks. Maybe nobody really does.
But, consider. If the satire above became reality, how would the activity now going on in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives and various statehouses across the country be any different than it is today?
• Republicans would still be using every tool in the kit to destroy the effectiveness of Obamacare in providing health care to millions of Americans who, if they lived in a civilized nation, could take it for granted.
Of course, that's a task that has been made maddeningly simple by the horribly complex nature of that beast, with mandates and taxes and exchanges and rules yet to be written. But this attempt to heal the poor has all those hundreds of Achilles heels because Barack Obama and the Democrats lacked the political guts and/or the political capital to create the simple, single-payer, Medicare-for-all system that would have worked but that would have cost Big Hospitals, Big Pharma and Big Insurance billions in profits.
• Republicans would still be trying to reduce, if not eliminate, the food stamp program, described by a GOP House member the other day as "extraneous," even though it is the only thing standing between millions of American children and hunger on a daily basis. This even as they circle the wagons around the rest of the farm bill, a multi-billion-dollar income transfer from middle-class taxpayers to wealthy agribusiness giants.
• Republicans would still be trying to block comprehensive immigration reform, even though bringing millions of low-income workers under the protection of wage and hour and workplace safety laws would benefit all working people at the expense of their corporate employers.
• Republicans would still be trying to block the expansion of Medicaid and to make it harder for poor women to get either contraceptives or abortions, the lack of which does more than anything to keep poor families poor.
Modern Republicans may not have the bathroom-mirror confessions imagined above. But, by their works will you know them.
George Pyle, a Tribune editorial writer, does not have a bathroom mirror, for obvious reasons. firstname.lastname@example.org