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Katy Burns

Katy Burns: A Christmas state of mind

The halls are decked with sprigs of holly – our halls are too small to accommodate huge boughs – as well as faux pine swags, red bows and gold ribbons. The tree is up, festooned with colorful lights and glittering ornaments. The cupboards and refrigerator are stuffed with goodies.

Across the state and country other homes are like ours – bursting with the season’s bounty and brimming over with good will. For some people it may be religious, for others cultural. But celebrating and feasting during what are literally the darkest days of the year seem to be embedded in humankind’s genes.

For some Americans this year, though, there will be unease as well, knowing that the celebratory mood isn’t universal in this enormously blessed country, probably the richest in the history of the world. Millions will go without in a season and a nation of plenty.

And some other Americans, frankly – just like Rhett Butler – don’t give a damn.

“We can’t afford it,” or “We’re broke!” they whine. Nonsense. They just don’t want to pay taxes, the price of civilization.

There is a growing sense of meanness, of miserliness afoot in the land. In a perverse retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, some of us seem to be cultivating a nation of Scrooges. And they’re settling on the 21st-century Republican Party as their natural home.

Look at the disquieting evidence of the past few years, summarized in four jarringly uncharitable actions – or non-actions – on the part of our august political representatives.

One is the failure of our national Congress to increase the minimum wage. Since July 2009, it has been set at $7.25 per hour, not even close to a living wage in most parts of the country, including New Hampshire. Add to that our own state shame when the last state legislature completely killed our state minimum wage, first established under Gov. John Winant in the early 1930s. Winant was a proud Republican. Yet today, while most Democratic officeholders want to raise the minimum, most Republicans don’t.

Another is the refusal of mostly heavily Republican states to accept the expansion of Medicaid – extending medical coverage to millions of Americans who cannot otherwise afford it – despite the fact the federal government is footing the entire bill. Shamefully, one of the states is New Hampshire, thanks to a skimpy two-vote Republican majority in the Senate.

Then we have the matter of food stamps, now known as the SNAP program, which the Republican-dominated House of Representatives has repeatedly tried to slash, conjuring up absurd images of well-clad and -coiffed moochers breezing through supermarket lines using their SNAP cards to stock up on crab legs and porterhouse steaks.

Finally, there’s the complete refusal of the same House Republicans to extend long-term unemployment benefits. Or even to consider extending them. This, despite the fact that unemployment continues to be unusually high, 7.3 percent nationally and in some states over 9 percent. So as the well-paid House members tuck into their holiday roasts, many will do so knowing – and not much caring – that on Dec. 28 more than a million Americans will be losing the aid that has helped them to keep roofs over their heads and food on the table. That includes about 1,100 households in the Granite State.

There no longer are, sadly, liberal or even moderate Republican politicians, who once thrived in the party – and won elections. Today there are conservative and ultra-conservatives, period, and most of them make it plain that they really don’t care a whit about America’s have-nots or have-littles.

The GOP talking points are repeated by rote. It is not a matter of circumstances that brings about poverty or near poverty, they say. It is a matter of character. People should have the foresight and the wherewithal to provide for their needs, period. No matter what those needs might turn out to be. And if they don’t? Their fault. God forbid that decent, honest thrifty – or, I will add, maybe just plain lucky – Americans bail them out!

There isn’t much deeper reflection going on. In an insightful Monitor column, Concord writer Glenn Currie deplored the outlandishly out-of-whack difference between those at the top of corporate pay and those at the bottom, but few of his conservative confreres seem to share that concern.

Nor do they seem much concerned about the yawning income gap and wealth gap between most Americans and those at the very top tier of our society – fewer than 10 percent of all Americans earned nearly half of all income in America last year, and the very richest – a mere 1 percent – earned one-fifth of all income.

If anything, this disparity – equaled only by that of the Gilded Age, when robber barons ruled much of the nation’s economy – is almost celebrated.

I suspect that, should today’s peasants ever take up their pitchforks and storm the nobleman’s castle, a lot of today’s Republican pols would be up there with their own pitchforks beating back the downtrodden.

The almost reflexive tendency of today’s GOP to defend and even celebrate those at the top of the wealth pyramid stands in sharp contrast to the Republican Party of yesteryear. The four programs now under attack – Medicaid, food stamps, minimum wage and unemployment insurance – have a long history of bipartisan support, both nationally and locally.

Consider again Gov. Winant. As Annmarie Timmins wrote in The New Hampshire Century, a Monitor book, Winant “looked on despair and economic decline and saw a responsibility and role for government.” In the depths of the Great Depression, he was able to push through the legislature not only a minimum wage but also emergency relief, old-age assistance and measures to prevent foreclosure on farms and factory workers’ homes.

In Winant’s day, members of both parties – faced with economic disaster and then war – may have had differences, but they were able to bridge those differences to work to improve the lives of their constituents.

Today? Well, not so much. Particularly among Republican officeholders, “compromise” – once an honored art at the heart of successful governance – is a dirty word.

Merry Christmas.

(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

Legacy Comments38

Many on this forum practice denial on a daily basis. If you think about any religion, you will be hard pressed to find one that has been attacked as often and frequent as the Christian Religion. Christmas celebrations are pretty much forbidden in our schools. If they are permitted at all, the word God is taken out of songs and stories. Holiday Tree is now the PC term for Christmas Tree. Happy Holidays, replaces Merry Christmas. The Christian Religion is deemed a myth, fantasy and believers are labeled all kinds of not so nice names. Easter has been changed also. No Easter Egg Hunt, Holiday Egg Hunt. And this administration tried to mandate that the Catholic Religion change their tenets on BC. Plenty of proof, that many are offended by anything Christmas or Catholic.

Rabbit, ALL religious practices are forbidden in public schools. Public schools belong to ALL people, no matter what their religion. No religious group is allowed to impose its will on others. That's actually in the Bill of Rights.

below is a link to the Bill of Rights. Please direct me to the section that covers your above statement:

First amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" This has been interpreted by the SCOTUS to mean that religious practices should not take place in public schools, among other places. They are NOT prohibited in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples or other non-governmental and/or private settings.

I am not sure that any prayer should ever be said in public school but not for the reason of "offending" anyone. It is just good policy. However, our founders believed in a "creator" and that is evident. I believe that the reason for "no law respecting an establishment of religion" is clear. They did not want to be bound by the Church of England which was the state religion at the time. No one is forcing anyone into a religion in this country. Faith in something bigger than ourselves? Not a bad idea but that is your choice whether or not to believe. Being "offended" by someone elses expression of faith is really childish.

Just for the record, Itsa, I'm not offended by anyone's expression of faith. I was born and raised Catholic and I have been a welcome guest in many houses of worship. But I do not believe I have the right to impose my practices on others, nor do I believe they have the right to impose theirs on me

Nice try - You may want to re-read your statement ..."No religious group is allowed to impose its will on others. That's actually in the Bill of Rights." - The Bill of rights are to constrict Govt and to protect the peoples God given rights - your statement still is 100% incorrect

Republican pols in the nobleman's castle eh? beating back the downtrodden? No, of BOTH that of the R&D's, similar to Sir " Seymour Hicks " [ 1871 - 1949 (78) ] in the 1935 B&W movie of and as Ebenezer "Scrooge" now on COZI-TV Cable Channel 20 here out of Boston, 1 - __ p.m. of to: "decrease the surface population" by the reactivation of the debtor's prisons that the Morsell case of 1875 (when he was 4 years old) from the U.S. Supreme Court was supposed to have eliminated, but that of some current bullies of "Uncle Sam" of tossing some of our N.H. Article 12 inhabitants into their dungeons they call FCI's but with NO N.H. Article 18 "reform"s with NO course with #x-number of classes in the subject matter of taxation that is NOT a debt due and owing but merely a charge, of for Katy to call taxation of with the civil jury trial by-pass civil-ization is absurd! At least she's " FOR" the Monitor, but not that of: "OF" the Monitor, or is she? of "they" trick us of actually paying her to print this garbage! It's time for Obama to give the victims a REAL Christmas present, like what Ray Walston [ 1914 - 2001 (86) ] did in that "$6 Million Man" episode of: " A Bionic Christmas Carol " (1976) of like "Scrooge" right before this ( with co-star Antoinette Bower) of to rip up the Commitment Paper of to put them back on half the "freehold" by the case law, to the NH RSA Chapter 480:1-9 homestead of to pay off the debts as N.H. Article 1 "consent"ed to, because where did we, of the N.H. General Court, ever consent to "these" U.S. Codes that be voted on by too many M.O.C.'s? Of the Congress in contempt of the Constitution: Sections 2+5 of the 14th Amendment since we do not vote for our state judges but have these arbitrary thieves who don't even go by the N.H. statutes!

I certainly don't mind giving to those less fortune and give frequently. And I don't mind paying taxes if the money is spent properly - I just don't want to have to give everything I have in taxes just so someone can use it to line their own pockets. Katy's whole theory reminds me of the homeless we see at the entrance of the grocery stores "flying their flags".

Evidently Katy never heard the term Goodwill To All. Instead of writing a unifying letter, she just spreads the division.

Perhaps when there is truly good will being spread to all (not just the rich), the term can be celebrated.

Why should those who support and enable this extreme income disequalibrium be given a break just because it's Christmas? Didn't Christ himself spend his life preaching the godliness of caring for the sick and poor? If you're going to celebrate the birth of Christ (and apparently insist that everyone else celebrate him too), you should take a closer look at what he stood for.

Progressives insist that "if you don't like abortion, don't have one". The same applies here, "if you don't believe in Christ and you don't like Christmas, then don't celebrate it". Please explain how Christmas "offends" you?

Itsa, I must have missed something here. Who are you responding to? Who in this conversation said Christmas "offends' them?

Itsa - Christmas does not offend me in the least. I AM offended by hypocrisy and by bullies who claim that they are being persecuted because not everyone shares their beliefs.

really? give some examples??

Amen to you, FOF

Itsa - I'm not at all offended by Christmas. I AM offended by hypocrisy, and the stance that many take where, if others don't share their beliefs, they claim they are being persecuted.

I do not know any Christian that wants to see their fellow man suffer. And I am not religious by the way. The US is one of the most generous countries in the world. That is evident by how many Federal programs we have in this country. And the numerous charities we support. As far as Christians and Christmas are concerned, I suggest you folks on the left practice the same consideration for them that you apply to other religions. It is very difficult to defend your stance on Christians, and then claim to be inclusive of all.

Bet a lot of the "leftists" on here are Christian, I know I am. Why I wouldn't be surprised to find out Pope Francis is a Christian.

FoF - It is important for your continuing education in life to read the following article.

Class envy rhetoric.

Itsa - it's way beyond class envy. It's outrage. Please wat ch this to see where my anger is coming from.

you may want to keep your daily thirst for information away from sensationalist populist dataless web sites and focus on content filled analysis like the Wall Street Journal and others like In the Independent Journal Review the research will show you that 1) income inequality has grown as government has grown 2) labor force participation has shrunk as government has grown 3) healthcare costs have gone up as government has grown..... I will leave you with that food for thought

Katy is as disingenuous as ever. THIS YEAR Real Americans will have the TAX man take more money out of their pockets than EVER. This year the democrats will have the largest purse of money to spend...... EVER..... yet the democrats will also borrow up to $0.40 cents per every dollar they spend. Republicans believe every day is the 4th of July. Democrats believe everyday is April 15th.- Ronald Reagan

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't there a massive debt run-up during the reagan years?

It has nothing to do with the situation we are in today. Nothing. You folks try to link it but honestly, that is a distraction. You can't go on giving Obama a free pass.

There's the problem Itsa.. Republican's blame Obama for "everything" and put no blame on anything in the past, the Democrats blame "everything" on the past. I have little faith things will change soon. The art of compromise is becoming a lost art - it's every person for themselves.

Democrats and progressives try to go all of the way back to Reagan and link his policies to today's issues as if at that time had we just kept high taxes and spent ourselves into oblivion on social programs that the world would be Candyland today. We have learned that social program spending is never ending and never stops, it grows and grows and the social problems worsen. The war on poverty failed. Trillions spend on education and we are ranked lower than most of the world. We spend, spend, spend and never circle round to measure the results. You talk about compromise and honestly

Bean's point, I think, was to take exception to sail's use of "EVER." Sail seems to forget that at one point in our history, before we had the massive debt that we've been accumulating for decades, there was a 90% income tax on the most wealthy in the country, graduated down to about 30%, I think. Sail saying the taxman is taking the biggest bite "EVER" is, to use his own word, disengenuous.

Sail never used the word "percent" did. What he said was true...your interpretation...imcorrect

GWTW & Sail: The term "bite" means a portion of a whole. A portion of a whole is a percent. Sail should not have used the word "bite" if he meant the total tax bill. If my interpretation was incorrect, it's because Sail's language was grossly imprecise. Now, since we're talking biggest tax bill ever, then we're also talking biggest income ever. The wealthy have nothing to complain about.

Aw crap. I used the word bite, not Sail. I hereby withdraw the above rant. And I have no idea how these threads are arranging themselves. There seems to be no rhyme, reason, or consistency. I replied to another comment and it ended up as it's own thread.

FACTS for the LIDV: HEADLINES: The Congressional Budget Office says that federal tax receipts will hit an all-time high of $2.7 trillion this fiscal year. To the LIDV that does mean "EVER".

CBO FACT ! Fed. Government has more tax revenue than EVER before in history :

Translation of Katy's message: Democrats, progressives and Obama and all of their agenda = "good". Republicans, the Constitution, small government and freedom = "bad". Good to see that Katy is closing our the year on the same flat note.

Katy writes "The GOP talking points are repeated by rote". I think that "war on women", "social justice", "racist!", "homophobe!", "pay equity", etc. are all Democrat talking points and political phrases. How can you, as an educated person, believe what you write. Once again, Katy, you fail to recognize that Obama and his policies are squarely to blame for most of this poverty.

This country has given a staggering amount to to people in need since the beginning of the recession. Trillions of dollars. I think it makes up about half of the increase in the federal debt since Obama took office. How long can a country, continue to do that? What are the odds that Mr Obama is going to come back from vacation and start meaningful negotiations with Congress? Slim to none. I'd say. What is amazing about Ms Burns column, is the leader of the country, is completely left out. Not even mentioned. Like he does not even exist... All else being equal, if the current president was a Republican, would Burns column not mention him/her? Apparently the only "dirty word" the one not mentioned.

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