2007-06-01 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

I am amazed how our industry, government, health care providers, and non-profit organizations use fear to motivate us. We are told pills will prevent disastrous diseases. Our cholesterol, blood pressure, sleep patterns, and weight problems can be cured with medicine. Children are often given drugs to cure behavioral patterns. Very few doctors encourage lifestyle changes. Industry attempts to alleviate our fears by selling alarms, insurance policies, and the latest technology to calm fears. Most parents believe their children need cell phones for security reasons. Policies are sold to safeguard identities. Our banking industry and government has made identity theft easy, and now miraculously, industry has found a market niche in selling products to alleviate the harm identity fraud causes. Fox News everyday notifies us of the high alert level we are at regarding a terrorist threat. Weather stations and news outlets warn us of weather threats months away. Our government has sold an unnecessary war in order to safeguard the homeland (I prefer the word nation-homeland reminds me of a fascist vocabulary). Politicians use fear of immigrant workers, economic insecurity, and criminals to advance their agendas. Unfortunately, their solutions are simple sound bites instead of practical solutions.

Hope generally is a more positive political message. Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, although of different political beliefs, used hope to motivate the American people. Fear has its purpose but hope makes sacrifice and steadfastness possible. When September 11 occurred we were asked as a people to continue shopping and expect further tax cuts. During the Second World War, Americans were asked to buy government bonds, ration petroleum and food products, pray, work in non-traditional industries, and to sacrifice the blood of their relatives and friends for a greater good. Our security from international terrorists requires more than buying consumer goods. Our security also requires adequate troop levels at home. Recent disasters (tornadoes, levee breaks) indicate that our nation does not have adequate National Guard levels at home. Our health care delivery system appears to be shaky. Many wonder why terrorists do not poison our food delivery chain because there is little regulation or oversight by government agencies. Our borders are not secured. Illegal immigrant labor may be profitable for industry and building contractors but the easy entry of foreigners without authorization allows "evil" terrorists onto our beloved shores. The recent discovery of illegal aliens plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey should be a wakeup call to those who advocate unrestricted border entry. An effective immigration policy can be fair and humane. Our present policy is inhumane to those in this country illegally and a danger to our society. Mass disregard for law causes chaos. Our empathy and sympathy can be for those desperate to flee their own nation-but our primary concern must be for the United States.

Recently, the media reported on a few events that gave me hope for our future. Republicans are now demanding a change in our policy in Iraq. A Harvard student began a hunger strike to dramatize the plight of low paid workers of the Ivy League University. In Maryland, the Governor signed a Living Wage Law that requires contractors who bid for work with the state to guarantee a living wage for their employees. Social justice is also a perquisite for a safe secure nation. We have enemies both here and abroad. Economic injustice is the result of industry that values profit over national interest. We are also encouraged by the actions of state legislatures in apologizing for slavery. Apologizing is insufficient and maybe unnecessary. Programs that combat the inhumane, unsafe working conditions of today would be appropriate. People are still treated like commodities, suffer indignities at the workplace, safety is often disregarded, and management terrorizes many seeking a union or dignity at work. Wal-Mart has been cited frequently. Some corporations spy on their employees after work. These issues do not appear to be part of the political forum, however, it needs to be. Too many Americans need hope.

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