Monday, March 21, 2011

Bluffton Today: A moral budget would end 'state of shame'

Editors in Bluffton are still talking about the March 12 rally in Columbia, when "a few thousand... stood strong and proud on the Capitol grounds to rally for a moral budget."

Some of the best signs were “State of Shame,” “Stop the Cuts — No Balanced Budget on the Backs of the Poor,” and my favorite, “Zais and Haley – You Get Merit Pay, Too.”

There are two definitions of morality that fit in this context. The first is that morality relates to principles of right and wrong, and the second is that it is the code of conduct put forward by a society.

So what would a moral budget do and not do? It would provide money to care for the young, the sick, the disabled and the elderly. It would educate children in the best possible way and compensate teachers well and without complaint. It would not give tax breaks to those who own million-dollar homes, multiple expensive cars, and boats while telling a child with a breathing problem that the treatments they need to stay alive are reduced, or no longer available. Nor would it give tax breaks to businesses who can then exploit their workers in this “right to work” state. Instead, it would do whatever is necessary to provide jobs for people, jobs that pay enough to live and provide health care for families.

A moral budget would not cut the money a single mother with two children is expected to live on from $270 to $216 per month. I would love to see those who impose these Draconian cuts live on this pittance for one month to see what it is like.

As Dr. Lovelace so beautifully pointed out, most Medicare patients — about 70 percent are the elderly poor in nursing homes, with about 30 percent mothers and children. And they need to be able to breathe and hope. This is the state motto of South Carolina: “Dum Spiro, Spero,” meaning, “While I breathe, I hope.” A moral budget would give hope to all its citizens.

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