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One man's blog on the Missouri election

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by JR, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. JR

    JR Active Member


    There’s plenty of God these days in Missouri politics, but unfortunately, not much compassion. As I drove through the rolling hills of southern Missouri this week covering what could be the closest Senate race in this year’s mid-term elections, you couldn’t escape the influence of religion. One candidate for Congress has as his campaign motto, ``One Nation Under God.`` The Baptist and evangelical churches are all upset over a proposal to permit Missouri scientists to conduct research using embryonic stem cells. Seeming to forget about the division between church and state, they’re all busy telling their parishioners how to vote. One Catholic church I passed had a large poster on its front lawn reading: God Says No to Amendment 2.

    You’d think that in a state where an atheist couldn’t be elected dog-catcher, compassionate social policy would be the end result of all this religion. Not so in Missouri. In St. Louis, in a ghetto as bleak as any other in America, I met Stewart, a black construction worker, as he ate a hearty early-morning breakfast at a local diner. I asked him if he was going to vote. No, replied Stewart, I can’t vote because I’m a “child support felon.” He explained that when you fall behind on child support, the state of Missouri declares you a criminal and treats you just like one. Last week, he had a swab taken for his DNA. He said he’d fallen behind with child support payments when he lost his job and was struggling to take care of himself. But he had started his own business and was now catching up with his payments. He said he was proud of his daughter, who’s 17 and getting ready to go to college. In the meantime, Stewart has no say in his political future.

    Disenfranchising the poor is certainly convenient to legislators if you’re going to strip them of the few services they do receive, like Medicaid, health care for those who can’t afford it. The Missouri legislature recently cut 100,000 poor people from its Medicaid rolls to save money. What the legislators forgot is that these people still get sick. When they do, they avoid doctors’ offices and go directly to hospital emergencies where the law says they can’t be denied care. With nobody to pay the bill, hospitals are running up huge debts, forcing them to raise rates on those remaining patients with insurance.

    Missouri’s God, it seems, believes in personal responsibility above all. Taking care of one’s neighbours doesn’t seem to figure into the equation.
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