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Posted by on Sep 4, 2012 in 2012 Elections, At TMV, Economy, Health, Politics, Religion | 3 comments

Let Them Eat Grass (On The White House Lawn)

Grover Cleveland was the first Democratic president to be elected after the Civil War. While the Democratic Party at this time had a strong populist, pro-union leftist wing, whose most prominent member was William Jennings Bryan, the great Christian fundamentalist progressive, Cleveland was anything but left wing or progressive,

He was anti-union, breaking the Pullman Strike with federal troops. He was politically and personally joined at the hip with Wall Street. And most tellingly, he was vehemently against any government entitlements or aid to the needy, which he viewed as unacceptable “paternalism.”

As the country’s Chief Executive during the Panic of 1893 (which actually lasted more than five years), the worst economic downturn in this country’s history until the Great Depression, he vetoed anything that might have helped impoverished, frequently starving Americans in this period.

A popular joke about Cleveland at the time was that when he saw someone eating grass on the front lawn of the White House, he suggested the man go to the back of the building where the grass was higher.

I’m thinking a lot about such an attitude these days. Now that Republicans are coming down so hard on dependency and entitlements like food stamps. An attitude that holds that if you’re too weak, not well enough connected, or maybe just unlucky in your work choices, you aren’t entitled as a citizen of these United States to get enough to eat, that you and your children (most food stamp recipients are children) deserve to do without. And laying this trip on you is really a blessing, an example of tough love.

Call me a bleeding heart liberal. But aside from being cruel, stupid, counter productive in a purely economic sense (hungry people don’t work well and kids have trouble learning with an empty stomach), a perversion of anything even vaguely resembling decent religious principles, and a throwback to a kind of politics that every other civilized nation on the planet has outgrown, I think this attitude just plain sucks.

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • slamfu

    It doesn’t just suck from a moral perspective. It sucks from an economic one. Historically bad economic times have been preceeded by the type of policies the GOP espouses. When we don’t have some regulation, and taxation becomes regressive, money flows to the top, and those at the top do everything in their power to make things work in their favor and rig the system. It undoes the idea behind the free market system in the very name of the free market system. And as predicted by Adam Smith, things fall apart in a big way. This has happened several times in the past, most recently the last decade. And still we are slow to learn that a blend of capitalist and socialist policies, i.e. the New Deal type policies, are what makes for the best and most stable economy. People just tend to forget when times are good that a successful nation just doesn’t happen by magic, or even good luck.

  • The_Ohioan

    There was a segment on Morning Joe with Jeff Bridges and another man who are trying to get public and private parties together to help hungry children. They said food stamps for a month really only last 2 1/2 weeks. The rest of the time they eat beans or pasta – no meat. We were on food stamps for a while during college and for a family of four, you were required to purchase a certain number of stamps according to your income. When we did that, nothing was left for paper products, gas, etc. We didn’t stay on them for long. Thank goodness we had family members that gave us canned goods. Not everyone has that help.

  • Rcoutme

    I love this post. Michael has basically said almost all that I would say on this topic.

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