We recently celebrated or mourned the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The annual protest vigil in our nation’s capital has taken place. And, not surprisingly, Arkansas’s new Republican majority in our state’s legislature has wasted no time trying to limit women’s rights with ALEC-inspired anti-abortion bills. Sadly, those who are obsessed over embryos and fetuses before birth seem ambivalent and often hostile toward the quality of life after birth. Rather than take away a woman’s right to control her own body, why not promote policies that would provide incentives for her to bring new life into this world?
Rather than decreasing cost-of-living increases to those on Social Security, as has foolishly been suggested, either leave them as they are now or raise them to something closer to reality. Set the early retirement age to 60 instead of 62. Set full retirement at 62 instead of 66. Most will have worked 40 to 44 years by age 62. Many have worked at subsistence or poverty wages for much of that time. The sooner seniors leave the workforce the more full-time jobs will be available to younger workers.
Instead of irresponsibly increasing the age of eligibility for Medicare, lower it to 62. Allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. The Veterans Administration can do it; why not Medicare? This country is not broke, and it’s shameful for the richest nation in the world to claim it can’t afford to do this.
If Medicare for everyone is not acceptable, then at least quit fighting the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare). We should have been doing something like that ever since WWII. Being the only developed nation in the world that hasn’t done it before now has been embarrassing!
Don’t oppose the expansion of Medicaid that benefits thousands who are unemployed or among the working poor who currently don’t qualify. Even though states won’t be responsible for its costs until 2020 and will only contribute 10 percent after that, many Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures are planning to deny this coverage for needy citizens. How many of us have absolute control over our financial future?
Support sensible gun regulations. The United States doesn’t have to be the most dangerous developed country to live in. Who could possibly object to background checks on everyone wanting to buy a gun? No one needs military style assault weapons or high-capacity magazines above ten rounds unless he or she wants to blow away as many people as possible in the shortest length of time. The South hasn’t needed state militias to act as slave patrols since the 13th Amendment, our Native Americans are no longer feared on our frontiers, and Canadian and Mexican armies aren’t going to invade. Gun sales increased and hate groups multiplied after Barack Obama’s first presidential election, and gun sales shot up again after his re-election. This gives every indication of an increasingly large number of emotionally unhinged armed citizens.
Quit pretending that climate change is not caused from our proliferation of greenhouse gases and do something about it. Stop opposing regulations that will improve air and water quality and thereby improve our own health and keep down health costs. Those born today will soon be asking why we waited so long when we knew the overwhelming evidence existed.
Support increasing the minimum wage to a living wage. No one receiving the minimum wage or less can get out of poverty or provide for his or her family without assistance – like food stamps.
What if your child is a female? If you are not going to fight for her right to control her own body, fight for her right to receive equal pay for equal work. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009Act, the first law signed by President Obama, only protects one’s right to contest pay discrimination after each pay check. It does not mandate that a woman receive equal pay for the same job and tenure as a man.
What if your child turns out to be gay or lesbian? Oppose state and federal laws and constitutional amendments that discriminate against your son or daughter. Fight for equal rights under the law for everyone.
Demand government action today to promote full employment and get to work on current essential needs: roads, bridges, dams, Interstate 69, public schools, national parks, energy grids, et al. All of these need to be built or upgraded ASAP, and procrastination during a “Great Jobs Depression” is indefensible. This will get the economy moving now and keep it growing into the foreseeable future. With full employment we can eventually deal with the long-term national debt but not before. Our children need to be confident about their future employability and their nation’s infrastructure.
I suspect that the primary reason for the right-wing think-tanks’ opposition to Roe v. Wade is to promote overpopulation and high unemployment to keep wages at the lowest possible levels. I also suppose they hope to prevent white, Protestant women from having abortions to slow down the changes in ethnic demographics. They cater to conservative religious groups and individuals for voter support. However, I prefer to think that most of their anti-choice followers sincerely care for the unborn. But wouldn’t they have a much better case against abortions if they also cared for babies, children, young adults, middle-agers, seniors, and the environment as well? The future of the planet and the future of those yet born depend on it.
by David Offutt
A version of this essay was published in the February 6, 2013, edition of the Arkansas Times and in the February 26, 2013, edition of the El Dorado News-Times as a letter to the editor.