In case you're wondering just how far Republican lawmakers have wandered into the wacky weeds of far-right ideology, check out the babblings of Rep. Paul Ryan.
As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he has pushed feverishly for gutting America's highly successful food stamps program. Why? Because, he rants, it's a government giveaway that turns our safety net into "a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency." A hammock? A person's food stamp allotment averages $4.50 a day. As for "able-bodied people," does he not know that two-thirds of the program's benefits go to children, the elderly, and disabled people?
In a society of gross and growing economic disparity, with mass unemployment and underemployment, food stamps are a minimal measure of our humanity and social morality. Forget the Paul Ryans – here's the guy we should be listening to: "Excuse me if I use strong words," he recently began, "but where there is no work, there is no dignity ... We don't want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm."
Pointing directly at the wealthiest elites who push relentlessly to shred government safety nets, he declared: "[Widening disparity] is the consequence of an economic system that brings about this tragedy, an economic system that has at its center an idol which is called money." Such idolatry, he added, creates an economic culture that throws away the well-being of the many to enhance the fortunes of the few. "We have to say no to this throwaway culture. We want a just system that helps everyone," he concluded.
That's the powerful moral voice of Pope Francis, who ended his comments with a fiery prayer, calling on people to rise up against the "cult of money" and asking God to "teach us to fight for work." Amen.
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