Cory Gardner’s recent guest opinion piece [in the Times-Call] displays a very narrow view of freedom. We are very fortunate in this country to have the right to vote and (mostly) free speech, as well as many other rights. We do not all have the same ability to share our views.
Free speech and equal speech are not the same things and the increasing difference is alarming. The Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that money equals free speech. Now corporations can spend as much as they want to influence public opinion and elections. You and I do not have the same voice as corporations. Even stockholders have no say in what views corporations expound.
It is hard to feel completely free when comparably few people pump large sums of money into misleading advertisements to influence elections and referendums (Comcast). It would be a little bit more palatable if there wasn’t so much misinformation and mud slinging in paid political advertisements.
These same forces have resulted in the average CEO’s wages increasing by 20 percent over the last year to over $10 million per year and as high as $85 million while the average wage of the middle class increased by about 0.5 percent. The same forces have resulted in tax loopholes for corporations.
Corporations, banks, and Wall Street have the freedom to make some very bad decisions. If these only hurt them, that would be one thing, but their behaviors have badly hurt almost everyone but their executives who supported the bad decisions.
It is hard to feel free when you have been unemployed for a long time. Corporations that are hoarding over 2 trillion dollars are at the same time paying enormous salaries and bonuses to top executives rather than investing in jobs. Do they not understand that in the long run, they need unemployment to shrink?
It is hard to feel completely free when it is increasingly difficult to support your family and provide adequate access to health care. Too many people can not access health care even though they work two or more jobs. It is increasingly hard to feel totally free when you or a family member is seriously ill and you can not get the health care you need.
Mr. Gardner’s support of reform to Medicare addresses a real problem. Much of our health care dollars go to insurance companies that all too often deny coverage. He supports giving money to individuals to buy health care insurance rather than the current system. Who will benefit from a plan that provides future Medicare recipients money to enrich health insurance companies?
If you were brought to this country as an infant or small child without proper paper work, it is hard to feel free when as you get older you can not get a driver’s license, can not work legally, and can not afford college. It is hard to feel free when at anytime a family member can be deported at any time. It is hard to feel free when a parent or spouse is in detention and ICE makes if difficult to find out where that person is. It is hard to feel free when parents are taken at public celebrations such as the Strawberry festival in western Colorado.
It is hard to feel free when you come to the US on a H2A visa to do work in the farm fields, landscape industry, etc. and can only work for one employer. Too often some employers mistreat visa holders, with hold pay, and then tell the worker that if they complain that will call Homeland Security and have them sent home.
Farmers depend on labor to harvest their crops. Even in this economy they can not get US citizens and other documented workers to do this back breaking work. In Georgia the recent anti immigrant laws have deprived farmers of over 20,000 needed workers and as a result they will not be able to harvest all their crops. How free do these farmers feel?
We need to address these issues for the good of all. In the mean time we need to enjoy the freedoms that we do have, such as the freedom of religion separated from government at all levels, freedom to associate with whom we wish, freedom to work for the changes we want while working to protect those things that we cherish.
These views are entirely my own and not those of any agency or group to which I belong.