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9:11 PM Sun, Feb. 17th
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Our nation's priorities are out of whack

• Do we care less about poor people than wealthy people? Why do we tolerate poverty and homelessness in the midst of so much wealth? How do we really justify tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy while ignoring the needs of poor citizens? Why are the poor poorer than they were a decade ago? Do we care that they are struggling harder, yet losing ground? Do we care that 2 million jobs have been lost in the past two years, that the number of families requesting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is on the rise, but the administration's budget keeps the program's financing frozen at the 1996 level?

• This administration's economic policies make it more difficult for the poor to pull themselves out of poverty. Money necessary to support safety-net social services has been dramatically cut. And yet we continue to hear our nation's leaders talk about family values, a favorite topic of the Religious Right – which has become a dominant voice within the administration. One has to wonder if this country is still one that provides "liberty and justice for all," or just for some.

• What cruel nonsense to believe that anyone can make it in America if they just work hard enough.

• In the last several years, my pride in being a citizen of this nation has diminished considerably. Those in power have chipped away at the national conscience by leading us to believe that bloodshed is either the best way or the only way we can maintain our American way of life. In the simplistic mind of the president, there are good guys and bad guys and the bad guys deserve death. Does anyone out there really believe this is the kind of lesson our children should learn? Isn't it predictable that boys – and girls – will grow up believing they can gain the admiration and respect of others by becoming killers? By becoming "terminators?"

• What disturbs me – really churns my gut – is that this planet of ours appears to be on a collision course with a reality that no one wants, whether it's global warming, air quality pollution, worldwide famine and massive starvation, the rise of contagious diseases, unchecked violence and wars, genetic engineering, catastrophic species extinction, or the increasing prospect of our globe becoming permanently uninhabitable. Does humankind still have the power or the will to alter the course of things?

• Why do Americans think we are morally superior to citizens of other countries? Because of our wealth? What gives us our sense of righteousness when dealing with leaders of other nations?

(Ron Barnes is a longtime Prescott resident and a semi-retired educator and businessman.)

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