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May 3, 2012

A Liberal Voice with an Opposing View

Mike Kuster

Well, after the editor of this journal has bugged me to return to writing for this "rightwing" blog. Our last conversation on the subject was after Kip Koontz's memorial service, I feel inspired by Kip to cooperate with my old friend. Therefore, I acquiesce to his request for a "liberal" point of view.


I have been described as a leftist, a liberal, and even better by my editor’s contributors, and my many friends in elected office. I never understand these labels, but do not deny them. I do agree with my militantly conservative friends on occasion, and disagree with my liberal friends often.


The current brouhaha over county government’s contributions to non-profits is one such area that leaves me scratching my head. I find myself agreeing with the conservatives, but it is bewildering.


As conservatives believe passionately that the private sector beats the government in efficiency and proficiency, using non-profits to deliver needed services seems a natural fit to their ideas for governance. They are private institutions. They must balance their books and be ever vigilant to keep to a budget. This was an initiative for George W. Bush's Administration. The YMCA stands poised to take over Head Start.


So, what causes our ultra-conservative Board of County Commissioners to reject the notion of handing .08% of the county budget to non-profits?


And, why are liberals in the county up in arms at the suggestion?


I applaud the commissioners for their rejection of handing tax dollars to private non-profits. I agree that as times are tough, we must be extra vigilant with our tax dollars. There are many families losing their homes, scraping to put food on their tables, and praying for some relief in their bills. We can only control taxes.


It is irresponsible and morally reprehensible to ask taxpayers to pay taxes and then hand that money to a private non-profit. Doing so endorses that non-profit, its philosophies, and its methods. If a private individual wishes to contribute to a non-profit, that is their business.


Too often, we condemn ourselves to repeat the errors of our past. We lack any interest in truly learning from history. This is where my liberal friends need to pay attention.


I am a Native American. Isn't if funny that my last name is Kuster? Yes, George Armstrong Custer is a cousin. And, yes, I am also white.


My people were a problem for the federal government, especially after that fateful July battle for Cousin George. By law, Native Americans are all wards of the state. What to do with all of these people sitting on land that could be sold, or be sitting on the next great natural resource to be tapped.


Luckily, after much lobbying by non-profits, The Great White Father signed contracts with non-profits to relocate, re-educate, and convert to Christianity all Native children back in 1819. Thousands of children were moved to "boarding schools" on opposite sides of the country to avoid runways. Children were not allowed to speak their native language, practice their religion, nor return home to see their families. Thousands of children died of diseases, malnutrition, and abuse under the "care" of these non-profits.


This is not a story limited to 19th Century America. It continued well into the 20th.


Similar nightmares occur today with private non-profits that go unchecked after receiving grants, gifts, contributions, contracts, etc.


I know many of the wonderful people and organizations that benefit from these funds. I trust many of them.


The problem is, it’s not my money and I don't trust some of them. I have worked with some of these organizations and would rather have Halliburton do the job.


Many of these non-profits are religious institutions, or religious in nature. It is a bad idea and legally questionable for government to fund religious organizations. Just ask the families of those poor children who benefited from such arrangements 100 years ago. You can go to Carlisle (PA) and visit the graves of hundreds of children who died victims of well intentioned non-profits.


My tax dollars are for one non-profit. I have a voice on its matters, and can vote out its board of directors. I have access to all its records, can question everything it does, and get a response.


If all of my fellow liberals want to contribute to some private group with secrets and unknown motives, use your own check.


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