PAT LAMARCHE

U.S. Constitution allows for national debt, not national religion

Posted July 19, 2011, at 6:56 p.m.

This week I’ve narrowed down the important issues to two seemingly unrelated topics. I wrote “seemingly unrelated” because the discussion of one may well be the subterfuge used to distract us from the other. Either way, both issues have a political intent that departs completely from the founding of this nation.

Let’s take a look at the smoke and mirrors before we look at the substantive issue of the day. The distraction laid before us was set there by “Fox and Friends” television host Ainsley Earhart’s comments about Texas governor — and potential presidential contender — Rick Perry. “Well the Christian Coalition … I think [Rick Perry] can get a lot of money from that base because [of] Romney obviously not being a Christian … Rick Perry, he’s always on talk shows, on Christian talk shows, he has days of prayer in Texas.”

Perhaps the folks at the Fox network and the Christian Coalition haven’t read Article 6 Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The part that says, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Now perhaps Fox is just calling it like they see it and it’s naive to expect the Christian Coalition to respect the Constitution and not force choices based on religious affiliation, but if any other faith group were intent on violating an article of the Constitution — like, say, the Islamic Society of North America — there would be hell to pay. And yeah, that pun was intended.

Our government needs good folks in office. The inference made by any group that this requires a person of a certain faith would cause our founders to spin in their graves.

I’m not trying to kid anybody that I’d consider Mitt Romney for president, but that’s because of his politics. The fact that the Republican Party could turn on someone who has successfully carried their standard for them — just because of his religious beliefs — reminds me of something Ben Franklin once said, “The nearest I can make it out, ‘Love your enemies’ means, ‘Hate your friends.’”

But let’s get to the real issue at hand, the deficit.

Before discussing the cost-cutting snow job Congress and the president are contriving, let me just say that I want all of their salaries and benefits eliminated from the budget until further notice. It won’t make a very big dent in the problem, but let’s run government like a business for a change and stop paying people who don’t do their job. Wait: check that. Let’s run it like a small business — not a big business like the Wall Street banks where people still get paid for botching things.

I’ll apologize in advance to the few members of Congress like Bernie Sanders and Mike Michaud who actually do their jobs. But I have a feeling those two wouldn’t mind volunteering for a few weeks if it meant that their “colleagues” — and I use that term loosely because guys like John Boehner and gals like Nancy Pelosi are of inferior caliber to Sanders and Michaud — finally had consequences for their lousy performance.

Anyway, here’s an explanation of our nation’s finances that even Congress should understand.

If you’ve studied history, you’ve heard of a gent named Alexander Hamilton. A fetching dude and ladies’ man, he was also a founding father and the first secretary of the treasury.

Back in the day he racked up the first ever federal debt. Hamilton paid the states off for the debt they incurred fighting the Revolutionary War. It took about 50 years for that federal debt to be paid. Ever since then we’ve had periods of high debt caused by little things like the Civil War, the world wars, the New Deal and the Cold War. And through time — most recently by the Clinton White House — we’ve always paid that debt back.

So now we’re in a pickle and the slackers in government want us to believe that they’ll never get this mess under control unless they crucify the poor and shelter the rich from paying taxes. And that crucifixion brings us back to the smoke and mirrors topic at hand. Don’t let the conversation become which religion our elected officials hold dear instead of which economic policies they support.

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.

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