Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Let Them Freeze

Having vetoed the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s expansion and renewal (against the wishes of bi-partisan majorities in Congress and 81% of the American people), allegedly because he wanted to “put poor children first” (even though the poor are covered under Medicaid), U.S. Pres. George W. Bush now is trying to cut off heating assistance to the the poor this winter.  Heating oil prices are expected to be at record highs, too.

Fiscal conservatism? Not from a man who blew record government surplusses in his first year in office and has turned the government into a bloated cash cow with no-bid contracts for businesses that have connections to him or Cheney!  Fiscal conservatives have been horrified by the Bush administration. 

Compassionate conservatism? Cutting off heating assistance to the poor is neither compassionate nor conservative; it’s a blatant attempt to make even more billions for his cronies in the oil business at the expense of the poor–including the poor children he claimed to want to “put first.”

Family values? Pro-life? Sure, because letting the poor freeze to death so promotes a “culture of life” and so helps families, right?

The casual cruelty of this administration never ceases to amaze me.  I realize that someone born into incredible wealth, who went to private schools and never had to study because his father bought him passing grades; whose family bought his way into Yale and into Harvard Business School, and out of drunk driving and cocaine charges; whose father used his connections to keep him out of Vietnam and then out of trouble for being Absent Without Leave; whose father and family friends bought him one business after another when he ran them into the ground;  I realize that someone from such a background of incredible privilege has a hard time understanding people who work 3-4 jobs to keep their kids fed and clothed and healthy.  But someone who was truly a “compassionate conservative” would TRY.

Here is a president who, more than any other in our history, has worn his Christian faith on his sleeve. (Even Jimmy Carter, whose election led Time to dub 1976 the “Year of the Evangelical,” who taught Sunday School even while in the White House and witnessed to Chinese Communist leaders, did not parade his faith in public as much as Bush.) Did his church never tell him, did he never read in the Bible, about God’s concern for the poor?  When “elected” in 2000, Bush brought together evangelical leaders who worked with the poor and asked them to help him “get it.” But obviously they failed miserably.

According to legend, France’s Marie Antoinette, when told that the peasants were starving because they had no bread, replied, “Then let them eat cake.”  Going her one better, Bush apparently says of those who cannot afford to heat their homes this winter, “Let them freeze.”  SHAME.


October 22, 2007 - Posted by | economic justice


  1. The person who said Let Them Eat Cake was one of Louis XV’s daughters either Victoire or Sophie depending on reference.

    Comment by Janice | October 23, 2007

  2. Thanks, Janice. I wonder why the saying is so often attributed to Marie Antoinette?

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 23, 2007

  3. From Wikipedia:

    “Let them eat cake!” is the usual translation of “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, misattributed to Marie Antoinette. The actual quote was originally attributed to Maria Theresa of Spain, the wife of Louis XIV. One of her male descendants recalled her words in a written reflection later discovered.

    It has also been said that the phrase is not indicative of a misunderstanding that peasants did not have “cake” to eat, but rather it is a reference to “oven cake” which was used to clean out the brick ovens when too much soot and creosote built up. So, with this meaning saying “let them eat cake” would be nearly equivalent to saying “let them eat garbage.”

    Comment by Thom Stark | October 30, 2007

  4. Thom, that explanation has even MORE parallels with the casual cruelty of this administration. Thanks.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | November 1, 2007

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