Op-Ed

"E pluribus unum," a conservative rallying cry.

Lost in the ideological headlock that — like pigs possessed — has so called "conservative" congress members throwing themselves off the cliff of rationality, is the fact that true conservative values are essential to America's nationhood.

The problem is not with the values, but rather with the self-interest of those who have hijacked and warped them to suit their narrow purposes.

True to its name, conservatism should be all about preserving America's essence, its foundational character. It should be about honoring and strengthening the values our founders followed in forging a union that would become the world's new great hope.

From the first Thanksgiving to the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the Constitution, collective action was vital not merely for the greater good, but for the nation's very creation, survival and eventual growth. Working together for a purpose greater than any one individual or group's special interest is therefore a value worth conserving.

As are individual effort and personal responsibility. In a free land that honors liberty and justice for all, collective action with individual enterprise combined to create the world's most successful country, the highest standard of living for the greatest number of people and moral leadership.

Yet today's conservative leaders are trashing conservative values. They trumpet personal responsibility for the little guy, but to the really big and strong ones who need not one cent they give trillions. That's right, congressional Republicans (and sure, some Democrats, too) have repaid their corporate benefactors by giving them obscene tax subsidies, allowing them to escape hundreds of billions in taxes they rightfully owe.

In the 1950s, when America was at her zenith, corporate taxes paid for more than a quarter of the federal government's outlays. Today, that has dropped to a mere 6 percent.

In that same period, federal corporate tax collections fell from nearly 5 percent of GDP to a paltry 1.16 percent now. The sad and unbelievable truth is that most American taxpayers pay more federal income taxes than General Electric, Boeing, Dupont, Wells Fargo, Verizon, (and many others) combined. (But there is one tax increase Republicans not only support, but demand: higher payroll taxes on poor and middle class taxpayers by refusing to extend the small cuts put in place last year).

While using government for their own narrow aims, they dis it at every turn. The collective action so instrumental to our nation's creation and growth they decry as socialism, an evil to be shunned. Yet they ignore the fact that collective action saved America.

Whether through FDR's activism, the GI Bill, Social Security and Medicare, our vaunted military, or in many other ways, collective action through our federal government helped create the America we know and love today.

So instrumental was collective action to our national heritage that we inscribed the slogan, "e pluribus unum" — literally, "from many, one" — on the dollar bill.

Collective action is evil? Quite the contrary. In fact, those who say so, and who tote the Bible for political gain at nearly every opportunity, should read Acts 4:32-36.

Go ahead, I dare you.

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