Most of us in the United States believe that most of the time we are a nation of laws, as well as a nation which respects and honors individual freedom. Lately issues have come to light which contend with our long-held beliefs about who we are and who we respect. This has also invaded my thinking of late and become more pronounced due to the following circumstances:

Driving home from visiting my middle son and family near Richmond, Va., it was my distinct displeasure to navigate Interstate 95 north to the 695 Beltway around Washington, D.C. I wouldn’t recommend driving 95 when possible, however it was — according to GPS — the shortest and fastest route. From a couple dozen miles south of the Capitol to its beltway, there is what was once an HOV lane (High Occupancy Vehicle), but is now a PIGG (Privileged Important Gas-Guzzler) lane. Somewhere our environment was downgraded from important to not as important as the well-to-do getting wherever faster than the rest of us.

The lane used to reward people carpooling, which saves gasoline, cuts down on pollution, and speaks to our thrifty nature. The pay-as-you-go High Speed Lanes reward conspicuous consumption, disposable income (it costs $11.95 to utilize these lanes from Frederick to D.C.), and speeding. The result? More, rather than fewer, cars on the freeway, traffic congestion is increased, and an undue burden on working class people who cannot afford an EASY-PASS or don’t qualify to buy one. The well-off are once again the recipients of the common good will, and the hard-working, but just making ends meet group is left out in the cold behind a long line of cars.

Let’s talk the Republican tax break. Have you seen any benefit? I have not. My savings account rates have inched up ... correction, they’ve millimeter-ed up. And for those unfamiliar with the metric system, one inch equals 2.54 centimeters and one centimeter equals 10 millimeters. So my savings account rates have only gone up .254 inches, or just over a quarter of an inch. Meantime, if I wanted to buy a new home 2.5 years ago I could have financed it at about 2 percent. By years end it will be more than double that rate to borrow money for a home, 4.25 percent at least. Where’s the justice in this tax break?

Come April the Trump administration will have bought and paid for — with your future tax dollars — a second term. If — and it’s a big if — the mediocre tax break actually makes a difference in the pockets and lives of average Americans. We already know the top 1 to 10 percent in terms of American’s earnings owe Trump and the Republicans a debt of gratitude. It is my hope that more of us will vote our children and grandchildren’s pocketbooks rather than our own. The tax cut is nothing more than a government grant to the rich while this administration and this Republican Congress attempted a paltry cash drive by of the ever-shrinking middle class. If you’re a working-class citizen your president is leaving you a two-buck tip for a $50 meal, or his pocket change after a three-night stay at four star hotel, and then leaving you hanging on an attempted high five. Is that how you define justice: Bribery?

What does gain a lot of traction with this administration and its supporters is a whole lot of hot air about the deep state. Less than four years ago the same Republican Party was the loudest backer of our intelligence agencies. Twelve years ago, during the W. Bush years many of them supported the use of “enhanced torture” techniques like water boarding on suspected terrorists. Their budget proposals sent millions to the FBI, CIA and NSA. Under Trump’s tutelage however Republicans have all of a sudden become suspicious critics of the very institutions they have historically cheered for and paid for with our tax dollars. In reality Trump and now some formerly honorable men and women have invented the deep state conspiracy because it gets them votes with the fraction of our citizenship who read tabloid magazines as if they are factual and somehow believe Ted Nugent has something to contribute to our democracy.

Could it be that the Republicans and the president are trying to raise suspicion about our intelligence agencies to distract us from what they are gifting to the banking, insurance and investment industries? While many of the people attending the MAGA rallies are pointing accusing fingers at our FBI, they’re turning a blind eye toward the very financial institutions responsible for the “Great Recession” of 2007-2008. Remember them? The people who charged you 16 to 22 percent on your credit card while paying you a paltry 1.5 percent on your savings accounts and CDs. The people who came out of the recession owning the homes they foreclosed against you. Trump and company are slashing the very regulations which would prevent them from doing it again. When did cheating the honest wage earner become something to boast about?

Now we have a nominee for the Supreme Court who believes that the accusations against him aren’t born out a woman’s devastation, but the left’s hatred of President Trump, as well as revenge for Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. This is a man who testified that as a Supreme Court Justice he would rule based on the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States. Besides sounding like his sponsor — who he may someday judge in court — Kavanaugh sounded like most partisan members of Congress. My advice to the nominee is this: You’re applying for the wrong job. You might make a good conservative senator, governor or cabinet member, however Brett, you exposed yourself as anything but a prudent judicial candidate for this nation’s highest court. Maybe you can get a job in North Korea? Didn’t you hear President Trump is going steady with Kim Jung Un.

Mike Tischio is a freelance columnist living in Union County. To comment, simply email newsroom@standard-journal.com.

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