Tom Fulks

SLO County Board of Supervisors majority should re-examine ideology

Tom Fulks
Tom Fulks

Starting today, Palm Sunday, can we please stop picking on the poor, for Christ’s sake?

The majority of our county Board of Supervisors behaves as if the poor aren’t worthy of the time of day, much less Internet access or protection from housing discrimination.

That should earn them a Facebook “unfriend” from the many conservative Christians who backed the campaigns of these three for the board.

They might remember this Easter Week what Jesus would do: The poor should be shielded, not shunned.

Blessed are you who are poor,” Jesus said, “for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Rather than being true to New Testament values, our board majority seems to have taken its inspiration from a Mel Brooks movie, “The History of the World: Part I.”

“It is said that the people are revolting,” announces Count De Monet, about the French Revolution, to which King Louis retorts, “You said it. They stink on ice!”

The message is clear from our board majority: If you need a hand up, expect a back of the hand instead.

Obviously, supervisors Debbie Arnold, Lynn Compton and Frank Mecham didn’t do much soul searching before opposing affordable Internet access for people who need it most, or before denying basic protections from housing discrimination based on class.

According to an editorial in the March 16 Tribune, Comcast wants to acquire Time-Warner Cable. If that happens, Comcast will take over San Luis Obispo County’s only cable franchise from Charter, and we’ll switch from one shark-eyed monopoly to another.

For that to happen, the Federal Communications Commission must declare there will be some public benefit. Comcast has an existing program, already funded, called Internet Essentials, which offers $9.95 monthly service for low-income families with children, but not seniors, disabled people, veterans or low-income childless families.

By a vote of 2-2, with an “abstain” from Mecham (same as a“no” vote in this case), support for an expanded program died on the cross without a majority. The naysayers didn’t even bother to check if it would cost taxpayers or Comcast shareholders anything (it won’t).

They voted based solely on ideology.

When given the chance to show some heart a week later, Mecham and Compton voted against reconsidering the issue. To her credit, Arnold sided with supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson to bring the issue back for further review. We’ll see how that turns out.

Similarly, when asked to support state legislation to protect low-income renters using federal Section 8 vouchers from discrimination, the same board majority sided with landlords.

Why such disdain for the poor? The answer appears to be based more on Tea Party dogma than biblical principles or budgetary discipline, judging from their comments to justify their heartlessness: Low-cost Internet access is a “burden on Comcast shareholders,” they opined. Landlords should be able to spurn poor people because property rights, they agreed. As for their constituents who could use a little help climbing the economic ladder? Let ’em eat cake.

The lobbyist for the Coalition of Labor Agriculture and Business of San Luis Obispo County, railing against the board reconsidering the Internet issue, brayed that providing lowcost access is a “cable provider shakedown,” “disgusting” and “liberalism” at its worst. In other words, the board should protect multibillion-dollar corporations because they’re victims of the poor, the takers.

As for the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke? Meh. Why such disregard for Christ’s teachings?

Maybe because most poor don’t vote. They don’t own property. They don’t rub elbows with the monied, the propertied who attend white-walled churches on Sunday — the socially and economically powerful whose welfare must be promoted by their government.

Perhaps protection of their interests from the lesser among us is, after all, a key reason why they poured so much money into the campaigns of Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton, who ran two of the most expensive races for county supervisor in San Luis Obispo County history.

Poor people don’t contribute to political campaigns. They don’t pay for $150 plates at COLAB soirées. They don’t expect elected officials to know their names.

They just pick the crops, mop the floors, cook the meals, make the beds, mow the lawns, change the diapers of the elderly and children — do the tasks our conservative board majority and their backers probably forgot how to do a long time ago, on their way up the ladder, toward heaven.

“For what shall it profit a man,” Jesus asked, “if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”

Our board majority might want to search for theirs, and then seek affordable Internet access for the poor. If only for their own sake.

“Again I tell you,” Jesus said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

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