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A recent news article about Bill Randles, one of the not-so-fab GOPers vying for the gubernatorial nomination, reminds me of a story I heard somewhere about the Nicaraguan Dictator, Anastasio Somoza. According to the story, which works metaphorically though I can’t swear to its accuracy, Somoza opposed letting a charity distribute shoes to barefoot Nicaraguan peasants – he claimed they maintained an essential spiritual contact with the soul of Nicaragua through the contact of their bare feet with Nicaraguan soil. Of course Somoza himself and all his family wore shoes. Given the amount of loot he managed to expropriate from the Nicaraguan people, I assume that they were probably very expensive shoes.

I’m not suggesting that Bill Randles wants to be Missouri’s dictator or that he has the brutal proclivities of Somoza, a man about whom the epithet “butcher” does butchers the world over a grave injustice. I will point out, though, that as a Harvard educated lawyer, he’s probably doing pretty well for himself. Which makes it all the more troublesome that he’s apparently channeling the spirit of Bill Lembke, the mean-minded twit who was willing to turn Missouri’s long-term unemployed out into the streets in order to make some inane point about government spending. But there it is: Randles has stated that if elected, “he would deny federal funds for education, the environment, health care, and, eventually, Medicaid.”

Why, given the poor state of Missouri’s finances, would anyone refuse to let the federal government return some of the money paid to it by Missouri taxpayers? How, given the over-the-barrell condition of the current state budget,  can Randle prattle about preferring to let Missouri devise its own Medicaid alternative? He claims that if the state succumbs to federal demands, “Medicaid will occupy too much of the state budget in the near future.” In other words, to hell with the people Medicaid serves – too many of them, so too damn bad for them.  

Seems that Randles, like Mitt Romney, isn’t worried about poor people. Romney claims that his lack of concern stems from his belief that they have an ample social safety-net, while, out of the other side of his mouth, he promises spending cuts that would savage the safety net. Mr. Randles, for his part, declares with a straight face that, in order to bring down health care costs, he would “change requirements for emergency rooms so that they are only required to treat uninsured patients for life-threatening injuries.” Forget about maintaining the only avenue for health care open to those folks Republicans are hell-bent on keeping uninsured.

Randles states that the federal government may “send money, but they require us to spend more money to get it. So you have to say at some point, ‘what is this deal worth’?” Based on this assertion, I would guess that Randles not only has problems with basic math, but also might not be absolutely open about his real priorities which are, clearly, to kill social spending that might threaten tax “relief” for rich businessmen.

Like Somoza, who sacrificed the welfare of Nicaraguan farmers in the service of a patriotic fantasy about the Nicaraguan soul, Randles is willing to not only sacrifice the welfare of Missourians, but their federal tax dollars in the service of a fantasy about preserving the state from the debilitating effects of that right-wing bogey, “big government.” Like the Somozas, who were more than willing to forego the spiritual properties of Nicaraguan soil and prance around the country fully-shod, the consequences of Randles’ high-minded effort to divorce Missouri from federal dollars is very unlikely to affect well-off Kansas City lawyers in the same way that it will affect the average Missourian.

As an afterthought, there’s one more story about Somoza that might be apropos here. When asked why his government spent so little on education for the largely rural and illiterate Nicaraguans, he replied that he didn’t want them educated, they were, afterall, only oxen. Draw your own conclusions.