Friday, August 24, 2012
Why Attack the Poor?
I shouldn't be surprised because I've seen and read about the ignorance of attacking the indigent in these precarious times. During the 1929 Great Depression, the poverty-stricken farmers were the scapegoats instead of the big banks who had a great role in bringing down our financial system. I wouldn't mind it so much if the claims of millions of able-bodied men too lazy to go to work were true and backed by documented facts. The information I get by reading our local paper and our online forum is equivalent to neighborhood gossip. A couple of back -to- back letters indicate that hard-working Republicans are supporting democratic leaning ingrates with their tax dollars. There's even one neighborhood Jezebel, who has six kids and is clamoring for more just to receive more government money. How many times have I heard stories like that before?
The truth is Democrats aren't as anxious as their Republican counterparts to make drastic cuts on entitlements and social programs. Those programs are in need of reform and reasonable cuts, but it shouldn't be at the expense of giving tax cuts to the wealthy. That doesn't make economic or moral sense. I do know that we should heed to the warnings of the Congressional Budget Office about the fiscal cliff that we are approaching. We will go back into a recession if we insist on the $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to hit in January. Those are the issues we should be concentrating on instead of constantly hammering the poor.
There certainly is some waste in the SNAP (food stamps) program, which comes out to $176 million but that's just 0.0444% of the $400 billion total waste of government dollars. We are a wasteful nation; we throw away 40% of our food supply, which amounts to $165 billion every year. That's the reason I can never understand why some people are totally against child nutrition programs and free school lunches. Do we want to punish the children, so we can send a lesson to possible irresponsible adults? I would rather error on the side of compassion, especially after seeing what we throw away.
Our country was hemorrhaging jobs at the rate of 500,000 to 750,000 a month before President Obama ever took office, so why is it surprising that the costs of food stamps went from $17 billion to $76 billion during the recession? Are we supposed to believe that John McCain would have kept the food stamps cost at $17 billion during the recession? 46 million Americans are on the SNAP program and 87% of those are seniors, single moms and children, so that leaves about 6 million of our fellow Americans vulnerable to being called lazy able-bodied people living off the government dole. Those people have to be careful because they're being scrutinized because their neighbors are probably reading their mail to come up with their assumptions. That's funny because a government check is a government check; there are no known ways of how to tell if they are SSI checks, Social Security or a tax refund. I wonder if the busybodies know the difference between their primitive mythology and actual facts. I will admit that I don't have any substantial facts to back up my assumption that people would rather work for a living at a decent wage then depend on something that's neither permanent nor guaranteed.
I've been told many times that it's the role of the church's and individuals to give a helping hand to the poor, not the government. That's good in theory; in fact ideal but a lot of poor children would starve waiting on that to happen, and statistics bear that out. A 2011 IRS report reveled that “In 2008, the IRS says, Americans wrote off $172.9-billion in charitable contributions, a 10.6-percent drop from 2007. Its estimates for 2009, released this month, project a 14-percent drop, to $148.6-billion."
I won't pretend that this blog will generate a good discussion about public policy, the role of government, or the safety net because people are locked in their own beliefs. It doesn't really matter whether it's 1929 or 2012. My opponents on this subject will call me a statist because I'm not in lockstep with their beliefs. I believe that government definitely has a role as a policeman in some cases, but frequently it's mostly about being the equalizer. I love the idea of entrepreneurs building their business from the ground up, but I don't look down at them if they take advantage of a government grant or a preferable loan rate for start-ups. I don't believe that we will get out of our economic doldrums without the help of government because the free market corporations are not stepping up. I saw a group of Romney supporters at one of his political events wearing tee shirts, with “I built this business" across the front. Do those people suffer from an inferiority complex that they need to be reminded of their accomplishments every day? If you're really that great you don't have to toot your own horn; others will gladly do it.
This blog will take the place of my occasional “Saturday Rant" blog because I'll be out of town tomorrow...I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.