Starve the beast

Drove the bus on Monday.  Pretty much the usual routine.  Charley in his wheel chair going to the cardiologist.  Joann in her chair off to school.  Bridget to Oak Tree house makes it a trifecta of wheeled conveyances.  Neatly topped off by the lunch bunch with assorted walkers and canes.  A good morning for them and for me.

And then I headed back up the hill.  KCRW’s Warren Olney in the background with Which Way LA.  I like Warren.  His style is non-confrontational, but incisive.  He tries to hide a liberal streak, not very well.  My kind of guy.

The subject was the Census Bureau poverty statistics in our rich nation.  44 million people below the poverty line.  One in seven of us.  Twenty percent of all children.  You qualify if there are four in your family and you earn less than $22,000 a year.  $1,833 a month.  If you spent it all on food, each meal would cost about $5.  With nothing left over for rent, medical care, cell phones and Starbucks.

Warren spoke with Beverly Damore.  She is with St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix and serves the needs of three-quarters of the same state that brought us their own version of immigration reform.  Beverly’s food bank has doubled in size the last two years distributing 72 million pounds of food annually to 500,000 Arizonans.  Many of her customers say “I used to be a donor, now I need your help.”  Or, “I can’t believe I’m here.”

Stephen Moore, chief economics writer for the Wall Street Journal thought it tragic that so many people were in need.  When asked if the current government safety net programs should be continued, he said “I’m not familiar with most of those programs, but I am an expert on unemployment benefits.”  Continuing, “We need to get people back to work and unemployment benefits stand in the way of that objective.  When people get those benefits, they are less inclined to take any job that comes along.”  He topped it off with ” The government stimulus programs haven’t worked.  The Reagan tax cuts did.”

Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute chimed in.  “I agree with Steve.  In normal times, unemployment benefits do postpone the worker’s need to jump into the first thing that comes along.  But one of the explicit purposes of those benefits is to make sure that people seeking work and available jobs are properly matched.  But this isn’t normal times.  There are five workers for every available job.  And, by the way, the only problem with the stimulus programs is that they aren’t big enough.”

Jason Perkins Cohen of Baltimore’s Job Opportunity Task Force added, “Few of the people we see are sitting home because they’d rather not be working.”

Which brings me to tax cuts.  I won’t bore you with details.  Enough to say that Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts for two percent of taxpayers and take the money to help some of the 44 million folks we just talked about.  Now I know that a 3 percentage point increase in rich folks’ marginal tax rates is likely to be devastating.  American industry will grind to a halt.  Business owners will cease to expand their companies because of the horror of paying extra taxes on their increased sales volume.  And their annual vacations will be geographically restrained to this hemisphere.  What has this world come to!

So maybe the Snow Queen was right when she said…”the way to stop unnecessary government spending is to starve the beast.”  All 44 million of them.

3 Responses to “Starve the beast”


  1. 1 leo September 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    You are beautiful fredila.
    I am always glad to receive your weblog.

    Like

  2. 2 Aryna September 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks again for your perspective. And there is so much more to this topic- glad you picked a starting point. Last Sunday that old guy who wraps up with a clever editorial on CBS Sunday morning, admitting he is in the “over $250k per year” category complained that he felt he was being “punished” by the proposed roll back of tax cuts. How do these folks manage to ignore all the other economic challenges (like the poverty you describe)in our country?

    Like

  3. 3 Mackay September 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Fredila, once again you expressed my sentiments exactly. It’s inexcusable that 1 in 5 children are below the poverty line.

    Like


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