Tag: tax revenue

Conservatism is Often Less than Compassionate

buy accutane online a href Flying somewhat underneath the radar this week has been a controversial remark made by South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer (R).  Last week, the Lt. Governor of the Palmetto State made a particularly toxic and highly offensive remark regarding the nature of assistance programs designed to aid the poor and disabled.  

viagra without prescription “My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.”

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=acquistare-vardenafil-senza-ricetta-Liguria I’ve mentioned this before, I know, but at that instant my mind couldn’t help but flash back to a particular quote made by Earl Butz, Secretary of Agriculture under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

here The only thing the coloreds are looking for in life are tight pu**y, loose shoes, and a warm place to s**t.

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=dove-comprare-levitra-originale-pagamento-online I think conservatives assume that welfare services and the safety nets provided to those living at or near the poverty line are some kind of all-you-can-eat buffet line whereby some dubiously defined underclass can stuff themselves silly on taxpayer funded giveaways.  The most obvious response to this is, of course, that they are desperately needed, often life-saving, otherwise unavailable options which those with adequate means already have and as such frequently take for granted.  But for some reason this isn’t sufficient enough in and of itself to satisfy the concerns of the average GOP voter or elected official, so perhaps a description of the incredible limitations of welfare agencies needs to be noted once more.  As you will see, one can either decry them as money drains or lament their inefficiency, but certainly not both.

go to link Social service agencies and welfare services are almost always underfunded, meaning that they are also almost always understaffed.  Without enough manpower to answer phones, attend to daily business, and keep things running smoothly, the average applicant must be persistent and also must be his or her own advocate.  Often it is necessary to spend hours on the phone attempting to find someone who either knows to even be connected to a competent worker who has had enough experience with the system to know how to properly process a claim or initiate a service.  Those who lack the patience or the time are often left out altogether.  The working poor don’t have the luxury of being able to devote more than a small fraction of their time to sign up for basic services and have to divide their attention among demanding, often thankless jobs, and the constant time and energy drain that is known as parenthood.  Those with families and dependents often are the ones who need these services the most, but can’t carve out extra time in already busy, over-booked schedules.  Regarding food stamps, which supply one of the most basic of all human needs, what transpires often is that deserving individuals don’t have the time to come into an office or wait for hours, or have great difficulty scheduling a block of time in which to speak on the phone with a worker to complete the process.

informazioni viagra generico 200 mg a Genova Social service agencies and welfare services are dependent on state and local tax revenue, and though the amount of funding varies from city to city, county to county, and state to state, most are barely able to absorb the needs of the less fortunate in good economic times.  In bad economic times, budgets are stretched to the gills, the deficiency in number of workers needed is much more visibly pronounced, and as a result the system quickly grinds to a halt or at least a slow trickle.  In situations like these, with three and four times as many applicants in the pipeline, it takes even longer to obtain even the minimum and it may mean that three and four times as much effort and persistence is needed until one finally receives a place on the rolls.  When budgets are tight, it also means is that coverage for any service can be terminated at any time, for any reason, based on some mysterious internal audit or the flimsiest of justifications, all implemented based on the compulsion to save money and keep from depleting the General Fund.  

Speaking to my own recent experience, just to obtain a referral to a clinic that treats basic physical ailments the way any GP would took two frustrating days on the phone, whereby I called at least seven different numbers and spoke to close to ten people.  Eventually I finally, quite by chance, stumbled across the right person who finally got everything in order.  I was told at the time that the reason for the vast amount of confusion was, in part, a result of the fact that low salaries at certain centers designed to direct patient inquiries meant that there was always quite a bit of turnover.  Since the system itself was complex, it often took a while before any worker properly understood it enough to convey accurate information to anyone.  Though I am thankful for my success, I couldn’t help but think about all the others who found themselves with blood pressure raised high enough for long enough to set aside any subsequent efforts to see a doctor.  It is no wonder that the rates of easily preventable conditions are high among the working poor, since if it takes this degree of effort, I know many will go without rather than undergo what at first seems like a fruitless search.

This leads me to my next point, at which I discuss another barrier to obtaining needed services—senseless complications and poor networking between agencies.  Many times these are products of all the barriers I have stated above, but what this also reflects is our compulsion to micromanage the affairs of the poor.  Not only that, we wish to control their lives because many of us believe that they are clearly up to no good and only a step above either common criminals or lazy ne’er do wells with nothing so much as ambition or drive.  I wouldn’t exactly call this tough love so much as I would call it punitive retribution.  One needs only look at the ACORN matter to see evidence of that.  Conservatives saw exactly what they’ve always wished to see in that case, confirming their own darkest suspicions in the process.  I honestly believe if it were up to them, many would do away with all taxpayer funded programs designed to assist the less fortunate among us, unsympathetically remarking like Herbert Hoover that these services ought to be the domain of churches and faith-based organizations, but certainly not of government.    

Where one sees frustrating evidence that the right hand doesn’t know quite what the left hand is doing in any circumstance, or that everyone’s not quite on the same page, it is tempting to deem it indisputable proof that larger government is both a waste and a headache.  This is what drove the Tea Party protesters to spout off and also motivated those who feared and still fear the enactment of some nebulously defined, super scary government-controlled health care plan, but I counter that assumption by noting that with an adequate amount of funding, an adequate amount of staffing, a moderate amount of reform, and a network of customers of ample economic means, the system would run far more efficiently.  Most people who are used to medicine on demand would simply not stand for the degree of complication and delay as currently exists, and money has a way of smoothing out many of the kinks in any system.  Not all of them, of course, but many.  Money has a way of giving people a reason to stay in a job for more than a short time and encouraging competent management that would attend to the needs of a much more educated, much more affluent demographic that would expect more and not a group of citizens who have unfortunately long come to expect that the few concessions thrown them will be of inferior quality.

Returning to the system the way it is today, the elephant in the room, naturally, is a very pronounced element of racist and classist assumption.  Since discrepancies between wage earnings are still very pronounced between Whites and Blacks, most who qualify for and use safety net programs are poverty-line African-Americans, and more recently a rapidly growing number of Latinos.  Most, but not all, of course.  In my experience, I was the only White person applying for food stamps and the only Caucasian seeking treatment and prescription drug coverage.  As we well know, nothing instigates GOP ire faster than the notion of welfare cheats or avoidable drains on Good Honest American Taxpaying Citizens™, as seen above with Mr. Bauer.  I’m not quite sure what I find more offensive about his remarks, the dehumanizing element reducing poor Americans to feral animals, the element of eugenics which suggests that poverty could be reduced or eliminated by means of forced sterilization or starvation, or the implication that all those in need are simple-minded strays who aren’t concerned with anything much more than just reproducing and creating burdens for humans who have to take the time and effort to keep their numbers in check.  I’ve heard some fairly creative theories for population control and elimination of inferior races, but yours, Mr. Bauer, is not one of them.                  

The real enemy here is not conservatism, or liberalism, or an entitlement mentality, or even an underclass.  The issue is equality, pure and simple, or should I say the lack thereof.  I will be honest here.  I was raised by a Father who placed complete faith in Ronald Reagan and his view of the waste and graft of welfare and with it a simultaneously dismal opinion of the efficiency of any government program, regardless of its stated purpose or function.  Indeed, there was a time where I myself held similar beliefs.  But though I had changed by tune well before then, my eyes were truly opened when it came my time to use these same basic lifelines granted anyone who qualifies.  I recognized quickly that had I not been born into a middle class, highly educated family, I might not have been able to chart my way through a very convoluted system and obtain the services I needed along the way.  Working the system requires a good bit of guesswork and tremendous amount of trying to successfully solve a problem with multiple unknown variables.  

The system is not designed for the undereducated and the impoverished, rather it is a construct of those whose job description clearly must include a love of complicated solutions for simple problems and an insistence upon a variety of completely unrealistic constants, like minimal turn over among workers on the front lines and at the field office.  Again, equality in pay would do much to keep that in check, as would a system that was put together with greater skill and dexterity.  I’m not arguing that throwing money at a problem is any adequate means to fix it, but what I am saying is that if each of the individual pieces of the system were designed with the ability to be revised easily and as the situation demanded, and if those who worked this system took a job as a career, not just a vocation, then many of these problems could be eliminated.  

If these social service agencies and welfare programs were run like a business in the private sector, they would have gone bankrupt years ago, but the fault here is once again that we honestly must not really have much regard for human life, particularly for those “not like us” for whatever reason.  Oh sure, we’ll give money to Haiti and vow to offer our services in any way that we can.  I don’t mean to come across as cynical regarding anyone’s motivation to assist the victims of that battered island nation.  The outpouring of help would soften the heart of even the most bitter person, but many will see Haiti as a one-time, special occasion.  I live in the District of Columbia and in a relatively small area based on surface area both the richest of the rich of the poor living side by side.  The ostentatious wealth of Georgetown is countered by the desolation of Anacostia and recently gentrified areas like Columbia Heights or right near by the Capitol paint an even starker view of the discrepancy.  As I’ve seen the money rolling in to be sent to Haiti, I can’t help but wonder what even a fraction of that outpouring could do for the District’s poor, and especially for those infected with HIV/AIDS since the District itself has an obscenely high number of cases that put it on par with an African nation, not a region within the borders of the United States.

Any system designed to assist those without our fundamental advantages depends upon the cooperation of those farther up the totem pole, and if our checkbooks, if not our hearts are closed to them, then the system will always be insufficient and dysfunctional, poverty will always exist, disparities will always exist between race and class, and so too will the desperate attitudes that lead to drug addiction and crime.  The life we save might be our own someday.  So yes, in this instance we do it to ourselves, and that’s what really hurts the most.  And we do it by not recognizing that it is within our power to treat the cause of the problem, much like medicine would in counteracting a disease.  For example, one can treat strep throat with an aspirin, but that only takes into account the effect.  Treating the cause often requires a shot of penicillin, and once it has made its way through the blood stream, healing begins and pain ends.  Aspirin might be far cheaper than a cost of a doctor’s visit without insurance,  but it will merely mask or temporarily delay the pain of the sore throat.  With time, it wear off, the pain returns, and the need to take more returns.  The disease itself remains and will remain until it is properly treated.          

If conservatives are so indebted to scripture and to their assertion that we ought to be a Christian nation, I wish they’d keep these passages below in mind.


For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  

“Then the people who have God’s approval will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “And the King will say, watch ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

The Currency of Currency

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was recently interviewed by the conservative Washington Times and stated his opinion on a variety of current events.  Barbour’s name has been floated as a potential 2012 Republican Presidential nominee and he appeals strongly to the party’s conservative base.  The most interesting portion of the interview focuses on federal government spending versus state government spending.  Barbour’s reply also reveals how quickly we have forgotten the problems of our past.  Those who advance a states’ rights agenda and hold up the Tenth Amendment as justification often forget the massive problems this country faced when we focused more on individual states at the expense of Washington, DC.  While placing more control in a centralized system of government has created some problems, they are nothing compared to way it was when the reverse was true.  

The Democrat Socialist Party? How about the Republican Anarchist Party?

Conservative voices have continued to rehash, as part of the Reagan mythology, the military impotent of President Carter a la Iranian Hostage Crisis.  They use this as their catch-all justification for and evidence of the evils of a weak military.  Advocating for a strong military is the same kind of feel-good panacea as pushing for a strong local police force.  Both of them promise security and peace of mind, when what they often produce is neither secure nor peaceful.  A policeman on every corner will not necessarily keep young women from being violently attacked and seventeen police cars on the road at all time will not eliminate bank robberies or theft of property.  However, many people like to entertain the delusion just the same.  The facade of security is much more popular than the reality.  For example, a sure-fire way to render yourself instantly unpopular is to propose a sharp reduction in money earmarked for the police department, no matter how justified one might be in requesting it.  

In my own place of residence, the city has had to cut back funding for a variety of projects and departments.  In particular, the school district has been given a much smaller share of tax revenue then ordinarily allotted it, while a far larger share has been allocated to the police force.  As for me, I’d much rather have an informed and educated citizenry of our future leaders than the spectacle which routinely greets me when I’m driving around town—that of bored policemen and policewomen driving around to make their visual presence known, but seemingly not much else.  While I do appreciate that most of the police vehicles these days run on flex fuel, not conventional gasoline, I still can’t help reflecting on how many tax dollars are being squandered on the latest state-of-the-art gadget or technique that is funded out of the paychecks of ordinary citizens and will be used infrequently, if at all.  Many police purchases I have observed come across to these eyes as nothing more than expensive toys for grown ups.            

On this same subject, a former Bush treasury official has stated in the Wall Street Journal that he fears Health Care spending will exceed military spending.  Like the good Quaker I am, my immediate response is, of course, “What’s wrong with that?”  A sure-fire way to render yourself instantly unpopular is to start talking about war as an immoral agent in direct contradiction to Jesus’ teachings—one that needs to be banished from the face of the earth.  I suppose I’d much rather people be healthy and live long lives as free from pain as they can than for us to have the unfailingly depressing capacity to blow the hell out of our latest enemy.  Not only that, I might even be enough of a dreamer to believe that improving the quality of life for all might be a far more unifying solution than violently ending lives in an inferno of evil.        

To draw a parallel between a city police force and the U.S. military,  all kinds of devices are utilized that give the facade of protection and safety.  In reality, they are little more than window dressing and wishful thinking.  As we have determined, a color-coded terror alert system does not keep us safe.  An increased troops presence in Afghanistan has not interrupted the opium trade, nor prevented the reformation of the Taliban.  Constant patrols in armed vehicles have not completely eliminated violent acts.  Nor has this deceptively insufficient shift of soldiers from one troubled country to another prevented journalists from being kidnapped.  My point in identifying these limitations of military force is not to inspire fear, but rather to illustrate a very difficult lesson:  complete safety is an illusion.  

The President and others have talked constantly about the need to eliminate waste, graft, and corruption in the health care industry as a means to pay for the massive overhaul commonly known as Health Care Reform.  I don’t doubt that the program will, as promised, pay for itself if serious efforts towards eliminated frivolity and superfluous procedures are eliminated.  Living for the past fifteen years with a chronic illness have provided more than enough examples of that.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t as aware of the absurdity as I am.  However, somehow we as a society haven’t quite confronted the subject of waste and needless expenditure as regards military spending.  Though noting the negative impact of the military-industrial complex is a start, if we are committed to reduce our deficit and to streamline certain titanic segments of our economy, we might be wise to consider military spending reform, too.  

Though I might be an idealist at times, I am far from a fool.  If we thought that Health Care Reform inspired incredible hatred and spite from the Right, imagine what kind of missiles would be lobbed at us if we proposed ways to modify the military.  The Republican response would be immediate.  We’d be painted as soft on terror, soft on defense, and accused of inviting other countries to invade us.  Uniformed people at Town Hall Forums would demand that they didn’t want a government-controlled military.  The same snidely dismissive charges that greeted Candidate Obama when he advocated at least giving diplomacy with our enemies a chance would resume.  In many situations, particularly this one, my spiritual beliefs are tempered by pragmatism.  I do recognize that the only way war can be set aside is if every country gets on board and that for, a variety of complex and interlocking reasons, that is unlikely to happen any time soon.  Even so, we have a distressing tendency to believe that our military always works flawlessly and that the more tax dollars we add to it, the better it functions.  The same people who speak out against government incompetence or are the first to assert that “throwing money at a problem is no solution” notably do not extend these same scathing criticisms to our military.

I suppose could mention Abu Ghraib, enhanced interrogation techniques, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq War, and others in my own defense, but spin and rationalization will always get in the way of logic.  There will always be questions considered too dangerous to be sufficiently questioned or even sufficiently answered.  I, for one, believe that there is far more to 11 September 2001 then will ever be revealed in our lifetime.  Lest anyone misunderstand, cialis generico ci vuole la ricetta what I am NOT saying is that I believe 11 September was an inside job.  What I AM proposing, however, is my firm belief that this country was so woefully unprepared for the attack (strongest military in the world, natch) that the entire chain of command as established in the Bush Administration, on that tragic day, resembled nothing less than a comedy of errors.  I believe that Vice-President Cheney and high-ranking insiders, not President Bush, ran our government for several hours, if not for several days in the chaos and confusion that ensued in the immediate aftermath; an embarrassing degree of miscommunication and incompetence reigned.  Admitting that to the public and to the world would not exactly show us to be the sterling, confident superpower of which we like to portray ourselves.    

Much could be learned from both our mistakes and our network of quick fixes.  When we outsource our freedom and health to industries and specialized occupations, we effectively place our collective health and safety in the hands of others who might not necessarily have our best interest at heart.  No Republican would ever wish to be labeled an anarchist, but their pervasive and recently adamant refrain that government is the root of evil, whether they recognize it or not, is just that.  If conservatives wish to follow this line of logic to its ultimate conclusion, they ought to be finding ways to dismantle government altogether.  They won’t do this, of course, because dismantling government includes dismantling the police and the military.  Anarchy on one’s own terms is not anarchy at all.  Those Republican politicians who believe that government is the problem, not the solution would be wise to question why they have made a career out this supposed cesspool of corruption and terrible things.  They have had years to prune government down to some arbitrary, more manageable size and have found themselves indebted to the same corruption, out of control spending, and size-swelling as the Democrats they criticize.  Quite hypocritically, they have increased the size of the government they agree with at the expense of the government they do not.  This isn’t just hypocrisy, it’s also awful policy.  That they can still make these arguments with a straight face might explain why they happen to be the minority party who has to embrace the lunacy of their fringes to even stay relevant.