A Hand Up – Not Out: Resurrecting the Welfare System

I promised Barney I’d write more about my ideas for welfare reform. So here goes:  with apologies to Page and Plant: “…we all call the tune. Now the piper will lead us to reason”…. Or so I hope.

Let me start by sharing my own experience with the blue welfare state of MA. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I developed pre-eclampsia and was put on strict bed rest for the last month of my pregnancy. I had approximately 15 hours per week of accrued paid time off – which while planned for, seriously put a dent in the finances. We were scraping by – barely. I decided to apply for food stamps in hopes that this would help stretch the budget at least for the food. This was the ONLY assistance I applied for. After filling out the application over the phone with social services I was informed that we made four dollars a week too much to qualify for food stamps. I explained my situation again – reiterating and emphasizing my gravid and ill state. No dice, no exceptions.

However, the woman then informed me that I would be eligible for WIC assistance, but only after I had the baby. But, and here’s the kicker – we would immediately be available for assistance if our landlord evicted us for non payment of the rent. I told her we were in no danger of eviction and were current with our bills. She then told me if we wanted to be eligible we could just get the landlord to write an eviction notice. Appalled, I declined – and terminated the conversation. 1. We needed groceries, not a place to stay 2. I was not going to lie – or ask anyone else to prevaricate – just so I could get something , whether I needed it or not. This episode told me several things – all of which left a very bad taste in my mouth. The system fosters abuse and encourages deceit. We were fortunate enough to have family members that helped out with groceries and housework, and I couldn’t tell you where we might have ended up had it not been for them. Lots of folks are not as lucky as we were.

And I have to make another point here –  Yes, there are those who fit that stereotype in the system.  Yes, I do advocate social responsibility in regard to limiting the number of children you have when you are not in a position to support them adequately. However, there are many more who are not stereotypical – and who are using these benefits as intended. They are being painted with the same tarbrush as the “slackers” and its not fair. So I would ask that people do their research before they label someone.  Broad sweeping derogatory statements  are in no ones best interest.  Just because you see someone at the welfare office with a Coach purse does not mean that they are committing welfare fraud.  1. it might be a knockoff  2. it might have been a gift.  3. they might have gotten it at a tag sale or at an outlet at a substantially reduced price (like I did, and no  – I’m not getting assistance ).  I think I also mentioned in another post about welfare recipients and cell phones. Weirdly, it actually costs less for the state to provide cells with a limited number of available minutes to folks than it does for the state to pay in terms of missed appointments and rescheduling.  Apparently many folks on assistance do not have landlines. And, its cheaper to provide family counseling,  health education, &  hand out birth control  etc. than it is to cover child rearing expenses. The welfare structure IS NOT INFINITELY SUSTAINABLE.

That said- if a person is figuratively standing with their hand out asking for help, a certain level of accountability comes with that when help is given.  So, no. One does not get to spend their EBT (food stamp) money on frivolities and luxury items such as sweets, cigarettes or booze. Theres a cute little work around  we’ve personally seen a few times in action here in MA if you are inclined to use your ebt card to purchase liquor/cigarettes etc.  The regs clearly state you cannot use the card to buy booze or tobacco.  OK – wait for it –  there are ATM’s  in most packies or just around the corner.  EBT cards can be used to get cash at them…..  I’m sure you see where this is going….Another  good example of this is back in 2005 after Katrina.  2500 people were relocated up to MA to stay at Otis AFB – Camp Edwards –  they were given $2000 each by the state to help get them set up with basic stuff.  Some of these people decided to spend that money at local strip clubs and bars instead. That’s pretty luxurious “stress relief” on someone else’s dime, if you ask me… and we wonder why the system is in trouble. No, it certainly wasn’t every one of those 2500 people that did this – maybe 50 or so of them – or about 2% – if I had to make an educated guess from what I remember reading back then ( its 7 year old news and hard to research online as many of the links are now unavailable)  Statistically negligible – probably. But, that was still more or less $10,000.00 of taxpayer money into a g-string and down the toilet..
Massachusetts forgot, in our haste to be helpful and compassionate,  that once the money left our hands we had no control over how it was spent.

You’ve asked the state (us) to help you because  you need it to meet your basic needs.  Basic needs include healthy, nutritional food – not twinkies and a bottle of Jack.  And CERTAINLY basic needs do not include lap dances.  Anyway, the point I am finally emphasizing is that when it’s your own money do as you please with it. Rightly or wrongly. Yeah go ahead and get the tattoo. Just know you are going to have to go without something else to pay for it – or you’re going to get behind in your bills. Or maybe you simply have the disposable income. Regardless,  you have to account for that to no one but yourself.  But when you are using someone else’s money – they have a right to expect the money is being used as intended; and for the person to account for that money. In my feeble mind, that includes everyone who uses assistance – even the 2% others might be willing to write off.  If all are not held accountable then really no one is accountable. Think of the system as a creditor who is not expecting to be paid back – but is expecting that the funds be accounted for.  Like it or not, the taxpayers DO get to question how your aid is utilized, and should. They don’t get to judge though, at least until all the facts are in – every case is different. The state needs to do a better job of tracking and holding people accountable. It may cost more to do so when starting, but over the long run will save money.

Here’s whats right with the current state of affairs:
We cap the stipend for dependent children (its different state by state) You can only claim a specified number of dependents and receive money for them. Once you hit the number limit, the money caps. This helps address and negate that “poppin out kids and on welfare” stereotype – which unfairly is still a prevalent way of thinking. .There are a wide variety of low cost/no cost educational and vocational training opportunities available to those getting a helping hand. Voucher-ed child care is 100% paid for at a certain income level or below, and reduced fees are available for the newly employed. State sponsored health benefits (medicaid) are available for a specific amount of time after the person becomes employed – which allows their employee health coverage to kick in and no gaps in service. So far so good. (relatively speaking – medical insurance issues/woes are going to be a whole other post)  Please also note that a very sizable chunk of the money available in the assistance coffers goes to seniors, and the disabled via medicaid. And, transitional assistance is also available to the newly immigrated. TANF has been working to decrease welfare dependence since its implementation in 1996. The requirement to work, is working, but its not enough.

4.1% of Americans are getting welfare assistance right now  http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/  not including unemployment benefits. Note this number also does not include the newly immigrated.  Is supporting welfare causing a burden on working and middle class Americans?  No, it’s not causing the burden – but  I argue it IS exacerbating it.  On the other end of the spectrum we have a rising percentage of wealth gravitating to, and staying with, the top 1% of the population. Which also exacerbates the burden on the Average Joe.  We now have corporate welfare issues with companies rather than just people accepting assistance. Then these same companies provide their executives with multi-million dollar bonuses afterwards. (the same pool of “businessmen” whose poor stewardship led to having to accept the assistance in the first place? One wonders…) If the company could become that flush with cash that quickly, then why was it not reinvested in the company itself to improve the work environment, increase salaries of the workers, hire additional workers, and improve the company in general ??? (like the GOP would like us to believe will happen – but time after time has NOT happened)  OOPS  I’m a bit off topic….. 😉  If the corporation is figuratively standing there with its hand out, then it is certainly accountable to us for how it operates.

Here’s my proposal for a resurrection of the welfare system. (at least, the non-health related part of it).  We need to get more people working. I believe things are valued and taken care of more when one has to work for them.  I believe that people feel better about themselves when they are working and contributing.  FDR understood that.  During the Great Depression ( and if we’re not careful we’re heading straight for an even worse one) he created the CCC, found meaningful work for people, and gave them a wage for their time. Why is it that the state can require cities accept a certain number of homeless individuals in order to receive state aid?  What we should be doing is saying to each city and town:   Here’s earmarked aid for welfare.  Use it to provide and pay for jobs within your communities.  To welfare recipients and the unemployed, go to the city hall and sign up for work – then go do that work in order to get your assistance check.  MA is third in hourly wage equivalent welfare payments ($14.66 an hour) – only Alaska and Hawaii are higher.  source:  http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/   Not too shabby a wage, if you ask me. And, pass a drug test.

To churches sponsoring refugee immigrants: take a greater role in supporting your newly arrived members.  If these people do not have a place to stay when they get here, provide them one while they wait their turn for section 8 housing. (no bumping someone else down the list because you are a religious refugee)  And the state absolutely should not be providing annual  round trip tickets back to the country of origin so they can “maintain their cultural identity.”They left for whatever reason, and if they want to go back and visit they should save up like everyone else. My source for this is ancedotal – based on what I was told by my Ukrainian neighbor when she was discussing the benefits she was receiving from MA.   She (a lovely lady and great neighbor by the way) was astounded and pleased that MA would be so generous.   That generosity translated to  $1,800.00 per person for a family of 4 to go back to the Ukraine once a year.  You do the math.  Ouch!

To corporations asking for a bailout:  Sign a guarantee that profits coming in during a specified time after the aid is repaid are channelled in to improving the company infrastructure, hiring new workers,  providing additional training to current workers, and increasing wages for all employees.  Bonuses should not be even considered for executive level employees for at least 3 to 5 years after the government assistance has been paid back.  Because, whether an individual or corporate level bailout, it does come down to appearances (fairly or unfairly) , and us taxpayers are fed up.

So yeah, no easy answers, no glib solutions.  I think we are proverbially circling the drain right now –  so we need to take a careful, close look at how we are spending our money, and use both compassion and common sense to allocate our dwindling resources appropriately. By holding people and businesses accountable, we are helping to assure our dollars are spent as we intend them to be.

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36 thoughts on “A Hand Up – Not Out: Resurrecting the Welfare System

  1. Pingback: Green 101: Intro to Sustainability Week 2 – Population Changes | F that S

  2. Donna, you throw some party. I have advocated increased taxes on all, not just the 1%, as well as spending cuts. I think we make the move on Simpson Bowles 1/1/2014 and extend part of the cliff that will hit 1/1/2013 absent action. This avoid killing our recovery. Let me make a the following statement – any dumb ass can say he will cut taxes, but we need right now is to increase taxes and reduce spending, including defense. Otherwise, the math will not work. The American people need to hear the facts, not the spin. Many thanks all on the civil discourse. This has been a great civic and economics class. BTG

  3. I agree with allthingsboys that both parties are to blame for not addressing the problems, but the GOP owns most of this one. We have to raise taxes and reduce spending in a thoughtful manner, but Grover Norquist and the Tea Party refuse to discuss a key lever. As one of the least taxed countries in the world, this is important. Obama has done a better job than given credit for (the stimulus actually worked) , but my main beef with him his not embracing Simpson-Bowles as a working draft and not managing expectations better. Housing based recessions take six years on average to recover from (that is data from study of 18 such recessions globally). This is great discussion.

    • My problem with this is, raising taxes on 1% of the population will not solve the problem–it is a mathematical impossibility. The debt burden is too big. It’s like making $10.00/month payments on a 500K dollar loan. pointless.

      • But, it will CERTAINLY go a long way to solving the problem by both raising money and changing the tone of the whole game. As it stands it’s ass backwards. Those with the MOST pay the least and those with the least pay the MOST… in blood (their children in the military), in sweat, they mine the coal and dig the ditches, and in tears because, as I stated… “It isn’t a sin to be poor in America, but, it might as well be.”

        Going back to a tax system of, lets say… the 60’s sounds about right to me.

        • With all due respect, I don’t think you’ve thought that through. Why on earth would anyone agree to even work when 90% of their income is taken? Someone, say a cardio thoracic surgeon couldn’t even survive on 10% of his income. His malpractice insurance would wipe him out, he wouldn’t be able to pay his office staff, and you would be screwed when you had a heart attack, because there would be a closed sign on his door. Yeah that’s a great idea, going back to the tax tables of the 60’s.

        • I think you should take a look at the tax tables for the 1960, because I think you would feel differently if you saw it. Someone making 24k/year would pay 38%. Someone making minimum wage would Pay between 26-30%. They wouldn’t survive in today’s World. Things cost less back then, so although the tax rate was high they could still eat and make a mortgage payment when the modest 2bedroom home in CA was only 12k, and a gallon of milk .49 versus almost 4 dollars today, a loaf of bread .20 cents where you might get it on sale for a buck today. it just wouldn’t work, because you haven’t taken into account the cost of living.

        • And one more thought, those who make the most don’t pay as much not because of the tax rate, because their tax rate is 38%, but because of all the stinking loopholes. Obama himself only paid 26%, because he didn’t pay any taxes on any of the “extras” he received. Most people I know in that category don’t have any problem with getting rid of all itemized deductions and closing all loopholes to bring in more revenue. Changing the rate won’t change a thing, because hey will just get mor adept at figuring out how to get it back. They have to close the loopholes to make it work, but they don’t want to because then their taxes would be higher.

      • If taxes are raised it has to be for everyone. Raising taxes on the rich really doesn’t hurt their overall functioning. (those 17 million dollar bonuses even when taxed will enable them to live quite comfortably) Raising taxes too highly on the middle class will definitely impact their functioning and stability. Raising taxes on the poor – thats a non starter for obv reasons. The middle class is being taxed and fee-ed and levied and utzed right into poverty.

  4. I think it probably works something like this. The day you move into the White House as a new President, when all the dancing and partying are over and you are getting ready for bed and you and the Mrs got your jammies on, men you have never seen before (and never see again) drag you both down into the basement and strap your (and your wife’s) ass into Lay-Z-Boy recliners bolted to the floor. They put wire headbands around your forehead with little clips that go in your eyes to hold them open (like in “A Clockwork Orange”). Then they show you a continuous loop tape of John F. Kennedy’s head exploding like a ripe mellon, in the limo, in Dallas. They play it over and over and over… until both you and the First Lady are screaming…. “I GET IT!…. I GET IT!….

    It’s really the only explanation I have for what happens to men who are elected President. “Single Payer Health Care”… Closing Gitmo… ending torture…. all that goes right down the drain when the most powerful man in the world learns he doesn’t, really, control jack shit.

  5. The poor have and always will be among us… there I go quoting Jesus again… I think that the issue is, as you state, how do we assist them and how do they accept our assistance. As our society continues to migrate toward urban and suburban environments, physically and socially, the factor that influences the assistance relationship, is the progressing anonymity of both the helper and the helpee. Here in rural areas we all know who is in need and whether they will use funds we offer them to buy groceries or hang out at the Broken Spoke. We know whether to offer cash directly or just drop by with the surplus of the garden and say, “I was thinking of you” or to hire them to work around our place. In the city, these folks just become more “homeless” people in lines. Christ had his beggers, Shakespeare poachers (hunting on the land of the wealthy) and debter’s prisons, Dickens his paupers and poor houses, we our wellfare recepients. I agree with the Republican’s rhetoric about families, churches, and communities caring for each other, but I do not see them acting on these ideas for those who are part of their family, churches, or gated communities.
    Oscar

  6. Donna, very well written and no apologies needed to the Led Zeppeliners. There are so many good observations in your discourse, but let me hone in on a couple. Since I volunteer to help homeless families, your point about not making broad generalizations is so true. The system is constructed around funding specific things and I am positive even the social workers have a hard time navigating the mess for their clients, much less the clients. So, it does not surprise me in the least people can and do game the system. I am big on the book “Toxic Charity” by Robert Lupton. This can apply to gov’t help as well. We have to help people climb a ladder and not do for them what they can do for themselves. Only in a true emergency should the charity help not be as concerned with empowering people.

    On the bigger picture, you are dead on about finding more jobs and FDR had it right. There is a proposal in front of Congress that the President set forth that is Keynesian and FDR like, but Congress has stalled it. The dilemma is debt and political posturing. The first stimulus actually worked per six non-partisan economists creating or saving 2.5 million jobs and adding 200 basis points to GDP. GM and Chrysler are alive and well as are their suppliers, as two examples of success. The GOP likes to call it the “failed stimulus” but it really did not fail – so to do it again, would admit they were wrong. Chrysler used the money to invest in modernizing their plants. This is important – when you borrow money and are using it to pay for an asset, whose construct or maintenance creates jobs, it is very different than borrowing to pay for operations. This is what we need to do more of and the bill in front of Congress invests in roads, infrastructure, etc. This will create more jobs. Even before the recession, it was no longer true in America that you could change your station in life if you worked hard enough. Minimum and low wage jobs perpetuate poverty. That is why a second stimulus would be utile, as it would create some targeted construction jobs that are better paying. Sorry for the soapbox.

    Donna, well done. Many thanks, BTG

    • Hey! I’m assuming demon spellcheck wasn’t working and you meant that a second stimulus would be useful, not futile. lol. Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve been doing much thinking about the death of the American Dream, which you mention above. I’ve been asking myself over the last few days just what killed it. If I can figure that out, the mother of all blog posts will be forthcoming, I’m sad. Plain old fashioned hard work is just not enough to get ahead anymore, Why is that? . One can still take pride in doing good work within their chosen career but if one has not chosen the “right” career, then one is SOL. I’m in human services…. I’m pretty much SOL when it comes to really getting ahead. But I would like to delve deeper and get a better understanding of just why the greed of the few is outweighing the needs of the many, and why decent, hardworking folks just can’t get ahead. That’s what we were always told -work hard and you will achieve success. I work hard, so does my husband but we’re so far behind the eight ball it ain’t funny. We’ve made some mistakes, who hasn’t? But, I completely RESENT having to pay more for health insurance and get less coverage than I did four years ago. I completely abhor having to spend approx 13% of my take home pay – also known as a small fortune, on gas to fill the tank every week because we can’t be bothered to allow the American people to use some of their own reserves of oil. I haven’t gotten a salary increase in at least three years, yet my expenses just getting back and forth to work have doubled. Everything costs more, but my wages don’t keep up with the expenses. And I’m not being frivolous with my money. I get positive job performance evaluations and I am, I think, considered an asset to my company. I am not working in an industry that pays well, hell I can’t even afford to take a vacation away from home anymore. My dreams of success are not overblown and I’ve been fortunate to have achieved some of them. We are (mortgaged) homeowners, are steadily employed at jobs we like, and are connected with the local community. Our family is healthy. Our bank accounts are not. A series of unplanned emergency expenses and oops there goes the savings…. College expenses… I’m fairly certain this song isn’t a solo performance and there are many singing with me. I’m not asking for specific help/ a hand out Frankly I’d probably be laughed out of the welfare office. But what I would like is to see a consumer friendly economy back in action. I want to see economic opportunity for the middle class. Bailing out Wall Street and the Auto Industry doesnt help ME – that money never gets back down to my level. The corporations keep the money inaccessible up in the stratosphere. The wealth gravitates and stays within the top 1% of the population – and they aint letting go of it. I probably wouldn’t let go of it either to be honest. But Im digressing. What did happen to the American Dream? Is it dead, or just wounded? Is there a fix?

      • Utile, not futile. Too funny. The book to read is “How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How it can come Back” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. You have highlighted your and other woes. Here is an Old Fart’s perspective. Back in the late 1980’s and heightened by the internet in the 1990’s, publicly traded firms had to make communicated analysts expectations each quarter. Why is this important to what you said? It began a quarter by quarter mindset that took leaders eye off longer term investment that was not accretive to earnings early on. This made CEOs and their direct reports think short term. If they did not make their numbers over several quarters, they panicked and would lose their jobs. With the short term mindset and an inability to understand how to grow revenue, guess what they did? They had multiple RIFs and outsourced jobs to cheaper places. This started the long decline of the middle class as people without a good education replaced better paying jobs with service industry jobs. I have said it before a retail floor job is about as close as you can get to slave labor, just above the illegal alien slave jobs where you cannot complain as you get deported.

        If that were not enough, you tack on an aging America (as it elsewhere), you tack on benefit and compensation reductions and freezes (especially retiree medical and pensions), you tack on less investment in education and you tack on a old infrastructure, and you see where this leads. Clinton was the best job creator since FDR. Reagan was not too bad either. Their similarity is they opened markets and in Clinton’s case balanced the budget.Reagans’ downside is he he started a major differentiation between the haves and have nots with his tax changes and he reinvigorated our homeless problem with his policies. Trickle down economics did not work (G HW Bush called it rightfully “voodoo economics”) Then we had eight years of one of the worst presidencies – it was so bad he was not invited to either of the last two GOP conventions. That says volumes.

        We are in a heap of hurt, but we are coming out of it. Obama is far from perfect. but he has done a much better job than given credit. Are we better off than when he took office? The real answer is yes. Are we where we need to be? – the real answer is no. The emphasis on education is vital – that is the key premise of the Friedman/ Mandelbaum. Obama has done a lot of that, but we need even more, not less. What we are not talking about though increasing wages and opportunity on the bottom end. Bailing out the auto industry was a huge success and is a major differentiator between the candidates and parties. If Romney had been President, Michigan and Ohio would be in a deep depression right now with significant unemployment. This is based on his position he wrote about in the WSJ of letting Detroit go bankrupt. I am rambling, but we need to look people in the eye and say “America is not the greatest country right now, but it could be.” We have to invest in our people and infrastructure to make it work. BTG

  7. Wow! Donna! Another amazing and important article. Thank You for getting this conversation going. As you have in your header tagline: one crazy, opinionated, thoroughly caffeinated minute at a time. Well, if I were so lucky to live nearby, I would want to bring you a delicious gourmet coffee (or organic, black, however you take it!) and get the rant going! We could change the world 🙂
    With much respect and gratitude, your northern friend, Gina

  8. Great post. The question is, when is the government going to actually listen to the people. Left and right don’t care about anything but preserving their cushy jobs. So we can think up all the fixes we want, but until we actually get the government to make its own sacrifices (ie limiting congressional terms) things will stay the same until there is a revolution. Pretty scary.

    • “Let them eat Cake”. Thats where we are at right now, unfortunately.
      And even more unfortunately it portends where we are probably headed. We do need to limit congressional terms. make it easier and less expensive for an average person with the interest, skills, and motivation to run for office. We need to require congress to live like the rest of us – require them to use the same systems and benefits we are required to, not ones they create for themselves. We should remember that when our government was created, it was created by the monied class (landowners) and you had to be one in order to vote. Other than voting, not much has changed – Left, right, or center money talks, and only money talks. If companies accept stimulus packages and bailouts they should have to guarantee the money will be used to improve the company and increase wages for all, not line the pockets of upper level executives. If the company benefits, then everyone who works for the company will
      benefit. Thats my Pollyanna theory anyway, for what it’s worth. Human nature being what it is though…. Anyway, the middle class gets hit from both ends – supporting those who cant support themselves, and getting rooked out of wealth that should be
      more equitably distributed (leaving that 1% of the population and getting out to the
      majority). Lets face it, NOBODY deserves a 17 million dollar bonus for any reason.

  9. When you come back, you come back with a flurry!!

    I had a couple of thoughts on your great column.

    Obama first pushed a jobs bill that was similiar to the old CCC camps of the 1930’s (My dad worked in one for several years before joining the army in WW II) putting the unemployed to work in states, working on parks, and trails, and federal buildings etc. Work for pay. Guess what the Republican “Party of No” said? They refused to vote it out of the House.

    Our local sherriff refuses to take work parties out of the county jail to clean up roads, parks, etc. Can’t afford the deputies, she claims, while continuing to put more deputies on her administrative staff and removing them from patrols.

    Welfare should unequivocably be about work for money programs. Graffitti clean up, job training, working in food kitchens, all are acceptable means to teach responsible behavior if nothing else. Courts say we can’t do that.

    Its easy to attack those down on their luck. This last week’s convention proved that. Its more difficult to provide a helping hand upwards. Just think how many jobs one-year’s of Mittens income could provide. But that would require sacrifice on his part. Not gonna’ happen. And he is just the spokesperson for the typical, greedy republican business leader. The point is a little less in salary and benefits to them, allows a great many people to be put to work and help get the economy going again. What do you think the chances of that happening are?

    In the rush to cut state jobs, to “Cut Government” much of the oversights, at even a minimal level, are gone. So the states may want to oversee their outgoing welfare money, but have no one left to do it. Again, the Republicans push to Strangle Government, as Grover Norquist is so fond of screaming out to anyone who will listen, is contributing to some of these continuing abuses.

    Another of my favorite lines besides looking behind the curtain is “Think about the law of unintended consequences.” What are the unplanned results likely to be.

    Corporate bailouts are one of my hotbuttons. The failure to prosecute the Too Big To Fail banks for the disaster they caused in 2007-2008 is unconciousable. Do you know that on average, these banks are now 25% larger than they were then? We bailed out Wall Street and murdered Main street. And continue to do so today.

    6 months ago there was a $25 million settlement (a Pittiance) against the mortgage fraud industry. They were to spend that money helping underwater homeowners. 130,000 families have been contacted/helped. The exact same number, it is estimated, that would have been helped anyway. In other words, no New/Additional homeowners have been helped.

    And I seriously doubt the Romney/Ryan ticket would even do this much, or take to task the big corporations in any way.

    Your post has lots of practical ideas and good suggestions. Many people would support it. I’m just not optimistic as to their ever being implemented.

    Barney

    • I’m with you on all of that Barney. For me it all really comes down to there being too many people. No wonder the Republicans champion their so called “right to life”. The more people there are the less an employer has to pay in wages. The “Middle Class” is a very dangerous thing if you are rich. They have too much time on their hands to contemplate things like social responsibility and equality of educational opportunities when they should, rightfully, be spending their time fighting for a crust of bread.
      Sometimes I feel like we are no better than yeast. Here we all sit, swimming around in a big vat of carbohydrates, excreting alcohol and thinking to ourselves… isn’t life grand.

      You might enjoy this…

      http://mrsneutronsgarage.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/easter-island/

      All the Best
      Mrs. N.

      • Yes, it actually was. GW Bush, under the push from then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, approved the first $700 billion bailout to the banks.

        • Beyond that Barney Old Thing, it isn’t very hard to determine WHO them that was “bailed out” are putting their money behind in the upcoming election. Wall Street, the Big Banks and the multinational corporations are slapping their money down on Willard and the good old GOP. Winners LOVE Winners (even more than losers do).

          …”We don’t need no stinking Banking Regulations!”…

          As the saying goes: “It isn’t a sin to be poor in America, but, it might as well be”.

        • I got no problem with a bailout if/when needed, no matter what party initiates it. Business or individual, sometimes help is needed. The problem as I see it is the gross misuse of those funds to line the pockets of those who didn’t need their pockets lined in the first place. We must always remember that when we lend, the strings attached should be unbreakable. If we choose to lend without assurances and guarantees then we deserve whatever we (dont) get in return. I hope that makes sense.

          • And most reputable economists on a world-wide level have written that it likely should have been twice as much.

            I know you believe that I am needlessly pointing the finger at the GOP, but right now, they are the ones behaving like spoiled little kids in the kindergarten sand box. Consider this:

            The Dow Jones stock index when Obama took over was 6,000. It is now over 12,000.
            An average of 600.000 jobs were being cut each month. Today growth is anemic at 50,000 to 150,000 new jobs per month, but it is growth.
            Unemployment was 10.2%. It is now 8.3%. Again, not great, but it is improving.

            If you re-read my comments to Momma E, I think you will find that I have found fault with many actions of this administration. I am very disappointed that Obama didn’t accomplish some of his goals. Personally, I believe he worked too hard at reaching across the aisle. We needed an agressive, take no prisoners president, like Johnson, perhaps. This last is my personal opinion.

            As a family person, I’m guessing with a salary income and a mortgage, plus educational expenses, I’d be concerned about the Republican plans I noted in yesterday’s blog and how they will impact you and yours. I didn’t make those facts up. They are in Ryan’s budget plan, which Romney has said he “would sign immediately if he were President.” And what I noted there were only a few items. There are more, such as eliminating the employer tax deduction for employee insurance costs. Don’t you think it reasonable that more people would lose their health benefits as a result? I don’t see that as a good thing.

            Europe is instituting the kinds of austerity programs that the Republicans claim we need. If you study the results at all, you know that Spain, Portugal, and Greece have unemployment rates in excess of 25%, and services across the spectrum have been forced to shut down. Is this the vision we want for America? Yes we need to make cuts, but those proposed by R & R will be devastating.

            And lastly, again referring to yesterday’s blog, remember that all those cuts I mention, plus others, are to support a massive tax cut for the wealthy, an exclusive club that includes Romney and Ryan, as well as half the members of congress.

            I appreciate your thoughts and comments. It is only through discussions and putting ideas out there that we can solve these issues.

            Thanks for writing

          • According to factcheck.org, the dow was at 7949 when Obama took office. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of July, unemployment remains unchanged. Portugal’s unemployment rate is listed as 15% on several websites. I guess my point is, I feel like there’s fudging to prove a point. As my friend from the UK pointed out to me just this morning, America isn’t ready to do what needs to be done to solve the problems–BY EITHER PARTY. And she’s right. I just get so very annoyed by only hearing people point at the GOP. The problem is mostly with how the system works. And that right now, it doesn’t work. And it doesn’t matter who you get in office, if you don’t fix the broken steam engine, it doesn’t matter how smart the conductor is, it aint gonna work.

          • You are right on the money there! Everybody has to make the commitment to reduce spending and pay their fair share in taxes. Cutting medical programs and insurance benefits helps no one. I’m afraid that no one in Washington truly understands the situation, and the attitude there seems to be, everybody but me needs to do something….
            Give to charity at the local level and volunteer so the giving and receiving is personal and not anonymous. (Hermits great point)
            this continues to be a superb discussion, and I thank you all for playing so nicely together in the sandbox! Tally Ho! and Carry On! Hugs! D

          • I don’t think either party is truly ready to address the problems, no question. But cutting more taxes for the wealthy while increasing taxes to the middle class is a road to destruction, no matter how you look at it.
            Tax increases to the wealthy only are not the solution, agreed. But in the 50’s and 60’s when the tax rate was between 70-90%, the economy was very strong, employment was strong, and there was a growing middle class. Today the top rate is 35%, going to 28% if R/R win, and we are in a terrible recession, our education system is a shambles, and our infrastructure is crumbling before our very eyes. I think there is a message in all this, and its that continuing to cut the tax rate for everyone will solve nothing.

            If you feel that R/R really have your needs and concerns at heart, than be happy. I am not trying to change anyone’s minds. But I do believe a closer look at the facts might raise a few questions.
            And I stand corrected on the Dow. I was looking at the wrong data. In the last 3 1/2 years, the dow only increased 50%, not the 100% I alluded to.

    • You made some excellent points here. One in particular resonates, and please feel free to read my ranting responses to some other folks too. Cutting govt has cut a lot of the oversight folks. An excellent example of this is the state medicaid system here. The state is required to have folks reaffirm their eligibility every year now. It used to be every few years, or at random. This entails sending back financial information to the state, as well as other required paperwork, within a specific amount of time, (like 10 days or so) or they will be kicked off of medicaid. The state cut the budget and let many of those processing this information go. Therefore, there are fewer people processing more information. Who suffers? The folks I work with who get kicked off
      of medicaid because their information is sitting on someones desk waiting to be processed. This means that they miss dr appts, and their services for other things may get interrupted until their benefits are reinstated (this is not always done retroactively, physicians and agencies are not guaranteed payment when they resubmit a previously denied bill to the state). All because the state does not have enough people at the ground level to keep up with processing information that the state requires in the first place. its so frustrating because these are folks who generally have a myriad of health issues to go along with their other disabilities.

      • Love your comments about oversight, and attaching strings to handouts. Could not possibly agree more.

        Neal Barofsky just completed a great book, which I read. He was an internal auditor assigned to oversee that the bailout money was properly spent and there was no fraud involved. After reading his book about his tenure, I’ve become even more jaded about politics than ever.

        Both sides of the aisle, under Bush and Henry Paulson, and then Obama and Tim Geitner, were just focused on getting the money out there, with minimal oversight, and no strings attached. $170 billion went to CitiGroup, for example, which then turned around and gave out $170 million of that money in bonuses to its execs! The book is full of stories like this, enough to make your hair curl.

        In some cases the oversight it too extreme, but mostly not strict enough. The HARP program was to help underwater homeowners. There was so little oversight, that most of the money was gobbled up in ridiculous fees, and the net number of homeowners helped was zero.

        I completely concur with your earlier comment about the death of the American Dream. It is now only used to keep the “little people” full of futile hope, that there but for chance, go I. It is a means to keep people in line, to keep them under control.

        Great post, great comments

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