Marriage is love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Katrina/Rita: The rich get richer and the poor get... pay for it.

From the NYT's Liberal Hopes Ebb in Post-Storm Poverty Debate:

"We've had a stunning reversal in just a few weeks," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. "We've gone from a situation in which we might have a long-overdue debate on deep poverty to the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, that low-income people will be asked to bear the costs. I would find it unimaginable if it wasn't actually happening."

The article, confirms an earlier report on Julien's List (and later names one of the AmTaliban's Congressional members, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), as the chief Congressional architect of this shame, as longtime pet projects of his ilk are piled on one after the other, from religious school-inclusive vouchers to tax-free business zones) :

Conservatives have already used the storm for causes of their own, like suspending requirements that federal contractors have affirmative action plans and pay locally prevailing wages.* And with federal costs for rebuilding the Gulf Coast estimated at up to $200 billion, Congressional Republican leaders are pushing for spending cuts, with programs like Medicaid and food stamps especially vulnerable.

It's a disaster-in-a-disaster with five foundational pillars, four of which the article identifies:
1) Unproven claims that the old safety net programs created poverty instead of alleviating it.
2) The poor are ignorable because they disproportionately give up the power of the vote, having been persuaded by those who have historically controlled more than their fair share of that power that the voting exercise of it by individuals is a wasted effort. [My wife adds that, if that didn't work, they were told to go to the polls on the wrong day or had to wait six hours in line to vote or told falsely that the polls would close before they got in the door so they might as well go home -- despite that those 'in the chute' are allowed to vote, or they were wrongfully removed from eligible voter rolls as felons, or any of the rest of the long stinking list of ways the poor and people of color are disenfranchised in the United States of America.]
3) The federal deficit is out of control with the wealthy-enriching costs of war and pork, leaving no room for new poverty alleviation programs.
4) The tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest Americans, have pushed the budget deficit past the breaking point but are considered sacrosanct by Pence and the rest of the Repug leadership.

The fifth pillar is simple immoral, insatiable greed. Remember the ShrubCo Prime Directive. (It applies equally to the Congressional neocons and their salivating K-Street ka-ching-barking hounds.):

Everything ShrubCo does is designed to do the following:
1) Transfer wealth to the rich from everyone else and/or
2) Distract the pilferees from the fact that #1 is taking place.

And the five pillars rest on the sorry fact that poverty in America is a result of ongoing racism in that, despite the data to the contrary that poverty, while disproportionally felt in populations of color, is numerically predominant in white Americans, is perceived to be an issue predominantly of nonwhite people in this country. The resulting budget priorities away from poverty alleviation thus prove the racism, while the approbation against racism prevents an honest self-assessment by those making the cuts lest they feel the personal and political pain now accorded racists.

As Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) lamented:

"Poor people are going to get the short end of the stick, despite all the public sympathy. That's a great irony."

Unless, of course, the people make it clear that that will cost the ones in charge their jobs.


*Current Katrina/Rita contractor-paid laborer wages are hovering at just over the minimum wage mark, yet FEMA is paying the contractors approximately twenty dollars per laborer per hour.