The day was Sunday, August 1, 2010. Former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan appeared on Meet the Press. When asked to discuss the Congressional debate on tax cuts, the man known to move markets, a person who leans to the “Right,” offered a decisive decree. In direct disagreement with Republican officials and the profitable corporations that fund countless political campaigns, Mister Greenspan declared, “Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money. And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous. And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.”
This statement was as a slap in the face to corporations, or more correctly to the tycoons who head these firms. Multi-millionaire media moguls might understand this best. These television and radio Executives experience firsthand that influence over an industry can translate into influence over an outcome. Cable News Network Chief Officers are among those who actively make use of this truth. Tax cuts expired? “Never;” say network Administrators and the newscasters such as Allan Chernoff, who do their bidding.
Prominent persons in the Press know a snappy slogan, a simple statement repeated over and over again, an authoritative analysis, will yield a colossal return. If the powerful exert pressure, they can sway the public and those who will persuade Congress to act, or not take action. Without resorting to force, the wealthy need not worry. Forceful levy loopholes and tax rate reducers were long ago secured and still loom large.
Companies, most of which pay no United States taxes are often led by the affluent who, for years, sought greater protection for their wealth.. Indeed, many corporations forfeit less in levies in 2010 than in previous years. Deductions are a delightful indulgence. Even the electorate has grown to appreciate this pleasurable pursuit.
Individuals influenced by industry infomercials have insisted on the luxury. Tax bills in 2009 are at the lowest level since 1950. Regardless, many moneyed Americans want these lowered, if not eliminated in total. Thus, the public sees what they have for days, or is it weeks, a flood of news stories that speak in contrast to Economist Greenspan’s pronouncement. The powerful understand that the former Fed Chairs statement was quite a severe blow to those invested in a taxless ideology.
On the same date, on Cable News Network’s a distinguished Anchor, Newsweek and Washington Post Columnist, Fareed Zakaria concurred. The time to cut the deficit and let the Bush tax cuts expire is now. Editor of Newsweek International and a New York Times bestselling Author, Mister Zakaria asserts, “Were the tax cuts to expire, the budget deficit would instantly shrink by about 30 percent, or more than $300 billion. But Republicans are now adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts because they say that would weaken the economy.” This contention, with consideration for a credible source, was a second slam to commercial interests and to the political Party that promotes their causes.
Mister Zakaria’s editorial would not be aired endlessly on various outlets. Nor would Alan Greenspan’s words be heard on many a local channel. Another expert on policy, one who also speaks for the “Right”, David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan would also be kept out of sight.
Only a day earlier, an article penned by Mister Stockman appeared in The New York Times. In the missive, Stockman, once identified as a man with “Lincolnesque credentials” expressed the angst he feels when his cohorts’ claim the need to extend the tax cuts. The Reagan Budget Director cynically summarizes “How my Republican Party destroyed the American economy.” The treatise titled Four Deformations of the Apocalypse, was the final strike.
These slams could not stand, high salaried Chief Executives and their shills, such as Cable News Network, calculated. Turner Broadcasting Systems decided to turn the ultimate key. Media is the message. The Press is able to manufacture promotional presentations and produce alternative authenticities. The company realized the need to take restrained; yet aggressive action. Slick salespersons, public relations professionals in the Press are well aware of the sound adage; a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way. People like sweetened solutions.
While true; each of the three esteemed experts spoke eloquently, and with abundant authority, the more persuasive and popular drone can and does drown out a meaningful message. Cable News Network has vast resources and knowledge of how to deliver decisively, the populace demands, words of woe and whoa! The Turner channels, with Corporate Chiefs interest at heart, transmits, as many Republicans, Democrats, and Independents wish to believe; life as we have come to know it cannot change.
Regardless of Party affiliation, in America the public professes, “We are taxed enough.” En masse, citizens clamor; “No new taxes!” “No tax increases!” We do not want to pay the price, is the consensus. Most do not want to acknowledge, as Alan Greenspan and Fareed Zakaria have, Americans have paid for their own indulgence and chosen ignorance dearly.
In accordance with the adopted corporate mission, the wishes of Chief Executives, and possibly his own penchant, Correspondent Allan Chernoff compiled a report that would please the common folk. This puff-piece touts as the public wishes to believe; the people need not contribute to the greater good of the community. The innocent “documentation” that passes for fact, or is passed on as the truth, floods the airwaves. It appears on local stations and hour after hour on network programs.
This “news story” [sic] makes no mention of how the quoted sources benefit from a promoted belief, “In planning to let taxes rise, President Obama hopes to chop the budget deficit. But if families have to cut back on spending to pay those taxes, that may hurt the economy. It could de-rail the recovery.”
The Press hides what threatens the wealthy; the words of Alan Greenspan, He said “The problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is that spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day that proves disastrous and my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here.”
The “Right” and media moguls who used to anxiously await Alan Greenspan’s advise now reject the man once titled an oracle. David Stockman, once characterized as a wunderkind is no longer welcome at the White House, on Wall Street, or in the Mainstream Media studios.
Interesting, or possibly, as expected, the words of the esteemed Mister Zakaria are also void in the less than honest, well honed, and more aired, Cable News Network account. “Federal tax receipts as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest point since 1950, and they had dropped to very low levels even before the recession. Half of Americans now pay no income taxes.”
Instead, the report that invites Americans to retain Bush Tax cuts is broadcast farther and wider than the more informed elucidations. Contrary to the tax cutters claims that President Obama plans to punish the Middle Class, Bloomberg reports, “Obama and congressional Democrats want to extend [the tax cuts] for households earning up to $250,000 and let them end for wealthier taxpayers.” Fareed Zakaria and perchance more surprisingly, in another forum, David Stockman, wish this were true.
Truthfulness is often tweaked when expert and powerful prose point to a vapid veracity, one that is less desirable to the self-defined blissful spenders who were featured in the ubiquitous Cable News Network account.
The no tax and spend only on self throng condemn the acumen Mister Zakaria avows; “We have to be willing to pay for the government we want, which by the way is among the smallest in the industrialized world or we have to dramatically cut the government, which means cutting popular middle- class programs, since that’s where the money is.”
No, the pious people proclaim loudly, we will not pay taxes, then assert, we want no government in our lives. Tax cuts advocates forget the foundation that our forefathers fashioned. Essayist, Pamphleteer, Philosopher Paine espoused as Fareed Zakaria did today. The two understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule while each concedes the commonweal must care to invest in the greater good. Were we to forget that no man is an island, we will forsake the future as we have in recent decades. Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch. Perchance today, Fareed Zakaria spoke to the practical reality.
In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.
A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing. This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.
Instead of Paine’s and Zakaria’s profundity, the language Americans long for is the sentiment expressed by profiteers highlighted in the Chernoff commentary. Scott Hodge, President of Tax Foundation, an institute that Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman acknowledged as an unreliable source, reinforced the accepted alarm. Mister Hodge affirmed, “If Congress does nothing, it could lead to one of the largest tax increases in American history.” Robert Traphagen, a partner with Traphagen Financial, and a man who makes money when affluent clients invest in purely personal wealth, affirmed, “If new tax legislation is not implemented, it would be a dramatic effect to the middle class.” Indeed, it would.
Were we to adopt as Fareed Zakaria, Doctor Greenspan, and David Stockman think wise, Americans would have more money for schools, streets, services. The middle class would thrive. Media moguls would have less money to survive. Hence, the mantra, the message, If Bush tax cuts expire this will hurt America
The chap was well-dressed as was his wife. She expressed her distain with her husband’s choice. He would cast his ballot for John McCain in this election year. Taxes were his only concern. This lovely lady declared herself an active Democrat. She had been a Clinton supporter, Hillary that is. Now, she was decisively behind Barack Obama, and proud of it. I might not have known this or much else about the couple of strangers; however, in the year 2008, everyone seems anxious to share political concerns.
Times, as the adage states, are “tough.” Yet, life goes on. Families still celebrate birth dates, nuptials, and anniversaries. People continue to purchase gifts, although most do not feel they can afford to shop. Persons do not purchase until they drop. Instead, individuals in stores stop and chat of the financial crisis. They speak of fears and folly. Countless recount tales of pink slips received. Others anxiously await what they cannot predict. Will they soon be among the 6.1 percent unemployed Americans?
Those in malls understand the woes and are apprehensive they might be next. With more citizens out of work, millions find they cannot pay the mortgage. Ruthless subprime rates raked many United States residents over the proverbial coals. Home loan representatives, who indulged in illicit although not illegal, practices, have helped cause an abundance of foreclosures. Many Americans are out on the streets.
Rage, resentments, and calls for a revolution, are rampant. However, on the issue of tax policies those who benefited under the Bush plan want no change. Dollars held tightly in the palm of an individuals’ hand make sense to those such as this stylish gentleman I met more than a month ago.
For me, the discussion of government assessments began long before America became acquainted with “Joe the Plumber.” It commenced when, I met a couple, whose names I do not know. Perchance, as I tell this tale, I will call them John and Jane Doe. The man, woman, and I did not exchange names, although we had an extensive conversation. The three of us were in a second-hand store. Still, we all wondered whether we could afford to buy even one item.
Today prices are high. The cost of living soars. Incomes are depressed; dollars are too. Small businesses suffer. Workers employed in large and little companies fear they will not be able to survive. In September 2008, 159,000 jobs were lost. This monthly calculation is the worst seen in five years. Americans are not surprised. This computation confirms what most have felt. The economic downturn is severe. Hence, the trepidation for higher taxes.
Talk of tariffs adds to the daily stress people experience in hard economic times. John Doe expressed, for him, the only issue of import is levees. His spouse Jane sighed. Restless, she pleaded to her husband, “There is more to consider.” However, her husband remained resolute. This genteel gent was concerned with his own fortune, not with societal failures. The proposal presented before the public by Barack Obama, says persons such as “Joe the Plumber” and the fine fellow who stood before me, are reminiscent of Socialism. Republicans and Independents who see themselves as rugged individualist react strongly to the idea of wealth redistribution. Democrats attempt to remind all Americans of history.
A prominent Republican, Abraham Lincoln, first introduced the strategy that would rearrange the division of riches. During the Civil War, as costs to run a nation and sustain a war effort could no longer cover expenses, President Lincoln imposed an income tax, a progressive rate of return applied to revenue. Responsibly in 1862, the then President of the United States, choose to seek and preserve fiscal common sense. Unlike the current Commander-In-Chief, the former Chief Executive believed budgets must be balanced. Thus, citizens were charged a fee on income in order to pay for the conflict between the States.
The Civil War Commander also grasped an awful truth; if war is profitable, people will prefer the fight, President Lincoln hoped to ensure economic gain would not be an incentive for bloody battles. While his plan worked, the prosperous protested, just as they did during the Persian Gulf conflict.
Commander-In-Chief Lincoln struggled in his efforts to find a way to pay for the Civil War. Initially, President Lincoln turned to bankers to pay for the battles. After all, the citizens called barons of capitalism, in a derogatory fashion, had the money and the means. Yet, then, just as now, financiers would not fund what they thought an uncertain future.
In the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, lenders groused; loans are liens. Repayment is required. The individuals of yesteryear who wished to secure and retain personal profits were more than reluctant to part with cash. Indeed, they refused. The stranger who stood before me and “Joe he Plumber’ might relate. They too do not want to contribute a penny more of their cash to assist the country. Miserly might best describe the early proprietors of principal. The term may also apply to the gracious gentleman in my presence, the person I refer to as John, or to “Joe,” the man who fits pipes for his wages.
President Lincoln, may too have been as these fellows are, early in his career. However, wartime realities transformed him. As Chief Executive of a country divided, Abraham Lincoln realized the toll discordance takes. Lincoln learned to consider Thomas Paine a prophet. He acknowledged, as the astute author penned in Common Sense, as the population increases, individuals and small clusters of people can no longer care for themselves, friends, and family. Nor can a modest collective control the chaos that comes when people are overwhelmed by a desire to be the one and only.
John may wish to ponder the wisdom his wife expressed. Plumber Joe may want to join him. What the two thoughtful men might define as Socialism is, what Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln would classify as a society where government is of, by, and for the people.
Perchance, the truth of what became self-evident after the Republican experiment of 1862 had a profound effect on what occurred decades later. The excise became permanent with the adoption of the Constitution’s 16th amendment in 1913. Earlier the Supreme Court had rejected the duty; however, Congress, members of the Grand Old Party and Democrats together, overturned the decision.
Income tax has allowed America to civically function and build communities that flourish for near a century and one half. For the last one hundred years, citizens of this country have endured, enabled by a tax system that secures education for all. The current tax structure redistributes wealth so that we all might travel on paved roads, feel safe on secure bridges, and enjoy the creature comforts of cheap electricity, and access to ample water. John McCain, Sarah Palin, “Joe the Plumber,” persons of their ilk, and perhaps John Doe may prefer to be without the luxuries Americans take for granted. Fear of what they characterize as Communism or Socialism, could cause our society to crumble further.
That is exactly what the person I refer to as Jane, John’s life-long partner had endeavored to communicate as the three of us exchanged philosophies on the floor of A Consignment Shoppe. Jane attempted to assert the Bush Administration engaged in redistribution. George W. Bush gave to the super-rich and took from the poor and Middle Class. The trickle-down theory was in truth a splash up. The abundantly affluent were doused in dollars. Common citizens crumbled under the weight of the wealthiest gains.
Jane hoped she could explain, as did I. Our efforts proved futile. Neither of us had, close at hand, the evaluation of experts. Perhaps, had John been able to see the charts and graphs, had he read the terms of an agreement with Barack Obama or with John McCain, he would have recognized as Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and we did.
New Tax Cuts
Refundable “Making Work Pay Credit” of 6.2 percent of earnings up to a maximum earnings of $8,100 per worker
Refundable “Universal Mortgage Credit” of 10 percent of mortgage interest for nonitemizers up to $800
Eliminate income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 per year
Make Research and Development and renewable energy production tax credit (wind, solar) permanent
Extend childless Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) phase-in range and increase phase-out threshold; increase EITC phase-in rate to 45 percent for families with three or more children; increase add-on to EITC phase-out threshold for married filers to $5,000
Make Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable and equal to 50 percent of child care expenses less than $6,000
Make saver’s credit refundable and change to a 50 percent match of the first $1,000 of contributions
Rename the Hope Credit the “American Opportunity Tax Credit” and expand it to a refundable credit of 100% of the first $4,000 of college expenses
Mandate automatic 401(k)s and automatic IRAs
Allow first-year deduction of 3 and 5-year equipment, deny interest deduction (expires after 2013)
Reduce maximum corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent (phased in by 2015)
Increase the dependent exemption by two-thirds (phased in by 2016)
Convert Research and Development credit to 10 percent of wages incurred for Research and Development, make permanent
Increase maximum capital gains rate to 20 percent for those earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples)
Require information reporting of basis for gains
Make permanent current rates on capital gains and dividends, (0 and 15 percent)
2001/2003 Tax Cuts
Permanently extend child credit expansions, 10, 15, 25, and 28 percent rates, and changes to tax implications of marriage
Restore 36 and 39.6 percent statutory income tax rates in 2009
Restore phase-out of personal exemptions and itemized deductions (PEP and Pease) for households making more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples), increase the PEP and Pease threshold
Make permanent all provisions other than the estate tax repeal
Alternative Minimum Tax
Extend and index 2007 AMT patch
Extend and index 2007 AMT patch, further increase exemption by additional 5 percent per year after 2013 (temporarily)
Make permanent estate tax with $3.5 million exemption and 45 percent rate
Make permanent estate tax with $5 million exemption and 15 percent rate
Provide taxpayers with simple returns the option of pre -filled tax forms to verify, sign, return to IRS
Create optional alternative tax with two rates and larger standard deduction and personal exemption
Revenue Raisers and Tax Havens
Eliminate oil and gas loopholes
Close loopholes in the corporate tax deductibility of CEO pay
Tax carried interest as ordinary income
Reallocate multinational tax deductions
Impose a windfall profits tax on oil and gas companies
Require publicly traded financial partnerships to pay corporate income tax
Codify economic substance doctrine (requires transactions that qualify for tax benefits have economic justification beyond those benefits)
Create an international tax haven watch list of countries who do not share information with the U.S. and require greater financial disclosure to decrease tax shelters
Repeal domestic production activities deduction
Eliminate oil and gas loopholes
Unspecified corporate base broadeners
Income-related federal tax subsidies for health insurance purchased through new health insurance exchange
Require employers to provide insurance or pay a percentage of payroll to support the national plan
Small business healthcare tax credit of 50 percent of employer paid premiums
Replace exclusion from income for employer sponsored health insurance with refundable credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families who purchase qualifying health insurance
As economic experts evaluate the numbers, calculate the computations, and consider how the Presidential challengers will pay for public works and raise revenues, the conclusion the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center professionals reach is a resolute reminder from the past. If John McCain is elected, American wealth will be redistributed as it was under George W. Bush. The smallest percentage of the population, the select few who qualify as super-rich will prosper. Should voters place Barack Obama in the Oval Office, we the poorer Middle Class will survive, perchance, even thrive.
The two candidates’ tax plans would have sharply different distributional effects. Senator McCain’s tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those tax cuts would be small as a share of after-tax income. In marked contrast, Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers. The largest tax cuts, as a share of income, would go to those at the bottom of the income distribution . . .
The infrastructure [the supply of power and water, public transportation, telecommunications, roads and schools,] the luxuries that make life in America lovely will not exist without taxes. The discreet dude, John Doe, who spoke of his stocks, bonds, and levees imposed on income could have come to the conclusion that if we hold on tightly to what we, as individuals have, our hands are not open and free to build a greater communal wealth. The Oracle who resides in Nebraska understands this.
The “Sage of Omaha” thinks the strategy Barack Obama wishes to exercise is wise. The multi-billionaire investor states Barack Obama “is going to bring outstanding ideas” to the White House. Warren Buffett worries that America, under John McCain might stay the course that has not served us well. As the nation’s economy free falls into a downward spiral, Warren Buffett reasons.
“I think that the US has followed and is following policies which will cause the US dollar to weaken over a long period,” he said.
After voicing support for Obama, Buffett nonetheless noted the US economy had managed to do “awfully well” despite a depression, two world wars, and many financial crises.
“They say in the stock market … buy stock in a business that’s so good that an idiot can run it because sooner or later one will,” he added.
“Well, the United States is a little like that. We can take a little mis-management from time to time,” Buffett said.
The Presidential candidate, McCain understands that Mister Buffett may muse of more than his personal pocketbook. However, John McCain grieves not for one vote lost. Senator McCain and his handlers trust in human nature. Common people disregard the good sense of one who is unaffected by the financial crisis.
The Arizona Senator has faith; if he devotes his attention to everyday Americans, he can still win the presidency. The people’s choice is a reflection of how the public feels about the economy. If John McCain can convince John Doe, the man who might be an Investor, and Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the self-described soon-to-be owner of a profitable small plumbing business, that Barack Obama, like Abraham Lincoln before him, is a Socialist, Senator McCain will be successful in his bid for the White House.
Granted, if McCain become President, John Doe may not be provided for. Jane, his spouse, and I are sure Senator McCain will not care for our needs, but then Commander-In-Chief aspirant and Arizona affluent, McCain does not want the vote of those who recognize the rich reaped greater treasures from the Bush redistribution of wealth plan. Senator John McCain does not desire the vote of Obama supporters, such as billionaire Warren Buffett, who he cannot sway with slams of Socialism.
John McCain’s only wish is to seize a commitment from constituents who have not learned from history. The abundantly affluent Arizona Senator desires to hold on to those voters who are apprehensive. He seeks support from citizens who declare, as the Republican candidate does, the proposed tax plan of Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, is as Abraham Lincoln’s redistribution of wealth strategy was, “Socialism”
He was a beautiful bouncing baby boy. He was born to two parents that love him dearly. Even before his birth, indeed, prior to conception, this little fellow was the apple of his parent’s eyes. His biological beginning was carefully calculated. As the seeds of life developed into a bright-eyed baby, the people he now knows as Mom and Dad thought of little else but Maxwell. The soon to be proud Papa and Momma anxiously anticipated the day they could hold this bundle of joy. Each of his parents was eager to meet and greet the small, sweet face of the guy that they would call Max. Maximum value, supreme significance, marvelously magnificent, all this was and would be their son. After Max was delivered and during any political season, such as this, Mom and Dad feel certain Max is issue number one.
The guardians look over their angel. They plan for his future, and they are apprehensive, just as their parents and grandparents were before them. For generations the realities of daily life have shaped parental priorities. First and foremost, families want to survive, to feel safe and secure. Yet, much that accounts for stability is beyond the control of a parent or any single person. Moms and Dads agonize, as do all individuals. Economic, educational, environmental concerns have an effect on caregivers and all citizens. Military engagements also affect households, even if only one lives within the domicile. Mothers, fathers, and babies, boys or girls learn to fear.
Ultimately, in the course of a life, each individual will ask, how does any matter affect me, my family, and friends of mine? Countless citizens sense we have loss the sense that within a society, each individual works for the commonweal. The words of Thomas Paine On the Origin and Design of Government in General are principles from the past. In America today, the common folk feel they can no longer trust the government. In recent years, people profess too many promises were broken; lies were told. Intelligence was not wise. Still, Americans sense there is an enemy.
In the minds of most Americans, the foe exists outside self. Few have fully internalized the truth of the words uttered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” As people do, citizens in this country trust themselves. People know their faith will guide them. The Almighty will not disappoint them. Proud of their personal strength and all they survived throughout the course of their lives, the American public, no matter their economic station believes their family will be fine. All Americans trust in their ability to fight the opposition. Residents in the United States are not afraid to take up arms if they need to protect themselves from evil forces.
Nevertheless, Americans are “bitter.” People in the cities, the suburbs, and in the countryside, resent the precarious position their leaders have placed them in. In the “Land of the free and home of the brave” the public is “looking for strong leadership from Washington.” Individuals and communities recognize they cannot go it alone. Sadly, those previously entrusted with Executive privileges have not served the common folk within the United States well. Citizens have expressed their ample concern for quite a while and no one seems to hear the cries. While some of the Presidential aspirants wish to believe Americans are not indignant . . .
(New York) – More than 80 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, the highest such number since the early 1990s, according to a new survey.
The CBS News-New York Times poll released Thursday showed 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” That was up from 69 percent a year ago, and 35 percent in early 2002.
The survey comes as housing turmoil has rocked Wall Street amid an economic downturn. The economy has surpassed the war in Iraq as the dominating issue of the U.S. presidential race, and there is now nearly a national consensus that the United States faces significant problems, the poll found.
A majority of Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school say the United States is headed in the wrong direction, according to the survey, which was published on The New York Times’ Web site.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was doing better . . .
The poll also found that Americans blame government officials for the housing crisis more than banks or homebuyers and other borrowers. Forty percent of respondents said regulators were mostly to blame, while 28 percent named lenders and 14 percent named borrowers.
Americans favored help for people but not for financial institutions in assessing possible responses to the mortgage crisis. A clear majority said they did not want the government to lend a hand to banks, even if the measures would help limit the depth of a recession.
Intellectually astute, each individual understands to his or her core, a country must work well as a whole. If we act independently of others, with little regard for those who reside in our nation, we all will realize a reason to feel insecure. No family can survive alone. Maxwell’s parents can plan and work to provide, but if the country suffers from a crisis, be it fiscal, a protracted feud, the cost of food, or fuel, the family will also find themselves in situation critical.
In a society, we are our neighbors’ keeper, for what affects those in adjacent abodes will influence us. If one person is poor, so too is his brother.
The tenet is true in the abstract; it is also viable concretely. We need only consider what occurs when one domicile on the block is in disrepair or foreclosure flourishes in an enclave. Property values for all homes in the area plummet. A family functions best as a unit. A nation fares well when we are one.
Our most conservative estimates indicate that each conventional foreclosure within an eighth of a mile (essentially a city block) of a single-family home results in a 0.9 percent decline in value. Cumulatively, this means that, for the entire city of Chicago, the 3,750 foreclosures in 1997 and 1998 are estimated to reduce nearby property values by more than $598 million, for an average cumulative single-family property value effect of $159,000 per foreclosure. This does not include effects on the values of condominiums, larger multifamily rental properties, and commercial buildings.
Less conservative estimates suggest that each conventional foreclosure within an eighth of a mile of a property results in a 1.136 percent decline in that property’s value and that each foreclosure from one-eighth to one-quarter mile away results in a 0.325 percent decline in value. This less conservative finding corresponds to a city-wide loss in single-family property values of just over $1.39 billion. This corresponds to an average cumulative property value effect of more than $371,000 per foreclosure
In 2008, this consideration consumes millions of persons who thought they were safe and secure. As the subprime debacle ripples through every community, people realize their very survival is at risk. Everyone, even some of the elite now experience a profound sense of insecurity. Again, people ask who or what might they trust. The average American has faith only in what is familiar. Max, Mom, and Dad, families turn to what is tried and true. Whatever has protected them in the past, they hope, will save them from what is an uncertain future.
Certainly, people have no confidence in government. Many are frustrated. They resent those who placed them in such a precarious situation. Mothers, fathers, sons such as Max, and daughters are reminded, without regulations only the few profit. Dreams die. Witness the subprime debacle.
Mortgage companies and banks, such as Wells Fargo, have twisted the average prime mortgage loan into something much more incapable of paying by the recipient, but profitable to the company. Subprime loans, as “adjustable rate mortgages,” are packed with deceiving modifications that have low “teaser” rates that expand in interest exponentially after an initial low pay period. Families that have received Subprime loans have bit into a bitter center of the sugar-coated American dream.
Citizens in this once prosperous country wonder whether they will ever again be able to trust that they can aspire to greater heights. Homes are no longer worth what they were at the time of purchase. Payments on adjusted rate mortgages [ARM] are exorbitant and balloon expenditures are now due. Americans feel pinched. Businesses are also affected by a slowed economy and bad investments. Bankruptcy is an option, although brutal. As the cost of fuel and food rises, financial fears become more real. Existence takes a toll. As Americans assess the circumstances within their home region, they realize there is reason to hold on tightly to what they know and love.
Perchance G-d and country are all citizens can believe in, and maybe there is no longer reason to believe either of these will save them. Certainly, Administrations in the recent past and present have not protected us well. After all, our Presidents, Congress, and the Federal Reserve were responsible for the Demise of Glass-Steagall Act. This law once regulated banks and limited the conflicts of interest created when commercial depositories were permitted to underwrite stocks or bonds. Without such oversight, Americans lost their security. Survival no longer seems possible. The American Dream is a nightmare.
Strange days are upon the residents of many a suburban cul-de-sac. Once-tidy yards have become overgrown, as the houses, they front have gone vacant. Signs of physical and social disorder are spreading.
At Windy Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late last year. Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have furtively moved in. In December, after a stray bullet blasted through her son’s bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot, who’d moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The Charlotte Observer, “I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.”
In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses are nicer than those at Windy Ridge-many once sold for well over $500,000-but the phenomenon is the same. At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty; renters of dubious character occupy others. Graffiti, broken windows, and other markers of decay have multiplied. Susan McDonald, president of the local residents’ association and an executive at a local bank, told the Associated Press, “There’s been gang activity. Things have really been changing, the last few years.”
In the first half of last year, residential burglaries rose by 35 percent and robberies by 58 percent in suburban Lee County, Florida, where one in four houses stands empty. Charlotte’s crime rates have stayed flat overall in recent years-but from 2003 to 2006, in the 10 suburbs of the city that have experienced the highest foreclosure rates, crime rose 33 percent. Civic organizations in some suburbs have begun to mow the lawns around empty houses to keep up the appearance of stability. Police departments are mapping foreclosures in an effort to identify emerging criminal hot spots.
The decline of places like Windy Ridge and Franklin Reserve is usually attributed to the subprime-mortgage crisis, with its wave of foreclosures. And the crisis has indeed catalyzed or intensified social problems in many communities. But the story of vacant suburban homes and declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the crisis, and will not end with it. A structural change is under way in the housing market-a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work. It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes. And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound.
Perchance, more weighty than the influence of a social degradation on a community is the impression such dire circumstances leave on a little lad such as Maxwell. Young Max will learn, just as his parents had. Likely, he too will come to believe that he can only depend on himself. An older and wiser Max will not fully grasp how extraordinary he is, or perhaps he will know all to well that no matter how glorious he is, someone might jeopardize his stability. No matter how well he lives his life, another force, power, person, or authority might cause his dreams to go awry.
Maxwell sees how hard life is for his parents. He comes to understand that he too will always and forever, need to prove his worth. How else might he hold onto his job, his home, his money, or his sense of self? For Maxwell, as for us, anyone, innocent as they may be, might seem a threat. His Mom and Dad, fearful that they might lose their livelihood, health care benefits, the family home, and their ability to provide, let alone survive, teach their young son trepidation.
Mom and Dad look around the neighborhood and they see society is shifting. People of other races, colors, and creeds are destined to overtake the white majority. This can be nothing but trouble, or so they think. Maxwell trusts this sentiment to be true. The parents wonder; might immigration and Free Trade deprive them of their life style? In the United States, Anglo Americans react more to what they muse might be so. However, ample evidence affirms the contrary. A 2006 study, by the Pew Hispanic Center avows, the sudden rise in the foreign-born population does not negatively effect the employment of native-born workers.
By Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research
Pew Hispanic Center
August 10, 2006
Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center that examines data during the boom years of the 1990s and the downturn and recovery since 2000.
An analysis of the relationship between growth in the foreign-born population and the employment outcomes of native-born workers revealed wide variations across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. No consistent pattern emerges to show that native-born workers suffered or benefited from increased numbers of foreign-born workers . . .
The size of the foreign-born workforce is also unrelated to the employment prospects for native-born workers. The relative youth and low levels of education among foreign workers also appear to have no bearing on the employment outcomes of native-born workers of similar schooling and age.
Nevertheless, people continue to fear what is less than familiar. Maxwell’s mother and father often speak of the immigrants. The words voiced are unkind. Assessments often are unrealistic. In this country, on this globe, our apprehensions, our insecurity, the fear that we might not survive divides us. Self-surety is issue number one.
When individuals do not feel as though all is fine, when distressed, emotional reactions may be exaggerated. Many persons prefer to deny that they feel distraught. The press, the powerful, and persons who wish to be more prominent understand this. Each is expert in the art of persuasion. Tell us that we are doing well, that we are strong, that they will help bring certainty, security, and safety to our lives, and to our country, and we will croon along with them.
Anxious Americans, at home and abroad, such as the parents of young Maxwell attack. Anyone can be considered the enemy. Bankers, big business, bureaucrats, billionaire oil magnates, migrants, and of course, mutineers of Middle Eastern descent. Our fellow citizens are easily terrorized, if not by the persons who they think might destroy the neighborhood, or take their job, the people who crashed a plane into the Twin Towers must be a target. Since September 11, 2001, Maxwell parents have thought it wise to protect United States shores.
Some Americans say we must stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan. These persons may fear terrorists from the Persian Gulf. There is great consternation when people do not think they are physically safe.
Citizens feel a greater concern when they discover the reasons we went to war are invalid. Again, the people in this country recognize the adversary is the American Administration. Lie by lie, the Iraq War Timeline reveals greater reason for antipathy.
Those who cite security and survival as the primary concern proclaim, “It is the economy.” They say, this is the number one issue Americans must address. Too many persons, today, cannot even live paycheck to paycheck. Disposable income, discretionary spending, savings to fall back on are luxuries of the past. People dream of the cushion they hope to create. Yet, in the back of their minds, they fear. Again, foreclosures are in the forefront in people’s minds. Many are mired in debt. In February 2008, another sixty percent (60%) of Americans concluded they could no longer pay the mortgage. Mortgage Woes Boost Credit Card Debt. Balances on charge cards cannot be reconciled.
Americans are struggling with a very rocky economy while they are also holding almost $1 trillion in credit card debt. In most cases, those cards provide a little flexibility with the monthly bills. But an increasing number of people are defaulting because of the “tricks and traps” – soaring interest rates and hidden fees – in the credit card business.
Before more Americans get in so deep that they cannot dig out, Washington needs to change the way these companies do business to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.
The stories about deceptive practices are harrowing. At a recent news briefing in Washington, a Chicago man told about what happened when he charged a $12,000 home repair bill in 2000 on a card with an introductory interest rate of 4.25 percent. Despite his steady, on-time payments, the rate is now nearly 25 percent. And despite paying at least $15,360, he said that he had only paid off about $800 of his original debt.
Once more Americans are confronted with what causes great bitterness. No one, not Congress, the companies that lend citizens cash, the corporate tycoons, or candidates can imagine why Americans might be bitter. None of these entities care enough to help the average Joe, Jane, Maxwell, or his parents.
Why might inhabitants in this Northern continent be cynical, or feel a need to cling to religion, weapons, or hostility. Perhaps, these sanctuaries feel more tangible. Faith, as an arsenal, and anger too, are at least more affordable than other options.
Petroleum prices are also an issue of import. Citizens cry, I now work for fuel. Only four short month ago, oil hit $100 a barrel for the first time ever. The rate charged for petroleum continues to climb. Now the expense exceeds what was once unimaginable. The cost of crude is the cause. The effect is, Mommy and Daddy do not drive much anymore. Each trip is evaluated. Carpools are common considerations. Vacations are not thought vital. Parents who had hoped to show Max the seashore this summer cannot keep the promise they made to themselves and their progeny. Plans did not prove to be predictions.
In 2008, the inconceivable is classified as inevitable. Scientists share a stingy assessment. The environment is no longer stable. Nor are our lives on the planet Earth. We, worldwide, have passed the point of no return. Globally, groups and individuals pooh-pooh this determination. For them, immediate concerns take precedence over the future.
The question we all inevitably ask, even if not expressed aloud, is, “Will I continue to exist?” If so, “Will my family and I be comfortable?” The answers shade our sense of what is right or wrong. Maxwell hears his Mom and Dad speak of free trade. This is another hazard that haunts them.
The link between economic integration and worker insecurity is also an essential element of explanations for patterns of public opposition to policies aimed at further liberalization of international trade, immigration, and foreign direct investment (FDI) in advanced economies. Economic insecurity may contribute to the backlash against globalization in at least two ways. First is a direct effect in which individuals that perceive globalization to be contributing to their own economic insecurity are much more likely to develop policy attitudes against economic integration.
Second, if globalization limits the capacities of governments to provide social insurance, or is perceived to do so, then individuals may worry further about globalization and this effect is likely to be magnified if labor-market risks are heightened by global integration.
It seems every issue intimidates us. Each challenges the security we crave. All beckon us and cause us to question whether we, Maxwell, or his parents will survive. Our serious fears force us to believe we must separate ourselves from others, from our brothers and sisters. In an earlier speech, echoing the words of Franklin Roosevelt, the eloquent Barack Obama spoke of this situation and how our own anxiety harms us.[ The Presidential hopeful offered solutions.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial [or economic] injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the [any] community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered . . .
Legalized discrimination . . . That history helps explain the wealth and income gap . . . and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity . . . and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of [all] families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban [and now with “no new taxes” suburban] neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
Potential President Obama understands and hopes to help all American realize that we are one. While this vocalization was meant to focus on the more obvious rift between the races, the Senator from Illinois, the community organizer, attempted to advance awareness for what troubles Americans as a whole.
In fact, a similar anger exists within [all] segments of the . . . community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense . . ..
Americans, no matter the color or circumstances might contemplate that anger is “often proved counterproductive” as are resentments. These attitudes distract attention and widen any divide. If Americans are to find a path to understanding, we must accept that our insecurity, our fears need not distract us. We will survive if we work as one.
This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of [any child] black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy . . ..
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics [poor and those the government classifies as affluent] who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
Today, we must be honest with ourselves. We can admit that we are incensed, irritated, infuriated, and irate. These feelings do not immobilize us. Nor do we necessarily need to fight, and be combative. It is time we teach Maxwell and also Maxine, distress can inspire us to dream the of impossible and make it our truth. We, Americans can rise above our bitterness and build bridges to a fine future if we unite.
It is not elitist to speak truth. It is ignorance and obfuscation to deny how we feel and what we fear. We cannot change what we do not acknowledge. Elusion will not bring bliss. We may be insecure; we may question whether we can survive. Indeed, if we act as we have in the past, if we focus on our faith and antipathy, there will be no reason to hope. Americans, divisions have distracted us for too long. To negate our natural response is to restrict our growth. This time citizens of the United States, let us come together. Bitterness can become sweet.
Sources of insecurity. Resources for survival . . .
This article first appeared at Troubled Times. I thank Steven Josselson for the opportunity to share what I believe is a vital message.
Today, I am reminded of our shared purpose. We the people of the United States came together in order to form a more perfect Union. We joined as one to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves, and our Posterity. However, it seems we have forgotten. Our children and our future suffer as, Congress, Bush Clash Over Children’s Health Insurance.
A Bill thought certain to pass the House and the Senate easily, is now stalled. Only days ago, it seemed the decade-old State Children’s Health Insurance Program would be expanded.
But the future of the $5 billion-a-year program, which serves 6.6 million children and has long enjoyed bipartisan support, has become mired in an ideological fight over the proper role of government in health care and in more mundane legislative arm-wrestling over how to fund the effort in a tight budget climate.
The values and beliefs in question are those discussed early on in our nation’s history. What is the role of government and what defines overwhelming authority. Mister Bush, in accordance with his presumed prerogative declares privatization of all programs is paramount. Rather than use the people’s money to support us and ensure a healthy commonwealth, the bush Administration proposes programs that benefit those that already have.
President Bush has attacked the proposals as big-government attempts to enlarge the federal role in health care, saying they would siphon choice away from individuals and reduce private insurance coverage for some children. He has proposed about $5 billion in new funding for children’s health insurance over five years, for a total of $30 billion – an amount that the Congressional Budget Office says would be too little to keep covering even just the number of children enrolled in the program now.
“The program is going beyond the initial intent of helping poor children,” Bush said at an appearance in Cleveland last week. “It’s now aiming at encouraging more people to get on government health care. . . . It’s a way to encourage people to transfer from the private sector to government health-care plans. . . . I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s a mistake.”
Apparently, we, as a nation no longer believe that we must provide for those most in need, particularly those unable to fend for themselves. We have abandoned the notion that together, we must promote the common interests, in order to guarantee the quality of our future. If we do not, if we choose to create a divide, a fissure between the rich and poor then certainly as a country, we will fall.
The autocrats of antiquity chose to impose their preferences on the common people. Rulers forgot, and ultimately were reminded, governments serve society and not the wealthy few. We must take care of those that cannot attend to their own needs. If for no other reason, if we do not, it will affect us all financially.
While it might be nice to think that we can and will pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, practically speaking, that is not always possible. Thomas Paine perhaps presented an analogy more apt than any I might construct. In the scholar’s desire to explain the intent of government, compare and contrast the rationale for such a system, while honoring the role of society Paine wrote.
In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest; they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.
A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same.
Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him to quit his work, and every different want would call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune, would be death; for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.
While we as individuals might muse, “People must take care of themselves,” in truth we must realize if we are to truly respect life, ours and their, it is indeed, “All for one, and one for all,” that must guide us.
We are our brethren. While I may be able to financially treat any ills my son, or daughter might incur, if I allow the offspring of my neighbor to suffer, than what might I say of myself. Can I truly and admirably be satisfied with my own wealth if I am willing to watch the poor suffer and possibly perish.
Many Americans acknowledge they could not live with themselves if they did not care for the young. Citizens throughout the land think children must be our priority. We as a nation must insure our progeny. Our civilization survives when our children thrive. As a culture, we must make certain the young receive the best health care we can provide.
Congress was diligent working in the interest of the weakest among us. While the logistics may be less than lovely, the intention is admirable. Ensuring that our youngest citizens have health care is commendable.
Key members of the Senate Finance Committee announced a bipartisan deal late last week that would raise the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 61 cents, to $1 a pack, to expand the program by $35 billion over the next five years. That would create total program funding of $60 billion over the period – enough, lawmakers said, to cover 3.3 million additional kids while keeping the focus on children of the working poor. The committee is expected to vote on the plan as early as this week.
The program, which will expire on Sept. 30, “has helped millions upon millions of low-income, uninsured American kids see doctors when they’re sick,” Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in a statement. “This agreement will make sure that even more children get the health care they need.”
House Democrats, meanwhile, have sought an even bigger increase: $50 billion, for a total of $75 billion in funding over five years. It would be paid for, at least in part, by trimming payments to private Medicare plans for seniors. Such an expansion would reach even more of the nation’s 8.3 million uninsured children and, more generally, provide a foundation for further efforts to cover more of the 45 million uninsured Americans, they argue.
However, it seems this well-established and necessary program may be eliminated. If it survives, in another, poorly funded form, as the President proposes, again many of our progeny will be wounded.
Some uninsured children of the working poor don’t go to the doctor’s office; it comes to them.
They make too much for Medicaid but not enough to have their own insurance.
And 150,000 patients per year, nationwide, get free care from 21 mobile units provided by the Children’s Health Fund. But a new report out Thursday from this non-profit group says far too many kids are falling into a huge health care crevice, CBS News has learned exclusively.
The group’s report finds despite billions of dollars in government spending, more than one in four children still don’t have full-time health care a gap twice as big as anyone thought, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.
“It’s more than just insurance and lack of insurance, that are keeping children from getting medical care,” says Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of the Children’s Health Fund of Columbia University.
It’s estimated that 9 million children are completely uninsured. But the new study says 11.5 million more kids end up without medical care for part of the year. And another 3 million can’t get a ride to the doctor. That’s more than 23 million children.
Medical professionals disturbed by the finding and a reality that they are all too familiar with went to Capitol Hill to lobby for an ample increase in funding the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. However, it seems our compassionately conservative President rejects the prospect.
Rather than consider the needs of the young, Mister Bush postures, ‘Government is too big.’ Perhaps it is. When Administrators make the rules, disregarding the principles our forefathers established than we, as a society no longer function. I am forever baffled by how easily we forget, in a democracy, in a republic, the term government is meant to signify, “of, by, and for the people.”
Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Indeed, when we allow those entrusted to serve with extraordinary power, the people, particularly the littlest ones are left to languish.
In some local communities, citizens came together to provide services for the young. States provided supplementary services. In December 2005, some thought the numbers of children without health care was decreasing.
In the past year, 20 states have taken steps to increase access to health coverage for children and their parents and nine states have reversed actions they took during the 2001-03 economic downturn to limit benefits, according the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, part of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health care trends.
As a result of these and other steps, there are 350,000 fewer uninsured children in the United States than there were in 2000, the foundation reported. Over the same period the overall number of uninsured rose by 6 million.
Ambitious steps like the child health bill just signed in Illinois and the “Dr. Dynasaur” children’s health program in Vermont have broadened coverage for children.
While elected officials cannot agree on how to provide or pay for health coverage for uninsured adults, there seems to be a consensus that covering children is both medically wise and politically smart.
However, the situation was never stable. The States alone could not fill the demand.
The movement to expand coverage for children dates to the mid-1990s, after the Clinton administration devised a complex plan to provide all Americans with health care coverage. That plan failed, and advocates of wider coverage began pursuing more incremental changes at the federal level and lobbying state legislatures to expand coverage.
Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, a nonpartisan research group, said children’s health was one area of state spending that had consistently risen, at a time when most other programs ? including health care for adults ? have suffered cuts. Weil said it was much easier for elected officials to approve spending “for the kids” than to expand welfare programs for adults, even in times of hardship.
“It goes back to the Elizabethan poor laws that drew a conceptual distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor,” he said. “It’s very hard to call kids undeserving, even if you don’t like the parents’ behavior. It’s not the kids’ fault they are without health care.”
As of the beginning of this year, 16 percent of all Americans lacked health insurance, but only 12 percent of children under 18 went uncovered, although that still amounts to 9 million children, according to the Kaiser commission. The gap between the two groups has been widening over the years as fewer and fewer employers offer health care coverage, federal spending on health care fails to keep pace with rising costs, and states are forced to limit eligibility to balance their budgets.
Again we are reminded that although archaic Elizabethan laws may have thought to differentiate between the deserving and those that some think are less so, the current Administration does not make this critical distinction when it comes to children’s well being. In 2007, those in the White House, the individuals that represent the highest form of authority have lost their virtuousness. They have become as Thomas Paine warned us against.
Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other law-giver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the least.
Might we remember that in our desire to lessen the forces of “government” we must not forego what makes us great, society.
As those in Congress and the White House debate ideology, lives are at stake. The cost of medical care is on the rise; needs do not decline. In a time when half the bankruptcies are due to medical expenses, America must pay attention. Three quarters of those filing, had medical insurance. Considering that close to two million Americans, debtors and their dependents are affected by medical bankruptcy, we must acknowledge that this program benefits us all. When one person cannot pay their bills, we all absorb the debt. Ethically, when an individual, a child passes because of neglect, we as a society are diminished. Please ponder.
For people such as Beverly Chappell, 43, a Web site developer in Thornton, N.H., the debate is about health and family, not ideology. Chappell and her husband, David, 49, a self-employed carpenter, earn a total of $43,000 a year and for years could not afford health insurance for their family. While the couple still have none, they had signed up their children for the program in 1998 – just before their son Nathan had his first severe asthma attack.
“If I had not had that insurance, I would not have taken him to the emergency room and he probably would have died,” Beverly Chappell said. “The program has value. Nobody should have to evaluate when it is an emergency and when it is not because they are afraid of getting a bill.”
Fear of big government cannot compromise our principles. When those in authority corrupt a system that benefits society we must stand up and say, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union . . .”