Archive for the ‘War on the Poor’ Category
Step right up, folks, and take your chances in the Amazing New American Workplace. Constantly high unemployment! Low wages always! No employee bargaining power! A corporate paradise!
Indeed. They’ve got what they wanted: a paucity of jobs against a glut of workers making for a terrified workforce and a terminally insecure society, the destruction of the unions that were all that offered hope to laborers that they wouldn’t forever be trapped on the bony rack of the minimum wage, and a populace trained to think of corporate managers as heroes and Masters of the Universe even if the populace doesn’t particularly like to think of them that way. Read the rest of this entry »
Two hundred-plus years of dangerously liberal thinking have created a good deal of confusion in some weak minds. One of the most damaging of these confusions, one that you may still be harboring without realizing its deep and divisive nature, is the idea that there are such things as “public” facilities. Or, indeed, a “public good”. In fact, the very word “public” arises from a severe misunderstanding of what forms a “society”. Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t know what to call this: Ironic? Naive? A joke?
Despite an intensified campaign against poverty, World Bank programs have failed to lift incomes in many poor countries over the past decade, leaving tens of millions of people suffering stagnating or declining living standards, according to a report released Thursday by the bank’s autonomous assessment arm.
“Autonomous” in this case has to be translated as “clueless, out of the loop”. You see, what the “autonomous assessment arm” is criticizing happens to have been the goal of the World Bank from the beginning.
Among 25 poor countries probed in detail by the bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, only 11 experienced reductions in poverty from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, while 14 had the same or worsening rates over that term. The group said the sample was representative of the global picture.”
Achievement of sustained increases in per capita income, essential for poverty reduction, continues to elude a considerable number of countries,” the report declared, singling out programs aimed at the rural poor as particularly ineffective. Roughly half of such efforts from 2001 to 2005 “did not lead to satisfactory results.” During that period, new World Bank loans and credits aimed directly at rural development totaled $9.6 billion, or about one-tenth of total bank lending, according to the group.
[T]he study found that growth has rarely been sustained, exposing the most vulnerable people — the rural poor — to volatile shifts in their economic fortunes. Per capita income rose continuously from 2000 to 2005 in only two in five of the countries that borrowed from the World Bank, the study reported, and it increased for the full decade, from 1995 to 2005, in only one in five.
The study emphasized that economic growth is, by itself, no fix: How the gains are distributed is just as important. In China, Romania, Sri Lanka and many Latin American countries, swiftly expanding economies have improved incomes for many, but the benefits have been limited by a simultaneous increase in economic inequality, putting most of the spoils into the hands of the rich and not enough into poor households, the study concluded.
“But..but…but…that’s what we wanted to do!”Indeed.
In a terrifying and important new book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, who for 30 years negotiated a lot of those deals in Third World countries while working for an international consulting firm on behalf of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, lets the cat all the way out of the bag – making poor countries poorer was precisely what the WB and IMF intended to do – and for very good reason, at least from their perspective.
The consequences of the radcons ‘starve the beast’ strategy can be ugly. In a recent speech, Bill Moyers said:
These deficits have been part of their strategy. Some of you will remember that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to warn us 20 years ago, when he predicted that President Ronald Reagan’s real strategy was to force the government to cut domestic social programs by fostering federal deficits of historic dimensions. Reagan’s own budget director, David Stockman, admitted as much. Now the leading rightwing political strategist, Grover Norquist, says the goal is to “starve the beast” — with trillions of dollars in deficits resulting from trillions of dollars in tax cuts, until the United States Government is so anemic and anorexic it can be drowned in the bathtub.There’s no question about it….
No, there isn’t, and in the real world, not the FantasyLand of Publican ‘optimism’, this is what it means:
WASHINGTON, July 7 – Congressional investigators said Wednesday that 15,000 children with psychiatric disorders were improperly incarcerated last year because no mental health services were available.The figures were compiled by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Government Reform in the first such nationwide survey of juvenile detention centers.
“The use of juvenile detention facilities to warehouse children with mental disorders is a serious national problem,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who sought the survey with Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California.
The study, presented at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, found that children as young as 7 were incarcerated because of a lack of access to mental health care. More than 340 detention centers, two-thirds of those that responded to the survey, said youths with mental disorders were being locked up because there was no place else for them to go while awaiting treatment. Seventy-one centers in 33 states said they were holding mentally ill youngsters with no charges. (emphasis added)
Social Darwinism in action is not a pretty sight. It isn’t forgivable, either.
The NY Times reports today that Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has initiated–or appears to have initiated; when dealing with “good news” coming out of the Bush Admin, I’ve learned to be very cautious–a crackdown, finally, on the scandalous treatment of child welfare programs in a number of states, including Florida, which gained national attention several times last year when children who were supposed to be in the care of the state due to abusive parents either died unaccountably or simply disappeared from the system altogether. Similar, if less drastic, faults exist in a number of states.
The federal report was based on a review of state data and case files, as well as interviews with children, their biological parents, foster and adoptive parents, social workers and juvenile and family court judges.Federal officials repeatedly cited states for certain deficiencies: significant numbers of children suffering abuse or neglect more than once in a six-month period; caseworkers not visiting children often enough to assess their needs; and not providing promised medical and mental health services.
Federal officials said 16 states did not meet any of the seven standards. These states were Alaska, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The sad truth is that child welfare funds have been cut by a LOT of states in an effort to reduce debt. Federal money to support such programs was one of the first items to be cut in the new Republican govt’s budget, cuts which, along with cuts in state budgets, helped pauperize child welfare programs all over the country. Bob Herbert pointed out in one of his columns a while back attacking the tragedies in Florida (no longer available online) that child welfare workers there were responsible for as many as 400 cases apiece because of cuts in personnel–ten times as many as the maximum suggested by Federal guidelines.
Every one of the flaws mentioned in the HHS report is directly traceable to Federal or state funding cuts, yet the HHS-Sec isn’t proposing new money to cover the shortfalls–not in Junior’s corporate-owned Admin, he’s not–but penalties that will make the money crunch even worse.
The federal government provides $7 billion a year to states for foster care, adoption assistance and other child welfare programs. If states do not correct the deficiencies, they stand to lose some of the money.Penalties are estimated at $18.2 million for California, $3.6 million for Florida, $3.5 million for Texas, $3 million for Pennsylvania, $2.5 million each for Ohio and Michigan, and $2.3 million for New York.
The penalties, if enacted, will require yet more program and personnel cuts and weaken already tenuous state systems possibly to the breaking point. On the other hand, who wants to see the dangerously sloppy and inattentive way states have shoveled the problems of at-risk children onto the back burner continue?
I suspect that Tommy, who had, shall we say, a “mixed” record while Gov of Wisconsin, is going for an easy political kill here, like his so-called “Children First” program in Wisconsin which used the hot “deadbeat Dads” controversy to shift some of the state’s responsibilities for the care and protection of children from indigent families onto the backs of fathers who couldn’t pay their child support.
On the other hand, there was Tommy’s showpiece, “Wisconsin Works”, his version of the 1996 Congressional mandate to reform Welfare. Unlike the lazy, not to say mean, “make-’em-go-to-work-and-damn-everything-else” approach taken by many states’ govs, Tommy actually crafted an intelligent program that provided job training and financial and educational support to families on welfare (a model, incidentally, that was developed and tested in a small way in pilot programs in the early and mid-80′s right here in MA and then promptly defunded and totally ignored when it worked; I know–I was there). W2, as it was called, successfully put some 90% of welfare families into real jobs and off the state welfare rolls, many of them for good.
So that’s my problem: Is this a shot-across-the-bow in a war against the budget-cutters who are doing all the damage? Tommy’s way of announcing that he wants HHS’ funds restored? Or is it an s-across-the-b in a new war on children by the BA, infamous for its bait-and-switch tactics?
I know which way I’m leaning, but then I’m a cynic.
WASHINGTON, March 30 — Over strenuous objections from the White House, the Senate voted on Tuesday for a significant increase in money to provide child care to welfare recipients and other low-income families.The vote, 78 to 20, expressed broad bipartisan support for a proposal to add $6 billion to child care programs over the next five years, on top of a $1 billion increase that was already included in a sweeping welfare bill. The federal government now earmarks $4.8 billion a year for such child care assistance.
The Bush administration objected to the increase in child care money, saying it was not needed. (emphasis added)
Wanna bet after fighting this tooth-and-nail, Junior will take credit for it this fall?
Florida Tells Sick Kids to Get Lost
Gov Jeb Bush, the hero of the Florida election debacle, wants to cut medical care for the sick kids of low-income families. He considers the amount of his state’s contribution to KidCare, the “Florida version of the nationally popular and successful Children’s Health Insurance Program”, to be too extreme. In January, he ordered state officials to start putting eligible kids beyond a certain number on a “waiting list.”
Even children with serious health problems were put on the list. Conni Wells, director of the Florida Institute for Family Involvement, which advises families on health matters, told me at the time, “We’ve had families tell us they’ve put off buying groceries so they can afford to take their child to the doctor.”
As a result, the “waiting list” came in for some bad press. Instead of fixing the problem by just ordering the kids on it to be put directly into the program, Jeb arranged a little suprise. Bob Herbert explains in today’s NYT:
The attention given to the Florida waiting list by the news media embarrassed the state Republican Party, which controls the governorship and both houses of the State Legislature.So here’s the good news: The Legislature is expected to approve a measure that would end up providing coverage to about 90,000 of the 100,000 or so youngsters on the waiting list at the end of January.
The rest of the news is not good. Republican leaders in the Florida House and Senate have crafted the new legislation in ways that will radically limit future access to KidCare and prevent the press and the public from getting information about the number of kids who are frozen out.
At least we knew over the past several months that children were being put on a waiting list. Under the new legislation, eligible youngsters who are denied enrollment in KidCare will not be put on a waiting list. There won’t be any waiting list.
So public pressure is forcing them to take care of most of the kids they tried to freeze out, and to make sure that never happens again, they’re changing the rules to freeze out even more and make sure there’s no way the press will find out about it.
Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which has been monitoring the developments in Florida, said, “Politically, what that means is that nobody — not us, not you, not anyone — would be able at any point to say that 30,000 or 50,000 or 80,000 or 100,000 kids are on the waiting list because there would no longer be any record of a waiting list.”At the same time, the enrollment process would be sharply curtailed. Under the new legislation, there would be only two 30-day periods each year in which parents would be allowed to try to enroll their children in KidCare. Worse, the state would not be required to actually conduct those two enrollment periods. State officials could simply declare, for budgetary reasons, that there would be no enrollment in a given year. (emphasis added)
Isn’t that sweet? Herbert says, “This is mean-spirited stuff. We are finding new and ingenious ways in this country to wreak havoc on low-income people.” I think he’s being too kind.
Is this what you expected “compassionate conservatism” to mean? Playing govt tricks on poor families with sick kids so they wouldn’t have to treat them? Is that really what you had in mind when Jeb’s bro was running around the country sayin’ as how he wanted to he’p po’ folk git a leg up? I don’t think so, but that’s what you got.
ALL the Bushes need to go. They’re a collective blight on the country and not one of them seems to have the amount of soul God gave a pig. Down with the whole damn family! (Whew!)
Conservatives have insisting for years that govt is too expensive, too top-heavy with regulations, too big, and too clumsy. They have run year-after-year on platforms promising to cut all that away and strip govt to what they consider its essentials: the military and promotion of corporate interests. All that is well-known. What is less well-known–so much so that you might as well call it un-known–is the responsibility they themselves have for doing exactly what they accuse liberals of doing: creating a bigger, more expensive, more insensitive govt weighed down with idiotic regulations.An example of this typical right-wing manipulation–or at least the first half of it–comes from todays AJC in an editorial on the so-called “Regulatory Reform Act that Republicans are proposing in the Georgia Senate.
Disingenuously titled the “Regulatory Reform Act,” SB 361 has overheated language that contends “unnecessary government regulation can smother the flame of small business and creativity.” Those lofty-sounding words are little more than a ruse to summarily weaken the oversight authority of every regulatory agency in the state.The bill seeks to set up a series of rulemaking boondoggles that would make Rube Goldberg proud. It would, for example, require the state’s Environmental Protection Division to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before advancing new rules for industries that affect the state’s natural resources
This is Part One of the conservative game: plant piles of new regulations onto govt agencies which will require lots of money and staff to implement. Part Two comes a few years later: Complain loudly that govt agencies are fat, slow bureaucracies with too many employees and too many regulations. Repeat as needed.
There’s nothing new about this. Yellow-dog Dixiecrats invented this approach the day after they knuckled under to LBJ and his Great Society programs. Led by Sen James Eastland of Mississippi, Republicans and Dixiecrats teamed up to lard Johnson’s bills with acres of means testing, ever-tightening eligibility requirements, caveats, conditions, and exemptions, all with incredibly complicated formulas designed to a) keep as many poor people off the roles as possible; b) give the opponents weapons with which they could excuse denying states the funds they were entitled to; and c) create the enormous Federal bureaucracy that would be necessary to implement all those complex formulas, a bureaucracy they could then run against as “bloated” and “excessive” and “wasteful.” They created a self-fulfilling prophecy, and then attacked it.
Johnson, a shrewd legislator who knew every trick in the book, was fully aware of what they were doing and said so in public. But with Southern Democrats lining up with Republicans and the majority coalition threatening to bury his bills if he didn’t agree to their “safeguards”, he had little choice. Something, he said in effect, was better than nothing, and he wrote afterward that he had been counting on being able to alleviate the worst abuses forced on him later on as the programs took effect. Unfortunately, Viet Nam started taking all his time and energy (the Tonkin Gulf incident was only a few months after the marathon session that saw most of the Great Society programs enacted) and he never got back to it.
Equally unfortunate, I don’t think even Johnson realized what the full effect of the volumes of riders added by conservatives was going to be–a massive Federal bureaucracy dedicated by law to severely undercutting the very result it had supposedly been created to promote. From the very beginning, the regulations attached to the GS laws by the coalition ensured that welfare programs would be incredibly expensive to run but have only a minimal effect on reducing poverty itself. Eastland, for instance, in one famous rider that he sponsored, ordered that women on welfare who tried to go back to school to better themselves would lose all their benefits, including food stamps, Section 8 housing subsidies, and their ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) health coverage. They would also, in many instances, be declared ineligible for Federal education loans and/or grants. IOW, you want an education, you’re on your own–we’re pulling the plug.
Then there was the infamous “husband clause” in which Federal assistance was cut drastically or eliminated outright from a single-parent family if the recipient married, even if the husband was unemployed and on some form of assistance himself. The effect of this rule–aimed almost exclusively at minority recipients–promulgated by the “family values” party was to break up tens of thousands of families living below the poverty line in neighborhoods all across America and deprive the minority community of the stability the two-parent families Pubs claim to be so fond of could bring to a fractured underclass. .
The word “hypocrisy” comes to mind immediately, doesn’t it?
These and other Draconian regulations combined to make certain that the poor would stay poor, tied to a subsistence-level existence in perpetuity. And we all know what happened then: the Pubs spent the next 25 years attacking “welfare queens” and the poor too “lazy” to better themselves. It was a double-blind, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” system, and it worked like a charm. A Democrat was finally forced to sign legislation gutting the few protections and what little assistance the poor had left, and ordering them into menial, minimum-wage jobs with no future and not much present. Over 40 million people (some say the number is even higher than that) no longer have any health care at all, and most of them are people who would have qualified for some form of Medicaid before Clinton signed that landmark travesty of a bill.
All that’s happening in GA is that the right wing is adapting this old trick to a new goal: doing the same to every other govt program they dislike, ie, any govt service that helps people instead of the rich corporate donors on whom the right-wing depends for its existence. If they’re allowed to follow-through on their plan, we will see the final degradation of the middle class and the same two-tiered society boasted by Ancient Rome–plutocrats and plebes.
Most of you don’t have to guess which tier you’ll be in.
A recent report on the Bush economy tends to confirm our suspicion that while things are definitely improving for the likes of wealthy cockroach-killers like T. DeLay, the rest of us are hanging on by our fingernails. The Bushian economy is so skewed toward the coupon-clippers that it’s almost as if the rest of us don’t exist, especially if we happen to be Blues, viz.:
The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.7 million last year, and the median household income declined by 1.1 percent, the Census Bureau reported today. The worsening economic conditions fell heaviest on Midwesterners and nonwhites.
It was the second straight year of adverse changes in both poverty and income, the first two-year downturn since the early 1990′s.
The data, results of the Census Bureau’s annual Current Population Survey, the official barometer for measuring income and poverty rates, showed that lingering negative effects of the recent recession cut across a broad swath of the population. (emphasis added)
So there are three issues here (as there often are):