Even as the Congress and the White House pat themselves on the back for a job well done in their passage of the recent 'economic stimulus package', and even as our led by the nose media kisses the backside of all things that stem from the Obama Administration, the one thing no one wants to talk about and keeps shoving under the rug is the dramatic rise in the numbers of homeless, near homeless and poverty stricken households across the entire country.
Americans, desperate for any sign of good news, are lapping up the government's claims of creating 150,000 new jobs with the bill. But as was pointed out, we also lost 650,000 jobs during the period in which these new jobs were created. That's not progress. That's more like one step forward and two steps back.
But even more insidious was the stabbing in the back of regular folks who, through no fault of their own, were displaced by the Bush policies, left to fend for themselves throughout the Republican controlled era, and now find that our new government has decided to forsake them also for political expediency.
We already know about the Democratic capitulation to the meaningless Republicans on the 'stimulus package', you know, the one that gave the rich more of your money. A simple small rise to food stamp allotments so American children might have enough to eat was allowed to be stripped from the bill because Republicans, including Arlen Spector, balked and threatened to filibuster the entire deal. Give help to the poor after they had worked so diligently to decimate every program that was set up to help alleviate poverty? Not on your life! Billions of dollars for bankers and clauses in the $15,000 tax break for home buyers that allow rich people to buy new homes and receive the same consideration as first time homeowners? You betcha!
And so, as we all await the next massive giveaway to big business in the form of Health Care Reform, which will be nothing more than a trillion dollar payback to the insurance industry ala Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton, maybe someone needs to remind our glorious leaders of what's happening on the streets of some American cities. Since they don't seem to notice the tents and cardboard boxes as their limos cruise the streets taking them to their swank and plush offices.
In Buffalo, N.Y., a city with the 3rd highest poverty rate in the country, the mayor, Byron Brown, after 15 months of study and hand wringing over what to do to lower the poverty rate came up with a blueprint for................well, for nothing actually. Called the “Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blueprint” , it outlines the need for , you guessed it, more study of the problem.
In Nebraska, in violation of every federal law pertaining to the use of Medicaid funding from the Federal government, new rules were implemented that do not allow men to go to the doctor for a physical. Women may go, but not men. Men must have a specific complaint to see a doctor, and then there are limits as to what doctors may look for. For instance, if a doctor examining a man suspects there may be cause to check for testicular or colon cancer, they are not allowed to even discuss the possibility of the presence of said diseases with the patient, much less check to see if their suspicions are correct.
Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts vowed to end homelessness in his state when he took office. Bold new ideas were needed, but the reality of the economy came crashing down on his head as he realized the staggering rise in the numbers of homeless families over the space of just one year. So many that state shelters were turning families away in droves, the state has had to house people in motels for months at a time in order to keep the children off of the streets. Single adults were not so lucky though. Full shelters with waiting lists forced many to brave the bitter cold New England winter outdoors, and there are no numbers for how many got sick, or how many have died.
Massive jumps in homeless rates were reported in New York City, where the numbers rose 40 per cent between July 2007 and July of 2008. Los Angeles County reported a 15 per cent rise and Minnesota counties saw a leap of 20 per cent for the same time period. Tent cities are becoming a common sight under overpasses and bridges, just out of sight of the general public. If you can't see them, they don't exist.
No less than The Center On Budget And Policy Priorities issued a report declaring that an immediate need existed for 200,000 new housing vouchers in order to stave off disaster for many Americans, but guess what? That's right. The party of no blocked that move also.
$87 billion was allocated to the states to help with the rising costs of their Medicaid programs. That may sound like a good start until one looks at the way the Republicans ripped apart that program and handed it to the insurance industry to manage. Just as happened on Wall Street when unchecked and unregulated money grubbers are allowed to do whatever they please, the Medicaid program is in dire straights solely because of the insurance companies and not because of any massive cost increases as is claimed. The insurance companies act as a middleman between the recipient and the doctor, many times over ruling the doctors on medical decisions to the detriment of the patient. The system is set up to force patients on Medicaid to choose between paying bills and food or going to their doctor due to the co-pay system. Oh? You didn't know? That's right. The poorest of the poor don't even go to their doctor most of the time because they have to pay co-pays on a program that's supposed to provide for their health needs. The insurance companies are raking in major money on the cost 'savings' in the form of bonuses for keeping costs down. And you thought Wall Street was bad. Now they want to take this model and force all Americans onto the rolls.
In California, many area food banks are lamenting the fact that there is not enough to go around due to what used to be called middle class families having to resort to using the food banks in order to stave off not paying bills or even rent. Some Central Texas food banks have actually run out of food and have been forced to turn people away. Seattle, Detroit, Kansas City, you name the place, and they do not have enough to handle the need.
But yet, even as homeless numbers swell, even as Americans can not get enough food, and even as sick Americans are being prevented from seeing a doctor, all we hear is how great things are starting to look. How we seem to have turned the corner. Yep, the banks are looking good again and those million dollar political payoffs, er, 'bonuses' are beginning to be handed out to the very same people who helped the Republicans rape the economy, but yet, even after all the hue and cry from the political hacks, no one has been prevented from receiving these payoffs. Auto workers? Ha! Suckers. You guys don't have millions to donate to political campaigns.
And that's what it all boils down to really if anyone actually sits down and studies the situation. There is NO difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. Neither one is 'Socialist' or "Nazis'. It's really all one big party, all beholden to Big Business, and all are going to do the bidding of the ones who shelled out the dough for their campaigns. Arlen Spector's recent 'defection' is all the proof you need.
So what are we going to do about all of this? Simple. The last thing politicians want are angry constituents badgering them about issues. If you want to see the issue of America becoming a serfdom become a front page story, we all have to make noise. A lot of it. Call someone, write someone, talk to someone, and demand an end to the redistribution of wealth to the top 1 per cent of the country. No more bank bailouts while you let Detroit fall. No more caving in to the minority party for expediency. No more screwing every day Americans in order to curry favor with a cigar chomping fat cat sitting in a $50,000 chair in some high rise office building. Do something, or you may just find that the next family on the food bank line or homeless shelter waiting list is yours........................