Sunday, October 30, 2005

"Conservative" Values?

While the Bush regime has devoted itself to relieving millionaires and billionaires from the burden of paying taxes (and thus shifting that burden onto others to support their spend-and-spend Republicanism), they are busily trying to replace that money (after all, they're still spending it) by cutting necessary services to poor people and children who really need the help. They are cutting funding to foster care, to child support enforcement, to food stamps... honestly, they are deranged if they think that is good for America. Interestingly, while they are cutting food stamps,
"Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, reports hearing from constituents that the Army now includes applications for food stamps in its orientation packet for new recruits."
Sick bastards, indeed.
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3.


windspike said...

Hey at two billion dollars a week for an illigetimate war means there's less to go around, no?

Jack Mercer said...


Food stamps--there is more available than are accepted. They have been granted an advertising budget because no one uses them much anymore.

Each foster care child in the system costs $140,000 two years ago.

Child support enforcement has never worked, why? Because they don't do it.


Unadulterated Underdog said...

This reminds of the spending amendments the Republican Party worked on this week. They voted to hurt farmers, decrease education spending, cut funding to child-support enforcement and cut funding to aid companies hurt by unfair business practicies (read Wal-Mart). It's easy to see who the GOP cares about: the richest 1% of the nation.

Mike of the North said...

OK Jack I'll bite, let's run with this logic. social services don't work so let's eliminate them, done. The military doesn't work. ( can't find osama, can't contain the "insurgency" in iraq and fared the same in 'nam.) let's get rid of it. done. So where to now...? the FBI Ruby Ridge, Waco, well they obviously need to go. ATF certainly can't win the war on drugs, gotta go! Hell everybody knows that anything govt' touches reeks let's get rid of everything. Then we can depend on unrestrained capitalism and market forces to take care of everything. Long live lazze faire economics. I certainly trust big business to look out for my interests.... yeah, right.

SheaNC said...

Excellent point by Mike of the North 8^)

You know, Jack, we are in my realm now: I worked in Child Support enforcement up until June of this year. Your statement that "they don't do it" is way off. Similar to Mike's analogies above, your statement is like saying, "well, the police obviously do not stop crime from happening, so we should get rid of them, or cut their funding because thet're worthless."

In child support, people work their asses off trying to enforce court ordered child support. They are vastly underpaid, the caseload is ridiculous, and the funding keeps getting cut (thanks republicans!) so that they have to do more with less resources year after year. In my office the caseloads were, like, 600-700 per worker and beyond! I challenge anyone to effectively attend to 700 cases every day. You would have to be superhuman to accomplish the task. Workers have to make very hard choices and prioritize cases because the so-called conservative government would rather give tax breaks to the rich and let struggling single mothers and deprived children hit the skids. Many cases don't get the attention they deserve because of undertaffing, period.

And you know what? The caseloads are still increasing, but the child support agency I worked for had to lay people off because funding was cut. The familes we serve suffer the most. And, I was one of those laid off.

Don't you dare say "they don't do it" as though the agencies or the workers are at fault. Give them some proper resources and maybe then you would see some child support collected.

And now I work for the dept which determines food stamp eligibility, and if you think people aren't applying for food stamps, then I can honestly say: Wrong!

Jack Mercer said...


C'mon, man, you're thinking like an extremist. We're talking cuts, not elimination, and most of these are not cuts in budget so much as cuts in rates of growth. And...the food stamp provision was dropped.

Shea, one thing about government is that it rarely does more with less. We're talking budget cuts, but rarely, if ever does this result in spending cuts. Accounting is my realm and budgets mean nothing, and less than nothing for the government. How many social agencies are getting smaller? How many social workers are getting paid less this year than last? How many social workers didn't get a raise this year, last year?

Quick note: not all of the nation has the same degree of need. Cuts in some places could be good, while increases in others may be prudent.

Private enterprise constantly and consistently has to do more with less. I encounter that every day. Layoffs, increased portfolios, etc. Its the rare day I ever hear of government layoffs, and I haven't hear of any significant attrition figures either. Elimination of some programs can be necessary if they serve no purpose, and we have many "good idea" agencies out ther that accomplish little or nothing. (not saying yours is one of them) Seems like government--all government just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Also, Shea, notice WHO got laid off. The directors, the people who are making money for doing basically nothing kept their jobs while the people doing the work get the shaft. I have noticed that about the government also--it is the bureacracy that bloats it and makes it cost so much, not the worker bees.

I do admit, Shea, that a lot of need for social programs in the United States is because citizens fail to take responsibility for our own.


P.S. Shea, thank you for your public service, man! I know that it is often underappreciated.

Jack Mercer said...

Shea, I tried to add myself to your newsletter, but it returned an error message. If you could add me: I would appreciate it.


via said...

Our family is beginning to experience the gifts of compassionate conservatism. One of my siblings almost died of a brainstem infection a few years ago, and now has melanoma. He is unable to work, and is considered uninsurable. Recently, his state's drug prescription plan (TennCare) was axed, so he must now pay out of pocket for obscenely expensive medication. We are so fortunate to have a good family support system, but I now understand how close to the edge we all walk. I am enraged when I see him take only 1/2 the prescribed amount of medicine because of the expense. After having lived in Sweden and Canada I am ashamed that in this incredibly wealthy country we are too miserly and mean-spirited to provide decent health coverage for all of our citizens.

Jack Mercer said...

Via, I think it is admirable that your family is taking responsibility for its own. Mine would do the same. As human beings I think we should take responsibility for our families. I just don't understand where we as society have come when we think that other people owe us healthcare, food, a job, or anything other of the sort. You see, its not the government we are talking about, but other people. You want me to pay for brother's healthcare. You want me to pay for my healthcare, the healthcare of my children, and your brother's also. I don't know why you think that I should have to pay for someone elses care when I have responsibilities of my own to take care of, people close to me who I need to provide for. I am not too mean and miserly--I provide healthcare coverage for myself, my family, and supplemental for my aged parents.

Via, TennCare was a miserable failure, America's attempt at socialized medicine as created by Hillary Clinton. Via, the problem most people don't understand about socialized medicine is that it can work on tiny scales, but could never work on the scale of the United States population. The cost would be staggering, and 90 cents of every dollar we earned would go to pay for it. Canada (which I lived in Saint John, New Brunswick for 4 years as a landed immigrant--had my social insurance card, and was eligible for Canadian social healthcare--which I didn't use--we crossed the border like many Canadians to take advantage of American healthcare even though it cost us) is much smaller than the US, as is Sweden. With economies of scale one can't seriously consider a social medicine program of the sort in the United States. (Keep in mind that prescription drug coverage --minimal-- for seniors started out as 400 billion but in reality was expected to cost close to a trillion dollars)

On a personal note, is your brother not on Social Security disability? If he is, then he should be eligible for Medicare if not Medicaid. Also, if he is having difficulty with his disability filing or anything like that, I represent claimants for free and would be happy to help him if he needed it. I know how hard it can be to navigate the Social Security disability system.

Let me know,


Graham said...

Cool blog :).

SheaNC said...

Jack, you've touched on something that is at the core of the difference between the left and the right. Indeed, it might be the primary difference. You say "I just don't understand where we as society have come when we think that other people owe us healthcare, food, a job, or anything other of the sort."

I, on the other hand, believe that as a society we should be responsible for each others' welfare.

If your opinion is taken to its logical conclusion, then why should we have to pay for roads, or police and fire protection, or schools, or anything? we do it to improve the quality of life for us all, as a whole. Similarly, society as a whole, you and me, are better off if our fellow citizens receive adequate healthcare, education, food and shelter. Why else form a society at all, if not to take care of each other?

You've read Dickens, Jack? Rememeber what Jacob Marley's ghost said?

"Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Jack Mercer said...

Shea, I agree with you entirely. Really! But I also think that when we go about providing everything for everyone we create dependence--we take away someone's dignity and destroy them. When I judged disability cases I would judge by the law, but I couldn't help but think about what I was doing to the person by granting it. I had many depression cases that I allowed in spite of my close friend (a local psychologist) who told me one of the worst things you could do to a clinical depression case was to give them the ability to further it--that those people truly were the ones that needed to work, to have a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Shea, I am a firm believer in helping people. Not for the reward of it, but because I think I should. I do this as my duty and because of love for my fellow man, not because someone forces me to do it.

I believe we should help those who truly can't help themselves, but that is NOT what we are doing. We are creating a nation of dependent people whose initiative has been sapped. We need to empower people, Shea, not enable them.

You work and work hard because of your work ethic, Shea. But it isn't only that. You work because you want to build, you want to contribute--you work because of WHO you are, Shea. Can you imagine going home and sitting in front of your TV 24 hours a day, letting others take care of you?

I think what I believe is that I want to teach my fellow man how to do for himself--how to grow the garden, instead of doing for him--feeding him for a day.

My people have been victims of this attitude--that we are entitled, that we can sit and do nothing, that we have a right to remain in poverty, and because of it many are like those unfortunate people I met in Lousiana. But when they hear the message--like I teach my young people at church, that they have a duty, obligation, but also the ability to be more than they are told they have to be--they go out and become successful, happy, joyful, repsonsible, productive and giving members of society.

Shea, I know I'm rambling, but I will finish up with a personal story. (I like to use myself as an example--I know it ticks you off sometime! ha!--just kidding). I broke my back 20 years ago. First they said I wouldn't walk again, and gave me a wheelchair. I refused to believe that. I would get out of my chair and fall, pull myself around with my arms, do anything but sit in that chair. I used to cause my wife to cry because she would range from pity to anger about my situation. Anyhow, I worked for over a year till I could do somewhat of a crawl, and when I was able to get that down I knew I would lick this eventually. Shea, I would have been thrown away by liberal thought--not good enough to produce again--cast aside while others condescended to assist me in my infirmed and weak state. In the sixteenth month I stook up on my own and fell down the front stairs--Several months ago, Shea, the cripple went to hurricane devastated Lousiana and unloaded boxes and supplies from early in the morning until late at night.

Shea, I don't tell you this out of self-righteousness--and I don't say it to belittle the wonderful empathy and love you have for your fellow man, I just say it to illustrate that there are so many ways to help someone by giving them the means to help themselves, than to provide them the resources to not try.

As always, good to talk to you! I think we do agree with each other somewhat.



SheaNC said...

I think we do agree with each other a lot, Jack. It sounds like the real difference between our two perspectives on this subject is the "who" that we are referring to.

We both agree that people who can help themselves, should help themselves. There shouldn't be any free ride for deadbeats who want to exploit the system. And, in both of our experience, I'm sure we've seen all kinds.

On the other hand, when I think of social services, the first thing that comes to mind are the ones who really do need the help, like the ones with physical or mental issues, or disabilities, or maybe hit some serious bad luck that wasn't their fault, and need food or medical help.

The different people that we immediately think of when we think of welfare: that is where a big difference lies between the left and right, I think. If the left and the right were each asked to define the average recipient of social services, the right would paint a picture of a lazy deadbeat exploiting the system and stealing from hardworking taxpayers, while the left would describe people who have legitimate needs, who want to better themselves and ask only for a little help, or who are unable to better themselves and deserve some human dignity.

Similarly, ask each side about corporate welfare: The right would say it is better to give tax breaks and subsidies to big corporations rather than fund school lunch programs or healthcare. The left would say the opposite. I sleep better at night on my left side!