Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Punish Workers, Punish Children, Punish Infants

During the New Deal there was an effort to help workers, children, and infants. Today, however, the story is quite different. For example, a large budget cut to the Head Start program is closing the door to 51,000 children and 6,000 infants (see "Head Start hit with worst cuts in its history"). Head Start is a 50-year-old federal program "that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development" (see here).

In addition to children and infants being kicked away, "The cuts include a shorter school year and shorter school days, as well as laying off or reducing the pay for more than 18,000 employees nationwide...(other cuts) eliminated medical and dental screenings and bus routes" (see here).

This type of cruelty isn't the only option. For example, here are some ways that the New Deal helped workers, children, and infants: 

Above: A WPA work project in Frederick County, Maryland, 1937. Through job programs like the CWA, WPA, NYA, and CCC, well over 10 million unemployed Americans were given job opportunities. We're still using many of the schools, bridges, airports, parks, etc., that these workers created.

Above: A WPA poster promoting the health benefits of breast feeding. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Above: A WPA poster promoting better & cleaner housing as a way reduce infant mortality. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Above: A WPA art class for children, in Baltimore, Maryland. The WPA hired unemployed teachers to instruct children in various courses. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.

Above: A WPA poster promoting child vaccination. The WPA offered health & dental clinics for children, administered vaccinations, and hired unemployed nurses & pharmacists to help low-income families. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.  

Considering that income inequality in America is worse than any other developed country, and that the U.S. has lost over $3 trillion in revenue to illegal tax evasion since 2001, and that multi-national corporations are using tax havens to avoid taxes, and that taxes on the super-wealthy are historically low, why are we balancing the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it?

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal, where our corporate-bought federal government punishes workers, children, and infants. Meanwhile, the top 1% keeps raking in the dough but only creates low-paying, short-lasting, stingy-benefit McJobs.

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