Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cutting food assistance to veterans, while some wealthy folks evade taxes

(During the New Deal, efforts were made to help veterans and soldiers. Here, WPA workers are building new living quarters for non-commissioned officers at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, 1939. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

As we approach Veterans Day, we have decided to honor our low-income veterans by reducing the amount of food assistance they receive. Why? Because, as with any government program that helps the less fortunate, "we can't afford it!!!" Of course, if the expenditure was for bomb-making or prison-building, oh yeah, you better believe we could afford that!     

At the same time that we are rewarding the service of our low-income soldiers & veterans by reducing the amount of food they will have for Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, we hear about the biggest tax fraud in U.S. history, where "the wealthy and well-connected" hid their money from Uncle Sam. (See "Paul Daugerdas, Chicago Lawyer, Convicted In 'Largest Tax Fraud In History'")  

For the people connected to this tax fraud, having historically low tax rates wasn't enough. They wanted more money--the jobless, homeless, and hungry be damned.   

(WPA artists created this poster to honor our soldiers and veterans, and to remind citizens to respect and reward their service. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Of course, reducing food assistance to low-income soldiers & veterans, while some (or perhaps many) of the "wealthy and well-connected" avoid & evade taxes, is part of a larger cultural phenomenon where, on the one hand, we are told we can't afford a social safety net, and we can't afford Social Security, and we can't afford health care for all our citizens, while, on the other hand, we witness historically low tax rates on the super-wealthy, corporate tax avoidance on a monumental scale, illegal tax evasion to the tune of $300 billion annually, and federal revenue that, when measured as a percentage of GDP, is at a 60-year low.

Well, maybe the reason we "have to" cut food assistance to soldiers & veterans is because we value personal profit over service to one's country. If that's true, is that a characteristic of a healthy society? Is that in tune with the Christian morality that so many on the political right declare we should live by? (The very same people who are constantly clamoring for more tax cuts for the wealthy and less aid to the needy--related to this, be sure to see the last picture on this blog post)

(The Civilian Conservation Corps was designed for unemployed young men. However, an exception was made for unemployed veterans who wanted to join. Today, our Congress is not so kind to those who have served our country. In 2012, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have created a CCC-type program for unemployed veterans. WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Things are becoming so ruthless and cold-hearted in America, that even some billionaires and right-wing politicians are starting to revolt against their peers. Republican Governor John Kasich (Ohio) recently said: "I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor. That if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy. You know what? The very people who complain ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the W.P.A.” (see "Ohio Governor Defies GOP With Defense of Social Safety Net"). And billionaire Bill Gross recently wrote: "And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions" (See "Billionaire Feels 'Guilty' About 'Having Gotten Rich At The Expense' Of All Of Us").   

Today, we are cutting food assistance to low-income soldiers & veterans--because "we can't afford it!!!"--while the super-wealthy acquire record-breaking wealth. Today, there are 442 billionaires, controlling $1.9 trillion in wealth, while 16.4 million children live in poverty (see "America's Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom").

How much poverty, injustice, and income & wealth inequality are we going to tolerate before we demand a new, and even stronger, New Deal? 

("One Third of a Nation" was a WPA theatre production, based on President Roosevelt's statement, "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)  

(A frustrated citizen questions why trickle-down economics, i.e., historically low tax rates on the super-wealthy and extreme income & wealth inequality, has not resulted in the plethora of good jobs that trickle-down economics was marketed on. Public domain image, courtesy of   

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