Wednesday, March 22, 2017

As the richest 400 Americans are vacuuming up record wealth, children in California are being poisoned by lead

Above: A WPA exhibit, displayed in Washington, DC, January 1940. New Deal policymakers cared more about children's health than they cared about the fortunes of the super-wealthy. So, they taxed the super-wealthy more to help pay for the common good. Image courtesy of the National Archives.

Times are great for super-wealthy Americans. As Forbes magazine pointed out a few months ago, "The country's 400 richest are wealthier than ever, with a combined net worth of $2.4 trillion and an average net worth of $6 billion, both record highs." Plus, the super-wealthy are paying historically low tax rates; can engage in tax avoidance and tax evasion with little fear of discovery or scrutiny; can take advantage of all manner of tax shelters, loopholes, deductions, credits, deferrals, and other gimmicks; and their friends on Wall Street, for example, several Goldman Sachs alumni, are once again controlling the levers of power in the federal government... thanks, of course, to Donald Trump. Yes, times are very, very good for super-wealthy Americans. And, as long as they keep the campaign cash flowing to the politicians, and the advertising cash flowing to the corporate media (which dutifully keeps the public stupid for them), the good times will continue to roll.

$2.4 trillion in wealth, in case you're wondering, is equal to two thousand four hundred billion dollars. And just one, just one of those two thousand four hundred parts, is equal to one thousand million dollars. You need to read that again, very slowly, and very carefully, because it can be difficult to comprehend those kind of numbers. And that gargantuan amount of wealth is for just 400 people. Yes, my, my, my, life is good!!  

Except, however, if you're a middle-class or poor child. Because millions of them are being poisoned by lead, thanks to America's crumbling infrastructure - old homes, old schools, old hospitals, old water mains, old plumbing, and so on. And that lead-poisoning causes permanent brain damage. Today, for example, it was reported that many children in California are being poisoned by lead:

"In one central Fresno zip code, 13.6 percent of blood tests on children under six years old came back high for lead. That compares to 5 percent across the city of Flint during its recent water contamination crisis. In all, Reuters found at least 29 Golden State neighborhoods where children had elevated lead tests at rates at least as high as in Flint."

And this is just one of an endless stream of stories that we've seen over the past few years, from all across the country, about children (and adults) drinking lead.

But don't worry, our faithful & heroic public servants, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, are on the job! They're responding to this health & infrastructure crisis by (a) forcefully trying to cut Medicaid, so that low-income children can receive less care (and the wealthy can receive more tax breaks), and (b) cutting the budget for infrastructure, so we can have more money for more military adventures!

You see, by reducing health care for low-income children, giving tax breaks to the rich, neglecting infrastructure, and focusing primarily on the affairs of other countries, we can solve our lead-contamination problems here at home! Isn't that awesome!?! I mean, it's just pure and simple logic. Well, pure and simple right-wing logic, if you want to quibble over details. Understand?

*****

"It's the worst transportation bill I've ever seen during 35 years of public service."

--U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican, on a Republican infrastructure bill, "LaHood: GOP highway bill 'the worst'," Politico, February 2, 2012

"The problem with this [Highway] bill is really more Republicans than Democrats... If you remember the 27-month bill, we had a hard time with all these Republicans... We had a bunch of demagogues down there, Republicans who were trying to say, 'Oh, we can't do this. We can't spend all this money on it.' I thought that's not right."

--U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican, "Top GOP Senator Blames His Party For Lack Of Highway Funding," Huffington Post, May 19, 2015

"Republicans say nice things about infrastructure but haven't shown any interest in paying for it. As a result, the nation has failed to take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest more in our overcrowded airports, outdated railways and flimsy bridges."

--Michael Grunwald, Senior National Correspondent for Time Magazine, "The Huge Obama Transportation Bill You Heard Nothing About," Time, April 30, 2014

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