The War on the Poor is about Hate Not Economics

New Orleans     Lucky thing I don’t have the big head, or I would think the folks running the editorial pages for the Times were reading my blogs.  How could it be coincidence that today, just as an example, one editorial quotes me almost exactly, and Paul Krugman, the columnist and Nobel Prize winner in economics, also picks up my recent refrain about the “war on the poor?”  The truth is simply that the points that I’m making and that they are making are coincidentally aligned largely because they have quickly become so obvious that they have magically crossed the line into something close to common knowledge and broad consensus.

Krugman of course makes some of my same points, like the fact that expenditures for Medicaid that undergird health coverage for the poor and food stamps that not only fill stomachs assuring better health, but also make people more productive, so that both essentially pay back the expenditures of public funds, but he makes the points with more authority.  Doing so allows Krugman to state flatly what is my mind and most others willing to grapple with these issues that are targeting our people, when he says,

So what’s really behind the war on the poor?  Pretty clearly the pain this war will inflict is a feature, not a bug.  Trump and his friends aren’t punishing the poor reluctantly, out of the belief that they must be cruel to be kind.  They just want to be cruel.

Bam!  Hard to argue with that professor!

Having set the stage by questioning the voodoo economics that seeks to rationalize cuts in food, housing, and health for the poor as founded on sustainability or economics, Krugman twists the knife.  He quotes a report by a Times’ reporter saying “Mr. Trump, aides said, refers to nearly every program that provides benefits to poor people as welfare, a term he regards as derogatory.”  Got it?  This has been a project of the Republicans and the fight for fifty years, and we’ve been unable to counter it, but that’s a topic for another day.

Meanwhile Krugman drops the mic in his final paragraph saying,

Seriously, a lot of people both in this administration and in Congress simply feel no empathy for the poor.  Some of that lack of empathy surely reflects racial animus.  But while the war on the poor will disproportionately hurt minority groups, it will also hurt a lot of low-income whites – in fact, it will surely end up hurting a lot of people who voted for Trump.  Will they notice?

That’s our job.  Making sure they do notice, and then vote like their lives depend on it.


Please enjoy John Prine’s Knockin’ On Your Screen Door.

Thanks to KABF.


What are Our Odds of Surviving a “War Against the Poor”

stangler_food_stamps_congressLittle Rock  The chief US economist for JP Morgan Chase warns that the impact in the already implemented reduction in food stamps will deflate the entire economy by .02, which may not sound like a big thing if you are not losing $40 or $50 bucks worth of food for your family this month, but the economist reminded Wall Street that when growth is only expected to be 2%, it’s math and that’s 10% of it, and that beats the heck out of the economy in general.  He figures, somewhat wisely, that people are going to eat, so it will be everything else that they might buy that they will go without.   He also reminded folks that this small food stamp “cliff” was nothing like the larger fall of .04% we will take if unemployment benefits are not extended by January 1st.  Remember, this is what the poor haters in Congress have already done, not counting the crazy conversations they are all having now about huge cuts in food stamp benefits.

            Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times’ columnist, writes about the Republican “war on the poor” and Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich’ recent expansion of  Medicaid eligibility and comments that he disagreed with his party’s characterizations of all of the poor as “lazy” and “shiftless.”   Krugman connects the war with race and the Tea people’s fears about white Americans rapidly receding to the status of a significant minority in the country.   He backs it up by poking holes in any of their defenses by citing chapter and verse of various commentators’ regular poor baiting which he thinks their recent arguments about deficits and fiscal responsibility are just masking.   His comments on the “adolescent Ayn Rand fantasies” of Congressman Paul Ryan are classic. 

            It’s way too easy to count coup in newspaper columns and so forth, but in this “war on the poor” we are being bled to death by a thousand cuts, literally, in Congress.   Reporting from the battlefield of this war, I can tell you, people are getting killed out here!   We have always been outgunned, but now we have nowhere near the troops we need – and don’t ever doubt for a second that regardless of all of the sound, fury, and stubmles, there was a 40 year fight to stop ACORN for just that reason, it only succeeded when ACORN itself became just collateral damage for bigger national political dramas.  This should be the time for organizations and actions, not advocates, but the capacity is minimal and too many of the resources and foot soldiers are caught in transactional engagements that only indirectly engage the poor themselves.

            The body count is huge.   Millions who are being denied expanded health benefits.   Reductions of income for others on the margins while trying to put pennies together to participate in Obamacare while their employers hold them in part-time employment and high deductibles past their ability to pay.  Jobs without living wages.   Limited and expensive internet access in an economy leaving them by.  Crushing educational debts and expenses creating steel ceilings.   Home foreclosures.  Failing school systems leaving their children caught in ideological wars that care has forgotten.   Unions confusing publicity for organizing as their numbers plummet.  The list is depressing and endless.   America has always been a hard place, and now a heartlessness and hard-headedness among policy makers and politicians is leaving those less fortunate in a miserable position.

            There is no war against the poor.   This is a daily massacre of innocents by mercenaries.

            At this point we have to figure out a way to survive so that we can find a way to fight.