November 21, 2007

Negotiating Our Own Demise

Justin Katz

A comment from the "stunned" Senate Majority Leader Teresa Paiva Weed in yesterday's Projo article raises a couple of beguiling questions:

As a tradeoff for the new work requirements and time limits the state adopted in 1996, she said, Rhode Island made subsidized health care and childcare available so, she told the luncheon audience, talk today about "cutting welfare" to save any significant money would have to mean significant cuts in health and childcare.

First of all, with whom was the state "trading off" for work requirements? Is this another instance of Rhode Island's negotiating with the recipients of its largesse?

Second, if the health- and child-care benefits were a substitute for cash, anyway, why should the state treat them any differently as far as cuts are concerned? Of course, we'd probably be right to suspect that the "trade off" was actually a transfer to a give-away made more secure by the infamous "what can we do" factor. "What can we do? Let the children suffer?"

It's one thing to take away the money for somebody's cable bill. It's another to take away the extra food money that we gave him so that he could afford to pay his cable bill himself.

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I wonder how many of these 'poor' have computers, high-speed internet, more than one television, cable, TiVo, DVD player, iPod, a 2-pack/day cigarette habit, cell phones, an automobile less than five years old...

In other words, how many of these 'poor' just have their priorities totally screwed up because they can leech off the rest of us for the 'necessities'?

Posted by: Greg at November 21, 2007 12:47 PM

A lot of poor people factor their government subsidies into their budget. I'll never forget delivering a Thanksgiving basket provided by Providence Firefighters Local 799 to a family who had "applied" for the gift through a local philanthropist. The recipient never looked at me, just rummaged through the carefully arranged basket asking over and over, "where's the cranberry sauce." I am well aware there ir real need out there, most of those in real need have no idea how to play the game and fall through the cracks.

We tried to go around the "application" process for our Santa Express," instead seeing for ourselves who would most benefit from a little holiday help. The guys in the street suggest recipients from our own experience with real poor people. There has been a few problems with jealous neighbors but in all is working nicely. Institutionalized charitable causes appear to have lost their way.

There are poor, desperate people out there who need help. It's tough to not become cynical when bombarded with fraud and having our pockets emptied by thieves. I try to keep that in mind.

Have a great Thanksgiving Everybody!

Posted by: michael at November 21, 2007 2:26 PM

You raise a valid question.

According to a 2001 US Department of Energy report, most households living in poverty have microwaves, VCR's/DVD's and cable television. About 75% of such households had a car, truck or van.

The US poverty rate was first tracked when LBJ launched his War on Poverty. The rate was determined by comparing annual income to a federal poverty threshold, which was about 3 times the cost of a healthy food budget, adjusted for family size. If your family fell under that threshold, you were deemed poor. However, the federal model for assessing poverty wrongly assumes that a household's annual spending can't exceed its income.

Hence, the official poverty rate doesn't always reflect the increase in standard of living.

If someone was "poor" in the 1960's, it generally meant that the person was unable to have enough money to afford food and shelter. In the early 60's, America's poorest fifth of the population spent 30% of their income buying food. Today, the poorest fifth spend about 1/6 of their income purchasing food and the greatest nutritional issue affecting the poor is obesity, not undernourishment.

Posted by: Anthony at November 21, 2007 2:39 PM

If I say something you disagree with, are you going to threaten to b*tch-slap me?

Typical winger. Can't refute Krugman, can't even dispute him. So threaten violence.

So predictable. So impotent in his rage.

Posted by: Grendel the Troll-King at November 21, 2007 7:19 PM

Actually, "Grendel," I'm not inclined to do anything. Your complete inability to offer any response but tribal nonsense disconnected from the actual discussion serves my side much too well for me to diminish its effect.

Thank you, Grendel. Thank you. Keep on true-believin'! (So that others may learn to disbelieve.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 21, 2007 7:36 PM

'Smatter? Don't like it when other people play by the same lack of rules that you do?

You don't like what someone says, you get all huffy and complain. Don't dish the stuff if you can't take the returns.

Posted by: Grendel the Troll-King at November 21, 2007 8:15 PM

Don't see as I complained, sah.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 21, 2007 8:27 PM

I'll make a deal: you put some facts up here to discuss, then I'll have a go at them. As it is, you throw up an opinion that's not based on anything and expect me to do the heavy lifting of providing facts.

That's not fair. You're the blogger here. You come up with some facts and we'll discuss them.

Posted by: Grendel the Troll-King at November 21, 2007 8:38 PM

I suspect that by "trade off" she was euphemistically referring to RI's workarounds to keep the welfare gravy train intact notwithstanding the (Clinton signed) welfare reform bill of 1996.

As for Grendel, well, he or she or it has watched one too many Michael Moore movies and no longer recognizes reality.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 21, 2007 8:42 PM

No dice, pal.

You haven't even articulated for which points you desire facts. Instead, you threw out a bizarre strawman about threats of violence. I'm not going to go fishing for the void that you proclaim. There are facts a-plenty on this blog. Look for them and ask questions or go away.

I'm not going to feed the troll any further.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 21, 2007 8:45 PM
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