November 25, 2007

The Way Jerzyk's World Works

Justin Katz

I'd like to, if I may, correct a couple of misconceptions on Matt Jerzyk's part without thereby lending credence to the parts of his post to which I don't think response merited:

... please provide me one woman in the entire state of Rhode Island who, when confronted with the reality of having a child and whether to have that child and the status of her relationship with the child's father, stops and thinks, "Why am I worried?? I can get on Welfare and life will be alllll good!" That's not how life works, folks. And I guess if Don Carcieri ever left his cushy East Greenwich neighborhood and visited the low-income areas of his state he would realize this!

The key flaw of Jerzyk's rhetoric (or its key ploy, if you prefer) is the moment that he picks in the series of decisions that leads to out-of-wedlock children. Indeed, although I don't wish to make presumptions as to his actual familiarity with such people, it seems to me that Jerzyk, despite his "visit[s] to low-income areas," has a far too belittling view of their decision-making capabilities. Can't low-income women, to wit, consider the possibility of children when they elevate their relationships with men such that they become potential fathers of their children? In the progressive world, it seems, low-income women can't do otherwise than have sex first and ask questions later, the poor, dear, disadvantaged savages Others.

Here's how the world has appeared to work for the human beings (of all races and classes) whom I've known in every setting from an Ivy-League-in-all-but-name campus to the navy-blue-collar commercial fishing docks: Having frequent and direct contact with similarly situated people whose poor decisions have proven dramatically detrimental discourages like behavior. Observing that those people receive increased benefits — not to mention increased creds toward the coveted victim status — enables poor decisions, especially when the detriments are still hypothetical, and tangential to the action under scrutiny (as conception is, in the hyper-sexed modern mind, a tangential consequence to the perceived benefit of casual sex).

Generally speaking, women don't expect to become pregnant from one-night stands or otherwise promiscuous behavior. When the consequences of that outcome are more dire, however, the pre-fling calculation is more likely to be made in terms of risk than of hypothetical possibility.

It is without a doubt a difficult balance to strike — that between raising up children who've had the misfortune to be born into such circumstances and easing the burden of adults' loose behavior. I'm still haunted, however, by this article out of England a few years ago:

In Britain, surveys indicate that for many teenagers becoming pregnant is an aspiration: the benefits and cheap local authority housing available is seen by some as a reason to become pregnant - especially for teenagers from impoverished or broken homes. A recent poll by the Family Education Trust indicated that 45 per cent of single pregnant teenagers had either wanted to conceive or "didn't mind" that they had. The introduction of £5,000 worth of free nursery care to enable pregnant teenagers to return to school is seen by many as a "perverse incentive" to attract young girls into parenthood.

As Robert Whelan, the director of the Family Education Trust, points out: "The scale of state help directed at young single parents is such that girls who do not have babies are losing out."

Jerzyk's fallacious reasoning with respect to the way the world actually works twists that very concern on its head with his notion of familial advantages:

Ask teenagers in Barrington what two parents got them. Two parents does not equal a nurturing family environment. Two parents can be working high-stress jobs as lawyers and doctors in Barrington and never be home for their kids. Or two parents can be working long-hours jobs as janitors and CNAs in Pawtucket and never be home for their kids.

Or two parents can construct a not-uncommon household (such as mine) in which one parent earns the predominant income, and the other stays home with the kids or takes on a decreased workload. It would seem that progressive families are all overworked and miserable, with two parents being hardly preferable to one. But a child with only one parent around, whether he or she is working as a janitor or a lawyer, has next to no chance of such a living arrangement. (And that's letting Jerzyk slide on his assumptions that Barrington households are not nurturing and that they're all two-parent.)

Between the progressive ideology of and the excessive "safety net" preferred by those who are driving this state into the ground, it becomes a moralist's question to ask whether young women ought to be having sex with men whom their children would be better off without. It becomes a sign of an oppressor to expect too much of the poor things.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

"...You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!"

-Milton Friedman, Economist. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics, 1976

One could safely argue that those on welfare, in this state and every state, are spending someone else's money on themselves.

He also had this gem, which pretty much sums up all of socialists...err...Democrats actions since The New Deal.

"One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."

Posted by: Greg at November 25, 2007 1:13 PM the world has appeared...
...Generally speaking...
...It is without a doubt...
...In Britain, surveys ...
...two parents can construct a not-uncommon household (such as mine) in which one parent earns the predominant income...

Notice a pattern? No facts. Suppositions, random thoughts, and opinions, but no facts. A single article citing a single survey. From Britain.

And "evidence" from the way things were...30-odd years ago.

Down right (un)convincing, I'd say.

Got any facts?
Typical fact-free content from Justin.

Posted by: Grendel the Troll-King at November 25, 2007 1:58 PM

Nice comment, there Grendel.

I've got a fact for you. The "basics" (housing, clothing & food) now consume 75% of a family's after-tax income, vs ab0ut 50% in the 1970s. And that's generally with 2 income-earners.

That makes Justin's fantasy world of "Leave To Beaver" darn-near impossible for most folks. Of course, that doesn't stop conservatives from thinking that it's all so simple: all we have to do is pretend we're in the 1950s, when people starved and kept quiet about it.

The Great Society Program of the 60s decreased poverty levels in this country by about 75%, but improving people's lives isn't part of the conservative agenda.

I read that the Victorians didn't want the poor dying in droves from hunger. They just wanted the poor to die in small groups, as a lesson to everyone else.

Posted by: klaus at November 25, 2007 2:09 PM

"The "basics" (housing, clothing & food) now consume 75% of a family's after-tax income, vs ab0ut 50% in the 1970s. And that's generally with 2 income-earners."

Sounds to me like the solution there is to let people retain more after-tax income.

Posted by: Greg at November 25, 2007 2:14 PM

Matt is a clown. I have a friend who got his girlfriend pregnant and they planned it. They can hardly afford to take care of themselves yet they CHOSE to bring a child into the world. They live together but she neglected to include this fact when applying for benefits she also under stated her income when applying for benefits she was encouraged to do this by the woman processing her benefits application. So she now collects WIC benefits despite the fact that both her and her live in boyfriend are gainfully employed. The best part is they are already talking about having another child. Don't worry Matty I'm sure this is the only case of abuse that exists, everyone else is genuinely in need of such assistance..

Posted by: jd at November 25, 2007 2:15 PM

Gee, Grendel, if my fact-free posts are so useless, why don't you blow me out of the water with the contrary evidence?

What facts, for example, would you like me to provide that "generally speaking, women don't expect to become pregnant from one-night stands or otherwise promiscuous behavior"? As a policy matter, I'd rather be incorrect, by the way, because my arguments concerning welfare and abortion would have better political standing if children born of promiscuity weren't unintended.

What evidence should I provide to prove that "without a doubt a difficult balance to strike — that between raising up children who've had the misfortune to be born into such circumstances and easing the burden of adults' loose behavior"? I guess on the progressive side it may be an easy balance, because adults aren't meant to take responsibility for their loose behavior.

You give the impression of having learned your rhetorical style in college. Highlight the lack of facts to dismiss logic's application to a question for which "facts" are difficult to come by, subjective, and of questionable relevance when found. (I note that you haven't left a message over on Jerzyk's post decrying his lack of "facts" for the argument to which I'm offering an alternative.)

I won't even bother asking what you're talking about when your note my supposed "'evidence' from the way things were...30-odd years ago." I didn't cite anything from that era.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 25, 2007 2:57 PM

Of course everyone from the poorest to the big corporation moguls will abuse the system when they can, especially if they think they can get away with it. Its seems to me that it is sad that liberals (mostly) just worry about corporate abuse, prefer to ignore abuse at the lower end, while conservatives (mostly) prefer to do the opposite. I think both are half right.
I would agree with the conservative side more about too many children born to those who cannot afford it if they didn't also (mostly) do all they can to destroy sex education, abortion, and birth control programs in order to cater to religous zealots.

Posted by: Barry at November 25, 2007 3:04 PM

"if they didn't also (mostly) do all they can to destroy sex education, abortion, and birth control programs in order to cater to religous zealots."

Gee, if they've been doing that, Barry, it's been a dismal failure. There may be a school system in the US today which does not have a sex ed program; if so, it would very much be an anomaly. And to my knowledge, the purchase of birth control, also widely available, does not require proof of age. So far, someone has done a very poor job of catering to "religious zealots".

In fact, the only question that remains is, with sex ed pragrams widely in place for decades now, why does the United States have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the western industrialized world?

This is not to necessarily advocate for the abolition of these programs, only to point out their existance in response to your statement and possibly to question their efficacy.

Posted by: Monique at November 25, 2007 3:49 PM

By the way, Klaus, it's one thing to post under two anonymous names. It's another to use both to offer yourself compliments.

We're loose about people using pseudonyms, but you have to pick one. Either you're Grendel or you're Klaus. If you keep posting as both, I'll ban you "both."

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 25, 2007 4:06 PM

Damn, I should've put out a bigger saucer of milk. Blogger catfights always catch me by surprise.

Posted by: rhody at November 25, 2007 5:43 PM

Jerzyk and his ilk (Donnis, Segal, Brewster, etc.) have about as much credibility as Marx or Lenin. They are like Ceacusceau in the last days of 1989: "stunned" (to borrow a pathetic exclamation from Paiva-Weed) that their collectivist dreams have turned to horse manure.
Wait till the howling when the governor unveild his budget in January! Watch the "progressives" cringe as their "leadership" proclaim "it's a tough year". LOL. Wish I could get a dollar for everytime a Democrat utters that phrase next year as they are forced to swallow 90%++ of Carcieri's cuts. It will be a fun session for the fiscally sane and an endless horror show for Jerzyk and his ilk.
Matt-do us all a favor and move back to Chicago-the progressives dream. Stroger and Daley. A declining population with a Third World majority. Failed public schools. A crime infested, gang infested violent cesspool with a "progressive" 11% sales tax sure to inspire people to buy locally. LOL.

Posted by: Mike at November 25, 2007 6:25 PM

I laugh at how [Jerzyk] disables the user/pw of those whose ideas he can't stand so they can't post on his site.
That is just sooooo progressive isn't it - shut them up. What a communist. Then again, that is what... liberals like Jerzyk are all about.

I go to his site to laugh my ass off at just how STUPID some people in this world really are. And we wonder why we have problems in this state?

[Unneeded insults cut. — Ed.]

Posted by: Brian Moran at November 25, 2007 6:37 PM

Check my previous post. Sounds like I should've left some Prozac out, too.

Posted by: rhody at November 25, 2007 7:20 PM

--I've got a fact for you. The "basics" (housing, clothing & food) now consume 75% of a family's after-tax income, vs ab0ut 50% in the 1970s. And that's generally with 2 income-earners. That makes Justin's fantasy world of "Leave To Beaver" darn-near impossible for most folks. Of course, that doesn't stop conservatives from thinking that it's all so simple: all we have to do is pretend we're in the 1950s, when people starved and kept quiet about it.

The total tax burden for the average household was about 10% of gross income in the 1950’s. Now in this post-Great Society greatness it’s about 40% - with two wage earners. So one parent has had to enter the workforce in an attempt to retain comparable AFTER TAX financial resources for the household; conversely, if we went back to a 1950’s tax burden one parent could stay home with the kids.

--The Great Society Program of the 60s decreased poverty levels in this country by about 75%, but improving people's lives isn't part of the conservative agenda.

WRONG. You obviously got a mail order degree from the Hugo Chavez School of Economics. Poverty rates were declining all through the 1950’s and into the 1960’s, and then leveled off soon after the commencement of the “Great Society” – and have essentially flat-lined in a range in the forty years since. Not coincidentally, the average family income peaked a few years after the enactment of the “Great Society.”

Given that the population has increased, and the poverty rates have remained the same, the welfare industry has actually increased the number of poor people in this country, which explains why “social service” budgets never go down. Over forty years, trillions of dollars, and not only has the welfare industry not accomplished anything, it’s actually made the problem worse.

--I read that the Victorians didn't want the poor dying in droves from hunger. They just wanted the poor to die in small groups, as a lesson to everyone else.

No doubt part of the required reading for your mail order degree. Tell me, was your thesis entitled “Michael Moore: a Filmmaker or Prophet” or “Hugo Chavez: Bringing the Glories of Fidel’s Cuba to Venezuela”?

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 25, 2007 7:40 PM


Have YOU been offering compliments to yourself, Rhody??

Posted by: Monique at November 25, 2007 7:42 PM

Looks like Friedman was not a cheap date from the above posting. Well he is not my type anyway. Way too anal.

Personally I like the Yorkeoff's ideas that if you can't afford a child close your legs. All conservatives should practice that! But they don't. I know of many single mothers on welfare that are against abortion. In fact I bet most of them are.

But all kidding aside, the married two parent family household is a minority in this country. And that is a fact. Whelan is also correct in that (some) young girls who do not have babies are losing out. The question is why? Is welfare too generous? I couldn't live like that and neither can most citizens. So there must be another reason.

But first let us just realize that there are many folks who do need welfare and will always need it unless society comes up with an acceptable alternative. Those with cognitive impairments (and they are not all conservatives) and severe mental disorders (and they are not all liberals) are among this subset of humanity and there are others. The best social solutions for this subset of humanity are not going to be addressed here.

But just cutting off the needy as a solution is not a winning solution. The problem is a lack of a livable wage for many working people and lack of universal health care. Business is just not competitive with welfare for those who could work, but only qualify for jobs at the low end of the economic scale. These jobs in addition to not paying enough to afford to live and pay rent are often without health care or without affordable health care, making those folks better off being on welfare. It therefore has been the tax payers who have subsidized these parasitic businesses who fail to provide workers with a wage which makes for a reasonable existence in a forty hour work week. When the workers are inadequately compensated our taxes then make up the difference by providing food stamps, emergency room health care, subsidized day care, etc. It is then worth our while to help educate these folks to get them earning livable wages and paying taxes. So a first strong step in stopping welfare for those who can be working is to have a livable wage paid by those who have jobs, otherwise the taxpayer has to subsidize them. Businesses that cannot pay livable wages need to get off our dole. Surely those who believe that individuals will behave in their own self interest (as this is the basis for much economic theory, although I disagree that man is wholly rational) can see that if it is to one's socioeconomic benefit to work, they will work and if not, they won't. It means that if OPPORTUNITY is there, folks will use it. RI has failed to provide opportunity and this failure belongs to both Disaster Don and the GA. Tax cuts, such as the alternative flat tax for those earning over $260,000 per year have not resulted in any real trickle down. RI has had poor job growth and RI is the only New England state to show a decline in the real median wage since 2000.

Stopping benefits for welfare moms makes for a good sound bite, but is not the answer. First of all these benefits are not that large a part of the total RI budget, especially when federal funds are factor in, but in any event. But ignoring the irrational aspect of that proposed solution just because it fails to address the basic problem and attacks factors largely not responsible for the problem is to seriously underestimate the stupidity of that proposal and the irrationality of those who have supported the proposal. Since when has a lack of benefits ever stopped procreation? Did that work well in India or China or Calcutta? Where is there a demonstrated relationship between better welfare benefits and population growth? Last time I checked, RI was LOSING population even with our so-called generous welfare benefits(Again its opportunity folks, not taxes, lots of high tax places are growing as are lots of low tax places). In short, stopping benefits will not stop poor young single girls from getting pregnant. Birth control might help, sex education might help.

Well enough for now, my bridge partner is waiting.

Posted by: Rasputin-Khlyst at November 25, 2007 7:45 PM

"The Great Society Program of the 60s decreased poverty levels in this country by about 75%"

Klaus, can you please provide a link to that assertion?

Posted by: Monique at November 25, 2007 8:45 PM

You are a socialist. Try reading up on your history and it is easy to see that socialism is a proven failure.
You... liberals are all talk when it comes to helping out the less fortunate. All of your remedies simply push those you pretend to help further down. Handouts are corrupting, and like most charity, easily create dependency.
When you give something out for nothing, you will have all kinds of takers, and not just those you aim to help.
The main problem with the stupid liberalism you espouse is that to be successful requires people to defy human nature. And that will never happen.
Smarten up!

[Unneeded invective cut. — Ed.]

Posted by: Brian Moran at November 25, 2007 11:26 PM

klaus, I won't comment on how pathetic it is to post under two names in order to compliment yourself. :)

I do have a question for you. If poverty has decreased by 75 percent, why are we paying so much today to support programs that aid the poor? Shouldn't these costs have dramatically decreased?

Posted by: mikeinRI at November 26, 2007 12:16 AM

Jerzyck shouldn't be the spoke person for Liberals on this one.

Posted by: Hypocracy101 at November 26, 2007 12:51 AM

jerzyk appears to be getting more and more extreme in the last 6 months...i dont pay as much attention to his blog.. he is just way out there.

there is a need for liberal thoughts in the us just like conservative thoughts but it seems these libs dont want any balance.

they want it all their way. and they have been spoiled bc the last 15 years in ri, it has been all their way.

no , its all over...

one can olny wonder if fogarty was governor. ther ewould be a total meltdown.

Posted by: johnpaycheck at November 26, 2007 6:01 AM

Thinking Hypocrasy 101 is onto something. Perhaps Matilda has up close and personal experience on this? lol
What is so stunning about the liberal stance on this is how they ignore the far reaching consequences of this problem. How many in the ACI grew up with a Mom and Dad at home? Per usual liberals only talk and talk and talk about the human condition and how they care. Truth is they have no answers for the problems their very own ideology of no accountability for any behavior has produced. What's so shocking is how liberals seemingly have no desire to look for answers to improve the lives of those they claim to care about.

Posted by: Tim at November 26, 2007 7:25 AM

OK. Drum Roll please....
the first official "it's gonna be a tough year" Democrat whine has been recorded: From Larry Berman- “It was a terrible budget year and it’s going to continue to be"

35 days and counting. The "stunned" progressives must have the feeling of a turkey in early November.
"A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" Bob Dylan

Posted by: Mike at November 26, 2007 8:35 AM

[Gossip columnist fare deleted. — Ed.]

Posted by: mikey at November 26, 2007 10:05 AM

Frankly anyone who thinks I am a socialist needs to educate themselves, but it is most common for fascists to think that way. There is a large difference between social scientists and socialists. I will match most anyone here with my knowledge of history, geography and economics and these are areas of minor study for me. How about addressing the FACTS for a change instead of swallowing the juice of the talk radio ignoramos?

I do believe the ideal is to have a society that is in harmony with the people who live in that society. The neocon takeover has not allowed our society to progress in that manner now has it? When a large segment of a society needs incarceration (and we have a very large percentage incarcerated), for example, has that harmony been achieved? Or how about those that are enslaved,working at below livable wage jobs? A good democracy requires informed citizen participation. Informed citizen participation requires time. How much time is there for those working two or three jobs or lots of overtime etc., to become informed citizens? While ignorance may be helpful to those currently in power, it does little to preserve a good democracy, especially as current media consolidation eliminates idea diversity so critical for the long term survival of any society.

I was hopeful when I first entered this blog that I might find some real intelligent discourse. I am seeking new ideas to expand my horizons and thoughtful exchange in the limited time I can devote to this, not name calling or the same old ideas, but true discussion and mutual respect. I know this potential exists...somewhere.

Maybe I will be back again someday.

Posted by: Rasputin-Khlyst at November 26, 2007 10:07 AM

Mikey, this may be a blog, but if we're going to make scurrilous personal attacks, we really do need to see some evidence.
Justin criticizing Matt's opinions is one thing. But going Guy Dufault here is something else entirely.

Posted by: rhody at November 26, 2007 10:27 AM

"When a large segment of a society needs incarceration...has that harmony been achieved?"

Maybe those people shouldn't have committed crimes?

"Or how about those that are enslaved,working at below livable wage jobs?"

Perhaps they should get an education or marketable skills?

People that work hard and keep their noses clean tend to do well. People that are lazy, uneducated, or criminal tend to do not so well. So it has always been. So it SHOULD be. Why should we reward bad behavior with gifts from the taxpayers?

Posted by: Greg at November 26, 2007 10:50 AM

I hate having to edit blog comments, but it seems that things just go astray from time to time.

Let's get the tone back out of the red, or the editorial changes will only increase.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 26, 2007 12:41 PM

Wow. Lots of personal insults and attacks from the serious thinkers at the ... what does the BeloJo call you guys.... "public policy discussion website" known as Anchor Rising. It's almost like Meet the Press!

I don't have the will or the time to respond to everything that has been posted, but let me address a few things.

First, it seems that Justin is accusing me, amongst many words plucked from the Thesaurus, of not giving women enough credit for the decisions they make. Justin says that I "victimize" women by making the claim that they don't think about welfare benefits when making life-changing decisions about having children. Additionally, he asserts that my victimization is worse yet because I don't have any experiences or data to support my point.

Let me say at the outset that I generally agree with Justin's framework that liberals often times "speak for" poor or otherwise marginalized communities. This is the very reason that I chose never to be an "advocate." Instead of "speaking for" people, I worked as an organizer and empowered people to speak for themselves through trainings, workshops and forums. I worked with victims of police brutality, low-wage service workers, undocumented immigrants and hundreds of child care providers and the hundreds and hundreds of parents who use child care. I also organized hundreds of volunteers in running several successful political campaigns in Providence including the election of Grace Diaz in District 11 - who toppled a 2-term incumbent by a 2-1 margin in a three-way Democratic Primary. So, I generally agree and put into practice this idea that "experts" or "advocates" shouldn't speak for people as if they were an anthropologist.

In the course of my work, I have worked side by side with hundreds and hundreds of single mothers like the "women" who are in question in these posts. (I wonder if any of the people in the conversation above have a similar experience???) Never once did I hear a careful calculation about welfare benefits when deciding whether or not to have children. Whether conservatives believe it or not (and this is your own victimization problem), poor people do not just "pump out children" as Dan Yorke says so that they can have more money. Just as with anyone, the decision to have a child is an excruciating decision that incorporates dozens of factors including family, job, geography and psychology. I just have never heard that the welfare benefits of RI factor in. Perhaps its because no one can really live on the tiny welfare check that RI sends (it hasn't been raised in close to a decade).

I think the US Supreme Court said it best in Goldberg v. Kelly in 1970:

"From its founding the Nation's basic commitment has been to foster the dignity and well-being of all persons within its borders. We have come to recognize that forces not within the control of the poor contribute to their poverty. This perception, against the background of our traditions, has significantly influenced the development of the contemporary public assistance system. Welfare, by meeting the basic demands of subsistence, can help bring within the reach of the poor the same opportunities that are available to others to participate meaningfully in the life of the community. At the same time, welfare guards against the societal malaise that may flow from a widespread sense of unjustified frustration and insecurity. Public assistance, then, is not mere charity, but a means to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

The bottom line is that you can't truly understand the solution until you truly understand the problem. In *this conversation*, I would argue that the real problem is teenage pregnancy more than anything else. And this issue, as i have written on my blog, is an issue that Carcieri and conservatives could unite with liberals and progressives on. However, this would require frank conversations about sex and life choices and not just the usual conservative mantra of "abstinence." Yet, it could still happen. Anchor Rising and RI Future could even do a joint Op-Ed about the need to tackle teenage pregnancy. Imagine that!

Finally, and for the record, I didn't get some girl from South Providence pregnant. And I don't live in the burbs. I live off Broad St. in Providence. Some call my neighborhood Washington Park. Some call it South Providence.

PS. Justin, I thought you were a libertarian! I didn't know you "banned" people!!! How Stalin of you!

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at November 26, 2007 12:51 PM

Oh, and keep in mind folks, that the social safety net of welfare and the second step of providing subsidized child care so that a welfare recipient can GET OFF welfare and enter the workforce only cost the state $55 million last year (a reduction from $57 million 11 years ago).

By comparison:
* Historic Tax Credit - $82.5 million
* Television and film tax credit - $10 million
* Flat Tax for richest of rich in RI - $99 million between FY 07 -10.
* Capital gains tax cut for the rich - $28 million last year.

Can anyone on this blog point to specific benefits that RI received from the tax cuts for the rich. We were promised job creation and more rich people moving to RI. Please show me the data proving this point. Otherwise, it seems like sound public policy to roll-back policies and tax breaks with NO REAL OUTCOMES.

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at November 26, 2007 1:00 PM

--"Never once did I hear a careful calculation about welfare benefits when deciding whether or not to have children."

Maybe they didn't verbalize it. But they sure as hell know all about these "social service" programs and how to get on them.

All those programs do is insulate those losers from the consequences of their own irresponsible behavior, removing the incentive(s) to behave responsibly / the compulsion(s) NOT to behave irresponsibly.

That is why 40 years of the "War on Poverty" has done nothing but foster skyrocketing illegitimacy rates and perpetuate poverty. The only people who've benefited are those who dole out the checks and "provide" the "services" (and I'm not talking about the honest taxpayers FORCED to PAY for those "services").

--"Oh, and keep in mind folks, that the social safety net of welfare and the second step of providing subsidized child care so that a welfare recipient can GET OFF welfare"

If they'd kept their loose legs crossed and applied themselves in school they wouldn't have needed to be on welfare in the first place!!!!

--"Can anyone on this blog point to specific benefits that RI received from the tax cuts for the rich."

Define "rich." At what level of gross income do you define a household as "rich."

--"We were promised job creation and more rich people moving to RI. Please show me the data proving this point. Otherwise, it seems like sound public policy to roll-back policies and tax breaks with NO REAL OUTCOMES."

And FORTY YEARS AGO ago we were promised a "Great Society" via a "War on Poverty." Several decades and trillions of dollars later the lack of results speak for themselves.

Rhode Island REMAINS a HIGH TAX, ANTI-BUSINESS, ANTI-MIDDLE CLASS and ANTI-UPWARD MOBILITY state. The "tax cuts" have merely tinkered at the margins.

You want "data?" Compare the economic growth rates for the past twenty years in the low tax / right to work Sunbelt states against the high tax / union dominated Northeast and Rust Belt (for example, the Carolinas vs. Michigan and Rhode Island).

They have the best "welfare" - jobs for people who want to work, instead of taxpayer subsidies for unmotivated, irresponsible sl*ts who won't keep their legs crossed and for their loser "boyfriends" a/k/a serial "fathers."

These people have CHOSEN their situation. Nobody has forced them to have illegitimate babies they can't afford to support - multiple times in many, if not most instances. Nobody has forced them not to apply themselves and take full advantage of the FREE K-12 education that the taxpayers provide.

They've made their bed; let them lie in it AND LEAVE US HONEST, RESPONSIBLE TAXPAYERS ALONE!

We're sick of being forced to subsidize human parasites!

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 26, 2007 4:09 PM

Ragin' will be here all week, folks. Please tip your waitresses.

Posted by: rhody at November 26, 2007 4:26 PM

Greg in this simplistic outlook has spoken the obvious and overlooked root causes. Maybe he longs to be on talk radio along with the rest of those who think in sound bites? I hope for more in blogs.

Incarceration is due to criminals behavior(and only that behavior, right?), not poverty or marginalization of certain races or how expensive a mouthpiece you can buy or the laws one class can pay to have enacted? Novak the treasonous is not rotting in jail, nor is the rifleman Cheney, the Kennedy who rushed away from the scene, and the deserter chicken hawk bushman. Who serves longer the likely poor crack smoker or the richer coke sniffer? Give cash to the pol or political party and its a donation, and not a bribe when they enact the gifter's agenda. The very definition of crime and its consequences is determined by those in power. Should a young lady be stoned to death for not covering her face? Should a young man serve years in prison for being gay? How about for smoking pot? I do not like supporting incarceration for many of the crimes for which many folks are locked up. Sometimes its rehab folks, not punishment that works. Often rehab has a higher probability of working then prison. Other times the revolving door should be closed, for example, when we know the danger to society will not be lessened as is the case with the vast majority of sex offenders.

Its time to be American and to look at the realities that we face with determination and an honest attempt at solutions, not partisan propaganda. Its time to change given what we know now works versus what we know does not work. Justin's comments about a lack of resources for gifted children are in bold contrast to much wasted funding for special education. Some kids are never going to learn to tie their shoes, no matter how much you spend. And those kids with greatest potential deserve our investment. It is in their best interest and in the best interest of America.

Greg do you really believe that if opportunity were available, accessible, and doable, that those who could benefit would mostly choose not to do so? The minimum wage worker working two jobs is not lazy, but trapped.

The educational system is not available to all on an equal basis, nor is the opportunity to learned skill trades. The rapid rise in higher educational costs preclude many from its blessings, and its consequent opportunities. America suffers as we let our talent go underdeveloped.

Hmmm could it be that we could take the wasted funding of many of the so called non violent offenders and use rehab instead of incarceration and take the resulting savings and put it into the education of our brightest instead of more tax cuts for the already wealthy that America would be better off?

I think I hear the howling of partisan conservatives already. So much to educate, so little time.

Posted by: Rasputin-Khlyst at November 26, 2007 4:50 PM

Wouldn't you really be more comfortable in Cuba? I mean, really, why do you stay in this country? You speak so longingly of these communist ideals, why don't you just go?
And, I am not saying that as an insult. It is very clear that your ideas of what works is more akin to communism, and definitely not American.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 26, 2007 5:33 PM

"Please show me the data proving this point. Otherwise, it seems like sound public policy to roll-back policies and tax breaks with NO REAL OUTCOMES."

And therein lies the insidiousness of the actions of the Democrats in the GA, Matt J. It has taken them several decades to build the reputation of the state as high tax/bad business climate. Once reform is put in place, "real outcome" will not be seen overnight.

Further, your comment assumes that a whole host of reforms have taken place when, in fact, the only item which the GA has addressed is the upper income tax bracket, which they have put in the same range - NOT ANY LOWER - than our neighboring states. The shopping list of other items still need to be corrected. So the clock has not really not even started.

But thanks for acknowledging the importance of such measures.

Posted by: Monique at November 26, 2007 6:24 PM

Just a note:

The info about the Great Society is from the Census Bureau. There's a lovely graph that shows the poverty rate plummeted in the late 60s; and it's been moving steadily up under the fabulous economy of GWB.

Lots of wonderful info there; not that most people here bother to go there, or the Bureau of Economic Analysis, or any of the other wonderful sites on the web that actually provide real data.

Speaking of which, re: the fabulous growth rate of Carolina et al. Ragin' obviously doesn't understand math. If I have $10, and get a 20% raise, I'll get an extra $2. If I have $100 and get a 10% raise, that's an extra $10. Which would you rather have? (Hint: Carolina is the one with $10 getting the 20% raise.)

So I got data, Ragin'. You got vitriol. Love the ALL CAPS. REALLY GETS YOUR POINT ACROSS.

Hey--Justin, are you actually posting comments under as "Ragin'"? You dog, you.

As for whether I'm actually Grendel, too, isn't that beside the point? But then, that is exactly your intention. It's a sad little attempt divert attention from the topic at hand by casting aspersions on me. Just like Mr Capelli who called Rasputin a communist and told him to go Cuba (or whatever). Very astute arguments. Much like those offered by our host. In fact, there's a lot of that here.

And you're going to ban me? My, my. Really must have rattled your cage a bit. Really, are you that afraid of contrary evidence? Hate to tell you, but facts have a liberal bias.

So ban me. I'll start posting as Justin Catz or something.

Can't honestly speak for Grendel.

PS. I do understand that's vital to your world-view that you can deride and dismiss the poor as immoral. That is so Victorian. And so lame. And so wrong.

And I became "obsessed" with the 1800s after reading that both Karl Rove and Grover Norquist want to roll back gov't to the good ol' days befored Teddy and The Progressives screwed things up.

Posted by: klaus at November 26, 2007 6:42 PM

I still think I should get royalties. I really drive up the comments.

Posted by: klaus at November 26, 2007 6:50 PM

Matt J., I understand the direction from which you address the issue. And I believe that most don't have children because they want the benefits. But could it not be that more have children because the benefits are there. Like a safety net, some do not seriously consider what will need to be done to raise a child because the protection of state benefits are ready for the taking.

Wouldn't less women have children if they were told ahead of time that no benefits would be forthcoming, and raising the child would be solely their responsibility? I am not suggesting this is something that should be done, but I find it disingenuous to argue that welfare benefits are not a factor when they exist and are guaranteed.

The thoughtful conservative might support welfare benefits for those truly in temporary need, who have exhausted all other alternatives. Can you argue that today this is the case?

Posted by: mikeinRI at November 26, 2007 6:59 PM

Clearly klaus doesn't know what an IP is. Maybe Grendel does. :)

Posted by: mikeinRI at November 26, 2007 7:03 PM

Okay, here's a compromise. Instead of cutting out welfare all together, we'll continue to provide it. For 24 months (in line with MA and CT) and we will verify any benefits in prior states and any time on welfare there will count against your eligible time here. I'll even buck for two more union hacks collecting pensions to do the verifications.

Posted by: Greg at November 26, 2007 7:27 PM

Yet another episode of Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder. This gem is brought to us by another State house political reporter, this one from the Newport Daily News. A frightening line-up of left wingers deliver us 'news and commentary' from Smith Hill. Baker, Jim Baron, Kathy Gregg. A virtual liberal lynch mob. No wonder Carcieri never gets fair and balanced coverage.
Btw I've looked and looked and looked and can't find Baker's education reform plan for the urban core either. Why do these libs never offer up legitimate solutions to 'stuck in a rut'?

Reversing tax cut could help break the poverty cycle


Poverty sucks. There's no other way to put it.

Some people can understand that intellectually, but many cannot. Poverty is not a lifestyle choice. It's hard to understate the difficulty those enveloped - and that's the only way to put it - by poverty face in trying to free themselves from its relentless chokehold. Every aspect of life most of us take for granted becomes an obstacle. Choices for the poor more often are in the realm of "What do I absolutely have to have?" as opposed to "What would I like to have?"

So why are people poor? It certainly isn't because they sat down, weighed their options and said, "Yep, this is the life for me." Many are born poor and cannot break free. Despite efforts to convince them they can escape that life, it's hard to believe that when you are surrounded by poverty. It's all you know. It's all you see. It's all you experience. It is terribly difficult for a child to break that cycle. A child not only needs some breaks, but basically all the breaks. If breaking the chains of poverty were a game, Las Vegas wouldn't even offer odds.

That's why it's so disheartening to hear the leader of our state talk about welfare recipients as people who have made "bad decisions." No, I take that back. It's not disheartening. It's sickening.

Before anyone gets up on the high horse of righteous indignation about the welfare culture, let me just share a couple of personal details.

I was born into what probably could be considered a lower middle-class family. My parents separated several times while I was growing up, the oldest of seven, and finally divorced when I was 17. I was a good student, but college was something that was so far out of the realm of financial possibility it wasn't a serious consideration, although I did apply and get accepted to the University of Rhode Island. So in 1968, I joined the Navy, essentially before I got drafted.

While I was away, my father did not keep up with his child-support payments, forcing my mother, who dropped out of high school in 1949 to get married, to go on welfare. While she was collecting, she had health care for my younger siblings and financial support so she could go to school and get her GED. Eventually, she went to Sawyer's School of Business. She finagled a schedule that allowed her to get my younger brothers and sisters off to school before she went to class herself. She graduated, got a good job in accounts payable at a local jewelry firm, and eventually left there to take a better job at a large construction company. She never could have done it without the support provided by welfare.

I got out of the Navy and, using the GI Bill benefits I earned, got my bachelor's degree. Without those benefits, my life would have been substantially different than it is today. Both cases show what some people can do if given a little help when it's needed most.

Are there some people milking the system? Only a fool would say there isn't. But most are just stuck in a rut without the means to break free. Single women with children may be in a situation similar to my mother's; namely, stuck with children by themselves because the father won't own up to his responsibilities. Is that her fault? Maybe she made a bad decision to be with that man in the first place, but who among us has always made perfect relationship choices? Is she to be punished for that forever? More importantly, should those children be sentenced to a life mired in poverty because of her mistakes?

Those who say welfare recipients just need to get off their duffs and get a job ignore the realities of a life of economic deprivation. How can they go to work without the supports needed for that? What about the children? Suppose, for instance, their eyesight isn't all that good. Are glasses affordable? What would it do to the future prospects of those children if they can't even see the teacher at the front of the room? And how can the parent even think about going back to school without child care or health care?

With the budget crisis looming, Gov. Donald L. Carcieri already is beating the welfare-mother drum, despite the fact that welfare costs have dropped considerably since welfare reform in 1995. Sure, the state faces incredibly difficult decisions. But let's share that pain. Does anyone honestly think that making it even harder for poor people to escape the bonds of poverty will help us all in the long run? Those that already are comfortable shouldn't be whining about the fact they won't be able to buy a 50-inch plasma TV if their taxes go up, when other Rhode Islanders face a long, cold winter, including trying to make sure their kids are fed, warm, clothed and healthy.

"We have to raise taxes" is something no politician would utter. So let me be the one. While program cuts are inevitable, our leaders should consider reversing the tax cut for the rich they passed in 2006 until the state's economy rises from the doldrums. It can be done temporarily. Taxes have come down steadily for the past 10 years. They can come down again. For those who argue that reversing the cut actually will keep the economy from improving, I point out that in the late 1990s, we had record surpluses here despite having that tax on the rich.

When times are tough, every one of us should share the pain. It should not just fall on the backs of those who least can afford to shoulder the burden.

I challenge those who look with disdain on the poor to watch the "Minimum Wage" episode of Morgan Spurlock's television show. In it, the man who made "Super Size Me" lives for a month with his wife on minimum wage and demonstrates the decisions that have to be made to survive. It's an eye opener.

But then again, some people may prefer to stay blind.

Joe Baker is a Daily News staff writer. Send him e-mail at

Posted by: Tim at November 26, 2007 7:34 PM

1) Go to this US Census Bureau link and click on "Graph - US Poverty rate and number in poverty over time" and you'll see that poverty rates were dropping dramatically BEFORE the Great Society / War on Poverty was enacted in the mid-1960's, after which the progress stopped and poverty rates stagnated within a range AND today there are millions more in poverty than when the "War on Poverty" began:

2) Baker is an idiot.

First he talks about his mother, who obviously had a work ethic and sense of responsibility ... and so didn't stay on welfare in perpetuity (nor started a legacy of multiple generations on welfare).

Then he says: "Those who say welfare recipients just need to get off their duffs and get a job ignore the realities of a life of economic deprivation ... But most are just stuck in a rut without the means to break free."

Obviously he doesn't see the contradiction embedded within his own "argument." His mother used welfare as a temporary support mechanism while she did her part to raise herself to self-sufficiency. Of her own volition she didn't proclaim that she was "in a rut without the means to break free."

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 26, 2007 8:01 PM


Well, if Klaus knew that every comment is emailed to me when it's made, with the commenter's IP address as part of the information provided, then he wouldn't be able to imagine me in a panic, calling the high-tech equivalent of private-eyes to track down the people making those earth-shatteringly insightful comments.


And Klaus,

I have no intention of banning you. Were I afraid of your "evidence" — whether offered as "Klaus" or as "Grendel" — I would have banned your IP address long ago. (Of course, we both know that I'd by necessity also be banning people for whom I've some respect, even if it is no longer reciprocated.)

We're just trying to maintain some minimal rules of discourse, although we are arguably too lax in that respect, and a commenter's multiplying his voice goes beyond the boundaries.

I will concede, though, that "Grendel" could be your wife (or husband). I presume her (or his) name also begins with "K," correct?

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 26, 2007 8:36 PM

Jerzyk is a Communist. He lives west of Broad Street, feet away from tony Roger Williams Park (on a street where no one drinks Budweiser-inside joke) in what any native knows is Washington Park NOT the "South Providence" he claims.
He had me banned for daring to post that David Segal, the son of a millionaire Baltimore doctor, was a spoiled carpettbagger who has never worked a day in his life. Others on this blog have written they have banned for similar trivial reasons.
Meanwhile, Jerzyk allows the troubled, violent, psychotic ramblings of Bobby Oliveira, a poster (WOW) who advocates burning alive Christian children and another (Idiot Conservative) who advocates sterilising all Christians and Republicans-right out of the Margaret Sanger "humanist" playbook.
Should Jerzyk continue to be allowed to post here while he denies the privlege to others?

Posted by: Mike at November 26, 2007 8:43 PM

And for those of you who haven't realized it:

The problems of high taxation are the result of 30 years of failed Repblican policies.

You are worse off now than you were because the tax breaks given to the economic elites used to help defray the cost of some social programs and education.

Now, while they're off counting their millions, you're getting the bill. See the post on Mindless Taxpayer, as Justin begins to realize that he's been getting the shaft.

Of course, he'll blame the Dems, but it's actually the plutocrats who are to blame. And the party of the Plutocracy has been, for the last 120 years, the Republicans.

What he describes in that post is a small-scale summary of what the Republicans have done to the country as a whole.

Mike! You've resurfaced. Wondered where you've been.

Posted by: George of the Jungle at November 26, 2007 9:00 PM

Pick a name, Klaus, George, Tom Slick...

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 26, 2007 9:10 PM


Of course Matilda and her crowd (Ducky, Walsh et al) should be allowed to post here. The political right is never afraid to engage the left in debate or discourse. Never! We have the facts and the truth on our side. It is the left who seek to silence those who disagree with them. They seek it through banning people like you from their blogs, they seek it through the Fairness Doctrine, they seek it through unsuccessful attempts at intimidating the sponsors of Dan Yorke's radio show, etc.
Ask Don Hawthorne about the weak knees of certain NEA hacks who rarely come here since being challenged and challenged politely to 'prove' their rhetoric. Don't seek to silence the left Mike. Let them speak! The more they talk the deeper they bury their long deceased ideology.

Posted by: Tim at November 26, 2007 9:12 PM

Hey Mike I believe in America even though the citizens of many countries are much better off (Cuba is not one of those countries in my opinion, despite the UN ratings of the US health care as inferior to the Cuban health care). I love America and do not want it lost to the global multi internationals. I believe we can, once again, be a great nation but I worry about the globalists goons like Bush and Hillary. I despise communism Mike. It is clear that the authoritarian mindset is clouding the intellect and fostering its typical black/white mindset. Belief in a livable wage does not mean someone is a commie. Trust me, many people are much more complex than that.

Posted by: Rasputin-Khlyst at November 26, 2007 9:24 PM

Thank you for the link, Ragin.

According to the graph you cite, from 1959 to 2006, the rate of poverty dropped from roughly 23% to 12%.

Klaus, are you claiming that that drop is due to welfare? How can that be? If one's income does not fall within "poverty" guidelines, one does not qualify for welfare. It seems to me that those people rose out of poverty due to other factors.

Posted by: Monique at November 26, 2007 9:25 PM

George of the Jungle or Klaus:

1.) How do you reconcile that statement in Rhode Island, where Democrats have held sway for 70 years and the state is now in extraordinarily bad straits?

2.) Republicans have controlled the US Congress for thirty years? Really? Can you please supply a link?

Posted by: Monique at November 26, 2007 9:39 PM

Oh gee, here goes Mike with the personal attacks again. Luckily for you, I don't give a damn who you really are, and if any skeletons lie in your closet, they aren't my problem.
Now, back to regularly scheduled programming (this is getting to be more fun than AOL political chat rooms ever were).

Posted by: rhody at November 26, 2007 11:00 PM

Mike - for the record, you were not banned by me. you were banned by my site administrator, Alex, who has less patience for you than I do. either way you cut it, i think you have demonstrated ample personal attacks to justify leaving your garbage outside of the town hall. And, per your usual accusation that i am a communist, let me again tell you and the AR audience, in case they haven't read this before, that i do not believe in communism because it centralizes too much power in the hands of too few people. A real democracy requires that everyone's voice matters in the governance of society. Communism may have espoused that; but never put it into practice. I know this will not stop your communist rantings since everyone must fit into the 2 ideological boxes in your small brain, but i try nonetheless.

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at November 27, 2007 11:46 AM


Great post.

Posted by: John at November 27, 2007 1:21 PM

As a libertarian, isolationist, anti-war, anti-Patriot Act, anti military industrialist person I have to laugh at it being said I think "everyone must fit into the 2 ideological boxes".
As a holder of a doctorate I must laugh at the "small brain" knock.
Now on to your marxism. You repeatedly quoted communists, and only communists in your little tag lines. Pablo Neruda, Bertolt Brecht, Anna Louse Strong to name three.
When I repeatedly brought the truth behind the lives of these dogs up on your blog (Neruda wrote the genuflecting "Ode To Stalin" on that mass-murderers death, Brecht, a Communist spy, defected to EAST Germany, and Strong wrote a book "When Serfs Stood Up" glorifying the Communist invasion and genocide in Tibet) you immediately stopped using their quotes.

Posted by: Mike at November 27, 2007 8:30 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.