Tag Archives: The Poor

Bigot of the Week Award: August 3, House Democrats Opposing Tax Fairness

3 Aug

Bigot of the Week

This week 19 House Democrats put self-interest ahead of leadership and bailed on a key piece of legislation. Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exceeded all expectations and crafted a brilliant deal that allowed a great tax cut compromise to pass the Senate. The bill extended the cuts for taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year, protecting the middle class during the fragile economic recovery. By ending the cuts for those with higher incomes, it also introduced greater fairness into the tax system–truly a broken clock moment for our Harry Reid.

The bill was unlikely to pass in the House, of course, but it sent a strong message. The Republicans in the House shot it down on Wednesday — big shock. Sadly, 19 Democrats voted against the bill, joining the Republican chorus of class warfare. The majority of the 19 Representatives who crossed the aisle were so-called Blue Dog Democrats (or what I like to call Tea Bag Democrats), a loose caucus of “moderate and conservative” Democrats. Many are also in tight re-election contests or in badly gerrymandered new districts. These are not sufficient excuses.

It is a given that most Republicans will not vote for the Democrat. It is also true that the Senate approach to the tax cuts is very popular (polling at or above 60%), especially with independent voters and in swing states. What these 19 cowards have done is sold out the middle class and the most vulnerable for a callous political calculation. Why should Democratic voters in their districts care about showing up at the polls if they are offered a choice between two people who vote against them? Why should independent voters prefer a Democrat if that person voted against their preferences? Shame on you, Representatives! Bad dogs!

Personally, I am sad to see Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon’s 5th District on this list and grateful that the recent redistricting moved me into Rep. Blumenauer’s district. Oregonians are hurting, Rep. Schrader; why did you vote against 98% of them?

Hero of the Week Award: June 29, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Roberts, Sotomayor, and Kagan

29 Jun

Hero of the Week

This week we celebrate an enormous, surprising decision. With a 5-4 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the main components of the Affordable Care Act. Significantly, they found the individual mandate, bete noir of the Radical Right, to be a reasonable congressional act under the authority to tax. Given the court’s rightward tilt of late, America was stunned. We’re pretty shocked here at TSM, too. Awarding a majority SCOTUS opinion the HWA is not anything we thought would happen any time soon.

This is a major victory not just for President Obama and the Democrats who worked so hard to pass even a mediocre health care bill. It is a victory for all Americans. The ACA, however flawed, is a significant step toward real care for all Americans. Without it, the poorest and the disenfranchised would continue to suffer, sicken, and die. Disproportionate impacts would be felt along racial, gender, and class lines, making it harder  and harder for those with the least to ever succeed. This Constitutionally sound victory — complete with a cease-and-desist order on the current challenges to the ACA — should let us move forward as a nation. We’ll see how the Republicans in Congress (John Boehner was crying so hard he called off his press conference!) try to cock it all up.

It’s fun to speculate why Chief Justice Roberts joined the more liberal justices in this opinion, just as it is important to note that Justice Kennedy has put the final nail in the coffin of his “swing vote” status. Roberts’ reasons don’t really matter, however: he did the right thing. We all owe these five Justices a debt of thanks this week. (For a great guide to the legal aspects of the decision in straightforward layman’s language, the ever excellent Ari Ezra Waldman has an analysis here.)

Why Americans Can’t Afford Health Care: A Must Read

14 Apr

What happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

Yes, another article about health care.  I need to thank TSM follower Jen Rhee for inspiring me to compose this article and for collecting data for the lovely graphs. While you take the time to really examine the graphs you will notice where we fail miserably as Americans. Please keep in mind issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, power, and privilege!  The many intersections of oppression continue to be insurmountable barriers to getting health care.  Again, the Affordable Care Act is a very small but very significant move in the right direction. Currently, everyone in Congress has no worries about health care coverage.

Action Steps: All of us need to take action here and to elect public officials, servants that agree that being a human being merits health care coverage!  Please, I strongly encourage you to take a close look at these graphs!

Decoding Your Medical Bills
Created by: Medical Billing and Coding Certification

Women’s History Month 2012: Mary Richmond

7 Mar

Today we honor and celebrate one of the earliest and most significant influencers of social work, Mary Ellen Richmond. Born in 1861 in Illinois, Richmond was shuttled from one relative to another in the Baltimore area after her parents died when she was a child. She was mostly home schooled by her grandmother who was known as a radical and a suffragist. After finishing high school, she worked odd jobs and became involved with the charitable works of the Unitarian Church. In 1888, she became the assistant treasurer for the Charity Organization Society and became involved with the charitable works that preceded modern social work. Her administrative duties led to her appointment as general secretary. In addition to her assigned duties, she volunteered as a friendly visitor, the equivalent of an early caseworker.

Concerned about the frequent failures of cases to respond to service, in 1897 she delivered an historic speech at the National Conference of Charities and Correction, calling for schools to train professional social workers. In 1899, she published the first comprehensive presentation of practical suggestions, Friendly Visiting Among the Poor.

In 1900, Ms. Richmond became general secretary of the Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charity. During her tenure, she emphasized the need for volunteer effort; she also fought to obtain legislation for deserted wives. Between 1905 and 1909, Ms. Richmond was associated with Charities, which developed teaching materials for Charity Organization Societies nationwide. She then became director of the Russell Sage Foundation’s Charity Organization Department in New York City. She also taught and did research at the New York School of Philanthropy.

From 1910 through 1922, she developed and headed summer institutes attended by secretaries of charity organization societies from all parts of the country. Her most celebrated book, Social Diagnosis, was based on her lectures and on her wide readings in history, law, logic, medical social work, psychology, and psychiatry. Widely hailed as evidence of the professionalization of social work, it was the first formulation of theory and method in identifying the problems of clients. In 1922, she defined social case work as “those processes which develop personality through adjustments consciously effected, individual by individual, between men and their social environment.” She died in 1928, leaving behind a critical legacy in the field of social work.  For all of us social workers that believe we can change the world, we owe Richmond a huge debt.

The Puppet Master Behind the Susan G.Komen Foundation

4 Feb

I love a Tea Party but hate women and gays!

Corrupt Komen Caves, Kind of!  Yes, yesterday the Susan G. Komen Foundation offered a less than milquetoast apology for their bad behavior.  The apology came not because it was the right thing to do, or because of some great care and compassion for women of color, women without means, and all women who suffer from the intersections of oppression, rather the apology came because of political pressure.  I don’t want to dismiss the power of this pressure, but I would like us to examine closely the Power behind the Komen Foundation, for I personally would like to see this organization crash and burn and be replaced with a more inclusive organization that truly reaches out to all women to help prevent breast cancer.

Just to be clear, the Komen Foundation is still refusing to commit to future grants to Planned Parenthood.  So who has the power and what does this power look like at the Komen Foundation? Sadly, Komen’s Senior VP is  Karen Handel.  You may remember Handel.  She ran for Governor of Georgia two years ago and was endorsed by the Tea Party, including Sarah Palin.  Yes, our Handel is exceedingly anti-woman and is a homophobic bigot, as witnessed by her own words!

I will conclude by saying that if you truly believe in women’s rights and you believe women should have access to health care regardless of color or access to resources and if you really believe in social justice, you will boycott the Susan G. Komen Foundation and put your money into Planned Parenthood.

I need to say a special thanks to my friend Jay and to the Voice of the Trailer (VOT) for helping me with this article and allowing me to express my rage in a socially productive way.

The Closing of Hull House: Sad Commentary on Our Times

28 Jan

Goodbye Hull House

Yesterday was a very sad day indeed. Hull House, founded by Social Work Pioneer Jane Addams, closed it’s doors.  In 1931, Addams was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Addams may well be best known for starting Hull House in Chicago.  Here is the mission statement of Hull House:

Jane Addams Hull House Association improves social conditions for underserved people and communities by providing creative, innovative programs and advocating for related public policy reforms.

Jane Addams Hull House Association provides child care, domestic violence counseling and prevention, economic development, family services, job training, literacy training, senior services, foster care, independent living, and housing assistance for 60,000 children, families and community members each year in communities in and around Chicago.

Hull House also advocates for social and public policy reforms and initiatives that impact the lives of the men, women, and children in the communities we serve.

Now after 120 years, Hull House is closed.  It would be delightful to say that Hull House closed because services were no longer needed–that poverty and discrimination had ended.  Alas, that is so far from the truth.  The truth is that the need for services continued to increase exponentially, but sadly funding for Hull House decreased at an even faster rate.

What doses this say about American Culture?  We are witnessing multi-millionaires spending millions and millions of dollars to run for President of the United States, but we as a culture put up no resistance to social services for the poor and disenfranchised being cut by 1% Republicans like John Boehner.  As someone who is currently getting his MSW, I am horrified that Americans no longer seem engaged in the battle against the inequitable  distribution of power and wealth.  We seem to have grown either amazingly stupid or apathetic  as our silence and non-action, or voting against our best interests supports an all white, heterosexual, Christian, male power structure.

I leave you with the words of Jane Addams:

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.

Rational Republicans: Faint Praise Indeed

13 Jul

The New Republican Party?

Well, “Mussolini did keep the trains on time,” a very common defense of the fascist dictator of Italy during WWII.  How tragically sad it is when we as humans have to find some miniscule form of praise for “leaders” behaving rationally.  Today we will look at three Republicans who are often treated as heroes for demonstrating inconsistent rational behavior.

Mitt Romney has announced that he will not sign the Iowa Anti- Gay Pledge, which he called “undignified and inappropriate.”  The Iowa Anti-Gay Pledge says that, “the presidential candidates must back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and have affirmed their belief that gay men are a public health risk, that gay parents are inferior to straight parents, and that homosexuality is a choice.”  Big surprise, Ms. Prick Santorum and Ms. Bat Shi_ Bachmann have both signed the pledge.  (Basically, Bachmann has declared her own husband a public health risk–Oh please, TSM audience! You know he is a big closet queen). Has the Tea Party taken over the Republican Party?

What makes me particularly angry here is that we have to praise Romney for being rational here.  “Gee, at least he did not burn any of those fags and send them to concentration camps–what a good guy.”  If not being a complete bigot, of the George Wallace camp is the new standard for hero worship, we are in HUGE trouble as a nation. Click here to see the full article on the “Pledge” and Romney.

Moving on to two others that we have to praise for being rational.  Shall we look at the Siamese Republican Twins of Maine? We have talked about Snowe before.  Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have agreed NOT to beat up a bunch of senior citizens, steal their money, and leave them homeless:

There are solvency problems with both programs,” Sen. Olympia Snowe said in an interview on Friday, “They have to be addressed but not as part of the debt reduction talks.

Thank you, Senator Snowe for being a rational person.  Forgive me if I don’t throw a parade to celebrate your humanity. Collins agreed with Snow and proposed to end the tax subsidy for ethanol production and that would save close to $6 billion a year.

Let me clear, I really do appreciate all three of these Republicans doing the right thing.  However, have our standards for leadership from our elected officials plummeted so low that showing a glimpse of humanity for those they are charged with protecting makes them look like heros? While I am painfully aware of the puritanical strain that runs deep through our country’s history, am I completely  naive to think we will learn from our mistakes? My hope is that we will soon see more Republicans like the late Betty Ford. Click here to see the full article.

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