Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hunger in the land of plenty

Ezra Klein had a nice little piece on the significance of the recent decision to cut spending on SNAP (or what used to be called food stamps). During the debate, the point was raised that the recession has brought grocery prices down a little. SNAP benefits stretch further than they used to. This kind of talk makes my blood boil! Only people with no assets and very little income benefit from this program. The amount of help given can often be less than $125/month. So what is the reality? The shelter/soup kitchen where I help out has to turn away folks seeking shelter every night. But the demand for meals changes dramatically about halfway through the month. The same folks return to the soup kitchen for the latter half of every month because their food stamps run out. The kitchen knows this will happen, and therefore puts out more tables and lays in more food to meet the increased demand. The inevitable consequence of this cut will be to strain even further the overwhelmed charities that struggle to meet basic human needs for those left behind in this land of plenty.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Youtube post

The story covered in the youtube video I just posted is both frightening and sad. For people who call themselves Christians to seek credit, because their "prayers" supposedly brought on someone's death, should bring swift condemnation from all Christians everywhere. Unfortunately, this type of lunacy is so commonplace that it no longer gets much media attention. How can we reason with such people? The truth is we can't. We can only hope that in practicing tolerance, compassion, and inclusiveness in our own words and deeds that decent people will be moved to do the same.

Yet, too often, we fail to confront hatred and intolerance with sufficient vigor. In particular, politicians and opinion-makers who pander to base instincts get away with this dangerous demonizing with too little public or political outcry. As the elections loom, it behooves us to look out for hate-mongering, and fight it tooth and nail

Right Wing Christians Praying That People Die

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trickle down tax policy

Karoli has a nice post on Crooks and Liars today that rightly mocks Joe Lieberman and Kent Conrad for their opposition to allowing the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year to expire in 2011.

One particular argument for the high income tax break apologists has always been that raising taxes for these people on top will hurt "small business" in the U.S. This argument of course presupposes that capitalists will immediately reduce their economically beneficial activities if they are asked to pay slightly higher taxes. That must be why you can't find any capitalists in London, Stuttgart or any of the countless other places in the developed world where taxes are far higher than in the United States. But since most Americans are quite unaware of how much lower top tax rates are here compared to much of the world, we should consider a purely American example. A master plumber has a choice between remaining a one person operation clearing $65,000 a year in profits, or hiring on some other plumbers and apprentices and taking in profits of $350,000 a year. Will this plumber choose not to expand because of a minor increase in taxes? Not for any reasons of rational self-interest!

Karoli's post also makes another point. It refers to a study of tax data that shows very clearly that most small business income in this country is not taxed at the highest rates. This is true for two reasons: most small business owners make less than $250,000, and those wealthy folks who do report small business income very often derive only a fraction of their income from small business.

Progressives who want to argue in favor of letting the Bush tax cuts for wealthy folks expire should actually look to small business as a natural ally. A seamstress or landscaper with a fairly low income obviously has an interest in seeing the very wealthy pay more of their fair share. But I would also look to wealthy small business owners for support. If paying thousands more in taxes will help to make it easier to provide healthcare to employees, why not do it? The Republican assumption that most people don't like paying taxes is correct. But the Republican assumption that a minor increase in taxes, for those making over $250,000, can be successfully misrepresented as an attack on "small business," must be fought against with great vigor.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


You all will notice I no longer have any "Impeach Cheney" or other outdated petition drive/political action buttons on my site. In a little while we should have some replacements that will provide folks with opportunities to take action on issues of interest. Thanks for your patience!

Back in the saddle

The last time we appeared, here in this little corner of the blogosphere, Barack Obama had just been acknowledged as the Democratic choice for President by the other leading candidates. While the country is justifiably relieved to be rid of Bush, Cheney et al., the current administration faces huge challenges and will struggle to find its footing as long as the economy continues to languish. Locally, Rep. Patrick Kennedy has decided to retire from the U.S. Congress. While Patrick never achieved the titanic stature of his father Ted, he served Rhode Island well and we will miss his good efforts in Washington. His tireless advocacy for the mentally ill will be one of his most cherished legacies.

The Democrats have endorsed Mayor David Cicilline (pictured above) to serve as the new congressman from Rhode Island. One of his primary opponents, State Rep. David Segal, is also well-liked by local progressives and seems like a good person. Yet I've chosen to work on behalf of Mayor David Cicilline's congressional campaign. Why? He simply has more substantial experience and political maturity. He seems ready to work hard for results without losing sight of his core liberal principles.