The Marietta Times published a series of articles in January on poverty with the same old tired arguments on both sides. Generally speaking, the Democrats are for the programs for the poor and unemployed and the Republicans are against or have reservations about them. Ohio Representative Andy Thompson and U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson have little faith in government safety-net programs for the poor and regard these programs as more government intrusion and regulation. Of course, since then we have witnessed what happened in West Virginia when the EPA was denigrated and weakened to the point of not protecting the water supply of thousands of citizens.
Andy Serwer, managing editor of Fortune magazine, summed up the problem in the Sept. 2, 2013 issue very well in his article The Income Gap. "The Congressional Budget Office October 2011 report 'Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007' shows that during the 28-year period overall real average (after-tax) household income grew 62%. But for the top 1% of earners, income grew 275%, and for the bottom 20% of earners, household income grew only 18%. Big income disparities lead to fragmentation of a society, from gated communities with increasing security to, at the extreme, civil unrest and worse. We have to take a hard look at the effective tax rates of our very wealthiest citizens and have the fortitude to change the tax code, especially rates on capital gains. On the other side of the coin, we should increase the minimum wage."
Henry Ford paid his workers better than anyone else because he wanted his workers to be able to afford a new Ford. The Waltons are among the wealthiest people in the United States and yet their employees need government help to survive. Congress passed a huge farm bill keeping generous subsidies for wealthy farmers but cutting food stamps despite warnings from doctors that this will result in bigger Medicare and Medicaid costs (Jan. 13, 2014 Associated Press article titled Cutting Food Stamps Could Backfire). You also published an Associated Press article Jan. 27, 2014 titled Working-age people now use the most food stamps: "The findings coincide with the latest economic data showing workers' wages and salaries growing at the lowest rate relative to corporate profits in U.S. history."
And so the disparity continues despite the fact that 70% of our economy depends on what you and I spend for food, clothing and other essentials. Many states refuse to expand Medicaid for their poorest citizens; Republicans continue spreading misinformation about Obamacare so that many people fail to sign up for the health care that they desperately need; Congress won't pass an immigration bill and won't extend unemployment benefits; People are condemned for not trying hard enough to get a job even though those with two or three minimum wage jobs cannot make ends meet. Instead of condemning or ignoring those struggling to get by, perhaps we should remember that old saying, "There but for the grace of God go I."
Carol Lazear Mitchell