Arran's Alley

Watch what they do, not what they say.

Mick Arran

Mick Arran
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA
January 05
I've done everything from recycling to teaching in a pre-school. Most recently I was for 10 years an acting and theater teacher as well as a pallet builder. I read a lot and I'm an old man who remembers the distant past with somewhat more clarity than this morning's breakfast. I've been blogging for a decade and I don't do "light". If you're looking for recipes, self-promoting displays of items made for sale, titillating stories about how I was a pimp for an afternoon, or the beauties of toasters, you've come to the wrong place. Check the Front Page.


JANUARY 4, 2010 2:02PM

Clinton's Welfare "Reform" Chickens Come Home to Roost

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Healthcare isn't the first "reform" to need quotation marks around it. Bill Clinton's signature 90's program of welfare "reform" was pretty much the same kind of Democrat kabuki. We just hadn't yet realized that Al From and the DLC's strategy called for lies and corporate giveaways on purpose. We thought they just, you know, didn't understand the consequences of what they were doing. That they were incompetent. Not too hard to believe. Now we know they knew what they were doing and just didn't give a shit.

That might have been the first time the conservaDems stretched their muscles and convinced a still-mostly-liberal party that the way to get elected was to do what the Pubs would have done, thus attracting the campaign funds that would otherwise have gone to the GOP. Unfortunately, GOP policies to the poor are a disaster no matter who passes them into law, and now that the Bush economy has collapsed, the failure of Clinton's "reform" is so great it can no longer be ignored.

Safety net? What safety net? Um, food stamps.

About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid — no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay.

Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card.

(emphasis added)

A decade of cut cut cut by Bush Republicans while the Bush Wall Street Gang was stealing every dollar that wasn't nailed down has left the US with an underclass poorer than China's. There isn't anywhere near enough affordable housing, food banks are overwhelmed, the homeless population has mushroomed beyond belief, and little or nothing has been done to increase the aid coming from the Feds because the banks and the wars have stripped it all away. Which was maybe the point.

In the face of the kind of deprivation our New Underclass is suffering, what's left of the old FDR Democrats (they're in the House in case you were wondering; the Senate has been all but purged of them) passed a bill which would create a number of govt jobs a la the WPA in the 30's. It will cost $70B - 1/1o of the $700B that's already been paid out to Timmy's friends on Wall Street - but it's better than nothing and might actually help regular people. Some of us, anyway.

Now that bill is going to the Senate and the Pubs are livid.

When the Senate takes up a jobs bill later this month or early in February, the debate will center on whether it really will create jobs and be worth plunging the government tens of billions of dollars further into debt.

Republicans scoff at the "Jobs for Main Street Act" title that House Democrats put on their $174 billion package last month. They refer to it as "son of the stimulus," the $787 billion economic recovery plan of nearly a year ago that they say was ineffective at producing jobs.

In its last vote of 2009, the House narrowly passed the bill, 217-212, without a single Republican supporter.

Democrats tick off the job prospects from the House bill's $75 billion in infrastructure and public sector spending: tens of thousands of new construction jobs, 5,500 more police officers, 25,000 additional AmeriCorps members, 250,000 summer jobs for disadvantaged youth, 14,000 part-time jobs for parks and forestry workers.

"Why don't we just put everyone in the United States on the federal government payroll and call it a day?" counters Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.

Given that the conservative govts of the last 30 years have allowed US corporations to move hundreds of millions of our jobs overseas, there may not be another choice. Teddy foresaw in the 70's that automation alone was going to put millions permanently out of work (which it did) and floated the idea of a guaranteed $5000/yr income for every person of age in the country, the idea being that a floor like that would ease poverty and at the same time cut down the chance that a citizenry angry because it was starving would take to the streets like in the French Revolution and Democrat heads would roll right along with Pubs (not that the Pubs would notice the loss of something they haven't used since the late 14th century).

Of course the GOP let off howls of protest, the way wolves do when a passel of food escapes them, and the idea went nowhere but we may, thanks to Bush's puppetry, Wall Street's greed, and Clinton's "Third Way" surrender to right wing bitching & moaning, be reaching the point where nothing less will prevent the wholesale slaughter of the New Underclass. Could be that the old Comic from CA has the first legitimately new policy idea from the aristocratic GOP since Marie Antoinette professed herself unable to understand why people who had no bread couldn't just eat cake.

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What d'ya think? We all just work for the gummint and git it over with?