Judy Davis, an activist from Worcester County, MD, is involved with important issues in our state. She recently participated in the Marylanders Against Gun Violence rally, in Annapolis, MD and is a participant in the Emerge program, which trains women around the country to take more active roles in leadership positions in their communities.
It would be hard to ignore the working poor, while living in a seasonal beach town, as I do. Although many unskilled jobs are filled with visiting foreign-exchange students, “locals” hold about half of those positions. These “locals”, some of who are lifelong residents, live in the area year-round and find that they’re without work when the businesses close for the season. The fortunate ones are able to receive a modest unemployment check, twice a month. Renting in our area is expensive and lodging is only available in the off-season. Those that choose to remain in a year-round room/apartment, pay much higher rent than a comparable living space, elsewhere.
During a recent conversation I had with two local business owners, I heard claims that people are living off “the system”, wanting “hand-outs”, and “those people” are not properly planning for emergencies or their retirement. When I asked how anyone, especially those of advanced years, could pay for living expenses at wages of $7.25 hour, there was no response.
Our society’s perception of the working poor has deteriorated, from one of providing an honest day’s work, to one of expecting entitlements and being shiftless. According to Charlie White (Think Reality: Wealth Inequality in America), 15.1% of the U.S. population (approximately 47 million people) lives below the Poverty Line. An average worker needs to work one month to equal one hour of income that an average CEO earns. That equates to about 160 hours to 1 hour. Some figures have shown that to be as high as 400 hours to 1 hour!
The working poor have no discretionary income. If they are lucky enough to own a vehicle and a tire goes flat, the choice is between buying groceries to feed their family or purchasing another used tire. Trying to save money for deposits on utilities, medical emergencies, gasoline, school supplies, clothes or other basic needs, is impossible, as there isn’t enough money to cover everything. Many parents go without, in order to provide the very minimum subsistence for their children.
The frustration of “just scraping by” impacts a person’s self-worth, causing a cyclical, downward spiral, which is difficult, if not impossible, to recover from. Don’t forget who also suffers, aside from the parents: Approximately 19% of children in my county live below the Poverty Line (One Maryland: The Plight of Maryland Distressed Jurisdictions).
Rather than blaming the working poor for their situation, how about giving a “hand-up” to help people have their basic needs met, especially where they are desperately trying? In my county, over 25% of female-headed households make just $14,900 per year. Most of our lives would look very different if we suddenly became unemployed, developed significant health issues, needed elderly care or had another traumatic event crossing our paths. Instead of criticizing and demeaning people who are dependent on some form of assistance, in order to survive, their critics should be saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I!”
The following is a video that clearly explains wealth distribution in America, including how Americans think it is, how they think it should be, and finally, the reality of the way it really is. It will open your eyes and may, in fact, surprise even the most conservative among you!
Recently, on my blog, I launched a campaign to combat, what I believe, is a bad proposal that will harm Maryland. Its called the #STOPBS campaign, which comes from the first letters of the sponsors of companion bills in the Maryland House and the Senate. It aims to make the bill that seeks to lower corporate income tax rates in the State, die, effectively telling legislators “it’s not okay.”Most already know that on the Federal level, politicians are trying to lower the Federal corporate income tax rate. But right now, it is happening in people’s backyards, in State legislatures across the country. Senator David Brinkley (R-Dist. 4), who proposed SB 34, seeks to lower Maryland’s corporate income tax rate from its current 8.25% to 6%, a 2.25% drop! Brinkley, who has gotten campaign contributions, since 2005, from corporate giants, like Bank of America, Comcast, BGE and Constellation PACs (among many others), as I detailed on my blog, believes that such a tax break will make Maryland competitive with the State of Virginia. The sponsor of the same bill in the House, concurs. HB 261 is sponsored by Del. Kelly Schulz (R-Dist. 4A). Hearings in the House Ways & Means Committee are scheduled for February 26th.
In order to denounce such arguments for this tax break, one must look at what this bill actually does. The net loss in tax revenue for Fiscal Year 2014 would be over $381 million dollars. These cuts in Fiscal Year 2014 would include a decrease in funds for transportation by $63.1 million, most of which goes to the State transportation budget, a decrease in funds for Higher Education by $22.9 million, and a decrease in revenues from local highway users, by $6.1 million. As a result, the current State budget deficit, which is already insurmountable, would increase, and $37,000 dollars would be needed just to notify the 62,000 corporate filers in the State about the new rate reduction. All of these numbers are thanks to a report by the Department of Legislative Services on the matter. To summarize, these cuts would hurt students, as well as reduce the amount of money going to maintain an already failing infrastructure, which will make matters worse, and local governments, which are already feeling budget cuts.
Michael Hudson explained this in a CounterPunch article he wrote last August: “Unlike the U.S. federal government, most states and cities have constitutions that prevent them from running budget deficits. This means that when they cut property taxes, they either must borrow from the wealthy, or cut back employment and public services…Cities are defaulting from California to Alabama…This has become the main cause of America’s rising unemployment, helping drive down consumer demand… Most urban revenue is a free lunch created by taxpayer-financed roads, schools, sewers and water systems….State and local pension funds are $3 trillion behind because they are only making 1% returns these days…Debt-ridden austerity and downsizing government is being urged as if it is inevitable, not a policy choice to put bondholders and the 1% over the 99% – a reward for the lobbying money it has spent on buying politicians and misleading voters, to believe that cutting property taxes and cutting taxes on the rich will help the economy.” Hudson proposes that we default, but I believe there is something more imperative that we must deal with.
Times are tough for Americans. Nearly half of America is at or near the poverty level. Cases of individuals suffering from depression have increased in areas affected by SuperStorm Sandy. Youths, from 5th to 12th grades, are optimistic about their future, but adults are not so sure, according to recent Gallup polls. This is not the time for corporations to get a tax break. People are suffering and justice is not furthered by corporations not paying a fair share in taxes. Simply put, it is matter of fairness, equity and justice. They can cough up the money. They can stay afloat. There is no danger there. Over the past few years, corporations have been hoarding cash, and now hold more cash than ever before.
This is why I urge you to help spread this message, far and wide, across Maryland, by signing this petition, telling your legislators you want corporations in Maryland to pay their fair share of taxes and not to reduce the current tax rates. Share this with your friends; tell everyone you know about it. If enough people are mobilized, we can stop this in its tracks and let legislators know that now is the time to create jobs, invest in schools and improve infrastructure, not lower taxes for corporate entities!
It is a sad day for the Eastern Shore, to have a liar and a sham, like Andy Harris, be re-elected. I was so hoping that this, my first post after the election, could call for a coming together of the “right” and “left.” But, upon hearing Harris’ comments after his win, I am more committed than ever to replace him as our Representative.
He lives in a ‘bizarro’ world, claiming to have “reached out” to Democrats, when we know that he has voted against any proposals put forth by House Democrats or the White House. His approach has even earned him the nickname, “Dr No”, because that has become his standard vote and position! And, according to his post-election comments, he will continue to live by his moniker and obstruct any progress in the House.
I am not whining about Harris’ win; the former Democratic candidate, Wendy Rosen, certainly didn’t help, by resigning a week after the deadline to remove her name from the ballot. As such, Dr. John LaFerla could only run as the Democratic write-in candidate. I am just astonished by the failure of the commonsense Eastern Shore voter to see through the disguise and insincerity of Harris’ campaign. He is definitely a “RINO” (Representative In Name Only)!
When Harris holds himself out as a “great communicator”, saying that he is bringing both parties to the table, it just doesn’t fit with his history and performance, whether in the State Senate or in Congress. In fact, Harris has been a major roadblock to both, the Maryland delegation and the House, where there have been multiple efforts by the Democratic leadership and the White House, to repair the economic mess perpetrated by the previous administration.
Harris lies when he talks about helping farmers, since he has voted against the Farm Bill, introduced by his own Party! Without its passage, our farmers will be hurt financially. He has voted against education, medicare, social security, job creation, health care and protecting our air and water, or the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, only 4 bills were introduced (and passed) by Harris in his 2 years as Congressman. They dealt with reducing the tariffs on foreign-made men’s and women’s shoes! While millions of Americans were still unemployed and suffering, Andy embraced a foot fetish!
Aside from the sound bites and clichés he has come to rely on, Harris cannot point to any real action on his part, to help our district or its residents. He has failed to spur job creation, being more interested in expanding ‘fracking’ even though it has been shown to be destructive and dangerous, than he is in cooperating on solving our “Fiscal Cliff.”
He is a pawn of his corporate campaign contributors, mostly from out-of-state, and the sooner 1st district voters open their eyes, the sooner we will get a Representative who truly represents our interests. Until then, “Dr. No” will continue to be the obstructionist and do-nothing elected official, that he has been since his days in the Maryland Senate!
I have confidence that intelligent, compassionate people and yes, even entrepreneurs such as myself, across the country, will choose the only real choice there is in this election…another term for the President! The only alternative is to go back to the same failed policies of the Bush/Cheney administration, which led our country into its current dilemma. As President Clinton said the other night…no one, not him or any predecessor, could have done any better than President Obama has done…we were on the brink of destruction and the President saved us from going over the edge, which would have made the Great Recession, the Great Depression, Part Deux!
A report yesterday, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), puts the blame for the Federal deficit squarely on the shoulders of George Bush. Why do you think the GOTP didn’t mention his name once during their Convention? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the Bush tax cuts, combined to form the basis for the deficit, through 2019. Common sense will tell you that you don’t cut revenues (Bush tax cuts) while fighting wars on 2 fronts! Who thinks that made sense?
People like Andy Harris need to be sent a message…stop the obstruction…sit down and do the job you signed up for…negotiate, compromise and GET THE WORK DONE! Being an ideologue will not create jobs…being reasonable will!
This is an article posted to the Easton StarDem last week, by Dan Bongino, Republican candidate for US Senator from Maryland.
Recently, I awoke at 5am to the sound of my six-month old daughter Amelia crying. When I entered her dark room to soothe her, I saw my wife, struggling to stay awake, holding Amelia in one arm as she was attempting to work on her barely lit computer screen with her other arm. My wife Paula is an entrepreneur and a small business owner. She also happens to be a first generation immigrant, who suffered through much chasing her American dream–all of her hard work culminating in her pledging allegiance to our flag as part of her citizenship ceremony. We both remember this as one of the proudest days of our lives.
I am writing of this incident because it succinctly describes a scenario repeating itself all over America today. Small business owners are making incredible sacrifices in their struggles to keep their businesses afloat. This is the reason why the President’s “you didn’t build that” comment has infuriated Americans across the political spectrum. The simple fact is that my wife did build “that.” She built her business, through countless hours of hard work and a commitment to a quality work product. I marvel daily at the countless hours she spends at her home office designing and repairing small business websites. She is the very epitome of the American dream, collectively enhanced but most importantly, self-made and personally driven.
The President’s statements are equally infuriating because he is attempting to create a fissure between Americans where there isn’t one. No Republican I am aware of is running for office on a platform of no taxes, no roads, no teachers and no military. I cite these examples because the President chose to mention the use of roads, the work of good teachers and the development of the backbone of the modern internet, through a military research initiative, as examples of how government should be the primary recipient of accolades for individual success. This is absurd and displays a backward logic which is hard to justify. It is the very success of people, such as my wife, willing to put their names behind a business endeavor, with no guarantee of success, that finance the government projects which the President speaks of. It is my wife’s, along with millions of others struggling for a better tomorrow, sweat, toil and willingness to take a risk that has made America exceptional amongst nations, not its roads.
The economy is clearly struggling. Americans are hurting and they are scared. Scared that for the first time, yesterday may have been the best it was ever going to be. This outlook has never been a component of our national psyche. The President’s statements will haunt him in this election as they echo all over our vast country. As my wife and I struggle through this historically poor economic recovery, I feel the pain of Americans hoping and praying that there is a better tomorrow and I ask the President to stop creating division by asking who built what, and to focus on getting our growing legion of unemployed Americans, just asking for a chance to build anything, back to work.
Dan Bongino, a devoted husband and father, served in the United States Secret Service for more than a decade, in which he was assigned to the elite Presidential Protective Division. He represented the U.S. as a lead government security official in over 25 countries. Holding graduate degrees in Business Administration and Psychology, Dan has gone on to start several successful businesses in Maryland. As an entrepreneur, he understands the role small businesses play in establishing a framework for continued prosperity and economic growth.
Harris’ replies to questions and his statements at the Town Hall Meeting, in Chestertown, last week, are so mind-boggling, that I don’t know where to start! Let me just cover a couple of plainly obvious flaws in his responses:
1) He supports Ryan’s Budget Proposal…this will mean that Medicare and Social Security will be cut and phased out. Ryan’s proposal wants private companies (banks and investment banks) to manage retirement funds…sure, let’s give the fox the rest of the keys to the chicken coop.
2) Harris lied about his and his cohorts’ obstruction of Congressional work. The fact is that this is the least productive Congress…EVER…by at least 40% over the next least productive one. All thanks to him and his TP obstructionist buddies.
3) Harris and his GOP Tea Partiers love to name bills so that they sound good, but are really destructive. For instance, Harris voted for the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011″ – sounds pretty good – what it does is strip all authority and funding from the EPA and gives that authority to the States, who have, for the most part, shown a reluctance to regulate their own polluting industries. 42 years of fighting for a cleaner environment would have gone down the drain if the Senate & WH were held by the GOP. Luckily, the Senate refused to approve this bill.
4) Interesting that all of Harris’ charts and graphs provide no sources for where the figures come from, which I believe are the fantasy graphs made by him and his staff, without support from any reliable source.
5) Amazingly, Harris’ idea of important legislation was HB 4367, regarding ATM signage. Forget jobs, forget health care, forget education…we need to get those ATM signs fixed!! I think Andy has finally gone over the deep end!
6) Finally, his analysis of why he refuses to “compromise” is not only mind-boggling, but it shows his very limited understanding of the legislative process and how to work with others. Compromise is not a black/white issue…to use his example, instead of limiting yourself to a “I want North, you want South, therefore, no compromise”, he could say, “How about we go North for a while, then go South for a while?…or, let’s go North, then South, together!” This approach would demand an attempt at leadership, something Harris lacks…as well as compassion, which he seems to have left in the operating room.
It’s time for Andy to give up his government salary and go back to putting people to sleep…it seems that he’s very good at that!
Here is the link to the StarDem article: http://www.stardem.com/news/local_news/article_a51d3a20-d476-11e1-bbef-0019bb2963f4.html
I never bought into Oliver Stone’s version of the Kennedy assassination; I disagreed with those who thought Bush was involved in ordering the 9/11 disaster, and I never gave a second thought to those who believed the US moon landing was staged in New Mexico. However, I have come to a startling realization: wealthy corporatists want to destroy the Middle Class in America!
I used to think it was unlikely that corporations wanted to hurt their consumers…after all, who would buy their products? Sadly, my ‘aha’ moment came after researching jobs outsourcing and its impact on corporate profits. I was shocked at the rate of increased profits from China, India and Latin American countries, fueling the next generation of growth, all supported by Andy Harris and other Tea Party faithful. Profits, coming from overseas sales, made by overseas factories, employing overseas workers!
From the June 2011, US News & World Report, “…about 40 percent of profit for firms listed in the S&P 500 stock index (are) now coming from overseas. These same corporations “keep certain profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes on them.”
According to the US News article, here’s a breakdown of foreign profits from just 5 of America’s largest corporations: Exxon-Mobil, 45%; GE, 54%; IBM, 64%; Dow, 67%; Intel, 85%. Any wonder why the US corporate community cares little about the American worker…the majority of the American Middle Class?
When the American Middle Class is finally diminished to the point that they are willing to accept jobs for any wage offered, the corporations will have accomplished their goal. Who will fight for the American worker, when Unions are no more, destroyed by elected officials who are supported by wealthy corporations?
When there is a “rich class” and a “poor class”, guess who will wield the power in our country? As they have done for the past 30 years, the wealthy corporations will continue to whittle away at Middle Class wealth and power, until there will be little or nothing left. The power shift is close to completion, and it is being accomplished on all levels, including legislative (State & Federal levels), regulations (State & Federal levels) and Court decisions (State & Federal levels). The Court cases have been one of the best avenues for significant change, where the Citizens United and related decisions have given corporations the same “rights” as persons, something that would have been unheard of before the Robert’s Court. Nothing in the Constitution gives personhood to corporations!
I recall a quote I used to laugh about: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you!” It’s not funny any more! It is elected officials, like Andy Harris, who is helping to convince the Middle Class voter that outsourcing jobs and giving corporations tax breaks and more power, is in their best interests!
by Roger Burt, PhD
Yesterday Andy Harris held his “town halls” in Easton and Worcester. ‘Samo-samo.’ Remember, he schedules these meetings at inconvenient times for most people (this one was 2:30-3:30pm). The Tidewater Inn in Easton experienced nothing new from Harris, or “Dr No”, as his opponents refer to him. He opened with a presentation consistent with the Tea Party wing of the Republican party line. Total yawn!