Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reaping the Consequences of Poor

About a week before writing this, I was feeling more impoverished than usual. You know how it is: when you can’t pay your bills, your shoes have holes in them, and your credit card company tells you that if you keep paying off your balance at the current rate, it’ll be all paid off by yesterday -- meaning, after forever ends and time starts over again, and gets back to then. Roughly 50-85 billion years, or never, depending on how much dark matter there is in the universe.

“So,” I thought, “let’s get us some of that household energy assistance!”

That led to about 3 hours of me and Anitra “Other Household Member” Freeman studying the application process for federal LIHEAP energy assistance funds. Our conclusion at the end of those 3 hours was that the government doesn’t think we’re poor enough.

While that was disappointing to us, it provided us with new respect for the people who do qualify for LIHEAP funds, and how truly needy they must be. Whoa, that is some amazing poverty, people! Way to go!

The very next day, Obama announced his budget proposal that would cut funding to LIHEAP programs by over 2.5 billion dollars. Millions of households in America, representing approximately 3 per cent of the population, that are currently eligible to receive energy assistance, would be cut loose.

You can’t manage the political will to bring about an end to George Bush’s gift of tax breaks for the richest Americans, so they can keep the yacht industry afloat, but you can slash funds needed to help the poorest Americans have heat? OK, I see how you are, Obama.

No, wait, that’s not fair, is it? We bought health care reform by giving the opponents an extension to Bush’s tax cuts. Yay, we got watered down health care reform! But, you know what? The Republicans didn’t shake hands with us on the purchase, so they plan on taking the goods back, and keeping the extension.

That was muddled of me. Let’s look at the stupidity of these cuts from a different angle.

Consider those Predator Drones you keep hearing about. Like the one that wiped out an Afghan wedding party in 2007. Recently, the Air Force decided they weren’t deadly enough, so they would replace all their Predator Drones with newer Reaper Drones. (The old Predators will be sold at a discount to the Italians, to take out Berlusconi.) Each Reaper, at 10.5 million, costs more than twice what a Predator cost, and they want to buy over 250 of them over the next couple of years.

Our own people can go without heat next winter so that Air Force crews trained on arcade games, sitting in comfort in Florida, can kill more Afghans with the click of a mouse. Have you seen the ads? “It’s not science fiction.” All the excitement of war, and you get to go home to your wife and kids at the end of each shift, 1.4 miles away!

Oh, I get. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. So it’s all one big war, then, isn’t it?

Other ways it doesn’t pay to be poor:
That Ian Birk will not be charged for murder or manslaughter comes down to this 1986 footnote to the law "The legislature recognizes that RCW 9A.16.040 establishes a dual standard with respect to the use of deadly force by peace officers and private citizens... " stating that the lawmakers “really meant it” when they said police should be allowed to get off for murder almost all the time.

So any police officer can kill anyone so long as it can’t be proved to have been done out of malice. For example, let’s say you’re a cop, and you see a poor person wasting space. So long as it isn’t personal (you don’t have anything against that particular poor person, just poor people in general) you can fire away.

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