Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who is The "We" That Must Sacrifice?

Those who are eagerly pressing for severe budget cuts to address state and federal budget problems should be aware of the practical consequences.  Most of those people have been looking for an excuse to  slash government programs all along, regardless of the consequences.

How do you feel about drinking water that is contaminated by raw sewage due improperly or unreliably treated sewage, which is paid for by your government? If your trash is collected once or twice a week, you should plan for every other week or every three-week trash removal.  As it sits in your drive way it will attract rats and other vermin.  Many people already complain about pot-holes in their streets and highways.  That will be the least of our problems.  Roads will be increasingly poorly maintained, and when there are ice and snow storms there will be no sand and salt to treat treacherous highways and insufficient staff to drive the snow removal vehicle.. Fire departments will be understaffed so it will take much longer to reach a house that is ablaze.  Ditto for Emergency Medical Services. In a heart attack, the first 60 minutes is critical.  It is a given that libraries, public beaches and community swimming pools and other community services will close.  When the next influenza epidemic strikes, there won't be enough vaccine because the government program's budget that paid for it was severely cut. There will be much less money for food and shelter for those who are indigent, there will be increased deaths. 

Services to individuals with disabilities will be among the first to be cut.  A recent article about California’s budget woes indicates, “Governor Jerry Brown, released his proposed 2011-2012 spending plan, is calling for massive permanent reductions to a wide range of state funded programs, including regional centers, In-Home Supportive Services, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, SSI/SSP, mental health and more.” In various states, speech therapy services have already been cut or eliminated, personal care assistant support has been eliminated and other therapy cuts are in the pipeline. That's just the beginning.

I know the mantra, we are all going to have to sacrifice, but which “we” are we talking about?  The F22a Raptor aircraft costs over $380 million dollars apiece.  Secretary Gates announced the Pentagon would make cuts and experience real savings, and then in the fine print noted that savings in one budget area will be reinvested in another, for no net budget reductions.   According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, capital investments like oil field leases and oil drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry. This amounts to about $4 billion annually.  I repeat, who is this “we” that is going to have to sacrifice?  It looks as though it is going to be the average and lower income American family if the budget Hawks have their way and especially individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Everyone accepts that idea that budget cuts will be necessary, but they must be equitable and balanced with increase revenue from those who have profited from the Wall Street disaster of 2008-9. 

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