Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Where are the pitchforks?

As the old saying goes, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.
I think it's hard to pay attention today when there are so many things being done to us, and by "us", I mean the poor, the elderly, the chronically ill, the  mentally ill, children, unions, voters,college students,  immigrants,the Middle Class, workers and small business owners.
Being done to us 24/7.
Being done to us so fast that the news media cannot keep up with the latest assaults, and we cannot digest them or react to them before the next one comes along.
All we can do is try to focus.
So let us focus now on our Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, the creation and puppet of big money donors, of corporations, the wealthy, the privatize-everything industry and especially of the natural gas industry.
Here are the highlights of what Corbett and his Republican legislature have done to us in the last year or so:
*Kicked 89,000 children off of the state's medical care program for the poor.
*Cut 68,000 adults off of the state's general assistance program that provides a miniscule $205 a month to the homeless, the chronically ill, mentally ill and addicted adults who have virtually no other source of income to help them survive other than begging on the streets and taking sandwiches from soup kitchens.
*Cut state funding by 20 percent for all state medical, mental health, addiction and child welfare programs.
*Reduced eligibility for unemployment benefits by 13 weeks, affecting 30,000 Pennsylvanians or one-tenth of those receiving unemployment.
*Savagely cut state funding to poor public schools two years in a row leaving the Philadelphia, Chester, York, Coatsville and many other school districts on the brink of complete bankruptcy.
*Instituted means testing for food stamps that will deprive poor people who have a couple thousand dollars in savings from being able to use the program.  Food stamps is about the only real welfare system left in this country since the 1996 federal law "changed welfare as we know it" by limiting cash assistance to families with children to five years.
*Slashed funding to the state's public universities and colleges at a time when students are drowning in debt and facing a doubling of the interest payments on their student loans, thanks to the Republicans in Congress who were willing to keep student loan rates down only at the expense of women's health programs.
*Absolutely refuses to raise taxes on the wealthy or to tax the natural gas industry more than a token amount even though it made $3.5 billion last year and continues to happily rape our state of one of its most valuable natural resources. Members of the natural gas industry contributed $2.5 million to Corbett's election campaign and the industry spends more than $1 million a year in lobbying Corbett and the legislature.
It's hard to choose which one of these assaults on the poor and helpless is the most egregious, I have to think it's the cuts to public schools because those cuts affect so many children whose futures are literally being snatched away from them, sending them into the same cycle of poverty, joblessness, crime and addiction that is already overwhelming us.
Last night I went out to dinner and my waitress was a special education teacher in the Chester Upland School District.
It was bad enough that she has to work two jobs to make ends meet, but she told me she had to buy her own printer, toner and paper in order to print out the Individual Education Plan for each of her students students that the state mandates be completed each a year.
"There is no paper," she said. "We have no paper."
And yet Corbett says, the school haven't raised property taxes enough.  They haven't used their "reserves."  what reserves?  Does he think we are fools?  
A lot of Pennsylvanians are suffering in silence and out of sight, and they will continue to suffer this year and next year and the next, while the rest of us seethe in an outrage we cannot find a way to express.
How long are we going to allow ourselves to be enslaved by those beholden to Grover Norquist and his insane idea that government can never raise taxes, ever, for any reason?
As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "Taxes are good, they buy us civilization."  Our civilization is slipping away, one state, one child, one future at a time.
Where are the pitchforks?


  1. We get it. Please join Upper Darby on the fountain side of the Capitol on June 6th, 2012 at 10 am to help put and end to this madness.
    You can contact us at www.saveudarts.org, or on Facebook.
    The war on children must stop.

  2. Agreed. The assault on public education must end. Natural gas could probably help a great deal. After all, I would be willing to bet that the land where the natural gas is extracted is leased from the commonwealth. Education is the parmount issue. "Give a man a fish he eats for today. TEACH a man to fish he eats for a lifetime."

  3. I'd submit this to the Inquirer. It's better than anything they've run since pterodactyls menced children on playgrounds.