Friday, March 07, 2008

Sad growth

Common knowledge informs us that approximately one million Americans each year over the past five out of six years have fallen below the poverty line in terms of their household earnings.

That is a staggering number.

We encounter the personal plunge on a daily basis. It is undeniable.

For the latest evidence, consider the numbers we've collected here at Central Dallas Ministries during the first two months of 2008 in our Resource Center on Haskell Avenue. We distribute food products and provide our own version of "neighborhood case management" from this high-traffic community center.

During January-February 2007, we provided services, friendship and hope to 6,202 individuals representing 3,783 families. We did so thanks to the volunteers who provided us 2,564 hours of service time.

Compare the same January-February period this year and you discover that we engaged 8,315 individuals from 4,832 family units--an increase of thirty-four (34) and twenty-eight (28) percent respectively. Our volunteers logged 3,052 hours in providing for these dramatically increasing needs.

I'm glad we are here.

I appreciate our volunteers--the vast majority being great folks with few material resources who receive our services themselves.

But, I see this as very, very sad growth.

We should be doing better as a people and as a nation. Sadly, in my view, no one in the current presidential campaign addresses this pressing national problem.

.

14 comments:

Chris said...

Well, it seems to me both democrats are promising everything but the kitchen sink to people. Of course, this will only make poverty worse. What incentive will anyone have to work hard and succeed if it is taken from them in taxes? Small businesses will disappear because they will be taxed to death. Health care will be the disaster it is in Canada. Perhaps it will take 4 years of complete socialism for people to wake up.

Larry James said...

Chris, your analysis reflects that you haven't been paying close attention.

Charles said...

Yes, I'm terribly afraid they will spend on such things as a giveaway "insurance plan" to pharmaceutical companies that doesn't actually cover the insured, billions to companies who operate out of the Caymans to avoid paying US taxes, and a refund check that can't help the economy but hey it's an election year. Obviously only democrats would spend so foolishly. Fortunately when you don't raise taxes it's only the next generation who will have to pay. Or the soldiers returning from war who are "healed" in abominable facilities. Or anyone who didn't contribute to Bush-Cheney.

If you don't like government spending, you can't blame Democrats for the last decade. Chris, you obviously don't have any concern for anyone other than Rush - I usually want to hear dissenting viewpoints, but my refrigerator magnets have more coherence than you. I won't speak for Larry, but I'd enjoy the site and conversations it generates a lot more if you just went and dittoheaded somewhere that everyone is. You're the problem with the entire political system today, not because you're conservative (you're not), not because you're Republicans (many Democrats have the same problem), but because your idea of a conversation is repeating a lecture from manipulators without any analysis of what they or you are saying.

Chris said...

Haven't been paying attention, Larry? Actually, I paid TOO much attention. Here are some of the things I heard.

We need to give health care to all people. (So it will be a disaster like Canada)

We need to give all kids tuition money for college education.

We need universal pre-school for all children over two years old.(So indoctrination can start early)

We need parent education to teach parents how to raise their children.

We need new federal programs to cure aids and aids education.(So we can give them clean needles)

We need to raise taxes on the rich to pay for all these multi-billion dollar programs.

We need to spend more billions of dollars on public schools.(Like throwing money down the toilet)

We need to spend more billions of dollars to fight global warming. (a big hoax, incidentally)

We have to take money from big oil to fund alternative energy programs. (Clinton used the word "take" as in "loot.")

We have to tax the rich, (who earned their money) to pay for welfare, employment programs for minorities and dozens of other programs.

We have to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes.(This means to loot money from brilliant productive businessmen who earn more than others with their superior ambition and hard work, and give this stolen loot to less productive people who do not produce jobs for others.)

We need to bail out all the people who obtained sub-prime mortgages.

osipov said...

Chris, what are you smoking?? Oh, incidentally, Canada's healthcare system is not a disaster. The U.S. is the only country (besides what we consider to be 3rd-world countries) that doesn't have socialized medicine. The majority of socialized countries also seem to provide a college education for their young people. My husband is from Russia - I know they provide it. They also expect you to "repay" the education by using it in Russia. But hey small price to pay it seems to me. So much of what you're saying just totally defies logic . . . you really must be breathing in all that fairy dust that the republicans are spreading around.

Anonymous said...

What I really dislike about comments like Chris's is that it takes the focus off the original post. Everyone begins to poke holes in Chris's already very hollow ideological theories instead of focusing on the blog author's subject.

If the increase in poverty discussed in Larry's original blog doesn't disturb you, I do not know why you are bothering to read this site. It should be disturbing to all people of faith. If it isn't, you aren't reading the same Bible I am. And if a solution takes some government action, even though that is usually not my first inclination, so be it. That's not socialism, it's pragmatism.

Larry James said...

Chris, I love it when you "set me up at the net" like this! Your comments are copied here inside quotation marks with mine in between in all CAPS:

"We need to give health care to all people. (So it will be a disaster like Canada)"

NOT SURE HOW ANY AMERICAN CAN SIT IN JUDGEMENT OF ANY OTHER NATION'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS WHEN THEIR MEASURABLE OUTCOMES OUT PERFORM OURS IN EVERY RESPECT. SURE, IF YOU ARE WEALTHY AND CAN AFFORD TO PAY FOR MORE EXOTIC FORMS OF CARE, MAYBE OUR'S IS YOUR DEAL, BUT SOME OF US LIKE TO THINK OF EVERYONE IN THIS NATION, NOT JUST INDIVIDUALS.

"We need to give all kids tuition money for college education."

COULD THERE BE A BETTER INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE STRENGTH OF OUR NATION? CURRENTLY WE DON'T EVEN HELP OUR RETURNING GIs WITH SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS. SHAME ON US. YES, CRHIS, I BELIEVE ANY YOUNG PERSON WHO WANTS TO GO TO COLLEGE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO GO AND I SEE IT AS ALL UPSIDE FOR THE USA.

"We need universal pre-school for all children over two years old.(So indoctrination can start early)"

EVERYONE NEEDS TO WORK, RIGHT? SOME DON'T EARN ENOUGH TO PAY FOR QUALITY, SAFE CHILD CARE. THIS IS AGAIN AND INVESTMENT. ALL THE STUDIES REVEAL THAT EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION GIVES KIDS A REAL JUMP ON EDUCATIONAL PERFORMANCE. "INDOCTRINATION?" COME ON, CRHIS, STICK TO THE FACTS.

"We need parent education to teach parents how to raise their children."

MUCH OF THIS MOVEMENT COMES FROM THE FAITH-BASED INITIATIVES SUPPORTED BY PRESIDENT BUSH. DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT IT REALLY.

"We need new federal programs to cure aids and aids education.(So we can give them clean needles)"

EVER KNOW ANYONE WITH AIDS, CHRIS? DOESN'T SOUND LIKE IT. MY CHURCH IN RICHARDSON, IN MY FORMER LIFE, HAD AN AGGRESSIVE MINISTRY TO PERSONS WITH AIDS. WE NEED FUNDS FOR ALL THAT YOU NOTE. COMPASSION, CHRIS, COMPASSION???

"We need to raise taxes on the rich to pay for all these multi-billion dollar programs."

CUTTING TAXES ON THE VERY WEALTHY AT A TIME WE WAGE A TRILLION $$ WAR IS PURE LUNACY.

"We need to spend more billions of dollars on public schools.(Like throwing money down the toilet)"

AGAIN, WE ARE TALKING INVESTMENT IN OUR NATION'S FUTURE. PUBLIC SCHOOLS CAN PERFORM BETTER, AND THEY SHOULD. HERE IN DALLAS, WE ARE SEEING IMPROVEMENT AND WE WILL SEE MORE. PART OF THE WAY TO SEE THAT HAPPENING WILL COST US FUNDS. I'M READY TO PAY MY PART. THE KIDS ARE MORE THAN WORTH IT.

"We need to spend more billions of dollars to fight global warming. (a big hoax, incidentally)"

SO, ALL THE SCIENTISTS ARE WRONG AND YOU ARE RIGHT. EVEN OUR PRESIDENT HAS ACCEPTED THE UNDENIABLE EVIDENCE.

"We have to take money from big oil to fund alternative energy programs. (Clinton used the word "take" as in "loot.")"

EVERY MAJOR OIL COMPANY HAS A DIVISION WORKING ON ALTERNATIVE FUELS. THE COSTS OF FOSSIL FUELS MAKES THEIR USE UNSUSTAINABLE. I HOPE WE FUND THIS RESEARCH, WE WILL SINK IF WE KEEP GOING LIKE WE ARE.

"We have to tax the rich, (who earned their money) to pay for welfare, employment programs for minorities and dozens of other programs."

AGAIN, THE WEALTHY SHOULD PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE IN VIEW OF THE AMOUNT THEY GET TO KEEP. THE RICH "EARNED THEIR MONEY" WITH THE HELP OF LABOR, WOULDN'T YOU SAY? THE PROGRAMS YOU MENTION ARE INVESTMENTS IN THE GOOD AND THE FUTURE OF OUR NATION. WORK IS GOOD, RIGHT? YOUR USE OF "MINORITIES" TIPS YOU HAND, CHRIS. I'M BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND YOU VERY WELL.

"We have to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes.(This means to loot money from brilliant productive businessmen who earn more than others with their superior ambition and hard work, and give this stolen loot to less productive people who do not produce jobs for others.)"

I'LL JUST LET THIS COMMENT STAND ALMOST W/O COMMENT SO THAT OTHERS CAN REALLY TAKE IT IN! IT DOES REMIND ME OF WHAT I HEARD SOMEONE SAY RECENTLY: "WHITE PEOPLE, BORN ON THIRD BASE, OFTEN TALK ABOUT HOW THEY HIT A TRIPLE."

"We need to bail out all the people who obtained sub-prime mortgages."

MANY LIKELY DO NEED HELP. WHAT WE NEED TO DO FIRST THOUGH IS SANCTION AND FINE THE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FOR USING BOGUS, RISKY PRODUCTS THAT PUNISH CONSUMERS FOR FOLLOWING THE "AMERICAN DREAM" OF HOME OWNERSHIP.

YOU AND I ARE ON ABSOLUTE OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM!

Anonymous said...

Larry - As you know, I am a big believer in your fight, but I can't sit quiet about one "hot topic". Any one who thinks the "wealthy" ( and I use that term very loosely) are not paying their "fair share" of taxes is simply operating under the wrong FACTS, has been misguided by politicians, or simply does not care about the actual facts. For every dollar I make, I pay 39 cents in income taxes to the IRS. So I am not the least bit swayed by the argument or rhetoric that the "wealthy" are not paying their fair share of taxes. Moreover, I have no clue what "tax breaks" or "loopholes" everyone keeps talking about the "wealthy" getting because I sure don't see them. I am beginning to think that successful people are becoming the punching bag... and many of these successful people are fighting for the exact causes discussed on this blog every day. I will not identify myself to everyone since I want to remain discreet ( since i discussed financial situation) but you know me and my family well and you married my wife and me. Look forward to seeing you soon. David.

Larry James said...

David, thanks for your post. The fact is the current administration has handed those among us who are doing well a big cut in taxes. That is simply beyond dispute. Making the cut permanent and continuing to fund this war is a recipe for disaster for us all. The fact is, we have seen unfunded mandates in the name of compassion, but cut after cut in efforts to help the weakest among us. The tax rates of 40 or 50 years ago for the richest Americans stood at over 70%. My point is simply that we can afford to create a much more equitable national life than our current approach is producing. And the argument that tax cuts for the wealthiest among us ends up in job creation and benefit for the weakest is simply silly.

Anonymous said...

Since I am about to disclose something very personal, I will stay anonymous. Our household makes over $200K per year. With a nominal tax rate of 28%, after normal exemptions and deductions(no "loopholes"), we actually pay an effective rate of maybe 15%. I know that our income puts us in the top 10% of income earners in the US, and I for one certainly do not feel overtaxed. That being the case, all I can say is, if you actually pay that 39% rate on any of your income, well, I wish I had that problem.

brian said...

There is no undeniable evidence to support global warming. Hoaxes tend to take on a life of their own. In fact, the myth of global warming has already started to unravel. Plenty of scientists do not agree with this hoax. According to new NASA measurments we are heading for a period of solar activity that could result years of much colder temperatures.

By the way, it has been proved that tax cuts =economic growth.

Larry James said...

brian, we can debate the global warming issues some other time. But my comment about tax cuts for the top I stand by, especially at a time when we are at war. This is a first in our national history--historic tax cuts and an expanding, incredibly costly war.

Charles said...

Larry, your knowledge and compassion in your work always amaze me, but I also truly hope to learn your patience. Thank you for using the first comment for such a teaching moment - it's helped me understand a lot of things. You da man, and I hope to be able to help this work in Austin now.

Justin said...

Income taxes don't fund much of our government anyway. A lot of our federal spending comes from the Fed printing money. I agree we need to end the war, but we also need to reign in spending. And keep taxes where they are. Getting rid of the corporate tax would be a major blessing to the consumer though, since they are the ones that actually pay that tax.

It really comes down to our needing sound money. We're about to see massive inflation from funding runaway government spending (war and other things as well) with fake money. Check out MZM. We've added over a trillion dollars to the money supply in the last 3 years. The inflation tax is gonna hurt the poor worse than any tax cuts for the wealthy ever could. When a dozen eggs go from a dollar to 1.79 in just a few years, we have a problem. Spending on the poor is going to be a moot point when our government can't afford to pay the interest on SS and Medicare in 2040.

If you want to help the poor, the best way to do it is to create an environment where the economy is booming, jobs are plentiful, and there is education choice for those in poverty who are now stuck in failing schools.