They didn’t cause the problem, but will pay the highest price
The world’s impoverished nations are most at risk of devastation from the consequences of a warming climate, with Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa in extreme jeopardy. These economically strapped countries contributed very little to a problem caused primarily by wealthy industrial states, but they will pay the biggest price.
The World Bank estimates that it will take $100 billion a year to ameliorate the effects of climate change in poor countries. The United States’ share would be $20-30 billion. Congressional leaders complain that this is too much–––but, we spent $60 billion to deal with the ravages of super storm Sandy. It doesn’t seem just that we take care of our own and then ignore the disasters that our life style causes other nations.
Critics of government spending on a social safety net complain that too many of the aid recipients are unworthy, and that we cannot afford to maintain tax-and-spend programs that transfer money from the job-creating wealthy to the undeserving poor.
Who is deserving of taxpayer-supported aid?
Most people are familiar with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as Food Stamps), Medicaid, Women and Infant Children (WIC), and other direct aid programs.
But there is a category of public assistance that most people tend to ignore: tax write offs for private jets; mortgage interest deductions for yachts and second homes; the classification of money earned from hedge fund investment as capital gains rather than regular income, thus reducing taxes from 39.6% to 23.8%; an annual subsidy of more than $80 billion by the taxpayers to the 10 largest banks; another taxpayer subsidy of approximately $80 billion per year paid to corporations by local and state governments as incentives to do business in their jurisdictions. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) understands this problem, and he said it was time to scale back “ludicrous handouts to millionaires that expose an entitlement system and tax code that desperately need to be reformed.” Thanks to Nicholas Kristof for these examples.
Elected leaders: should they follow or lead the crowd?
A nationwide USA Today/Bi Partisan Policy Center poll concluded that 80% of Americans want their members of Congress to cast votes that mirror the opinions of their constituents. I would agree if it could be assumed that the voters did their homework on issues and were informed about the nuances and consequences of policy choices. Our elected representatives have a responsibility to explain issues rather than merely parroting bumper-sticker wisdom spewed out by the ideological fringes in their districts/states. The idea that the men and women in Congress ought to poll their districts and vote according to the majority rather than make an informed policy decision is repugnant.
Risible or pestiferous?
President Obama’s polling is not good, with his approval hovering around 45%. But it is amusing to listen to Congresspersons point to Obama’s lack of popularity as evidence of his failures. The public’s approval of Congress stands at 13% with a 77% disapproval.
The Center for Worker Freedom is part of Grover Norquist’s empire. The organization complains regularly that unions are political. Yes, they are. So is the United States Chamber of Commerce, and so are the PACS affiliated with large businesses. In addition, companies and industry pay millions in fees to lobby Congress.
According to Bloomberg News, the ratio of top executive pay to the average worker in General Electric is 491:1; Lockheed Martin, 315:1; and, the President of the United States to the average government worker is 27:1.
What many have suspected seems to be a fact: The primary purpose of many candidates who run for Congress is to get elected so they can collect vast sums of money to get elected again two or six years later.
The 113th Congress holds the dubious distinction of being the least productive in history. The House was in session for only 135 days in 2013 and for this year has scheduled 97 days of work prior to the November, 2014 elections.
A well-regulated militia?
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill into law on April 16 that strips the power of local governments to enact restrictions on the sale of guns and ammunition, and on how guns can be transferred, stored and transported.
The National Rifle Association hailed this legislation as a model for the nation. The wording is clear: “No city or county shall adopt any ordinance, resolution or regulation, and no agent of any city or county shall take any administrative action governing the purchase, transfer, ownership, storage or transporting of firearms or ammunition, or any component or combination thereof.” I guess the principle of all politics being local has been repealed.
[i] Please excuse the weird words in the heading and the last subhead. I am not trying to show off, but am having fun with Peter Meltzer’s book, The Thinker’s Thesaurus.