Monday, December 22, 2008

Welfare spending likely to be cut severely

Sacramento county Department of Human Assistance.
"Agencies that serve some of society's most vulnerable people are slashing staff and canceling services in anticipation of state budget cuts to welfare programs," reads the news in a frontpage article in today's Bee. And this:

If the proposed cuts pass, welfare recipients could see their benefits drop by 10 percent. A family of three would see their monthly check reduced to about $620 – as much as they would have received in 2000 or 2001 – plus about $250 in food stamps. Social Security benefits for needy elderly and disabled people would be cut. Benefits would be cut to virtually all other welfare programs, as well.

Perhaps the most tangible effect of the cuts would be staffing reductions that could erode the ability to help welfare recipients find jobs and delay applications being processed for food stamps and other aid, officials said.

"We're not talking about paper clips and furniture," said [Bruce] Wagstaff[, director of the Department of Human Assistance in Sacramento County]. "We're talking about the ability to respond to clients who are in crisis."

The cuts that will come are draconian. At a time when the number of people at the bottom in Sacramento [and all over the country] is increasing and is sure to continue to increase rapidly, due to the floundering economy, resources to these people is quickly starting to dry up. Homeless Sacramentans will feel the effects for, at least, the next several years.

Homeless people, and, indeed, all Sacramentans, should be angry about the circumstance. While Republicans in our state legislature are careful to protect the wealthiest people in our state from even so much as a 1% surtax on the second million that they make in a year, the dirt poor are going to suffer a 10% cut in what little they have to survive.

Instead of a philosopy where "everyone is in this together," wealthy insiders are getting bailed out by the government, while the poorest citizens are left to suffer more indignation, mounting suffering on suffering that's already being experienced. Commonsense should tell us that the growing population of poor and homeless are the folks most in need of "enough to get by," and should be the first beneficiaries of a "bail out." Instead the "almost invisible," the almost forgotten, the lowest caste is punished the worst -- in an economy that is failing because of wealthy people's greed.

An irony here is that money given to poor people is likely to be near-immediately spent! That is, getting money to poor folk is the best, quickest way to give the economy the boost that it needs.

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