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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/30/10

Income Inequality and Societal Health

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Bell Lockhart

Recently, we've heard and read demands from some that our tax dollars not be taken "against our will" and given to "those who refuse to produce anything." How do these folks know their money is going to "people who refuse to produce anything?" There's no evidence of this. Where are these slackards and ne'r-do-wells?

The fact is most tax dollars go to businesses and organizations to provide services and to state and local governments which in turn provide other services through businesses and organizations. Their employees are recipients of the money but only in a context of working to earn it. Employees, in turn, buy goods and services from businesses. Our entire workforce is not a bunch of non-producers. They're taxpayers too!

And what about the case of the government paying for health care for those who cannot pay, such as Medicaid and SCHIP? That money never crosses the palms of the patients. It goes directly to the providers of health care and their WORKING employees. The patient gets the benefit of treatment, which may enable them to work rather than sit at home sick or die. It improves their quality of life and enhances their future, but they can't "bum a living" off health care assistance. The same applies to the food stamp program which pays in food and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) which is, as its name, "temporary." So, there are few refusing non-producers under those rugs either.

Also, strike from the pack of non-producers those 18 and under who are not yet of "producing" age and the retirees who already "produced" for many years. And strike those in higher ed or technical schools who are still learning how to "produce." Then there are those with debilitating illness that are unable to work.

About 10% of the working age population has applied for unemployment assistance this generates our official unemployment rate. Since seeking a job is a necessary condition for obtaining assistance, unemployment recipients are actively trying to return to "producing" something. The unavoidable conclusion is that there can't be many "people who refuse to produce anything" receiving government assistance. They may be out there, but they're not living on your tax dollars.

This reminds me of the phantom "welfare Cadillac" that conservatives claimed a woman of course a woman of color drove, back in the day. Supposedly the Caddy, that strangely could never be located, was funded by the taxpayers.

Why are some of us so irrationally distrustful of our fellow human beings? Why did a "tea party" crowd verbally assault a man with Parkinson's Disease who sat at a rally with a sign saying he needed health care coverage and they might too some day. They called him a communist, threw money at him and taunted that he was just looking for a handout. It was sickening to see someone abused in that way. (One of his tormentors has now come forward to apologize, expressing shame for his behavior.) And now, why are our elected representatives who supported health insurance reform being subjected to threats of violence, racial and ethnic slurs, and acts of vandalism? All they have done is extend to all Americans the access to health care enjoyed by people in all the other advanced nations of the world.

The answer to "why?" rests, in part, in purposefully ramped up mob behavior. However, another more significant part of the answer can be found in a book I recently read: "The Health of Nations: Why Inequality is Harmful to Your Health" by Ichiro Kawachi and Bruce P. Kennedy. This book is a real eye-opener for those who would see. Their prescience, in 2002, of the recent economic collapse is astounding. Years before it occurred, they touched on all aspects of the collapse - the housing boom, the deregulation, the power of corporations, the media, consumerism, income inequality, credit debt and even the derivative trading on Wall Street!

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Mary Bell Lockhart Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I'm a retired public health worker focused these days on supporting a variety of progressive issues, such as criminal justice reform, energy efficiency, environmental protection, universal health care, civil rights, and worldwide peace and (more...)

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