Thursday, August 28, 2008

Unequal Punishment

Judy brought up an interesting point in the comments of yesterday's post. The deficit, which is shared by all citizens of the country, is now being eradicated unfairly by specific populations. While Freya's point is certainly very valid, I suppose I just think more about the parents getting 2k than those getting $2million. (By the way, according to the State of PA's Child Support web page, those with questions about the fee can call the Department of Public Welfare Bureau of Child Support Enforcement at 1-800-932-0211, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Why should people with children whittle away the deficit in this way while those without children do not? Why should people who consume alcohol in Pittsburgh support the public transportation system while teetotalers swig soda tax free? Why does the city of Pittsburgh think it's ok to charge a flat income tax? I'm telling you that 3% of an nurses aide's salary takes a lot more from the day-to-day family budget than 3% of an accountant's.

There are such disgusting disparities of wealth in this country. We balk at people living in stark poverty in "other" continents, but then we climb over or walk past really, really poor people right here among us. How many teachers have to talk about students not eating meals outside of school before we realize children are starving in front of our faces? But hey, let's just fine their guardians anyway.

Through the students I worked with for the past three years, I have learned how really privileged my life has been. I am just trying to imagine the parents of my former students, struggling so desperately to stay afloat and keep appearances of normal, trying to readjust for this new fee.

It's like they are being charged a fee for not being married to the parent of their child. Our state is, in effect, fining people for having broken homes. How can we let this happen? How many years do we have to search for new taxes and new ways to squeeze money from citizens while we squander those funds.

This recent injustice has really affected me. I can't recall being so upset by my elected officials.

3 comments:

p said...

The questions go broader than that, while the war has contributed large amounts to the deficit recently, much of our spending goes toward domestic programs like Social Security, welfare, housing assistance, and disability, food stamps, Medicaid. These systems are rotten and abused and continue cycles of poverty rather than assist folks with getting ahead like they were originally (arguably) intended.

I am not one who believes in government programs to the large and bureaucratic scales they've become. So when people then tax the beneficiaries of this assistance, they are looking at it like a cut in the benefit rather than a tax. This is stupid and unfair because it adds more redtape, which is costly in itself.

However, I am not opposed to a flat tax. The idea of capitalism is to create competition and motivation to do more and earn more and with a flat tax they'll pay more. The problem is that with some of these support programs the incentive runs the opposite way. Our government has created brackets and lines so that it is worthwhile for a woman who is pregnant NOT to marry her boyfriend who makes minimum wage because their joint income will put them at a disadvantage for getting assistance even if they otherwise would want to do so. So I guess I disagree that people are being fined for having broken homes, in fact, I think at a very low income level they’re being rewarded. (Not that I believe people should get married just because they have a kid together)

I know that you are someone who believes in more equitable distribution of wealth but we have embraced a competitive system, our model, that has then had holes plugged up by crappy government programs that create disincentive for making it – THIS is the broadening gap between socioeconomic classes. We can’t continue to support crappy programs, we have to wipe them and start over because the little Dutch boy with is finger in the dam is tired and cranky.

I guess my question is why is it the government’s responsibility to coordinate and do good to help those downtrodden in society with your money? Don’t you think you could more effectively give your funds to groups that do a better job? What if the portion of your taxes that went to social programs was returned to you and you got to give it to needy groups?

We are the most generous nation of people on the planet, despite all of our other flaws and it is the middle class that statistically give more of their wealth away than even the wealthiest. But if the government says “I have it covered” and they do a crappy job with their crappy programs and people say, “I’ll send it overseas because the poor in our country get food stamps, medical care, free school lunch, etc with my tax money” wouldn’t it be better if we just cut those programs or at least redid them so that they actually work for the people who need them and get rid of waste? And return to the idea that it is our responsibility as citizens, humans, people of faith or whatever, to do more for others? Not the government’s…

Why are some of the most compassionate people in our country, who see these problems, ready to trust a new administration to implement higher taxes and government sponsored medical care when none of the other programs (other than WIC) work? I don't trust any of them.

Shrink the government, lower the tax burden (for everyone including business owners who feed the economy) and forgive me for my misspelled rant.

Valtastic said...

The reason for the flat rate is because we're capitalist and not socialist...

Also nurse aides salary are really good. My friend was making $40K as a nurses aid now that she's a nurse she makes $62K only with an associates not even a bachelor.

One big thing is we're a capitalist nation but we don't run our government like capitalism. We cut programs from schools and what not deeming them uncessary instead of looking at where we can cut spending in other areas. There's ways for the other areas (ie the Senate, House of Reps, looking to streamline costs) to reduce spending without cutting programs. If they ran the gov like a business then they would not be spending as much and have to do these ridic taxes.

My feeling on the taxing child support. I know more spouses that deem excessive child support to get back at the husband more than I knew that happening in the poor. What I don't like about it is that the tax targets divorcees so if you remain happily married then you don't get taxed. Is it really fair to target divorcees versus the avg individual? We can't put a tax on someone because they decide to work out or because they're black or because they're taking cooking classes. How does it make sense to target the divorced community?

Katy said...

i think you are both very smart, P and Val. i like the notion of government being run like a business, because it clearly is not. but i also like the idea of social programs being placed in the hands of smaller, individual groups with their heads and hearts in the right place. i suppose that would be a wise business move.

i've been thinking i was upset with the very notion of capitalism, but maybe what i'm just upset with is its execution. what countries out there are doing things right and why can't we model them? i don't know if there is a perfect answer. of course there isn't a perfect answer. but these sorts of solutions and funds shifting are really, really not anywhere close.

p--love the dutch boy metaphor!