Showing posts with label Politicians Against the Poor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politicians Against the Poor. Show all posts

June 20, 2018

Kansas Sec Of State Kobach Looses Case on Requiring ID to Vote Judge Orders Him to Take Legal Classes

 Image result for kobacj to study judge orders

Kansas cannot require people to prove their U.S. citizenship before they can vote, a federal judge says, ruling that the state's election law is unconstitutional. The judge sharply criticized Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has based much of his political career on worries about voter fraud.
Chief District Judge Julie A. Robinson sanctioned Kobach — who led President Trump's voter fraud commission — by ordering him to take a legal class on the rules of evidence or procedure. Kobach represented his office and was the lead attorney in the case.
The judge said Kobach failed to show there had been a "substantial number" of people who managed to register to vote in Kansas without being U.S. citizens.
Starting in 2013, people who wanted to vote in Kansas needed to produce documents proving their U.S. citizenship, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, naturalization papers, a passport.
Robinson said that law violated the National Voter Registration Act and the 14th Amendment, in a 118-page ruling that decided two consolidated cases.
Image result for kobacj to study judge ordersKansas had already required voters to be U.S. citizens — but before 2013, people were able to satisfy that rule by affirming their eligibility on their registration application.

Kobach was a driving force behind the change. The trial, which concluded in March, was his chance to show it was based on real concerns and would protect elections in Kansas from fraud. 
Heading into the trial, Kobach said that since 1999, his office had confirmed 127 cases of noncitizens who had either registered to vote or attempted to do so. Of that number, 43 had succeeded in registering and 11 had voted.
Those figures were just "the tip of the iceberg," Kobach had vowed. But after reviewing the state's evidence and hearing from its experts, Robinson concluded that "there is no iceberg; only an icicle, largely created by confusion and administrative error."
Robinson noted that Kansas is a state with some 1.8 million registered voters — and that the number of people in Kansas who aren't U.S. citizens who either registered to vote or tried to do so is 0.6 percent of the state's noncitizen population.
Based on the evidence, the judge ruled, Kansas' interests in preventing fraud, while legitimate, are "not strong enough to outweigh the tangible and quantifiable burden on eligible voter registration applicants in Kansas who were not registered to vote before January 1, 2013."
The new law also complicated the process for "motor voter" applicants, who might not have brought the proper citizenship documents when they applied for or renewed a drivers' license. Kansas drivers are required to provide proof of lawful presence when they apply for their first license.
As the judge wrote in her ruling, "Of the 30,732 applicants whose applications were, as of March 31, 2016, suspended or canceled due to failure to provide [documentation], approximately 75 percent were motor-voter applicants."
The American Civil Liberties Union led the legal challenge to the Kansas law.
"That law was based on a xenophobic lie that noncitizens are engaged in rampant election fraud," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. "The court found that there is 'no credible evidence' for that falsehood, and correctly ruled that Kobach's documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution."
During the trial, Kobach "denied allegations of voter suppression, and put experts on the stand to present polls and surveys that they say show almost all Kansans have easy access to documents like birth certificates," as Celia Llopis-Jepsen of the Kansas News Service reported for NPR.
The plaintiffs included the League of Women Voters of Kansas, which said it had struggled to help young voters register because of the new law. Some applicants were unable or unwilling to show their papers to a volunteer, the League said. Others balked at the time investment after the process went from taking less than five minutes to requiring a full hour.
The organization also said it was forced to halt nearly all of its operations so it could change its protocols. The main concern: that volunteers might somehow be found liable if they handled or copied applicants' citizenship documents and other records.
For instance, a voter registration drive at Washburn University yielded 400 voter applicants — but most were incomplete and, after weeks of effort, only around 75 voters were registered.
The evidence, Robinson wrote, backed up an expert's opinion that Kansas' law "disproportionately affects the young and those who are not politically affiliated."
Another issue: Before the League could help would-be voters to finish the registration process, it had to buy the "suspense list" from the secretary of state's office – something it did several times. It also purchased the full list of voters, to verify who was on it.
In sanctioning Kobach, the judge gave the secretary of state roughly one year to provide proof of the additional training, which would be part of the mandatory continuing legal education classes that many attorneys take to maintain their law licenses.
Robinson cited "a pattern and practice by [Kobach] of flaunting disclosure and discovery rules that are designed to prevent prejudice and surprise at trial. It's unclear, she said, whether he "repeatedly failed to meet his disclosure obligations intentionally or due to his unfamiliarity with the federal rules."
Kobach, we'll note, is a Harvard graduate who earned his law degree at Yale and was a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. He also taught constitutional law as a professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, according to his official biography.  
The ruling comes two months after the judge found Kobach in contempt of court for disobeying her order to allow some potentially ineligible voters to remain eligible to cast a ballot under a preliminary injunction.
Kobach is running for governor in Kansas' current election season, locked in a tight Republican primary race against incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer — who rose to the office after former Gov. Sam Brownback won confirmation as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.


April 16, 2018

60-80% of Income For Rent Without Help Results on The EVICTION

 For many poor families in America, eviction is a real and ongoing threat. Sociologist Matthew Desmond estimates that 2.3 million evictions were filed in the U.S. in 2016 — a rate of four every minute.

"Eviction isn't just a condition of poverty; it's a cause of poverty," Desmond says. "Eviction is a direct cause of homelessness, but it also is a cause of residential instability, school instability [and] community instability."

Poverty and Profit in the American City

Low-Income Renters Squeezed Between Too-High Rents And Subpar Housing
Desmond won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for his book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. His latest project is The Eviction Lab, a team of researchers and students at Princeton University dedicated to amassing the nation's first-ever database of eviction. To date, the Lab had collected 83 million records from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

"We're in the middle of a housing crisis, and that means more and more people are giving more and more of their income to rent and utilities," Desmond says. "Our hope is that we can take this problem that's been in the dark and bring it into the light."

On why eviction rates are so high

Incomes have remained flat for many Americans over the last two decades, but housing costs have soared. So between 1995 and today, median asking rents have increased by 70 percent, adjusting for inflation. So there's a shrinking gap between what families are bringing [in] and what they have to pay for basic shelter.

And then we might ask ourselves: Wait a minute, where's public housing here? Where's housing vouchers? Doesn't the government help? And the answer is, it does help, but only for a small percentage of families. Only about 1 in 4 families who qualify for housing assistance get anything. So when we picture the typical low-income American today, we shouldn't think of them living in public housing or getting any kind [of] housing assistance for the government, we should think of folks who are paying 60, 70, 80 percent of their income and living unassisted in the private rental market. That's our typical case today.

On the effects of eviction

The eviction comes with a mark that goes on your record, and that can bar you from moving into a good house in a safe neighborhood, but could also prevent you from moving into public housing, because we often count that as a mark against your application. So we push families who get evicted into slum housing and dangerous neighborhoods.

We have studies that show that eviction is linked to job loss. ... It's such a consuming, stressful event, it causes you to make mistakes at work, lose your footing there, and then there's just the trauma of it — the effect that eviction has on your dignity and your mental health and your physical health. We have a study for example that shows that moms who get evicted experience high rates of depression two years later.

On how landlords go about evicting tenants

It varies a lot from city to city. In some places, you can evict someone for being a penny short and a day late and the process is very efficient and quick. In other cities, it's a lot longer and laborious and it's much more work. We're only also talking about formal evictions, too. These are evictions that go through the court and there are 101 ways for landlords to get a family out. Sometimes landlords pay a family to leave. Sometimes they change their locks or take their door off, as I witnessed one time in Milwaukee. So those evictions aren't even captured in these numbers that we have — which means the estimates that we have are stunning, but they're also too low. 


In A High-Rent World, Affordable And Safe Housing Is Hard To Come By
On the benefits of stabilizing families and decreasing evictions

The more I think about this issue, the more I think that we've really had a failure of our imagination — and maybe it's linked to a failure of our compassion. ... When we ask, What can be done if a tenant doesn't pay rent? Doesn't that tenant have to be evicted? A thousand things can be done. There are so much better ways of dealing with this issue than we currently do. ...

Stabilizing a home has all sorts of positive benefits for a family. The kid gets to finish school. The neighborhood doesn't lose a crucial neighbor. The family gets to root down and get to understand the value of a home and avoid homelessness. And for all of us, I think [we] have to recognize that we're paying the cost of eviction because whatever our issue is, whatever keeps us up at night, the lack of affordable housing sits at the root of that issue. ...

Stabilizing a home has all sorts of positive benefits for a family.
Matthew Desmond:

We know that neighborhoods that have more evictions have higher violent crime rates the following year. You can understand why — it rips apart the fabric of a community. We pay for that. The top 5 percent of hospital users consume 50 percent of the health care costs. Guess who those people are? They're the homeless and unstably housed. And so I think we can spend smart or we can spend stupid, and so I think addressing the affordable housing crisis is a win for families, for landlords and for the taxpayer.

Roberta Shorrock and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper adapted it for the Web.
Published first on NPR

November 5, 2015

People Living in Affordable Apartments Pay over 50% of Income for Rent [and] Who is backing Trump?

 The Current NYC Mayor Promises affordable housing; Lower middle and middle class renters pay at least 50% of their income in such affordable apts. The only renters that pay a fair and sometimes too fair rents are NYCHA renters. They just have to put up with high crime and no repair services. NYCHA was a good concept but the politicians with landlords in their pockets made sure it failed. Wether is Amtrak or any subsidized service will surely fail if money is taken for maintenance and up keeping, insuring that the billions spent to built that service ends up in the can (adamfoxie*blog)
Before I go into a story on the NYDaily News today let me just say that I’m an unwilling expert on rents in NYC. Not only because Im informed about the issue but because I live it. I live in a rent regulated apt. Why is it rent regulated? Built with federal loan guarantees with the stipulation to give rent breaks to some renters. No one can tell me if the program in which my building gave some breaks to some renters still goes on. I do know that they still do if they need renters and the renters make at least a minimum of a certain amount a year. Leaving the issues about this building aside let me just get to the money. I have paid at times 80% of income on this one bedroom apt. upon lease renewals (yearly leases). If you change jobs, become disabled, get sick or for what ever reason your income goes down the rent keeps going up every time you renew your lease. The average rent increase has been from $45 lowest (one time, except this year there is no increase for the first time ever) and $80 the highest which was happening every year for about 8 yrs.  After finally getting approved to a state program because of the high rent opposite my income now my rent is frozen as long as my income does not goes up. Still with this frozen rent and a reduction of about $80. a month I still pay 50% of income in rent + utilities. This is just one story, I don’t know how people are able to manage in this city. For all the talk about SNAP (food stamps) most people will be turn down unless they have kids. I see unwed mother’s having kids without a father so they can leave home and have the government pick up the tap for food, health and apartment.  The system is set up for people not to be honest. I have never met one person who cries out foul about food stamps that knows the qualifications for it They just see a fat woman in  front of them at the cashier of the supermarket with a cart full of goods. That woman is feeding a bunch of mouths that the government insisted she have in order to help her. If she had no kids she will not even be at your supermarket.Some people loves the Donald because without any information like most voters he says the hell with this and that and they like it. He solves all the problems by magic and promises to make this nation great again (when did it stop being great opposite most nations?) Uninformed people and people that will directly benefit from him i.e. Landlords will find it thrilling that he can say he will do all that. I wish they will go to George Bush’s speeches and see if he didn’t say the same things in a little better language (not much). He was also not a politician before running for governor of Florida and was as rich as the Donald if not more. The thing is that once they are in  they are in for two terms. The first term given by the uninformed (the same that say Trump is just using his money and don’t see the money he gets by law and under the table by the PACS) and the second by the system of money and promises.”            [Adam Gonzalez]      
 Bush went after the Japanese and Trump the Chinese and Mexicans. He wont antagonize Putin and never did Bush (Why? The-world-where-putin-inhabits-does-not-exists)

“A just released survey found that a large percentage of the tenants cannot afford to live in their apartments and are either rent burdened or severely rent burdened,” the study states.

Last spring, the group surveyed 115 tenants at 16 randomly selected buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx built between 2001 and 2011 by the city's major affordable housing players.

These buildings all got big tax breaks, so developers had to cap rent for eligible lower- and moderate-income tenants.

But as the years passed, incremental rent increases were allowed. With incomes flat for the last decade, rent costs begin to chew up renters’ budgets.

“Even in a low rent increase environment, the rents do go up,” said one affordable housing developer who reviewed the survey. “And if income is flat or if (a worker’s) hours are cut, the gap between 30% of income towards rent and the real rent paid over time continues to grow.” 
One in three said their rent jumped more than 20%, while 11% saw their rent skyrocket more than 40%. That compares to an average 12% rent rise in New York City between 2005 and 2013, census data show.                                                    

A 55-year-old airport worker who lives in an affordable building in Brooklyn says her rent started 18 years ago at $250. It’s about to go to $600.

“My salary before taxes is $404. After taxes it’s $316,” said the tenant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears retaliation by her landlord.

“Everything in life goes up and up and we can’t get everything for free. But if it’s based on your income, it’s still a lot with my salary,” she said.

Real Affordability planned a protest Wednesday at a gala for NYS Association for Affordable Housing, the affordable housing developer trade group.

The survey, which targetted buildings built by NYSAFAH members, shows “once NYSAFAH developers build their ‘affordable’ housing, the rents rise much faster than tenants’ incomes, increasing the rent burden on low-income tenants who struggle to afford their apartments.”

Jolie Milstein, president & CEO of NYSAFAH, blasted the survey, saying it “conveniently fails to note whether or not any of the tenants' incomes decreased over time.”

“A decrease in income could be caused by loss of employment, personal injury or retirement,” she wrote. “If a tenant in affordable housing loses their job and becomes rent-burdened for a period of time, does RAFA suggest they should be evicted?”


July 1, 2014

Economics of the poor because the poor have it easy

(Not reading for everyone)

How can someone who is never been poor would even know who and what the poor is?

There are many types of poor and levels. There is the homeless that you might see in the street because they have exhausted their lives in a society that have failed them. There is also the mentally unstable that cannot keep up with the responsibilities of running a household and then there is the many levels of working or non working families, single mothers, single fathers, singles, sick or disabled, elderly.  We sometimes say poor and people that listen to that word would have a preconceive picture of what it means but that is just based on a bias of lack of information or experience.

Let’s pick on someone

For the Republicans, which is a group of people who worry about loosing what they got and believing on something called an American Dream, they believe that by skipping government regulations and just following their dream guts, family history or education can one day obtain something they feel they haven’t got at the moment. Some say that they want their children to have it easier than they did or just a better life.

Amazing thing in life is that if you want to see the future all you have to do is look at the past. Shocking! it repeats itself. If you don’t know that is because your history needs refreshing.  If you want to see how your children will do just look at the children of people like you today. Their parents said the same things you say. It’s amazing at people that think they are working for the tomorrow when they are really working for today. There is no tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be dead.  They don’t realize this is a limited journey and when we are done, we are done. Even if you believe in the hereafter you know that it cannot be anything like today.  Why Am I bringing the hereafter or non hereafter to talk simple economics? and why pick on the Republicans? Fair enough!

First, Im picking on the Republicans first because Ive been one and know them well. But better than that, you might agree with me that this is a group of people with very similar ideas of how things are and how they should be. Agree with that statement? It’s pretty general but it applies to this group better because wether you call yourself anything else you are not as well organize in thought as they are. I will prove it to you:  That is why they win elections even when most of the country disagree with them. Right now we have every demographic against them with the exception of men. Yet they have the house in congress and if the democrats keep the senate on the next elections it will be by a small margin. Yes, they win elections , they are organize in thought. Their thought I described above.

Secondly, what is the hereafter have to do with economics? Everyhting. If you are a believer you will see the world through what you have been taught through your religion first or second. If you are not a believer, you view of the world is seen by your own eyes and how well informed you are. If you a re not well informed then you are a loose cannon. You will believe even in somethings the republicans believe as a group “No Climate Change” “You should always show your power” etc.
Do you see my point?  But why the economics part again?

My thought about the economics of the poor and americans is that either you believe what your peers have told you or you believe in what you have seen, experienced or have been informed about absent of the religion view point.
My point being that both sides are short of knowledge of what the poor is. If we really knew the poor, there would no poor. Everyone would have at least the minimum to buy their food(no caviar or champagne) but tuna fish and beer is fine. Would have shelter not a mansion but an apartment livable, health care equal to congress, police or private protection and an education of 12th grade and at least 2 yrs of college. That is my view of what the poor that can accommodate this life style should have.

Who pays for it? Everyone. We know that this is our journey and we should make sure we as humanity are in the same page, particularly in a rich nation such as this. We don’t have the money some would say? What an anemic old argument? Who makes the money? Who spends the money and how? The how is the most important part. We even have money to one day go to the moon! Oops, we’ve been there. Add up the money spent in two wars of the past four. See if that is enough to change the living standards of this country. So you can even go to war. Im giving you 2 out of 4. You can’t take that away because that would be impossible. I know that because I know some history and there has to be war!

These are my economics of the poor so watch out if I ever run. No, actually this is something that has to start from grass roots with the three branches of government in unison to change the nation. It would take a revolution you know the: “ I’M sick and tired and I can’t take it anymore” from the middle class. The poor does not have the power and it never will and if it gets it throws it away like, Egypt, Russia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, etc., etc.

 The following thoughts about the poor are by  Robin Marty in “The poor have it easy

Being poor. It means stretching a dollar to be sure that your children can eat every day. It means deciding whether you can skip a car payment or a mortgage payment this month, because one more missed electricity bill will get the power turned off. It means ignoring the pain in your chest because even if you have insurance you can’t cover the deductible for the doctor’s visit, or skipping your medication because the copay is just a little too much. It’s trying to decide between buying a shirt without a hole for a job interview or having the gas you need just to get to it.
And, according to most Republicans, that’s all “having it easy.”
new study conducted by Pew Research says that over 75 percent of those who identify as conservative believe that the poor have it “easy.” “More than three quarters of conservative Americans – those in the steadfast conservative, business conservative, and young outsider typology groups — agree that ‘poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything,’” reports Wonk Blog. “Only seven percent of steadfast conservatives say that the poor ‘have hard lives.’”
There’s a number of issues with that misconception, ranging from the idea that government benefits are in any way adequate or that they are easy to get. For the last few years we’ve seen a number of states cut benefits to the poor, providing less as well as making them more difficult to apply for. TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) and WIC programs are always first to disappear in a budget crisis, such as the 2013 government shut down, and TANF has recently been cut in some states to give money to crisis pregnancy centers instead. A refusal in a number of red states to expand Medicaid has left tens of thousands in a gap without health insurance. States that are attempting to force welfare recipients toundergo mandatory drug tests prior to getting benefits are demanding the poor pay for their own drug tests out of pocket, and even when people do receive assistance, they are forced to get rid of every asset they have first, thereby dooming themselves to a cycle of poverty they are unlikely to ever end.
Still, for many conservatives, every cent is a handout that came straight out of their pocket, hurting them and helping the “lazy” poor. As the comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug so eloquently put it, every person getting assistance is a “Lucky Ducky,” taking advantage of the hard work of real Americans keeping the economy going.
Inherently, in the conservative mindset, poor and lazy are inter-changeable, and one simply would not be poor if he or she would work harder. It’s a belief system that ignores the basic realities that poverty imposes one generation after the next, as well as the given disadvantages that cycle on top of each other such as violence, lack of food and medical care, lack of permanence in housing, lack of access to good schools and quality education, and, because of all of these things, lack of access to good jobs with living wages.
The poor do not have it easy, by any means. In reality, it is a lie that conservatives tell themselves to justify their own hoarding of wealth, dismantling of the social safety net, and cruelty to those struggling to make ends meet. By convincing themselves that the poor have it “easy” and that benefits are ample and simple to obtain, they can ignore those who are truly suffering by convincing themselves that it is moral or spiritual weakness, and not their own policies, that have caused others to need help.
The question isn’t how 75 percent of conservatives can be delusional enough to believe the poor have it easy. The real question is how they will sleep at night once they finally realize they are wrong. 

Adam Gonzalez

March 22, 2014

The Resentment Against the Super Rich is Growing

People don’t hate you because you’re beautiful. People hate you because they are getting uglier.
Use that logic, substituting income for attractiveness, and you’ll have a better grasp of why the 99.9 percent really resent the 0.1 percent.
Populist rhetoric is leaving U.S. billionaires feeling persecuted, vilified and begrudged their hard-won fortunes. Quoth Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, in Politico: “[I]f you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”
His comment echoes the reductio-ad-Hitlerum arguments venture capitalist Tom Perkins made in a recent Wall Street Journal letter to the editor, portending a “progressive Kristallnacht.” (Was there a special session at Davos about Third Reich talking points?)
Yes, anti-inequality rhetoric has grown in recent years. But it’s not the growing wealth of the wealthy that Americans are angry about, at least not in isolation. It’s the growing wealth of the wealthy set against the stagnation or deterioration of living standards for everyone else. Polls show that Americans pretty much always want income to be distributed more equitably than it currently is, but they’re more willing to tolerate inequality if they are still plugging ahead. That is, they care less about Lloyd Blankfein’s gigantic bonus if they got even a tiny raise this year.

Unequivocally, the rich have gotten richer over time, and income has become more concentrated within a tighter tier of Americans. In the 1970s, the top 1 percent of families received about 8 percent of all income, whereas their share is nearly 20 percent today. Americans’ concerns about inequality, however, don’t closely track these changes in inequality.
The General Social Survey, for example, has asked Americans about attitudes toward the income distribution for almost 30 years. Peculiarly, it shows Americans were most critical of income inequality during the early and mid-1990s, when incomes were far less concentrated than they became in later years. Remember, though, that a jobless recovery was also strangling the middle class during that time.
What happened over the next few years of the tech boom is striking. Median household incomes grew, and the incomes of the highest earners skyrocketed, meaning the chasm between the rich and the rest widened. But public criticism of the distribution of income meanwhile fell. In other words, by 2000, inequality had objectively grown, but objections to inequality had shrunk. Not coincidentally, 2000 was also the year that Americans were most likely to agree with this statement: “The way things are in America, people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living.”
In the years since the Great Recession, hostility toward inequality has again rebounded, probably also driven by concerns that the rich are moving onward and upward while everyone else is left behind.
The link between objections to inequality and perceptions of economic mobility can be traced down to the individual household level, too. Generally speaking, Americans who are pessimistic about their ability to improve their own living standards are more likely to think that “differences in income in America are too large,” “inequality continues to exist because it benefits the rich and powerful,” and “large differences in income are unnecessary for prosperity,” according to survey analysis by Leslie McCall, a sociology professor at Northwestern.
Calculations based on a recent Pew Research Center survey likewise found that people who believed their family’s income was falling behind the cost of living were more likely to say the government should do “a lot” to “reduce the gap between the rich and everyone else.”
“When growth doesn’t lift everyone, the rich are not seen as deserving, and income inequality can symbolize unfairness,” explains McCall, who wrote “The Undeserving Rich: American Beliefs About Inequality, Opportunity, and Redistribution.” As long as the rising tide is actually lifting all boats, people care less if some boats enjoy a bigger lift than others.
One implication of these polling trends is that if the 0.1 percent want to be left alone — or at least not pursued by pitchforks and guillotines — they should probably support policies that promote the upward mobility of other Americans. That would include things such as early childhood education, more generous Pell grants and a higher minimum wage, for example. While some of these policies might require higher taxes, it’s not clear that marginally improving mobility or raising the living standards of the most destitute would do much to hinder the very richest Americans’ ability to continue getting even richer. So far, little else has.
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

February 19, 2014

Americas’ Selfish Dumb Elites are Fomenting a Revolution

Tammany Hall’s William “Boss” Tweed, as depicted by 19th century political cartoonist Thomas Nast.

Why do so many of America’s wealthy elite seem hell-bent to foment a revolution? After all, the world’s plutocrats agreed at their annual confab in Davos last month that the big tail risk for Western economies is social unrest, spurred by rising financial inequality. The tail becomes fatter when One Percenters like AOL boss Tim Armstrong, realty mogul Sam Zell and venture capitalist Tom Perkins go pick fights with the little guy.
Armstrong stoked the fires of class conflict last week during his justification of the internet company’s planned reduction in employee retirement benefits. He talked up the company’s generous healthcare benefits, referring to the “million dollars each” paid for the care of two AOL employees’ “distressed babies.”
Armstrong sounded nosy and penny-pinching about healthcare, not to mention cheap about pensions. After a public outcry, including the hot breath of rebellion from the readers of AOL’s own Huffington Post, he expressed regret. A few days later, the company backtracked on the benefits cut. But the damage was done.
Sadly, Armstrong has plenty of company. Chicago property developer Zell, whose wealth Forbes puts at $4 billion, told Bloomberg Television last week that “the 1 percent work harder. The 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.” It is hard to sound more self-satisfied.
 junk bonds,securities,taxes from middle class

  Moreover, Zell thought he was helping Perkins, who had taken the “like-the-Nazis” meme to a new low. In a January letter to the Wall Street Journal, he compared complaints about gentrification in San Francisco to the persecution of Jews. Even after provoking widespread scorn for his comments, Perkins keeps digging, saying last night: “Some of the Jews were extremely wealthy. I think the parallel holds.”
It sounds like Armstrong, Zell and Perkins skipped Davos this year. Other members of the elite, who did pick up on the gathering concern about the unwashed and underemployed, would be wise to explain the risks to their arrogant brethren.
Though the French Revolution preceded the invention of the Gini Coefficient by more than a century, it was essentially a conflict over the division of economic spoils. The outsized share claimed by callous monarchs, aristocrats and clerics became too much for the citizenry to bear. The lesson from that revolution is still clear today: the inflammation of class distinctions is never good for business.
By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his and

February 18, 2014

Norquist Style Austerity Slams HIV Patients and Takes the Food Out of the mouth of the Poor

Grover Norquist (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
When austerity proponents like Grover Norquist push for more and more cuts, there are real-world effects on some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations. Following recent sequester cuts, 85 percent of AIDS organizations saw their budgets reduced even as 79 percent saw their clients increase, according to a fall survey from the AIDS Institute. Last month, Congress increased Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding to $70 million above sequestration levels — still $24 million below the Fiscal Year 2013 rate.
To consider how cuts – to AIDS programs, to food stamps and to unemployment — are impacting people with HIV, Salon called up Janet Weinberg, interim CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the three-decade-old prevention, care and advocacy group.
“We’re creating a cycle where people are set up to not succeed on medication,” said Weinberg. A condensed version of our conversation follows.

 How is the sequester impacting Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ ability to do your work?
“Unfortunate” would be putting it mildly… The impact really hit very, very hard in social service agencies like GMHC…
We lost, as was described, 10 percent of our federal funds… You’re talking a million plus dollars. A million dollars buys an awful lot of service, and buys an awful lot of food, and buys an awful lot of security where people who are struggling with HIV won’t have it…
That [hit] every single one of our federal programs. So that meant [post-exposure prophylaxis] programs, that meant counseling programs, that meant programs for people who are HIV-positive, that meant working with youth between the ages of 14 and upward to 29…
On top of the sequester last year, because that was enough insult to injury, we also had something called Hold Harmless… a clause in the Ryan White [Act] to protect and make sure that cities like New York, which are the hardest hit with HIV, were protected, to ensure that they got what they needed out of Ryan White. And the [Health Resources and Services Administration] stated that they made a mathematical error and… $18 million of New York State Ryan White dollars had to be repaid. And what that meant was five months into a contract, we were told that contracts were being cut.
Now we’re talking about literally taking food out of people’s mouths…
These clients who are HIV-positive don’t get food? Guess what: they can’t take their medication. We’re sabotaging ourselves with this kind of thing.
 Ryan White also covered some legal services. These are clients that face eviction.
Putting somebody out on the street is helpful? Who’s HIV-positive?
…The kinds of services that GMHC is providing are critical life services that are fundamental… and that’s what was cut…
In 2012, the federal government appropriated $3.5 billion to HIV. With sequestration, $3.5 billion was cut to $3.2 billion… Pretty radical.
For people who are served by GMHC, how do those cuts interact with the cuts we’ve seen to food stamps and to unemployment benefits?
We are seeing clients who are hearing about these SNAP cuts and coming in, saying to us they do not know how they are possibly going to survive with less food than they have…
With the interaction of HIV meds, we really need to be watching nutrition, to make sure that these folks are getting the food they need to metabolize the medication. So these SNAP cuts may really truly affect these clients from being able to take meds. That’s pretty drastic. That’s very serious…
In terms of the unemployment pieces, we’re desperately trying to help people get back to work… [But] somebody with HIV can’t afford to have a job that doesn’t really give them security. Otherwise they really need to stay on benefits. So again, we’re defeating ourselves by not giving people enough of a safety net…
A person who has HIV has got to plan for how they are going to stay on their medication without any breaks whatsoever, which means you can’t have a gap in your healthcare coverage. You must have coverage for your medication. You can’t afford a risk of losing housing.
You really can’t couch-surf and stay healthy with HIV, because you’ve got to take medication, you need a routine, and part of that is having a steady roof over your head. With HIV, you need proper nutrition. So if you were to have a job, and the job is unstable, and suddenly you find yourself out of work and unable to find work… It’s not so easy to just jump back on Social Security Disability. First of all, if you’ve worked, you’re showing that you’re capable of working. And now you’re caught in real Catch-22…
We’re creating a cycle where people are set up to not succeed on medication.
If someone doesn’t have sufficient food, what happens to their medication?
There are certain meds that really have to be taken with food… It’s not just any food – it’s specific foods that you need…
These meds are very hard on the digestive system, and so it’s nutrition that allows metabolism of these meds. Without nutrition, you’re not triggering your whole metabolic system to digest and to ingest the meds properly so that you get the best effect from them.
Who do you blame for this new set of challenges?
Congress. I really, really blame the House…
At the [2010] International AIDS Conference, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came and spoke, and for the first time used the language that we could have a next generation that was AIDS-free. So you can see, the framework is being put in place, but the funding is not…
In the country, only about 25 percent of all people who have HIV and AIDS are what’s called virally suppressed, which means that they’re getting their medication at an optimal level… So then you scratch your head and say: in the United States, why [are] 75 percent not able to obtain that goal? So GMHC has been wrestling with that.
We started a program with Mount Sinai hospital two years ago, where every single person who tests positive in our testing center is basically… triaged into an emergency room kind of situation…When asked if they would like us to make them an appointment immediately, and walk them over to a doctor today, we have had basically 100 percent compliance – people want to go to the doctor if they find out they’re HIV-positive. But they need help getting there… We start giving them wraparound services, finding out who they are, how they might have gotten infected, what we can do to work with them, and help them get healthy, get stable again.
In that program, over the last two years that we’ve been running it, we have a 90 percent suppression rate, compared to the country’s 25 percent suppression rate.
I think we can resolve this HIV issue… [The issue is] the political will.
Is there a tension between a focus on research into preventing HIV and a focus on treatment? Are those in competition?
Yup. And the pendulum swings back and forth…
The early years of HIV, the only thing we had was prevention. Then we got antiretroviral therapy, and all the focus went to treatment. And [now] prevention among people who are HIV-positive has become the talk of the town – it’s called test-and-treat. So as soon as you test, you get on medication.
What we are neglecting is that there are actually [more] tools for prevention now, besides condoms and besides latex, there’s now pre-exposure prophylaxis, which gets a fair amount of attention. But [for] all that attention, there’s only 1,600 people in the U.S. on pre-exposure prophylaxis. We can do better.
The other is that we have post-exposure prophylaxis, so in the event that somebody is subjected to HIV for whatever reason… you’ve got a 72-hour window to get on post-exposure prophylaxis and decrease their rate of actually getting HIV by about 96 percent…
We have tools that aren’t being used. We’re not doing good enough with preventing people from getting HIV… The medications are expensive. I could keep them negative for a whole lot less money.
The relationship, in politics and in media and culture in the U.S., between HIV and the LGBT movement — has that shifted, and to what extent has that been good or bad in terms of efforts to address HIV?
The community seems to put all their eggs in one basket. So in the ’80s it was all about HIV and nothing else. And now, in the second decade of the 21st century, we seem to put all of our eggs into the marriage basket. And nothing wrong with that — we consider that to be an HIV intervention. But HIV really is not on even… the Top Five agenda for LGBT folks.
Yet when we look at the numbers… The top numbers for new infection, and the only area that new infection is occurring more rapidly than anywhere else, is young black or people of color MSM [men who have sex with men]… LGBT should be incorporating it…
The only other thing I would press on this is… if you look at how much money is going into HIV today, with inflation, it equals the same amount of money as 1991. And yet we have so many more tools, and so much more we can do with HIV. This is not the time to be not addressing inflation, and not addressing cost of living with an HIV budget.
GMHC and other organizations are truly ready to end the AIDS epidemic. We can get below epidemic levels. We have the tools, we have the knowledge, we have the skills. We don’t have the money.
This post comes from and posted by 

Josh Eidelson

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