I voted for NC Senator Kay Hagan. I consider her a thoughtful individual who has positively acted to support many progressive policies (ref).
This past week I issued correspondence to her office raising a significant moral issue facing our country; that by making cuts to safety net programs for the needy, the victims of the Great Recession, without shared or proportional sacrifice at the top, the GOP is placing a higher value on tax benefits to the wealthiest than human life itself. One of the consequences of poverty is that it claims lives, and there is little doubt that the increased poverty we have experienced during this economic downturn is resulting in a greater number of lost American lives.
Just four hours after I issued that correspondence to her office I received an electronic response that could only have been a ‘form letter’ regarding funding for the WIC and SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) programs. As that did not address the moral issue I had raised, I sent a follow-up communication. I asked that she bring the matter before her colleagues in the Senate and have those who support such policy defend it before the US public.
I encourage all to write their elected representatives and demand a balanced approach during this economic recovery. To request that they fight for programs, tax policies, and the right to negotiate fair salaries that will rebuild the purchasing power of our broad middle class, thus creating demand and stimulating job creation (ref). And to invest in America, especially while we can borrow money at such low rates; to take on some ‘good debt’ by rebuilding and modernizing our infrastructure and educational institutions – growth-oriented projects that will increase our competitivenesss, grow our future economy, put our nation back to work (ref) and reduce poverty. And the wealthiest should participate, just as they did during the more than 3 decades following our record Post WWII debt.
Can a motivated public make a difference in spite of the unlimited sums of special interest money that can now be spent on political campaigns? All one has to do is to look at the example set in Wisconsin where a committed and incensed public stood up and demanded accountability, in the form of recall elections, regarding policies that damaged the middle class.
We, as individuals and as a country, are defined by our actions, our moral character. We must not accept cutting safety net programs (food stamps, unemployment benefits) to the victims of the Great Recession, without first requiring shared, and even proportional, sacrifice at the top. For not doing so places a higher value on tax benefits to the wealthiest than the lives of the less fortunate in our country during economically difficult times, and reflects a set of values that none of us as Americans should tolerate.
Dear Senator Hagan –
I voted for you in the last election. Senator Dole’s ‘Godless’ claims against you were not only incorrect, but violated the ‘no religious test’ provision of Article 6. I, as you, have done well in my career; my perspectives have been shaped in having lived my life at income levels that define poverty, the middle class and the wealthy. I left my corporate pursuits several years ago to care for, and support, my wife who was stricken with serious illness.
I am both upset and disturbed regarding the response I received from your office this past week. I received a ‘form letter’ regarding the Food Stamp program that was issued on the same day as my correspondence. There was obviously no thought put to it, nor do I believe that anyone could have taken the time understand what I had communicated. The matter I raise involves a significant moral issue for our country. The GOP, in proposing cuts to safety net programs during a period of increased poverty and poverty-related deaths (the victims of The Great Recession), without requiring shared or proportional sacrifice at the top, has placed a higher value on tax benefits to the wealthiest in our country over human life itself. One of the consequences of poverty is that it claims lives, and with increased poverty associated with the Great Recession there is little doubt that this economic downturn is taking the lives of more of our citizens, perhaps as many as 1.2 million/year in total. This significant moral issue should go to the floor of the Senate and before the country itself. Those supporting such a position should be made to defend it before the public. It is a statement of values that none of us as Americans should tolerate. My belief further is that this is evidence that our Congress is now beholden to a different ‘person’ in retaining their job; a ‘person’ in the form of corporations and special interests that can donate unlimited sums of money to political campaigns.
I look to you to bring this very serious moral issue before your colleagues in the Senate. Should you wish, and I am no stranger to public speaking, I would be glad to address the Congress myself on this matter should the opportunity present itself.
The points I make above are documented in this article that was contained in my prior correspondence: http://www.artonissues.com/2011/08/income-and-wealth-inequality-americas-moral-crisis/
Dr. Art Kamm