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Author Topic: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?  (Read 1105 times)

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Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« on: December 20, 2006, 11:57:07 AM »
The local public housing authority sold a building two years ago and the buyer gave promises they would not remove any existing tenants over 300 people who are on SSI and Medicaid- simply put those deemed by our nation too disabled to hold meaningful employment. Now they are evicting them and plan to convert this building into condos giving them 30 months to move. The local government agency never got these promises in writing and they are intending to spend $1 million to help these people with vouchers but there are problems here.

First on SSI these people get $632 a month that even if supplimented for life will not offer housing easily add to this most need reliable access to elevators, mass transportation and stores no small thing. And most rents are higher than their income for a one-bedroom apartment. The reason these people are in public housing is it is affordable and gives them stability. The later vital for many people.

So I would like to talk about the obligations local governments have in providing for these poor people not working poor but those that CANNOT work at all in a manner they can earn a living.

At a personal level since I will likely in the next few months be on SSI, Foodstamps and Medicaid if I didn't have my family I would be in a tough situation. I can get if needed aid for housing but it would be limited and the housing authorit sstem is designed to make sure the needy poor get housing over their heads not shelters, not hotels but some form of affordable stable housing. It used to be public housing complexes I know in some areas they have had problems but a building full of law abiding disabled persons is something I feel must be protected. If they had to spend money to add elevators or make modifications a concern since the elevators only could hold on person with an assistance device like a scooter at a time the long term need outweighs the profit of selling the building for the $12 million. That is why taxes are paid to provide for people that have need is it not? But with over 400 units and 400 disabled persons needing reliable housing and this I must add is in downtown Saint Petersburg near good bus lines and shopping plus meaningful places to enjoy recreation.

Well I can't type anymore my hands are sore and falling asleep so will continue this after others post.

« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 12:19:23 PM by RubySlippers »

Offline Celestial Goblin

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2006, 01:37:02 PM »
Doesn't the problem lie in the fact that the public housing sold the flats to a private company?
If they are a public thing, they should obviously have certain priorities. Of course making sure that disabled folks have housing is, in my opinion, something the state should provide.
It might not be possible to give everyone a decent home and money, but at least in situations like this, it should be impossible to simply sell to a private owner.

Offline NightBird

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2006, 03:52:02 PM »
The reasons stem from the ambiguities in the history of American policy.  Historically, there has been a deep divide between what Americans believe is fair and just and what they will pay for.  This worsens in eras when wealth is concentrated into a small percentage, as it is now.  Also, the American perception of socialism as being the same as Marxism meant that policies of assistance had to be couched in terms that supported capitalist systems, thus, voucher programs like Medicare were enacted, where money goes to private, capitalist companies rather than state-run hospitals. If that was not enough, there is also the fact that the white elite in the American south often fought very strongly against any programs where they perceived blacks would benefit from white tax dollars.

What can be done about it?  Probably very little.  Most of these pressures remain in existence.  As long as the wealthy in power do not care about the quality of life of the poor, or fool themselves into believing that it's just the way the world works, small steps are all that can be made.  Realistically, I don't think we can do a better job without a total overhaul of governmental systems, and the political backlash from that probably makes it close to impossible.  With complete revamping, though, we could accomplish a lot, especially with streamlining overhead and the cost of the kind of manual controls that current regulations require, and ending the voucher system for direct governmental operations.  These do not have to be wasteful, but they will be to some extent or another as long as greed exists and the penalties for exerting it are minimal.

What would make the most sense in a simple change would be to remove the tax relief to corporations for their executives and replace it with tax incentives to pay their rank and file. The more income across the broadest proportion of Americans tends to continue the spread of income outward to more and more for the goods and services that a higher income allows.  When wealth is concentrated, the proportional growth of the economy weakens, since a smaller number of people buy a smaller number of more expensive things rather than the large number of less-expensive things that stimulates the economy and keeps more people employed.  This failure of the demand side of the economy can be prevented, but it won't happen as long as the 'in-crowd' wants to turn itself into a new ancien regime.  What they do not understand is that stratifying wealth that completely would necessitate a return to something much like a pre-industrial economy, and that would end up destroying their wealth as well, not to mention likely causing a bloodbath of revolution.

Ultimately, the issue is that those in power are capable of turning their backs on other human beings.  The latest genetic research, though, tends to indicate that altruism results from a recessive combination of traits, so it's not likely that people who seek power would exercise altruism when they get there.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2006, 05:00:21 PM »
Well its not like I don't appreciate the governement providing services for the needy it looks seriously with my current hand and leg problems and chronic conditions I might never be able to hold a job again doing anything. I can't type like I used to going from 40 wpm to under 20 wpm and losing accuracy, my hands tire out easily and quickly and have serious other conditions that prevent that. If you can't type and work sitting and can't do manual labor what is left?

But giving vouchers is clearly not enough they are talking perhaps at best $400 to $500 for an apartment and in my area few one room apartments are that low the average seems to be $600 to $700. This assumes proper location and other access to needed services and none in that building drive so moving out of the urban center is not an option.

I want to share some quotes from the head of the local housing authority that pissed me off:

Irions said these are sub quote from an article on this in the Saint Petersburg Times dated today...

Irions called it a "national consensus that concentrating so many poor people in these large developments creates more social problems...than if the're dispersed in the greater community."

[May I point here these are all legally disabled persons or the very poor elderly that lived here with few problems for years hardly drug dealers and the like. Can't they seperate needy poor that are law abiding from those that are not?]

He said its best when public housing residents "can blend in with other folks that are going to work, going to school, have some ambition".

[Excuse me but first these are people unable to work after extensive study of their cases that was verified and most of these people have friends in that building and social networks. Seems cruel to cut them off from their friends and people they know. And what is it with this statement you think none of those people want to work, go to school and they don't have ambition. I was working and now can't and WISH I could keep working.]




Offline Zakharra

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2006, 10:08:47 PM »
What would make the most sense in a simple change would be to remove the tax relief to corporations for their executives and replace it with tax incentives to pay their rank and file. The more income across the broadest proportion of Americans tends to continue the spread of income outward to more and more for the goods and services that a higher income allows.  When wealth is concentrated, the proportional growth of the economy weakens, since a smaller number of people buy a smaller number of more expensive things rather than the large number of less-expensive things that stimulates the economy and keeps more people employed.  This failure of the demand side of the economy can be prevented, but it won't happen as long as the 'in-crowd' wants to turn itself into a new ancien regime.  What they do not understand is that stratifying wealth that completely would necessitate a return to something much like a pre-industrial economy, and that would end up destroying their wealth as well, not to mention likely causing a bloodbath of revolution.

 That's unrealistic. You're forgetting that while the wealth is being concentrated to a degree among a few, the over all amount of wealth has increased drastically. It's not a static number that never changes. It is constantly moving, sometimes down, but mostly up as the economy expands. 
 What you say you'd like to have done would change nothing. Wealth would still end up concentrated in relatively few hands. That's a constant in any governmental/political body.

 You're also ignoring that the wealthy are the ones who buy the high priced things (we'll call them toys  ;)) and over time the price of the toy drops. There are exceptions, like expensive cars, jewelery and the like. Toys like home computers, cell phones, laptop computers, flat screen/LC/plasma TVs, satillite Tv, high speed communications. All of that are part of a tiny fraction of things that started as high priced, but as time, technology and peoplemove, the price for them drops. The wealthy also own the companies that do a lion's share of R&D, which makes new things for consumers.

 The proposal suggested also forces companies to NOT look at their bottom line. Profits. The sole reason companies are in business in the first place. If a company cannot make a profit, it will go out of busainess unless something prevents that. And that something should never be government.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2006, 05:38:42 AM »
Well, a problem with the theory in general is that the private spending of the upper class is the not single driving force of the economy.  The mass consumption of the public, namely the middle-class and poor, is indeed a major factor but also the spending of corporations is a huge factor as well.  When the wealth is concentrated at the top of the market, in the hands of only a few, the problem is not that they buy only a small amount of goods.  Rather it's that the corporation does not invest that money at all in its workers or in expanding its plants in the United States.  Companies do what is economical and they take their surplus profit and reinvest it in research to further lower their own costs by laying off workers, using temps, part-time employees, relocating factories to lower paid portions of the world, using more technology and in general doing everything they can to increase their profits.  If your workers are already working for say 6.50 an hour, why would you give them a raise?  There is a surplus of cheap labor in the service industry.

Indeed with the "trickle" down economics that was set in place the US economy did see a growth, as the rich got richer.  Companies gained a great deal of money, but you can also look at the sudden craze of outsourcing jobs.  Entire factories uprooted and moved after this economic philosophy came into place.  The original thought behind "trickle" down was that the money would do as Nightbird is suggesting and the CEOs would invest their profit into the workers, giving them more pay.  This simply does not happen and forcing them to do so won't work either.  A great deal of the United State's problem with social reform and welfare deals with their perception of it and what they feel people have a right to demand.  Perfect example is Social Security.  Before "The New Deal" there was no retirement age or social security, you weren't entitled to anything.  Now people feel it is their right to demand social security checks when they retire.  A complete change of perception.  Currently people believe that the poor are lazy, criminal, uneducated, and want nothing more than free handouts.  This does not promote the public to care.

Ironically people do feel that companies are justified in asking for welfare, yet poor people are not.  The United States has invested billions in many of these corporations in the form of money, tax breaks, tarriffs, military manpower, diplomatic weight, legislation, and providing them with insurance (money given to airline companies after September 11th).  They feel that these comapnies should get these incentives and forms of welfare so they will keep their jobs here and expand, improving our economy.  So instead of viewing welfare as a way to promote education of its people and thereby improve the workforce, the United States believes that the money should go directly to the company in the hopes of them remaining here.  What has happened is of course the opposite.  The problem is very complex and intricate, tied into almost every facet of American culture and economics.

Offline Zakharra

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2006, 09:00:15 AM »
 Trickle down does work. The over all economy has grown tremendously, and the middle and lower classes have gotten wealthier. Alot more so. Of course the rich are going to get wealthy. They own (or own stock in) the companies that sell a large amount of what people want. It's simple economics.

 Outsourcing; is a natural response of companies to increased regulations ans higher prices for manufactoring in the US. They go where the labor is cheaper. They do not have to pay S wages in foreign nations, so of course they are going to move operations overseaes. Often(not always) the workers make a fairly decent wage. Set by the wages of that nation. Unless you force companies to be protectionists and stay in the US, then you have to let market forces dictate what happens.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2006, 09:57:40 AM »
Well this is going off topic what are the obligations espcially of State governments to the needy poor? For example is it right and moral they sell a public housing unit to a private party with no assurances the people won't be displaced and then not have an alternative location to send these people? And also pay for their moving costs which they are not and most of these folks in the example are on very fixed incomes.

An example if I had to live on my own with my likely level of benefits as a disabled person on SSI I would get $623 a month (as it is I will get likely $417 since I live with my parents), $75 in food stamps at most depending on my SSI amount, Medicaid and could earn no more than $85 a month. The typical housing voucher is $400 a month. Rents in my area for a one-bedroom apartment near a bus and shopping vital since I use a power wheelchair is around $700. Now if it was me where do I cut in food, my monthly bus pass, paying for medical expenses Medicaid does require some small out of pocket costs and other essentials. Not to mention some small amount for entertainment and recreation still as a public ward is perhaps $10 a week for that sking so much. That is the boat of the legitimate disabled poor unable to work.

People like this we are not talking about getting enough to live high of the hog but just live with some dignity. Is that so much to have a poor disabled person ask for? That is what offended me by the statements of the head of the housing authority its like WE don't have a life and WE are lazy or unmotivated. IF I can work I work but if I can't type with enough speed and accuracy what the hell am I supposed to do for a job. THIS took me over fifteen minutes to type and if I can't walk and can't use my hands for even the simplest work without them tiring and getting sore in minutes legal work is not an option. No matter how much I want to work.

As for trickle down economics yes it may work for the middle classes and the lower classes but it stops cold at the honest unworking poor that group that because of illness and infirmity cannot hold employment. Then you don't seem to exist and the society wants to hide us or get rid of us. So again what is the governments role to assure the neediest poor have a respectable life not affluent or with lots of frills but the basics so they can live with self-worth?
« Last Edit: December 26, 2006, 01:04:35 PM by RubySlippers »

Offline Zakharra

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2006, 10:13:41 PM »
 That's going to have to be resolved on a case by case basis, unless the State and Federal governments step in.
 
 
Quote
For example is it right and moral they sell a public housing unit to a private party with no assurances the people won't be displaced and then not have an alternative location to send these people?

 No more moral than taking land from a private citizen and giving it to another so the city gets more tax revenue.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: What is the role of local governemnts to their neediest poor?
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2006, 07:52:39 AM »
While the morality of the question is easy, it's wrong.  There isn't one person who is going to say that it is right and just to kick disabled people out on the street.  The complex question is who pays for them?