We are headed down the wrong path

To the Editor:

What has been happening in Washington is more than a catastrophe. Congress is allowing unshared economic growth and prolonged economic insecurity for millions. One in five North Carolinians live in poverty. One in four children live in poverty and hunger. Here, in Macon County, 65 percent of our students now qualify for free or reduced lunch. Medical costs have risen so much since Medicare lost the ability to contract pricing that people are having to do without critical medicines and treatments. By dismantling many of our support nets and antipoverty tools — like the earned income credits — and failure to invest in schools, our own legislature has added to the problem. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Washington seek to make deep and prolonged cuts in all vital safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, preschools programs, and SNAP which work for those among us who fall into lower social economic levels.

Congress should reject federal budget policies that ask the poorest and most vulnerable to bear the greatest load in putting our fiscal house in order. Sequestration targets the smallest portion of the federal budget. Fiscal policies under President Obama are slowly pulling us out. Dismantling and attacking those will result in a return to more insecurity.

I have tremendous respect for FDR’s policies, which pulled our country out of a deepening depression (for more information, read Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box by Deitrick and Goldfarb, a well-researched popular take on our presidents from Hoover to Obama). What we know doesn’t work — because it has been tried many times — is the trickledown effect; that we have to take care of big business so it will take care of us. Big business doesn’t care. 

My favorite historical periods are the decades of the 1920s and 1930s when Big Business and their leaders led the USA. No job security, lack of safety measures, low pay, little medical care, nothing for seniors or children — who were often made to work until they dropped — brought about a cohesion of workers which resulted in the unions and federal regulations to protect the citizens of the U.S. What we are seeing now is a dismantling of these processes and a return to job insecurity, lack of access to education and training, destruction of mandatory standards in all areas. What does work? Investment in infrastructure, small business, jobs, education. Small business may well be the salvation of our country until a broader scale approach is developed and followed.

If this continues, and we don’t work together to stop it, what will be our end? Fortunately or unfortunately, some among us are still doing OK and aren’t stepping up to speak about the inequities. They may not speak out, but they are talking. We have to work together. Many recognize the problems, but few speak out. It is time to be part of the solution, not the problem

Get involved in community affairs. Go to community meetings. Get to know the facts, not the media fantasies. We need to be educated, not entertained. Find a local problem for which you can offer a solution — join a committee; be a reading volunteer, especially in third-grade classrooms which now face a critical pass or fail test; help fund Hospice House; volunteer to deliver meals. The list is endless for current needs. Please get involved.

Joan Maki


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