Current issues related to poverty and public services in Athens County, Ohio.
Hello. My comments are directed toward the quotes attributed to Director Frech in the Chicago Tribune. I refer to this quote: "...I think people have drawn the connection between their problems--health care, the price of gas, losing their job, the cost of the war, the tattered social safety net--and the government," Frech said. "If we as a country saw people someplace else waiting in line for five hours for food like they do here, we'd call that a human-rights violation." In fact, those "problems" are a direct result of government meddling where government has no business. The government's huge interference in health care has caused prices to skyrocket while limiting access and choice to health providers. People used to pay for typical visits out of pocket and held policies for catastrophic care that was too expensive for the typical citizen. This allowed competition to hold prices in check, as we see with uncovered health care issues such as laser eye surgery, and various plastic surgery options. We don't have car insurance policies that cover oil changes and flat tires. If we did, the average oil change would be several hundred dollars. But when providers realize they can charge through the teeth, pardon the pun, with no immediate cost to the patient, there is no competition and therefore no incentive to keep health care affordable. The government certainly is a problem here, but not the one it seems.As for gas prices, if the government would get out of the way of those who know how and where to extract energy sources, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in right now. While China drills for oil off our shores, we can't drill for oil in an arctic swamp, immediately adjacent to Prudhoe Bay. Apparently the erroneous thought that a few animals might be inconvenienced is more important than the truth of families with limited resources being actually harmed by a stagnant supply with increased demand. Again, if the government can offer a solution to high gas prices, it doesn't lie in more involvement, but less.Job losses are crippling to families and entire communities. But most government "fixes" do more harm than good. If businesses were made confident that they wouldn't be penalized for creating jobs, perhaps their loyalty to certain communities wouldn't be so fickle. Demonizing businesses that do the bulk of employing people, paying taxes, and providing the products and services we all use is counter-productive. When the government taxes corporations, which we actually pay -- no tax was ever levied on any business that wasn't paid by its employees and customers -- it sucks the limited resources from poor and working-poor families first and foremost. So, many times job loss is attributed to market dynamics, but too often it is directly the result of government trying to "manage" employment and the business community.The cost of the war: the cost of this war is miniscule compared to what we spend on other items, including social security, Medicare, Medicaid and an almost endless list of other entitlements. Ironically, military spending is one of the few things we spend money on that is actually spelled-out in the Constitution. I can't for the life of me find the clause that spells out prescription drug welfare. In 1966 the defense budget was 43% of the entire federal budget. Today, it is less than 20%, while entitlements went from 15% to today's 40%. As you see, we spend twice on human assistance at the federal level than we do on "the war" or defense. And I dare say the ratio is even more lopsided at the state level. Finally, the tattered social safety net. There is no argument from me that there are many, many issues where the government could do more to help those in need. From your position, and from reading the PDF document provided, it is obvious needs aren't being met. My wife happens to be a social worker and sees the trench-issues daily. From outside looking in, it seems too many in the bureaucracy are more concerned with preserving the system than with getting help to those who need it. And from reading your comments I can feel the frustration. The odd thing is, the more the government tries to reach into every aspect of service delivery, the worse it gets. It reminds me of the joke from Annie Hall: Two women in a restaurant are talking and one of them says "Gee the food here is awful" and the other answers "Yeah, and such small portions." We complain the gov't. isn't getting the job done, so the solution is: More Government! I don't have the answers for this, it is very complicated and diverse. But it seems that in parallel with school funding, the Cuyahoga District has the highest per-pupil spending with one of the lowest testing and graduating rates, more money isn't always the solution. More efficiency is.Best of luck, and thanks for helping those in need. I try to remind myself I'm only a few paychecks away from needing public assistance myself, so getting preachy now will only hurt more later.Sincerely, M.S.Columbus
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