Posts Tagged ‘fuel poverty’

Capitalism’s Calculus Of Evil

December 2, 2010

Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

On Alternet a poster, “Concernaboutnow”, posted under Robert Kuttner’s article, “Saving Progressivism From Obama”, saying

“President Obama is fighting the same concepts and robber barons that got us into this mess. Trickle down economic, union busting and deregulation of the financial service industry are the problems. Think man Think, Wake up before it is too late. “

Wrong. Obama’s fighting nothing of the sort. Obama is a cruel hoax. He’s just one more fortunate son who auditioned for Jesus that the privileged classes paraded out to give false hope to the poor. President Obama rode the election into the White House on tough talk on “change” and the promise of hope. Within weeks of his inauguration, he morphed into a wimp, snivelling that he and Democrats in Congress had to make “compromises.” Whenever our government leaders talk about “compromises” and the need to make “sacrifices”, they mean “kill the poor to save the middle class.”

The majority of the so-called liberal camp stands guilty as charged in their willing complicity in making this mess over the last 30 years, up to and including right now.

Nothing was heard from the AFL-CIO regarding an adequate safety net for all of the jobless poor, including those “discouraged workers” who were not eligible for any unemployment benefits. Instead, they only talked about unemployment benefits extensions for the “99er’s” who had already gotten 99 weeks of unemployment compensation during 2009-2010 while 60% of America’s jobless have nothing — many whom are destitute, sick, homeless, and in the most need of an economic lifeline. After the 99ers helped push through legislation favorable to the AFL-CIO big shots, they were discarded and like the underclass, their needs were compromised. Like the rest of the liberal class, the union leadership and membership bodies ignored the lessons of the class struggle in history and sold out society’s least fortunate.

Democrats helped drive the Reagan Revolution and never restored the budget cuts to undo the misery inflicted on the poor.

The Democrats and their loyal supporters haven’t just turned their backs on us after the most recent election of President Obama and an overwhelming majority of Democrat Congressmen. This has been going on for over 30 years since the Reagan Revolution. The Democrats didn’t just sit on the sidelines hand-cuffed to the bench as helpless bystanders while conservatives in Congress and the Reagan administration played a game of “let’s make the poor even poorer and more degraded and miserable.”

Reagan had to work with a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in Congress in order for his trickle-down policies and draconian cuts to social programs to get passed and enacted. There were no policies enacted during Reagan’s two-term presidency that did not first meet the approval of the Democrat-controlled House.

And these guys were not elected by some Fairy Godmother — middle class votes, many from middle class white males in good-paying union jobs (that were and still are denied to poor women) put them in office based on their promise to cut already meager and inadequate welfare benefits, which disproportionately hurt poor women and children and the disabled who are capitalism’s biggest losers.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. The formerly middle class “99ers” are whining louder than anybody about the unfairness of their newfound poverty, after decades of telling those of us in poverty to “stop whining” about our problems because “nobody wants to hear it.” They cry how they can’t take a minimum wage job because it pays less than their unemployment benefits, yet they expected poor women who never had anything and whom they’ve helped pitch off of welfare to work at those same minimum wage jobs without health benefits and pensions that aren’t enough to live on since the beginning of the War On the Poor began in 1980. They cry the loudest about the raw deal they’re now getting while never giving a damn about those of us who were far worse off than them all long. The only sympathy they’ll get from me is out of the dictionary: between “shit” and “syphilis.”

Reality Check For the Middle Class:

It has not been presidents or lawmakers or even US Supreme Court judges who have historically secured any real freedoms, economic or otherwise, for the American people. They merely rode on our shirttails after all the head-busting, jailing, fighting, blacklisting, and dying was suffered by the rest of us.

Those who fight for social justice have never been able to get that good job or become a politician. It has always been the poor who are the first to fight and die for the benefits that disproportionately accrue to the middle class, which the middle class is now rapidly losing. Yet, the poor never got as much as a ‘thank you’ from the high and mighty middle class. The only thanks we ever got was Welfare Reform, “Three Strikes” laws, mandatory minimum sentences, “faith-based” initiatives, no respect, no health care, no access to advanced educations, no equal opportunity, and no guaranteed right to a living wage job.

What we got was punished for our poverty as we were kept poor and told over and over that we weren’t wanted in your neighborhoods, in your houses of worship, in your schools, or in your workplaces getting the same opportunities and making decent wages and getting the same decent health and dental benefits as you and your families got.

While your children got to go to Disneyland, ours got sent to Prisonyland. While you traveled working for the Peacecorps feeling good about yourselves for all the “good” you did for poor brown children in countries that were victims of capitalism, we got sent to Iraq to kill other brown children at the behest of your capitalist gods. While you got your nice houses, nice clothing, new cars, and your health and dental needs met, we got to suffer and do without while being told how undeservedly large we were living off of your tax dollars.

What’s happening to the middle class now is unquestionably horrible. But it is no more horrible than what the middle class condemned me to by virtue of its role as an enabler, apologist, justifier, enforcer, and reinforcer of capitalism. And throughout the entire time Middle Class America thought they were so smart and so special and so much better than someone like me — “poor white trash” from the ranks of the underclass. And now the middle class is finally starting to “feel the love” they’ve dished out to the poor and crying foul.

In case you didn’t get the memo: The owning class isn’t all that into you. You’re not special. You never were anything more than a number in their calculus of evil.

No Democrat today in 2010 proposed even the slightest measure to alleviate the social holocaust of the burgeoning poverty ranks, never mind a serious mobilization of the nation’s resources. Middle class “progressives” took 30 years too long to decide with team they were batting for. They took the easy way out through pragmatism, thinking only of feathering their own comfortable nests within the capitalist paradigm while leaving the poor hanging out to dry.

In an updated Pew report released on October 7th 2010, researchers found that 30% of the unemployed had been jobless for a year or longer. Based on the official unemployment rate, that translates to about 4.4 million people — roughly equal to the population of Louisiana. Most of these discarded workers were age 35 and older. But the real unemployment rate is much higher.

When President Obama was asked about the problem of growing poverty in the US during his September 24th 2010 press conference, he answered by parroting straight from the Reagan playbill, saying that “the best anti-poverty program is a job” — meaning that nothing should be done to help those for whom the capitalist system could not and will not provide adequate employment. If the American people have any hope of getting real change, it won’t come from the Madison Avenue false reality makers who have packaged Obama as the savior of the world.

Neither wing of the Capitalist Party proposed any policies for directly creating jobs for the unemployed, many whom the private markets won’t hire: older workers, the very long-term unemployed, women, the poor, and job seekers with less than perfect health and less than perfect credit. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats proposed anything to provide relief for the growing number of poor and unemployed people, or to alleviate the scourge of mounting utility shut-offs, hunger, and homelessness.

The Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rugters University released a study on September 1st 2010 which revealed that among the jobless:

86% cut back in their family’s spending
63% exhausted their retirement savings
60% had been forced to borrow from family or friends

How many jobless poor have no family to turn to for help, either because their families are also poor and unable to help, or because they have no living family left? How many jobless poor have selfish middle class families that won’t lift a finger to help them because they don’t want their resources being drained? Growing “tent cities” and the number of people that shelters must turn away because they’re full provide a good clue. The US is one big plutocratic cesspool. Pragmatism by “progressive” politicians brought nothing but three decades of compromises in which it has always been the needs of the poor that were compromised.

Let’s compare the current corporate fascist state of America to the deadly corporate fascist state of Nazi Germany 70 years ago. In both cases, the poor and marginalized groups were targeted as disposable “surplus population” that are “useless eaters.” Both used illegal war and the invasion of other countries as a pretext to further the capitalist expansionist agenda. And both have their water boys who are overwhelmingly among the ranks of the middle class that were willing to carry out the dirty work of the owning class by deliberately killing the poor and unwanted. Both have used media propaganda to dehumanize their victims.

It was the predominantly middle class trade unionists and social Democrats who allied themselves with Germany’s industrial bourgeoisie. They distanced themselves from Germany’s Communist Party (KDP). Their support for “reform” rather than overthrow of an oppressive capitalist/imperialist system allowed the Nazi horrors to unfold, plunging Europe, Japan, and America into World War II and culminating in Hitler’s “Final Solution.” The “Final Solution” could not have been carried out without a large complicit middle class.

Three engineers — Fritz Sander, Kurt Prüfer, and Karl Schultze — working for Topf and Son designed, patented, and built the continual feed industrial strength crematoria specifically for use in the Nazi death camps. They willingly installed these ovens of destruction and performed routine on-site maintenance from 1941-1945. They witnessed their “creations” in use in the liquidation of innocent women, children, and elderly or disabled men that were “unfit” for slave labor.

After the war ended when these three men testified at the post-war trial in Erfurt, they were asked why they approached the SS and secured for their employer the exclusive contract for supplying the death camps with these crematoria that had to be specially outfitted to the gas chambers. They were asked why they willingly designed, patented, built, and maintained this machination of genocide.
They didn’t say it was because they hated Jews.
They didn’t say it was because they were afraid of their Nazi government.
They didn’t say it was because they feared reprisal from the SS.
They said it was because they didn’t want to lose their middle class jobs — they were “just doing their jobs” and supporting their lawful government.

Similarly, middle class union utility workers who shut off poor people’s electric, water, and gas claim they’re “just doing their jobs.” They’ve got families and a middle class lifestyle to maintain after all — to hell with the poor. They know that by cutting off poor people’s utilities, they’re causing the deaths of vulnerable people who are dying from the cold, or in residential fires as a result of desperate and unsafe alternative measures.

The Casualties of Poverty In Classist America Are Mostly Women, Children, the Disabled and Elderly:

Here is only a very small partial list of casualties in the War On the Poor who died (or who were injured or left homeless) as a result of unaffordable utility bills and a lack of adequate social and economic support. In Pennsylvania since 2005, the price of natural gas more than doubled for Pennsylvania’s residential customers. More than 242,000 Pennsylvania households had their utilities shut off for being unable to afford their bills.

Pennsylvania:

Dauphin County — Swatara Township:

Britton Donachy, age 2

Onna Donachy, age 18 months

Died in a fire caused by a candle after PP&L cut off their electric.

Cambria County — Hastings:

Delores “Dee” Holland, age 50

Jordan English, age 3

Alisha McConnell, age 15

Lindsey Depto, age 14

Died in a fire caused by a candle after Penelec shut off the electric in the rented home of Dee Holland and her 57 year old disabled fiancé Jack Sexton; and Dee’s daughter, a poor single mother who, like her mother, worked at a minimum wage job.

Lancaster County — Lancaster:

May 3rd, 2008; nine tenants were left homeless after a fire caused by a candle destroyed the apartment building after PP&L cut off the electric to the apartment of Kenneth Yaw in April of 2008

August 9th 2009: Cynthia Glassman (age unknown) died in a fire sparked by a candle after PP&L cut off her electric the day before. She struggled to afford PP&L’s payment arrangement plan, but was short $7 for the “late fee.” Her electric got cut off and she lost her life for lack of $7.

Jefferson County — Brockway:
Ten people died in a house fire that broke out on April 3rd 2008. The fire was caused by a space heater. National Fuel had cut off their gas in 2005 and they had been without gas since May 2005. The only survivors were 20 year old Elizabeth Peterson and her father, Douglas Peterson II. Killed in the fire were three generations of the Peterson family:

Kimberly Peterson, age 40 (mother and wife of Douglass Peterson II)

Rebecca Peterson, age 17 — a poor single mother

Douglas Peterson III, age 13

Isaac Peterson, age 8

Grace Peterson, age 6

Lillian Peterson, age 11 months

Domanic Delullo, age 4 (Elizabeth’s son)

Desiree Delullo, age 2 (Elizabeth’s daughter)

Jason Mowry, age 19 (Elizabeth’s fiancé)

Philadelphia: More than 8,800 Philadelphia households had their gas shut off in the winter of 2009. On December 26th 2009, seven died in a single house fire after the gas was cut off. The fire was caused by a kerosene heater that exploded after fuel for the heater caught on fire:

Ramere Dosso, age 8

Mariam Dosso, age 6

Zyhire Wright-Teah, age 1

Elliot Teah, age 23 (Zyhire’s father)

Jennifer Teah, age 17 (Elliot’s sister)

Vivian Teah, age 25 (Elliot’s sister)

Henry Gbokoloi, age 54 (neighbor)

California: More than 288,000 California households have had their utilities shut off. Four children died in a single apartment fire sparked by a candle after PG&E cut off their electric when their parents, two sisters who were both poor struggling single mothers, couldn’t pay the electric bill.

Natalie Rogers, age 2

Nevaeh Nunn, age 2

Keviana Morgan, age 1

Robert Charles, age 4

Michigan: More than 400,000 Michigan households had their utilities cut off because of unaffordable utility rates, with over 221,000 of those terminations in Detroit.

Bay City:

Marvin Shur (93 year old World War II vet) died of hypothermia after Bay City Electric restricted his utility service with a limiter, causing his furnace to shut down. Hypothermia is a very slow and extremely painful way to die.

Detroit (July 2009):

Four members of the Reed-Owens family died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator they were using after DTE cut off the family’s electric. The wife, Marquetta Ownes, and one of the children, was asthmatic and relied on a nebulizer to breathe; which requires electricity.

Vaughn Reed, age 46

Mar’Keisha Reed, age 17

DeMarco Owens, age 12

DeMonte Owens, age 8

 

Detroit (Februrary 2010):

Marvin Allen, age 62

Tyrone Allen, age 61

Lynne Greer, age 58

 

The Allen brothers were both disabled and couldn’t walk. They were struggling to survive on SSI. Lynne Greer, Tyrone’s long-term unemployed girlfriend, paid DTE the $108 fee to get service restored, but DTE never restored service. Three poor older adults died in a house fire started by a kerosene heater.

Detroit (March 2010):

Trávion Young, age 5

Fantasia Young, age 4

Selena Young, age 3

Three of the seven Young children died when a space heater ignited a fire after DTE shut off the gas to the rented home of Sylvia Young, a poor single mother struggling to survive with seven children on $675/month welfare cash assistance. Her rent was $500/month. The fire broke out only a couple hours after Sylvia Young pleaded with a DTE worker to not shut off her utilities. With no car, she had to trudge through ice and snow on foot to the nearest Dollar Store to buy an additional space heater so she and her children wouldn’t freeze to death. Since she had no car and it was bitter cold, she couldn’t drag her small children with her, so she left them in the care of her oldest — her 12 year old son. She was only gone for about a half hour when the fire broke out and ravaged the home.

David Fox of the National Low-Income Energy Consortium said that prior to funding cuts to LIHEAP this year, the program was grossly underfunded so that at maximum, only 20% of all eligible needy households were able to be served. The number of LIHEAP recipients will shrink more for the winter of 2010-2011 with the 2010 LIHEAP budget cuts of $1.8 billion that have been enacted. Meanwhile, the number of people in need is skyrocketing due to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Approximately 10 million poor households will be without their winter heating utility and/or electric by the end of 2010. Given the number of long-term unemployed whose unemployment benefits ran out in 2009 or early 2010 who have no income and who have been unable to get jobs in addition to the 5 million jobless poor who weren’t eligible for any unemployment benefits at all and whose sole income has been food stamps, the actual number of households that will be without life-sustaining utilities will be much higher than 10million.

According to the annual survey conducted by the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), 60% of LIHEAP recipients couldn’t pay their utility bills because they lost their jobs or had a reduction in income. NEADA said in its September 2010 letter to Congress that LIHEAP funding cuts “target the poorest and most vulnerable layers of society”: 92% of LIHEAP recipients have an elderly person, a disabled person, or a child in the home. Additionally, 21% suffer from severe respiratory ailments, including chronic bronchitis; 51% have a heart condition, and 46% have severe asthma.

Other consequences of utility shut-offs include homelessness, heat stroke, poor child development, and the disintegration of families. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the link between utility shut-offs and deadly fires is clearly established. When utilities are cut off, people resort to unsafe methods such as space heaters to stay warm and candles for lighting. NFPA data revealed that from 2003-2007; space heaters were involved in 72% of fire deaths and 62% of injuries related to home heating and 24% of fatal candle fires occurred when electricity was cut off.

According to data supplied by the Michigan Public Services Commission, 300,000 Michigan households have had their heat and/or electric cut off for nonpayment, and over 221,000 of those households were in Detroit which has a real unemployment rate close to 50%. On October 30th 2010, DTE Energy requested a $253 million dollar rate increase from the Michigan Public Services Commission. On that same day, DTE reported an increase in its third quarter profits from $151 million in 2009 to $163 million in 2010. On November 4th, Detroit’s ABC news affiliate carried an exposé on “illegal hookups.”

NPR ran a program two days prior on November 2nd exploring the depth of the “energy theft crisis” in Detroit. The NPR reporter ignored the fact that the existence of unauthorized hookups is the result of desperate poverty, the absence of significant aid, and unaffordable utility rates compounded by the $1.8 billion dollar funding cuts to LIHEAP.

If the utilities were not unaffordable, people wouldn’t have their utilities cut off for nonpayment and the preconditions for these fatalities, injuries, and property damage would not have been created. And some of these fires cannot be blamed on “energy theft.” Illegal hookups exist because utility rates are unaffordable and because utility monopolies shut off service to the poor.

The Sonderkommando in Nazi death camps at least had an excuse: they were forced under the barrel of SS guns to do the dirty work of their Nazi bosses. But they never once said of their less fortunate fellow prisoners that “they deserved it” for being “losers” who “didn’t try hard enough”; or that they “made poor choices” and therefore deserved to suffer for not lucking out in the death camp lottery based on the devil’s arithmetic.

Utopia For the Rich, Dystopia For Everyone Else

June 4, 2010

Jacqueline S. Homan, Author: “Classism For Dimwits”, “Nothing You Can Possess”, “Eyes of a Monster”, and “Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie”

The following article was submitted to Alan Colmes’ site at Liberaland whom I occasionally write for as a guest author. Apparently, this piece was a bit too liberal for Liberaland. So it is being re-posted here and also submitted to other alternative media venues. It is highly controversial and steps on more than just a few privileged and very ruthless toes. For that reason, Alan Colmes (whom I do respect, BTW), understandably feared potential reprisal if he kept this piece at his site.

I am not, however, afraid of the rich and shameless capitalist class of misogynists, bigots, and social parasites who have left me and countless other Americans poor, without a chance or hope for good jobs, and a chance in life despite having done “all the right things.” In a nation without enough jobs that pay a living wage to go around for everyone, guaranteeing that women (capitalism’s biggest losers) and unemployed workers over age 40 will be excluded regardless of education, skill sets, and experience — I have little left to lose. I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.

[Originally posted in Liberaland by Jacqueline Homan • June 3, 2010, 4:29 AMET ]

New Mexico-based investors teamed up with Samsung Heavy Industries to build a fleet of floating castles to serve as a safe haven for the uber rich. Wall Street’s darlings have planned billion dollar luxury liners to keep the poor, starving masses at bay after they’ve plundered them in case their gated communities are besieged by hordes of pissed off Americans posed to take a cue from Hannibal’s invasion of ancient Rome. And why would the masses be feared? Maybe they’re enraged at the economic cannibal class of social parasites who have forcibly relieved them of their social programs, jobs, homes, and pensions.

The first of these sea-faring fortresses has already been named “Utopia.” The $1.1 billion dollar ship is due to be launched in 2013. Orders are already being taken to buy one of the Utopia’s 200 or so mansions for sale ranging in price from $4million for a small luxury condo to $26 million for 6,000 square foot estates. The Utopia’s largest mansion is 40,000 square feet priced at $160 million. These are permanent residences.

The Utopia has plenty of recreation opportunities on board to amuse its inhabitants: outdoor movie theater, casino, golf course, nightclubs, restaurants, and upscale clothing boutiques for the “Stepford” wives of the “masters of the universe”, and a water park with a rock climbing wall. The Utopia is 1,000 feet long, almost as long as a nuclear powered Nimitz class aircraft carrier.

This concoction is a laissez-faire Tea Bagging oligarch’s wet dream — a means to escape without having to face the masses of vulture capitalism’s impoverished losers or be accountable to the government they’ve bought that tricked out like a gaggle of hookers for some token baubles from K Street’s coffers.

“Classism For Dimwits” by Jacqueline S. Homan

Since these plutocrats grew rich from exploiting  America and other nations’ peoples across the globe, they have plenty of leisure time and money to fund think tanks that promote right-wing totalitarianism like the Cato Institute and projects like the Seasteading Institute. The latter is run by Patri Friedman, grandson of disaster capitalism’s guru Milton Friedman, and is financed by ultra right-wing Facebook investor and PayPal founder, Peter Thiel.

Last year, Thiel wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy is compatible” around the same time that Friedman announced, “Democracy is not the answer.” Thiel believes that America went to hell in a hogcart ever since women were enfranchised with the vote. Their neocon drivel was published by the billionaire Koch family Libertarian dispensary Cato Unbound. Friedman’s solution to Thiel’s democracy dilemma is to build off-shore Libertarian compounds where social Darwinism rules.

While Thiel and Friedman hash out the details for their Libertarian “haven”, the Frontier Group investment firm entered the actualization phase with the Utopia. The Frontier Group is an offshoot of the Carlyle Group. It was founded by some of the big names from Carlyle, which  was the private equity firm that brought American right-wing oligarchs like former CIA director and former president George Herbert Walker Bush together with billionaire buddies from Saudi Arabia — the Bin Laden family — all of whom  profited enormously from the War on Terror launched by their spawn: George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden.

The Frontier Group’s founding director is Frank Carlucci, former chairman of the Carlyle Group from 1989-2005. Frank Carlucci (a.k.a. “Creepy Carlucci” and “Spooky Frank”) is one of America’s fortunate sons who attended Princeton where he roomed with Donald Rumsfeld. At age 30, Carlucci was appointed vice consul of the US embassy in the Congo — the African nation that suffered one of the worst human rights violations under European imperialist colonialism: the Belgians exterminated nearly 10 million Congolese between 1885 and 1908 and introduced the barbaric practice of hacking off the people’s forearms to terrorize them into submission. This remained a widespread practice that Foday Sankoh’s R.U.F. routinely employed in DeBeers’ blood diamond zone of Angola, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

When the Congo was granted its independence, America’s elite didn’t like the way the Congolese voted. Carlucci was implicated in facilitating Patrice Lumumba’s murder[1] two months after his popular election. Lumumba was dismembered and his body parts dissolved in sulfuric acid after he was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup which installed Joseph Mobutu, the dictator who embezzled more than any other corrupt African dictator.

“Nothing You Can Posses”, by Jacqueline S. Homan

After his role in destabilizing the Congo, Carlucci transferred to the embassy in Brazil in time for the fascist military coup in 1964. After Brazil, Carlucci went on to become deputy to his old Princeton buddy, Donald Rumsfeld, in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) under the Nixon administration where Dick Cheney was making his bones. The first thing Carlucci, Rumsfeld, and Cheney did was purge the agency of “subversives” — staff who might be sympathetic to democratic principles. Approximately 25% of the OEO staff was fired. After gutting the OEO, Carlucci was appointed ambassador to Portugal where he ensured that the Communists who overthrew Portugal’s dictatorship were overthrown themselves by pro-IMF “moderate” socialists. Later, Carlucci returned to DC to a job as the CIA’s second-in-command under the Carter administration.

After the Reagan Revolution in 1981, Carlucci was appointed as Deputy Defense Secretary. In 1983, Carlucci left his cabinet position to head up Sears World Trade, a company involved with shady arms deals and described by Fortune Magazine as a front for CIA and military intelligence operations. After the company’s collapse, Carlucci was rewarded by Reagan with the job of National Security Advisor and Defense Secretary based on his “merit.”

In 1989, Carlucci became chairman of the Carlyle Group and used its prestigious A-list as a lobbying force to get corporate welfare in the form of generous defense contracts paid for by the taxpayers — while extolling the virtues of the “free market.”

Carlucci is among his peers in social parasitism at Frontier Group, whose executive ranks overwhelmingly comprise rich white males on the Who’s Who list of Carlyle directors, such as former McDonnell-Douglass CEO Sanford McDonnel and Riggs Bank former director Norman Augustine. Rigss’ legacy is pregnant with endless scandals, including money laundering  for Augusto Pinochet’s stolen loot — blood money expropriated from Latin America’s “dirty war” and Operation Condor victims. One of Riggs’ top executives was Jonathan Bush, uncle to Dubya.

The Libertarian brainchild of the Utopia is the uber-rich’s fantasy-come-true where they can flee social repercussions for their actions of economic cannibalism. Being “responsible for your actions” is the Kool-Aid flavored pablum that serves as the mass line to cover up the class line.  Those who create the biggest messes leave their victims to deal with the fallout. The Libertarian non-aggression principle, as stated by the Cato Institute, apparently does not apply to damage inflicted on others caused by abusive economic and social policy that promotes age, race, disability and sex discrimination that Libertarians, neocons, and neoliberals think should go unfettered by “Big Government.”

How ironic that the same people who arrange their system of unearned privilege to steal your last penny and keep you from getting on your feet have the moxy to sell you the notion that they should be free from regulation. Anyone not in the top 10% who is led to believe that they would benefit from such as system ought to be arrested for possession of brains with intent to use.

______________________________

[1] Stockwell, John “In Search Of Enemies

Utility Shut-offs, Death, and Victim Blaming

March 26, 2010

Expiring rate caps, utility deregulation, and lack of help resulted in increased utility shutoffs that directly caused deaths among the poor.

Over 5.7  million US households suffered utility shutoffs as of December, 2009. Over half a million of those are in Michigan with the majority in Detroit — America’s poorest city. Between January 1, 2010 and March 3, 2010, fourteen Detroit residents died in house fires as a result of utility shut-offs, forcing them to use unsafe alternative heating. The most recent tragedy happened on March 2, 2010 when Sylvia Young, a poor single mother, lost three of her seven children in a house fire after DTE Energy shut off her gas. The fire was caused by a malfunctioning space heater given to Young by her landlord.

Ms. Young tried to get help from agencies to prevent utility termination, but was turned away.

Media, spokespeople from the offices of Detroit’s mayor David Bing, Michigan’s governor Jennifer Granholm, and DTE PR spin doctors blamed the victim, claiming “there is plenty of help” for those unable to afford their utility bills. Not long after the fire, the Detroit Free Press ran an article titled “Mom Was At Store When Children Died In House Fire” , saying that Young had gone to a “party store.” A victim of abusive economic policies was made into the criminal. The truth came out in a subsequent hearing: she had gone to buy a space heater so her children wouldn’t freeze to death. Detroit Free Press never apologized.

“The way it is presented in the media is like I don’t deserve my kids, that I was only interested in the Family Independent Agency taking care of them”, Young said.

The offices of Mayor David Bing, Governor Jennifer Granholm, and DTE insisted that “there is plenty of help” for those unable to afford their utilities. They claimed that Sylvia Young didn’t seek help, which was not true.

Like millions of other poor people facing utility shut-offs, Young tried to get help from every social agency she was directed to only to be given a run-around that failed to yield any real help. Investigations by WSWS journalists revealed that there was no help available when Sylvia Young sought it because funds had been depleted. Judy Panlau of Michigan’s Public Service Commission told WSWS that “there are a number of programs available.” Mayor Bing said the same, citing the Department of Human Services (DHS), LIHEAP, THAW and United Way’s 2-1-1 program.

The United Way’s 2-1-1 and DHS are referral networks. They do not provide direct help with utilities. That leaves only LIHEAP and THAW. Owing to funding shortfalls, only about 20% of those eligible for LIHEAP help can get helped. What they get doesn’t cover one month’s gas bill in the winter.

Eligibility guidelines on THAW’s web site are stringent. Many needy don’t qualify. Applicants must have an income, which fails the jobless receiving nothing but food stamps. Those who received help from THAW within the prior year are ineligible, which fails seniors and disabled people on very low fixed incomes. THAW recipients must meet a DTE-set payment arrangement which is not based on the customers’ income; plans are based on highest consumption estimates without regard to customers’ ability to pay. If customers can’t pay they’re shut off.

THAW is DTE’s non-profit arm, making DTE look like philanthropists that “give back” to the community. DTE gives generously to lawmakers. According to opensecrets.org, DTE’s PAC spent $293,883 since January 2010; 69% of which went to US Congressmen and the Democratic Party. In 2008, DTE’s PAC spent $539,709 on lobbying. One of the biggest recipients was “pro-life” Senator Bart Stupak, who got $16,000 between 2008-2010. What a comfort this must be for poor mothers like Sylvia Young.


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