- by Stacey Prince
Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas all have traditions of gift giving and receiving. For many this time of year is a time of plenty, abundance, family, gratitude, and generosity. Yet for so many it is also a time of shortage, scarcity, anxiety, starvation, fear, and war. It can be difficult to reconcile the celebratory tone of the season with the global suffering we see on the news every day. We don’t even have to look around the globe to see this level of suffering. A recent extensive study showed that approximately 1 in 6 Americans experience "very low food security" (defined as reducing the amount they ate and/or disrupting their food patterns throughout the year) : in other words, they go hungry.
Even closer to home, last week I finally got myself to read the list of cuts that the legislators and Governor Gregoire just enacted in order to reduce Washington State's huge (over $1 billion) budget deficit. Here is just a partial list of some of the cuts that were made:
- A 4.2% reduction at public colleges and universities,
- Elimination of funding to keep class sizes smaller in public K-4 schools,
- A 20% reduction to monthly cash allotments to Disability Lifeline recipients (a program for disabled people of low income who are unable to work),
- Reduction in emergency funds that help keep families off welfare,
- Elimination of non-emergency free dental care to adults in need.
It is plain to see from this list that the cuts are largely impacting those already in greatest need, thereby further increasing the resources gap, the distance between those affluent individuals at the top of the wealth pyramid and the rest. Meanwhile, it appears that Bush era tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich may be extended rather than expiring at the end of this year. Though this has been framed by the media as a “compromise,” a trade-off for extension of unemployment benefits, the fact remains that the Bush era tax cuts further drive the wedge between the affluent and the poor.
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