Back in June of ’96, the Lawrence, Kansas Journal-World did a fiscal check of the Kansas Congressional delegation. Included, was freshman Representative, Sam Brownback. According to his financial disclosure forms, a year earlier he and his wife, Mary, had sold 12,800 shares of Stauffer Communications stock for somewhere between $1 million and $5 million. They added another ½ to 1 million bucks by dumping their kids stock. The paper reported that the sales came a day or two prior to Stauffer being purchased for $275 million. What a coincidence.
Mary Brownback’s maiden name was Stauffer. Her granddaddy founded Stauffer Communications. No word on what Sam and Mary paid for the stock, if anything. I guess the kids had to sell a fair amount of lemonade to assemble their shares. Or were the shares a gift from a generous and loving old man? With that healthy investment base, Brownback’s current net worth is around $10 million, as he has benefited mightily from his spouses’ kin’s largess.
And that’s exactly why the now-governor of Kansas is such a morally pitiful figure. The Kansas legislature is about to pass a bill that is a piece of paper-hate directed at the poor. Hate primarily driven by Protestant cum Evangelical cum Catholic, Brownback, who, during his tenure as governor has seen the number of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program SNAP (food stamp) recipients, drop from over 40,000 to just under 15,000. KCUR-FM News quotes several nonprofit advocacy organizations as attributing the precipitous drop to restrictions limiting access to the program. And Brownback wouldn’t have it any other way.
Wichita Eagle Beacon reporter, Bryan Lowry, lists some of the high(low)lights of the “hate poor people” bill about to go into effect in the Jayhawk (or Sunflower, or Midway, or Wheat) state. The lifetime TANF limit has been lowered from the current state span of 48 months to 36 months. The federal limit is 60 months. Republican legislators call such unfeeling cuts an “incentive” to re-enter the workforce. Interesting, since a great number of welfare recipients are the working poor who already labor in the crappiest of jobs for the crappiest of wages.
Kansas household income hasn’t budged in ten years and per capita income has actually fallen. It should also be noted that the feds pay the TANF and SNAP tabs. Kansas just administers the programs. Hiring and employment advocate, Alice Lang, points out that “The world of work has changed drastically since my parents came to North America from Europe in the 1950’s.” She correctly identifies today’s job environment as an employer’s market. Hiring managers can pick and choose among hundreds of applicants for a few available jobs. That’s the reality of the job search; something my colleagues and I have pointed out on endless occasions.
But Brownback and Kansas legislators barrel forward, not the least bit concerned about the well-being of those in need. NOT THE LEAST BIT CONCERNED!!!
There’s a Brownback carryover requirement that able-bodied TANF recipients must enroll in a job training program or work 20 hours a week to receive benefits after a mere three months in the program. I’ve known of numerous participants in so-called training programs who were unable to find anything after completing such “job training.” Such a mandate is both naïve and unrealistic.
The bill about to be passed limits ATM withdrawals to $25 a day using a special card associated with welfare. There are currently no federal or state limits on withdrawals. The absurd restriction will wreak havoc on the average recipient. Do you pay your rent on a daily basis? Wichita Democratic State Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau rightfully called the amendment ludicrous.
But, we’re not finished. Brownback and his posse really come down hard on people afflicted with addictions. Repeat drug offenders are banned from the programs for life. That’s right, no food assistance for people with two drug felonies on their record. I can hear right-wingers raising the rafters with their cheers. “That’ll teach them druggies” they bleat. I wonder what percentage of Republican legislators casting aye votes are drunks? I’ve been to legislative social gatherings; I can assure you lots of ’em can drink you under the table!
High-profile OD celebrities, many whom rehabbed repeatedly, but ultimately lost the battle against addiction, include such awful people as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Farley, Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Glee’s Cory Monteith, John Belushi, Amy Winehouse…it’s an unending list of people who are anything but monsters, but victims of emotional and physiological demons they couldn’t conquer. Only the most stone-hearted among us could turn their backs on such troubled souls.
You might want to check your physicians for their addictions. Equal or even greater numbers than the general population. Easy access. Truth be known, coke keeps lots of those folks going, or after hours hooch, vehement denials notwithstanding. And the hard-driven business and investment types? Those numbers might surprise you as well. And how about alcoholics? We’ve given booze an embarrassing pass for decades despite its destruction of probably millions of lives. Check out the major contributors to your state legislators. And Kansas is going to pick on helpless, poor addicts?
Ironic that Kansas has state-funding for rehab, mostly referrals from the court system. Judges appear to get it. There’s a long waiting list. I could only find one such facility; Wichita Community Action on North Market. There could be more. There are also private facilities. That means you pay and, of course, $25 a day most likely won’t cut it.
This is a radical bill pushed by radical people. The purpose of the flood of legislation that is so mean-spirited and makes so little sense is to divide the American people. I warned you in an earlier submission that it would be the state General Assemblies that would bring extreme harm down on the populace. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Many, many more of our citizens will die as a result of right-wing legislative atrocities than will die through foreign terrorist organizations. Just the act of refusing to extend the Obama Health Care plan’s extension of Medicaid will claim thousands of American lives annually.
That’s the reality, and as long as Democrats continue to sit on their tails come election time and all days in between, that will continue to be the reality.
Raised rural & small town, then lived in N.Y., Chicago & LA. Widely traveled. Returned from world wandering to pursue media life of anchorman/reporter and major, medium and small market talk radio. Highly active in politics. Once worked as orderly & security in Mens Lock Ward for the Criminally Insane at a state institution. Much more rational population than current Teapublicans. Great concern for country run by and for the extreme wealthy. The inhumane current running through this country has no precedent in modern history.
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