Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Clouds of Diversion

September 19, 2011

“The Storm” © R.L. Herron

Recently, while visiting my grandchildren in Florida, I came across an interesting article in the local paper. Actually, interesting isn’t the right word. Disgusting is more like it.

The Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, pushed through an initiative in that state’s legislature to require drug testing for welfare applicants. It took effect in July.

It mandates that all new welfare applicants must go to a state-approved list of screening companies when they apply for assistance and pay money they can ill afford, up front, for a drug test. If the test comes back negative, they receive the assistance they applied for and the state reimburses them the testing cost.

I know a lot of you are saying, so what?

Well, given the condition of the economy, the mandate is churning out 2,000 urine tests for new applicants each month. The State of Florida maintains this won’t increase their budget, because they’re “absorbing those reimbursement costs in the block grant.”

In other words, they’re using Federal tax money, allocated to them to provide real assistance to the poor, to pay a testing company.

“The program was designed,” said Florida State Representative Jimmie Smith (also a Republican) who sponsored the bill in the Florida State House, “to keep public money from being wasted on people using it to buy drugs.”

This is for a program that pays a maximum of $180 per month per family of four.

By the way, have you tried recently to feed, cloth and house a family, of any size, for $180 a month? I’m sure the meager assistance helps, but it doesn’t go far.

The interesting thing? They have discovered the “scourge” of poor people using drugs is far from a scourge.

In fact, the numbers show that people on government assistance don’t use drugs any more than anyone else. They may even be using them less. Almost 98% of all tests are negative.

So, the net effect of those transfer payments is a very large chunk of Federal money (nearly three-quarters of a million dollars, so far) which is supposed to provide much-needed assistance to the poor, has now been diverted to the coffers of private for-profit companies.

This is where “disgusting” comes in.

When asked about this, Rep. Smith replied, “My goal is to make sure our tax dollars go where they’re supposed to go.”

I see. Let me make certain I have this straight:

  • The Republican-led government of Florida believes poor people, simply because they are poor, are very likely to use drugs;
  • Therefore, the Florida government takes Federal funds intended to help the poorest of the poor and gives those funds instead to for-profit businesses;
  • Florida legislators have taken almost $750,000 – so far – that could, and rightfully should, provide assistance for a whole year to almost 350 families living far below the poverty level;
  • They spend it instead to catch the two percent of welfare assistance applicants who might be using drugs;
  • By their own statistics, they are thereby saving the taxpayers of Florida a whopping total of $14,000 annually.

Spend $750,000 to save $14,000? This is helping?

Gosh, Representative Smith and Governor Scott must be so proud. The sound bites on TV make them seem so concerned about the misuse and fraud perpetrated by the poor.

Unfortunately, their rhetoric is a diversion from the real issue, their own gross mismanagement. It sounds like the typical mantra of prejudice and bigotry we hear all too often lately from our public officials on the conservative side of the aisle.

Their words are meant to disguise their own ill-conceived, crude and sterotyped perceptions, as well as mask their inept handling of our tax dollars.

I can almost hear them: Take it from the poor, baby, they can’t fight back. Don’t worry about the “cattle” in the general populace, they’ll believe anything if you tell it to them long enough.

I’m almost sorry I read the paper.

Dark Passage

May 18, 2011

“Dark Passage, Street in Venice, Italy” © R.L. Herron

I’ve been guilty of being sidetracked by the incessant political-speak on our airwaves. It’s hard to remember a time in the past two years the cymbal-clashing has been silent.

It makes me ashamed to get caught up in the finger-pointing, ‘we said/they said’ rhetoric. I wish our politicians would all grow up and learn what they really need to do is demonstrate some cooperation in getting the problems of the country fixed.

I’m not naive enough to think it would really happen, given the almost childish attitudes of our elected officials and the vehement polarity evoked by their lust for power, but I can always hope that somewhere people really do behave with civility, respect and a sense of common purpose.

However, I know all too well that probably only happens in Narnia (Google “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” if that doesn’t ring a bell), where even the animals know good from evil.

So I’ll content myself with talking about painting with light, which is why this blog began in the first place.

Photography, like fiction writing, takes advantage of the way light is perceived to produce its special results.

Like the picture above, where the dark shadows purposely frame the flower basket in the distance and the lines of perspective lead your eye into the light at precisely that point.

In any good story or any good image, light and shadow work together to create the whole.

Darn it! There I go talking politics again.


Red Sky at Night…

May 5, 2011

“Red Sky at Night…” © R.L. Herron

I rediscovered some interesting information this afternoon. It sounds almost like some of the political commentary of the day.

It’s not something hidden away or unknown. It is a significant part of our history. It was written by a leader who had the welfare of the people he governed at heart. It was extremely relevant at the time and it is still relevant.

I don’t think I need to add a single thing.


“We cannot be content, no matter how high (our) general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people…is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security…we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

Excerpt from the State of the Union Address
Franklin D. Roosevelt
January 11, 1944


As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged.


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