Poverty In America

7 02 2012

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made one of the dumbest and most insensitive comments that I have ever heard from an American politician since I became involved with politics:
You can choose where to focus.  You can focus on the rich; that’s not my focus.  You can focus on the very poor; that’s not my focus.  My focus is on middle-income Americans.

He went on to explain that “[w]e have a safety net for the poor.”  And “[i]f there are people that are falling through the cracks, I want to fix that.”[2]

However, the fact that America’s poorest citizens theoretically have access to food stamps, Medicaid and housing vouchers[3]—which Romney cited—does not constitute much of a “safety net” at all.  Some Americans, such as senior citizens, are too proud to accept any governmental assistance (other than Social Security and Medicare benefits) or handouts.  They have worked all of their lives; and to find themselves in poverty is embarrassing and deeply depressing.  They and others are often turned away or sanctioned by the government bureaucracy that can be brutal and cruel, especially to people who are truly in need.[4]

Those Americans who had moved into our “Middle Class” will lose their homes and everything else, which is happening already.  The idea that colleges and professional schools were guaranteed pathways to success will also evaporate.[5]  Our society and that of other countries will be upended.  And yes, there will be “class warfare,” which Barack Obama and his surrogates are fanning already.  Leave aside the fact that he will add more debt than all 43 prior presidents combined, demagoguery is in season and full swing.

When I worked in the U.S. Senate as a young lawyer with its Senate Banking Committee and later headed the Senate staff of Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass)—the first African-American in the Senate since Reconstruction following our Civil War, with Obama being the third—the senator and I met with Mitt’s father who was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (1969-1973)[6], and I was very impressed with him.  At that time, I was working on the passage and implementation of the Housing and Urban Development Acts of 1969 and 1970, which included the “Brooke Amendment” relating to public housing; and the national “Housing Allowance” program, which morphed into the Section 8 housing program that has helped millions of Americans.  The senator, George Romney and I talked about these programs at length.

On behalf of Senator Brooke, I also established a summer program for disadvantaged kids in Massachusetts, in conjunction with the Pentagon, which involved underutilized military facilities within the state (e.g., the Boston Navy Yard, Otis Air Force Base) and served approximately 100,000 kids during its first year alone.  Indeed, the senator and I traveled to Massachusetts with then-Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird in his private plane to review the program and its progress.

In making my observations, I am not singling out Mitt Romney for condemnation.  I have believed in Mitt for a long time now, and will vote for him—in no small part because I share most of his positions with respect to the economy and national security issues.  However, lots of politicians and other successful Americans are “tone deaf” when it comes to the needs of the poor.  They do not relate to them at all, and they cannot understand them.  To be poor is a sign of failure in our success-oriented and driven society.  Our advertising touts beautiful bodies and fancy cars and materialistic dreams.  In no way are the poor glorified, much less given dignity.  Shame is heaped on them, which is wrong.

When I was graduating from grade school in Los Angeles, my mother came to the ceremony in a wheelchair, and I was mortified.  No other mothers were present like that.  She had suffered the convergence of two debilitating illnesses, which robbed her of her beauty and almost killed her.  By the time that I was entering high school, her right leg had been amputated, which stopped the onslaught of what she had gone through; and during the Vietnam War, she walked with an artificial leg and was named the “Woman of the Year” by the local chapter of the Red Cross—for her outstanding volunteer work.

What all of this taught me was that her faith in God had sustained her, and given her courage, hope, joy and great love.[7]  And that stigmas and discrimination attach, especially in Southern California, to those people who are physically or mentally “challenged” or handicapped, the poor, and to those who are not “beautiful.”  Hollywood has gone nationwide and worldwide since then, with a vengeance; and life-threatening illnesses and poverty are not part of the “American dream,” which has been embraced by people globally.  As the U.S. economy declines more between now and the end of this decade—which will happen to an even greater extent in countries around the world—poverty, human suffering, misery and anger will increase dramatically.[8]

The core issues will be how Americans adjust to their poverty and hopelessness, which will be just as rampant in this decade as during the Great Depression of the last century that did not end until the onset of World War II, at the earliest.  There are no easy solutions to losing one’s job, home, car and everything else.  As State governments scramble to avoid bankruptcy, programs that might have helped the poor will no longer exist.  For example, in California, State parks are being closed; and the nightly price for staying at those that remain open equals the cost of a cheap motel already.  Where will the poor stay, especially if they have no family members who can—or are willing to—take them in?  How will they afford food to eat, and find transportation to get from one place to another (e.g., looking for work)?  When inclement weather sets in, how will they survive?

The published numbers of “poor” do not begin to tell their tragic stories; and the human suffering will increase and become unfathomable during the balance of this decade, whether Romney is president or not.  Pure economics will dictate this; and there is nothing that can be done governmentally, by any politician.[9]  And yes, many of those poor will be “middle-income Americans” or those who had been members of our Middle Class.  They will be devastated; suicides and divorces will increase[10]; and families will be torn asunder.  Mitt Romney and the wealthy of the United States—which includes Obama and most members of Congress—need to wake up now, and begin to demonstrate real compassion.  The problem is that they have no earthly idea of what it is like to be poor.

In Greece today, parents are giving away their children because they cannot afford them.  Kids are being dumped in streets or abandoned at shelters with notes attached to them, saying that one or both parents are at wits’ end.[11]  Poverty breeds inhumanity on a scale that is unknown to most Americans; and it also breeds crime (including massive Internet fraud[12]), which will increase in the United States as money for law enforcement declines and as our prisons are overcrowded and prisoners are released.  Reality is crashing down with a thud like never before in our lifetimes.

As I wrote almost three years ago:

America and other nations are in uncharted waters; and their politicians may face backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that are unprecedented in modern times. Also, the limits of godless secularism and paying homage to the false gods of materialism may become self-evident.[13]

The chickens are coming home to roost, in spades; and the “good times” are ending for vast numbers of Americans and their counterparts around the world.

Others will remain rich, or attain great riches[14]; and I do not begrudge it to them at all.  I do not envy or covet what another has.  I have never done so.  My parents taught me that, by their own words and actions.  In my lifetime thus far, I have had lots of money, and none.  I have friends with many millions, and one with several billions; and others who have nothing.  I have treated them all the same—with love, respect, dignity and compassion.

I lived in a tent for months at a time—with water everywhere inside it, during the rainy season—because that was all I could afford.  I have had two cars repossessed, as well as a boat.  I have been evicted; and lost my dream house, as well as most of the possessions that were important to me, including priceless family items that had been handed down over generations.  When I was in law school, I had a pair of shoes resoled so many times that I was told it could not be done anymore; and I have struggled to make ends meet for food.

I do not wish any of this on others.  However, I realize that many Americans have experienced losses, pain and suffering that are far worse than I ever have; and this is true today of people abroad who are dying of wars, diseases and malnutrition, and are being forced into slavery and prostitution.[15]  I have great faith in God, the United States, all Americans[16], and people everywhere.  I believe we will survive like my mother did.  However, we will be tested like never before.

© 2012, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele

[2] See http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/02/politics/campaign-wrap/?hpt=hp_t1

[3] As discussed later in this article, “housing vouchers” are an outgrowth of the national “Housing Allowance” program that I crafted as a young attorney with the Senate Banking Committee—which was complementary to the “Brooke Amendment,” and morphed into the Section 8 housing program that has helped millions of Americans.

[4] As I have written:

[L]awyers who are prosecutors are often less interested in fairness and justice than they are in winning at all costs, and exercising their raw power and hurting others in the process—such as those who are innocent but are convicted anyway.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/

And I added:

A federal official with reason to know told me that between 15-20 percent of the indictees in federal courts are probably innocent.  Some are seniors who have been charged with cheating the Social Security program, and they are scared to death, so they agree to plea bargains rather than fight for their innocence.

See id. at n.8.  This is truly frightening, and cruel.  Also, those who are engaged in prosecutorial misconduct are “sheltered” by the government, which is a travesty unto itself.  Aside from any civil remedies against them, such prosecutors should be prosecuted and disbarred.

See, e.g.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-02-06/ted-stevens-prosecutors-justice-department/52922922/1 (“Taxpayers pay to defend prosecutors in Ted Stevens case”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1700 (“Perhaps the best remedy for such abuses is to have the ‘guilty’ prosecutors incarcerated; and let justice be meted out with respect to them, by those in prisons”)

[5] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1977 (“Law School May Amount To The Worst Investment Of Her Life!”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-colleges-dinosaurs/ (“Are Colleges Dinosaurs?”) (see also the footnotes and all other comments beneath the article)

[6]  See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Romney#Secretary_of_Housing_and_Urban_Development

[7] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/what-and-where-is-god/ (“What And Where Is God?”) (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[8] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-1960 (“Global Economy Could Endure Disaster For a Week”) (see also the article itself, as well as the footnotes and all of the other comments beneath it)

[9] See, e.g., http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html (“Greenspan’s Fingerprints All Over Enduring Mess”) and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html (“Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”); see also http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ (“Greenspan’s legacy: more suffering to come”)

[10] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/divorces/ (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[11] See, e.g., http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2085163/Children-dumped-streets-Greek-parents-afford-them.html (“Children ‘dumped in streets by Greek parents who can’t afford to look after them any more'”)

[12] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/lawyers-and-internet-scams/ (“Lawyers And Internet Scams”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)

[13] See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html

[14] See, e.g., http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2012/02/02/the-youngest-and-richest-people-in-america-from-mark-zuckerberg-to-sean-parker-photos.html (“The 10 Youngest Richest, From Sergey Brin to Mark Zuckerberg”)

[15] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/ (“Human Trafficking”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)

[16] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/america-a-rich-tapestry-of-life/ (“America: A Rich Tapestry Of Life”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)





Sarah And Todd Palin: The Big Winners?

12 11 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The biggest winners in the 2010 American elections may prove to be former Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and her husband Todd.  She became the darling of the Tea Party movement, which energized the moribund Republican Party and may decide its future—and that of its “establishment.”  While there is a long list of other potentially-strong GOP candidates, the often-outspoken Sarah Palin has “caught fire” and connects with her audiences like few politicians can.[2] Barack Obama did this prior to the 2008 elections, but he has lost his luster and credibility, and faded.[3]

Palin has established herself as a force to be feared and reckoned with in Republican politics, and is formidable.  As Michael D. Shear noted in the New York Times:

Ms. Palin wasn’t on any ballot. But the self-described “Mama Grizzly” had plenty at stake  . . .  as she sought to bolster her credentials as the Republican Party’s most powerful kingmaker and the voice of the newly empowered Tea Party movement. Ms. Palin was anything but timid in the midterm elections, endorsing dozens of candidates, including in some of the most high-profile races.[4]

Indeed, most candidates won whom Sarah Palin had endorsed—resulting in “plenty of victories that Ms. Palin and her allies have already begun to point to as evidence of her political prowess and her ability to shape and direct the unwieldy frustration that is fueling American politics.”[5] A political analyst for CBS News, Nicolle Wallace, stated: “My observation of Sarah Palin is that she is one of the shrewdest political figures in our country at this moment.  She’s also one of the most electric.”[6]

Germany’s SPIEGEL ONLINE observed:

“If there was one true victor on election night  . . .  it was the Tea Party movement. . . .  What matters now is whether the Tea Party can manage to establish itself as an independent power in Washington, as a voice of dissent next to the Republicans—in order to profit even more from the wave of dissatisfaction that is sweeping the land.”

“Then anything would be possible in two years. Even the prospect of the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as the first female president of the United States.”[7]

If Sarah Palin is a winner, one might ask: why include Todd Palin too?  Because he is a man’s man; and for many men such as yours truly, the Palins are running as a team—as they did in Alaska—and Todd adds legitimacy to Sarah Palin’s candidacy and potentially brings in male voters.  For far-Left and mainstream Democrats alike, especially women, Hillary Clinton provided legitimacy to Bill Clinton’s runs for the presidency, amidst almost non-stop allegations of peccadillos, adultery and worse.

As the 2012 elections loom, and as Barack Obama’s presidency effectively ends[8], Hillary and Bill Clinton represent a team to which many Democrats may flock once again.  For members of the Tea Party movement and Republicans and “disenchanted” Democrats, the Palins represent a breath of fresh air too.  Indeed, it is not beyond the pale to believe that two women might face off for the American presidency in 2012, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, which would be historic!

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] Right after the 2010 elections, the Rasmussen polling organization released the following results, looking ahead to the 2012 elections:

On the Republican side, it’s a dead heat between the ex-governors—Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Sarah Palin of Alaska, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely GOP Primary voters.

Asked who they would vote for if the Republican presidential primary were held today, 20% say Romney, 19% Huckabee and another 19% Palin. . . .

Romney and Palin are tied among male GOP voters, while Huckabee has a slight edge among female voters.

In October 2009 when Likely Republican primary voters were given a choice of five potential presidential nominees, Huckabee led with 29% support, followed by Romney with 24% of the vote and Palin at 18%.

Rounding out the list of seven candidates chosen by Rasmussen Reports for the question, with their levels of support, are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (13%), Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (6%), Texas Congressman Ron Paul (5%) and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (3%).  Seven percent (7%) prefer some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.

See http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/november_2010/gop_voters_like_three_candidates_best_for_2012

Thus, Sarah Palin has moved up in the polling results; and the full effects of Tea Party-supporter voting in the GOP primaries may not be reflected in the Rasmussen polling data.

[3] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama (see postings beneath the article as well)

[4] See http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/palin-proves-that-mama-grizzly-has-bite/

[5] See id; see also http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2010-11-12-1Apalin12_CV_N.htm

[6] See http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/03/earlyshow/main7017707.shtml

Among the winners whom Palin endorsed: John Boozman of Arkansas for the U.S. Senate; Rand Paul of Kentucky for the Senate; Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire (which holds the first presidential primary) for the Senate; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania for the Senate; Susana Martinez of New Mexico for governor (who may prove helpful with the growing block of Hispanic voters); and Nikki Haley of South Carolina for governor (who may be helpful when Palin’s presidential campaign moves to South Carolina).

As the New York Times’ Michael D. Shear points out, there were losers too:

In Delaware, Ms. Palin all but created the Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell, helping thrust the young woman onto the national political stage over the strenuous objections of the Republican elite in Washington. And in the end, Ms. O’Donnell never had a chance, handing what most likely would have been a Republican Senate seat to Democrats.

And in Nevada, Republican celebration was muted when their top target—Harry Reid, the Senate’s majority leader—handily defeated Ms. Palin’s chosen candidate, Sharron Angle, to return to Washington.

In Ms. Palin’s home state, Alaska, political turmoil still reigns thanks to her support of Joe Miller, the Tea Party favorite who defeated Senator Lisa Murkowski in the state’s  Republican primary this year. But with “write-ins” leading Mr. Miller, Ms. Murkowski may retain her seat.

Still, as potential 2012 presidential contenders begin lining up support and cashing in chits, Ms. Palin will have plenty of places to look for support. In addition to the Senate and governors’ races, there are dozens of lesser-known House candidates who had earned her blessing.

See http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/palin-proves-that-mama-grizzly-has-bite/

[7] See http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,727235,00.html

[8] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama (see postings beneath the article as well)