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)

Barack Obama: America’s Second Emperor?

1 01 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Just days after announcing the surge of 30,000 more U.S. troops in his Afghan war, Barack Obama was in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize that was announced shortly after he became president—before he had done anything.  Next, he was in Copenhagen accepting a deal without any teeth to address “global warming,” in the midst of a blizzard that dumped snow on the Danish capital, suggesting to most people that the issue is a “hoax.”

Straddling his back-to-back trips to Europe, he was in Washington, D.C.—where he was met by a blizzard on his return from Denmark—pushing for the enactment of ObamaCare that Americans oppose[2].  The legislation is so reckless that it had to be rammed through the U.S. Senate on a partisan vote.  Also, the Democrats’ leadership hid the exact nature of the health care bill from senators, who surely had a right to know what they were voting for.

Then the president jetted off to spend the holidays in Hawaii[3], having irresponsibly saddled the people with ObamaCare—after the legislation clears a joint Senate-House conference committee and he signs some version of it into law—which is reprehensible, certainly with respect to its impact on Medicare patients[4].  His recent travels alone create a carbon footprint globally that boggles the mind, especially when so many Americans are suffering from an economic meltdown that shows few real signs of abating.  Indeed, 49 States have lost jobs since his so-called “Stimulus Package” was enacted.[5]

His popularity poll numbers have been plummeting[6], but he is seemingly oblivious to the will of the people and determined to remake the United States and the world in his own image.  Never mind that his life was shaped by years growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia, he is bent on changing this country.  He did not set foot on the American mainland until he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles and Columbia University in New York City; and when he did so, he was a druggie—according to his own admissions[7].

He ignores a super-majority of Americans who believe warming and cooling are natural phenomena that have occurred in cycles on this planet for millions of years.  Science and common sense tell us that some of the coldest temperatures recorded to date have occurred in recent years.[8] Yet, in remarks prepared for delivery in Denmark, he called on heads of state and other attendees to forge a deal, warning that “[u]nchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet.  This much we know.”[9]

What we know for certain is that scientific studies support the opposite conclusion, namely that “global warming” is a hoax; and they have been suppressed and their authors have been intimidated.  Also, the leaders who arrived in Copenhagen did so on private jets, and they commandeered a fleet of limousines in the midst of global economic problems—as if to thumb their noses at “commoners” worldwide who pay for their trips and lavish life styles, and say: “Let them eat cake.”

Obama is determined to close our detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer its “detainees” (or jihadists) to prisons in the continental U.S., which the American people oppose.  Also, he pushes for the trial of terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City—rather than in a military tribunal—which will make a public spectacle of the event, and expose the city to more chaos and the risk of additional attacks at a time when it is still traumatized by 9/11.

His decisions on both issues are wrong and irresponsible, which was underscored by the attempted Christmas Day terrorist bombing attempt on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.[10] Earlier in the year, the president had the audacity to give himself a “B+” for his performance in office.  However, it is doubtful that a majority of Americans would give him a grade even remotely approaching that.  In fact, he has been given an “F” for protecting Americans, and criticized harshly.[11]

Obama is pursuing his war in Afghanistan, but failing to heed the advice of his generals and trying to micromanage the war on the cheap, thereby endangering the mission as well as brave members of our military—which is stretched too thin already.  They do not deserve to be hamstrung into failure by an anti-war community organizer-president, who is half-heartedly supporting the war and unable (or unwilling) to state that the goal of winning is why we are there.[12]

He is pursuing deals with Russia’s “dictator-for-life” Putin, who is a smoother version of Stalin.  Both men are known for the brutal oppression and systematic elimination of their critics.[13] Russia is no longer a super power, and it is little more than a Third World country with severe economic problems.  It should not be helped by the United States, much less coddled; and Putin should be treated as our enemy[14]. Obama has befriended Venezuela’s Chavez too, and other tinhorn dictators and enemies of America.

In 1859, Joshua Abraham Norton—better known as “Emperor Norton I,” a celebrated citizen of San Francisco—proclaimed himself “Emperor of these United States.”  He issued numerous proclamations including his “order” that the U.S. Congress be dissolved by force.[15] If there was ever an American who had regal notions of grandeur and an imperial presidency, it is Barack Obama.  His naïveté[16] has been matched by his arrogance and overarching narcissism.  Ultimately, he may be viewed as a tragic Shakespearean figure who is forgotten and consigned to the dustheap of history.

In a famous Danish fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, an emperor marches in a procession under a beautiful canopy wearing a new suit of clothes that does not exist, provided by two swindlers. A little child says at last: “But he has nothing on at all.”[17] Obama’s core beliefs and modus operandi are becoming clear for Americans and the world to see[18], as the first decade of the 21st Century ends ominously.  He is a mistake of potentially cataclysmic proportions.[19]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele

[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  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

[2] See http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/december_2009/voter_attitudes_towards_health_care_plan_harden_58_opposed (December 30, 2009: “(“Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters nationwide support the plan, and 58% are opposed.  That’s consistent with our weekly tracking of the issue which has found support between 38% and 41% every week from just before Thanksgiving to the end of 2009.  The new figures include 19% who Strongly Favor the plan and 46% who Strongly Oppose it.”)

[3] See, e.g., http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20091224/NEWS01/912240345/Timing++of+Obama+s+family+vacation+in+Hawaii+is++perfect+

[4] See, e.g., http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aHoYSI84VdL0

[5] See, e.g., http://republicans.waysandmeans.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=164206

[6] See, e.g., http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

[7] See Barack Obama, “Dreams from My Father” (paperback “Revised Edition,” published by Three Rivers Press, 2004), p. 93 (“Junkie.  Pothead.  That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.”); see also pp. 120, 270; https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/.

[8] See, e.g., http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/22/cold-weather-europe-death-toll; http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/nation/6787095.html (“[T]he Dallas-Fort Worth area was experiencing its first White Christmas in more than 80 years”); http://www.weather.com/newscenter/stormwatch (“Historic snowstorm enters the record book”); http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1248956/Snowmageddon-brings-chaos-U-S-East-Coast-Washington-DC-braces-worst-blizzard-90-years.html (“[‘Snowmageddon’ brings] the heaviest snowfall in [Washington, D.C.] for 90 years”)

[9] See, e.g., http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/12/18/text-of-obamas-remarks-in-copenhagen (“All of you would not be here unless you, like me, were convinced that this danger is real.  This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet.  This much we know.”)

[10] See, e.g., http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126209221278008901.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLESecondNews AND http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703278604574624503147162222.html (“Sending Gitmo’s jihadists back to this [Yemeni] maelstrom makes no security sense”)

[11] See, e.g., http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyharnden/100020934/barack-obama-gets-an-f-for-protecting-americans AND http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/31/AR2009123101744.html (“The reason the country is uneasy about the Obama administration’s response to this attack is a distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension”)

[12] See, e.g., http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/25/AR2009122501923_pf.html (“Terms such as ‘winning’ and ‘victory’ have been eschewed by the White House.  Obama did not use either in his Dec. 1 address, and he said in an interview earlier this year that he was uncomfortable using the term ‘victory’ when fighting ‘a non-state actor, a shadowy operation like al-Qaeda.’”).

[13] See, e.g., http://www.theotherrussia.org/

[14] See, e.g., http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/29/ap/world/main6032803.shtml

[15] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Norton

[16] See, e.g., http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=DEE3CCB3-18FE-70B2-A8EADFBA65A39259

[17] See, e.g., http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

[18] See, e.g., Barack Obama, “Dreams from My Father” (paperback “Revised Edition,” published by Three Rivers Press, 2004).  See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist

[19] See, e.g., http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704152804574628134281062714.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read (“[The] patina of cosmopolitanism in President Obama’s background concealed the isolationism of the liberal coalition that brought him to power.  . . . The man who demolished the Iraqi tyranny, George. W. Bush, is no longer in power, and a different sentiment drives America’s conduct abroad.  . . . No despot fears Mr. Obama, and no blogger in Cairo or Damascus or Tehran, no demonstrator in those cruel Iranian streets, expects Mr. Obama to ride to the rescue.  . . . He had declared a unilateral end to the ‘war on terror,’ but the jihadists and their mentors are yet to call their war to a halt.  From Yemen to Fort Hood and Detroit, the terror continues.”)