|Recently I passed along the story from New Yorker writer Susan Sheehan about the financial struggles of Cassie Stromer, who is no longer able to pay her $58/month Medicare premium or get her dentures repaired on her pension income of $780/month. Cassie’s story is no different from that of millions of other Americans who labour every day to get by and provide for their families while the rich get ever richer.
New Yorker reader Melissa Hamilton decided to do something about Cassie’s situation. She writes:
I too read the New Yorker article, and it just killed me. And I really wished I could help this lady. I don’t have much extra money, but this lady has nothing. So I went on the internet and found her address. I’m sending photocopies of the article to friends with the address, and maybe we can make Cassie’s life a little easier. Since her full name and place of residence were given in the article, I hope this isn’t too intrusive. Anyway, her info (according to the Ultimate White Pages) is: Cassie Stromer, 8199 Tis Well Drive, Alexandria, VA 22306-3286. I am going to try to get at least $100 together from people at work, and maybe if enough people send money, Cassie can pay for the dental things she needs, and food and medicine as well. It sounds like even $10-20 makes a huge difference to her. Isn’t the internet marvelous???
I think this is a great initiative. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to reach Ms. Sheehan at the New Yorker, as I would feel better sending my cheque through an intermediary (and she’d be the obvious choice) rather than just putting it in the mail. But one way or the other I’m in. We should try to coordinate what we’re doing here, so if you contribute, please let me know and I’ll work with Melissa to keep a running total. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a follow up story in the New Yorker, or, even better, enough money that we can help not only Cassie but some of her needy neighbours.
There are moments when you see suddenly crystallized in a particular event, a threat to democracy as ominous as the smoke rising from Mt. St. Helens. This week it was that enormous payoff to big corporations by their subjects in Congress. I say payoffs advisedly. Business elites provide politicians with the money they need to run for office. The politicians pay them back with a return on their investment so generous it boggles the mind. That legislation enacted this week is worth $137 billion in tax cuts for corporations. One company alone — General Electric — will receive over $8 billion, despite earnings last year of over $15 billion. Many companies — Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Eli Lilly, among others — have been parking profits overseas rather than bring them back to America where they are taxed. So Congress has now blessed them with a one-time “tax holiday” during which they can bring home the bacon at about one-seventh of the normal tax rates.
These plums are usually couched in such language they would defy a Delphic oracle to interpret them — all the more to hoodwink us. What’s behind those hieroglyphics in Section 713, Subsection A and B, Page 385? Why, a multimillion dollar windfall to Home Depot for importing ceiling fans made by serfs in China. And that little clause written in Sanskrit so tiny it would take a Mount Palomar telescope to read? Nothing less than a $27 million tax present to foreigners who bet at American horse and dog tracks. On and on it goes, the pillaging and plundering by suits with Guccis. In a time of war, terror, and soaring deficits, you would think the governing class would be asking these corporate aristocrats to make a little patriotic sacrifice like that asked of single mothers or our men and women in Iraq. Instead they’re allowed to pass their share of the burden to workers and children not yet born. At the least they ought to be required to remove the flag from their lapels and replace it with the icon they most revere — the dollar sign.
Most of the people in my town are planning to vote Republican. I knew I needed to do something, like hang a “KERRY/EDWARDS” sign from my apartment window. But who can afford these signs in Bush’s economy, even with my staggeringly huge gigantic tax cut? Luckily: $3, some common household items, and thankless labor can allow my political voice to be heard.
Follow the link above, then click on the picture and see how he did it. Priceless.