Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Charles Cooley: A Letter to Santa

Dear Santa;
It’s that time of year. I have been as good as I know how. I contributed to both parties and helped to disseminate scandal about the enemies of both of them. I have lined the roadsides and covered my lawn with candidates’ signs whether they were Republicans or Democrats. I even did what I could for an Independent or two.
Here’s what I want this year. Please balance the budget, find me a job, and give my regards to every member of Congress. Don’t let them touch Social Security or Medicare unless they want to give me something extra. Tell them that if taxes aren’t reduced they will get a lump of coal in their stockings. If you see anybody getting something I don’t get take it away from them. The $300 I got from the gov’t (or was it $600) was very nice but it’s gone now and I need some more. I know there’s a lot of rot about how everybody must sacrifice if the budget gets balanced, but, seriously, does that mean me too? Haven’t I sacrificed enough already? I went to all the trouble to fill out forms for a mortgage to buy a house while I was on welfare and then some bank I never heard of said they were foreclosing. What more can I give up? I need my snowmobile and flat screen TV. (Thank Congress for them, by the way.)
About that job. I’m not planning to live in poverty, you know. I can’t really afford to work for less than 75 grand a year tax free. I hope it comes with benefits, too. A place to live and a meal allowance and two pairs of work shoes a year will really make it worthwhile. That and my Social Security benefit will get me by, I think. I’m 67 years old so it shouldn’t be full time and, oh yes, I’ll need a car. Isn’t gas awful, though? Makes me envy you with the reindeer.

Charles Cooley: My Grandmother and Her Politics

I never heard Grandma Small (above, right)  utter the words “President Roosevelt.” If she wished to make it clear that she was talking about the president from 1933 to 1944 she would say “that man in the White House.”  Grandma had two sisters who would come to visit her occasionally. One of them was as loyal to the Democrats’ philosophy as Grandma was to the Republicans’. The other sister might have been a Socialist for all I can remember but when the three of them got going about current events and politics the atmosphere of the neighborhood would be assaulted by sounds approaching warfare. I can’t recall anything Grandma ever said about President Hoover. However, during his administration, she would have become homeless when Grampa lost his job due to the Great Depression if my parents hadn't provided a place for them to live. My opinion of Herbert Hoover and his administration is that he was a good person who was president during an unfortunate time. When he was inaugurated in March of 1929 the economy was ready to go into a recession no matter who was president. He did, however, sign the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which made matters worse and tried to restrict government spending to add to the misery. I imagine FDR learned a lot by watching and waiting. He was certainly different. In 1935 the Federal Insurance Compensation Act was signed into law and the first checks for benefits went to people who had never “contributed” to the so-called “trust fund.” Since welfare as it existed in the first years of the Depression was powerless to make much impact to relieve suffering I see Social Security as a welfare measure at that time. I think calling it an “entitlement” encourages people to look upon it more as an insurance annuity where the more you pay the more you get. A few concessions to the needs of the beneficiary have been made but they are very few and show no sign of doing anything to shore up the viability of the program. Whatever Grandma may have thought about Social Security, I am sure the benefits her household received were a godsend at the time. I never heard her say anything about that, though.