The Morning Grumpy – 3/29/13

29 Mar

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. So, New York State passed a budget last night, but amongst several draconian cuts was a reduction of $90MM in funding for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. This funding sustains many local organizations who provide services and care to the weakest among us.

Officials argue it leaves the state’s most vulnerable population, even more vulnerable. That money pays for their health care services; transportation to and from work, school, or day-hab; and education and job-training programs.

As Rhonda Frederick, Chief Operating Officer of People Inc. and President of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of WNY, points out, “The things that we so much take for granted, people with developmental disabilities need those supports, need our help to do that.”

“This will be devastating.”

Agencies that help the developmentally disabled employ 15,000 people in Western New York. Because of these cuts, as many as 900 of those people could lose their jobs.

They are not the only ones who will feel a negative economic impact. If the developmentally disabled do not have programs to attend, family members may have to give up their full-time jobs to stay home, and care for them.

“It trickles down,” says Frederick.

The lawmakers who tried to pass the amendment and restore the funding assailed the budget for taking from the needy, while giving to others. Some attacked the $420 million in tax credits set aside in the budget to subsidize movie and TV productions, and the $54 million New York State has committed for the renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“Whoever negotiated these cuts has never struggled with the pain of watching a child with disabilities,” said Republican Assemblyman Bill Nojay, from Monroe County.

It was a shameful measure and regardless as to the political football the issue became in the last several weeks, these cuts have significant consequences for caregivers and those who depend on the services they provide. Assemblyman Ray Walter (R,C,I-Amherst) was a leader in the fight to restore the funding, even though his efforts fell short.

“New York State can only be truly strong if we care for those who need our help the most, and these non-profits provide an absolutely vital service in a cost-effective manner,” said Walter. “The parallel system of services provided by the state to only 20 percent of the population of people with disabilities consumes over 50 percent of the resources, yet the far more efficient and effective voluntary providers are shouldering the entire burden of this cut.  This cannot stand. I have been speaking with the parents, families and individuals with disabilities, as well as many of the 12,500 employees of the agencies providing these supports and services in Western New York. The consensus is that this 6 percent cut is unmanageable and will be devastating to our community. My colleagues in both houses and Gov. Cuomo must realize the benefit community-based providers bring to these families and to the state. I will do everything in my power to restore this funding as part of the budget process.”

Long Island Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (whose son is developmentally disabled and depends on these services) got a standing ovation for this floor speech on this issue. 

Shameful, absolutely shameful. But, hey, I hope NY residents enjoy their bribes, errrr, $350 “rebate” checks, that’ll cost $1.2BN over the next three years

2. In other horrific news about our failing social safety net, the Erie County Department of Social Services reported yesterday that 2,198 individuals were placed in emergency homeless shelters in 2012, an increase of 14% from 2011. Families with children accounted for approximately one-third of those placements, and are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. On an average night, 45 families and 76 homeless single adults are placed in shelter by ECDSS. As of March 26, 2013, ECDSS has made 518 placements in emergency shelters, with 148 of those being families with children.

3. American corporations pay historically low tax rates while lobbying to make them even lower.

The Washington Post analyzed 30 large companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average — companies like McDonalds, Microsoft, and Exxon Mobil — and found that their tax rates have fallen even as profits have risen, thanks in large part to tax laws that provide incentives to store overseas profits in offshore tax havens.

American tax law allows companies to shield foreign profits from taxation until they are brought back to the United States, and corporations have happily obliged. The largest 83 corporations moved $166 billion overseas in 2012 alone, bringing their total to $1.46 trillion, and most of it, according to a Congressional Research Service study, was kept in tax havens like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Ireland. As a result, they have seen huge reductions in tax rates: McDonald’s, for example, saw its tax rate plunge from 37 percent in 1973 to 14 percent in 2012.

Corporate profits hit a 60-year high in 2011, right as the effective corporate tax rate hit a 40-year low.

If you draw a connection between item #2 and item #3 in this morning’s grumpy, you win a prize!

4. The reason a record number of Americans are on food assistance is that a record number are in poverty. Republican solution? Tax cuts for the wealthy!

5. Smartphone apps have created a new digital underclass of low-paid and highly monitored workers. We’re all to blame.

6. The plot to assassinate Justin Bieber. Yup, this was a thing.

7. Experts said the “Harlem Shake” phenomenon was emergent behavior from the hive mind of the internet—accidental, ad hoc, uncoordinated: a “meme” that “went viral.” But this is untrue. Stop being such a dope.

8. Public defender offices around the country are underfunded and understaffed, bolstering the two tiered legal system that exists in America.

In 2007, the last time the Bureau of Justice Statistics surveyed the nation’s indigent defense services, there were 957 public defender offices employing 15,000 full-time staff. These offices handled about 80 percent of the country’s criminal cases, on a combined budget of $2.3 billion. In that same year, 2,330 state prosecutor offices employed 78,000 full-time staff. Their budgets were falling, but with a total of $5.8 billion in the kitty, their means far outstripped that of their defender colleagues.

Faced with a larger and better-funded prosecution regime, defenders can’t keep up. … It should come as no surprise, then, that you’re more likely to wind up in jail if represented by a taxpayer-financed lawyer than by one you hire yourself.

Dr. Corasanti could afford Joel Daniels, 99% of us cannot.

9. The NRA is winning and there’s not much gun control advocates can do about it.

10. The average person in the U.S is 37.2 years old. The average piece of infrastructure is 22.1 years old.

Fact Of The Day: Until 1978, the Mormon church taught that blacks were once an evil race of Jews who were colored by God for their wickedness.

Quote Of The Day: “Students who acquire large debts while putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society.  When you trap people in a system of debt . they can’t afford the time to think.  Tuition fee increases are a disciplinary technique, and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the disciplinarian culture. This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy” – Noam Chomsky

Video Of The Day: A new ad from Time Warner Cable, providing their trademarked “optimum cockbag service”.

Song Of The Day: My hope with the song of the day in the grumpy is that you hear the song and then spend some time going down the YouTube rabbit hole discovering a new artist or revisiting some old favorites. For me, music is a way to mark time and also serves as a means to vividly draw me back to special moments in my life. Van Morrison has always provided a musical and emotional home for me, it was music my Mom played often when I was young and always reminds me of really wonderful times in my life. I hope it does for you as well.

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5 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 3/29/13”

  1. Michael Powers March 29, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Thanks for the Van, it does. I’m stuck on #1. My older brother is one of those individuals who needs that extra help. To create rebates, tax breaks, or state owned boxes at the stadium at the expense of these folks, I’m not even sure if there is the right word for it. When you have a family member in the system, you’re an ombudsman at the best of times and with those kinds of cuts tossing an extra level of undeserved uncertainty, you have to be a watchdog with a hint of fullerbrush salesman. Our priorities are so unbelievably out of whack

  2. jimd54 March 29, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    This sort of dovetails into the conundrum which is the Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand fiscal philosophy. To our great credit, society has made wonderful advances in caring for the elderly and disabled. People who a couple generations ago would have simply died are leading productive lives to the extent they can. So how does the Paul Ryan “survival of the fittest” mentality square with that reality? It doesn’t to my mind and yet so many people seem to gravitate to it. It is mind boggling to me that people will scoff at the plight of their fellow man while simultaneously ignoring #3

    • Jim_Holstun March 30, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      But loathsome though they are, we can’t blame Paul Ryan and the Republicans for this one: “Republicans joined with some Democrats Thursday to bring an amendment that would have restored the $90 million. But it was voted down by the Assembly’s Democratic majority.” Hats off to the Republicans and the few Democrats who voted for the restoration, and thanks to Chris Smith for publicizing this.

      • jimd54 March 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

        Yes, yes you are correct. Ray Walter is my Assemblyman, of who I am no fan, but I give him a lot of credit for trying to do the right thing. I just get off into the weeds on this makers/takers crap. Off topic, more on the national level.

  3. Ray Walter March 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Chris, thank you for bringing more attention to this issue. The Assembly Minority Conference proposed and unanimously supported an amendment to fully restore the funding to OPWDD for the non-profit service providers who are the sole target of these cuts. If the amendment had passed it would have forced the Governor and the Senate back to the negotiating table and would have resulted in a late budget. In my opinion it would have been worth it, who cares if we have an on-time budget if it’s going to hurt the most vulnerable people in our society.
    Unfortunately, the dysfunction of our governmental system in the state of NY prevailed. The all powerful Speaker Silver gave his marching orders to his minions and they all complied, except for Mr. Weisenberg and our own Mickey Kearns, who bravely supported the amendment. This isn’t a partisan shot at my Democratic colleagues by any means, it’s an indictment of a system that puts overwhelming power in the hands of a few people. I guarantee you that you cannot find a single person in the Assembly that isn’t in favor of restoring this money but given the opportunity to take a stand and vote for it they said no because they knew the consequences would be severe. During the debate on the amendment I all but got down on my knees and begged them to do the right thing, unfortunately my pleas fell on deaf ears.

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