FIGHTBACK: The End of Welfare as We Know It?

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By SYLVIA WEINSTEIN

The UN Development Program’s 1998 report estimates that for the “developing” countries, “the additional cost of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all, and safe water and sanitation for all is roughly $40 billion a year.”

The report points out that “this is less than 4 percent of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world.” Bill Gates could lay the foundation with first-year funding and still have $20 billion left over.

At the end of 1997, Bill Gates was worth more than the combined Gross National Products of Costa Rica, Guatemala, and the other five countries of Central America. A year later, in November 1998, he was worth more than the GNPs of Central America plus Jamaica and Bolivia. Gates increased his net worth over the last year by more than $2 million an hour.

Still our Congress worries about the ability of rich people like Gates to keep his head above water. They are planning an across-the-board tax cut that gives 62 percent of its benefits to the richest 10 percent of the people. The lowest 60 percent of income earners would get a tax cut averaging $99 while 1 percent of the taxpayers, who make more than $301,000 a year, would receive a cut averaging around $20,700.

Where will all this money come from? Congress claims that this country has a $63 billion dollar federal surplus. The surplus does not come from income taxes but from Social Security taxes. If you exclude Social Security taxes, the federal surplus is just barely in balance; the surplus is provided by the deductions from the pay checks of American workers.

So the across-the-board tax cut takes payroll taxes from the average American and gives most of it to the richest 10 percent of the people.

At what point on the income scale does Social Security payroll taxes stop? At $72,600. In other words, a $500,000-a-year stock broker is paying the same in Social Security taxes as the guy making $72,600-but the stockbroker is getting much, much more out of the tax cut.

That’s why they’re saying Social Security is going broke. That’s why Congress is thinking of extending the retirement age to 69 instead of 65.

The punks in Congress defend the across-the-board tax cut by saying that the poorest workers pay no federal income tax at all. But guess what taxes poorer workers still have to pay? Payroll taxes, including Social Security.

So their money will be funding the tax cut for our $500,000-a-year stock broker and, oh yes, for the $2 million-per-hour Bill Gates.

What’s happening here? The government has cut welfare, health care, education, food stamps, and every program that would make life a little more secure for our poorest citizens-but Congress wants to take that money and give it to the capitalist class that pays for their elections.

UNICEF says that “33,000 children die from preventable diseases.” That’s 33,000 children per day worldwide!

The No. 1 killer of children younger than five in the world is pneumonia. Three million younger than five die from it annually. But it is treatable, usually curable, with $1 worth of antibiotics.

The second-biggest killer of children younger than five is diarrheal dehydration. It’s treatable with a dilute solution of sugar and salt spoon-fed to the child. Many families in the Third World nations are not aware of the treatment, or they do not have clean water.

The No. 3 killer of children worldwide is measles. It is preventable by immunization. Ninety percent of the world’s children are immunized. But if it were 91 percent, 10,000 children would be spared.

Will the world’s richest barbarians help the poor? NAY! LET THEM EAT CAKE!

Socialist Action News

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