Giving more to those in need will put the ‘us’ in stimulus
The policies of the current administration have put business interests ahead of the public interest. In his economic stimulus package, President Bush proposes more tax cuts for corporations. The businesses that are so flush with cash they are buying politicians left and right during this election don't need more money. The ones needing the help are the people on the losing end of the equation -- those of us who were just getting by before but are now really hurting. But under the Bush plan, while tax rebates to individuals and families are proposed, more than 50 million low- and moderate-income households would get no tax rebate at all.
This plan is nothing but trickle-down economics -- putting money into the hands of those who have the excess income to invest rather than into the hands of those who must spend on immediate needs such as food, utilities and rent. The latter more logical alternative is trickle-up economics -- stimulating the economy by putting money into the hands of those who must spend. That is why putting more into food stamps, rent subsidies and extended unemployment makes far more economic sense than tax rebates. For Hawaii, rent supplements make the most sense given our housing and homelessness crisis.
Each January, the president is charged with reporting the state of our union to Congress and the American public. This year, there is no union in sight. Ours is a nation on the verge of a civil war not of arms but of alms -- where the generosity of the many has been stolen by the few. In the United States today, 2 percent of the people control more than 50 percent of the wealth. Hawaii in particular has the fourth-highest number of millionaires per capita in the country. It's greed that is causing the impending recession. Markets have been played off each other to maximize short-term profits while creating long-term instability. Investors such as Oaktree, owner of Turtle Bay Resort, win. Employees lose. We should use our shared resources to help those who need it most, not those who are to blame.
It's people who are living paycheck to paycheck and the homeless who are suffering under the weight of our mismanaged economy. We're the ones with the most at risk. And we know that improving the economy won't come from placing more money in the hands of corporate titans, but in directing more money and support to the families who need it. In the face of the Great Depression in the 1930s, it was shared public benefits and programs that saved our nation, not big handouts to big business. In fact, big business fought the New Deal tooth and nail. They will fight again -- and we must fight back.
Through the New Deal and throughout our nation's history, we have learned that we all do better when we all do better. We can't pull ourselves up by our own, individual bootstraps when the floor of the economy is falling under our feet. Soon, we won't even be able to afford boots. Can our president really look at us and say that it's the big businesses and CEOs who need the help?
America is a nation of community values. We know that alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much and that putting people ahead of profits is the only path to real union in our nation. People like our friends and neighbors who are struggling to house themselves are working hard to make it in our economy. We have to make the economy work for them and for all of us.
The Rev. Bob Nakata is president of Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE).