Thursday, January 2, 2014

Feel The Chill?

The Philadelphia Enquirer reported earlier this year, “Republicans such as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), and Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, as well as commentators like Pat Buchanan, have expressed preference for charity over government to solve various societal ills such as hunger. Many say private giving, not government largesse, kept America going through the decades.”

Along those lines the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a statement in November regarding the impact of sequester cuts on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program:
November 15 — The National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA) released the results of a survey this week that quantified how many American households went without energy assistance due to the federal sequester cuts of FY 2013. The sequester reduced LIHEAP funding by about $155 million, and NEADA reported that translated into about 300,000 low-income households not receiving heating or cooling assistance.
Key findings from the NEADA Survey:
  • As a direct result of the sequester, the total number of households receiving heating assistance declined by 194,000 (from 6.9 million in FY 2012 to about 6.7 million in FY 2013), and those receiving cooling assistance declined by about 104,000 (from 1.1 million to about 996,000).
  • The sequester cuts were on top of severe LIHEAP cuts that have been enacted since FY 2010. From FY 2010 to FY 2102, total funding was reduced from $5.1 billion to $3.47 billion, and then further reduced by the sequester to $3.3 billion in FY 2013.
  • The outlook for the coming winter is grim, since the Energy Information Administration has projected that the average cost of heating will increase from $922 last winter to $977 this winter. For those using natural gas, heating costs are expected to increase by 13 percent, and the overall average increase among all fuel types is projected to be about 6 percent.
  • The numbers reported by NEADA don't include the second sequester, which could cause more harmful effects unless Congress takes action to reverse it.
Now, there are similar issues with the SNAP (i.e. food stamp) program and the failure to extend long-term unemployment insurance benefits. But, given the current weather conditions, I thought it was particularly timely to look at how the local charitable response has been as regards this particular need.

On December 17 the Worcester Telegram carried an article titled, “Out of money, Southbridge halts emergency heating oil program”. Brian Lee of the Telegram wrote, “The Southbridge Emergency Fuel Assistance program is down to $84, and the town will no longer provide emergency heating oil to hard-luck residents, officials said.
In place of the program that had partnered with a local church, Health Director Andrew R. Pelletier said, he is considering buying space heaters for residents' temporary use….
The Health Department was inundated with requests for emergency heating aid last winter, Town Manager Christopher Clark said.
Forty-six families — 21 renters and 25 living in single-family homes — received emergency fuel last winter, Health Department secretary Maritza Portalatin said.”

The ever compassionate comments page of the Telegram contained three comments in response to this article:

But let us not forget President Reagan’s dictum, “Government is the problem.”


  1. Reagan of course was correct in that government is the problem. He should of specified democratic government is a bigger problem but he was right.
    Raise taxes on those who can afford to be more charitable and you cut charitable giving because the democrats have their hand in these peoples pockets. Shame on them!
    Place costly regulations on business owners in the forms of health care, environment and higher minimum wages and you get what we are experiencing in less people working, less people working with costly regulated benefits, and less US manufacturing in general. Bully for the Democrats who blame everyone but themselves!
    All the rest of the party line drivel in this article including the picture isn't worth commenting on beyond yes again its the democrats fault for the sequester but mostly its Obama's fault.
    Lastly if anyone thinks Southbridge's emergency heating oil program with its approx 10 gallon limit in this weather made a significant difference to anyone in need then
    you really do belong to the feel good do nothing gullible party.

    If Government was to be the answer in this weather then those without heat would have an emergency shelter open to stay warm and safe overnight.
    Did that happen in this caring charitable progressive democratic community, anyone ?
    Did our local government save the day?

    1. And don't forget that Pope Francis is a Marxist - mustn't leave that out.

    2. Here is what Reagan’s economic policies have led to.

  2. And here is the data for Obama:

    1. The “analysis” in that article is absolute hogwash. It says, “It's worth underscoring that the growing income gap under Obama isn't the result of the rich getting fabulously richer. Nor is it any sort of indictment of "trickle down" economics.
      Instead, it is the direct result of Obama's historically weak economic recovery, which has left the rest of the country falling behind while the wealthy have managed to make gains.”
      It is precisely a result of the failure of trickle-down economics. As a result of Republican obstructionism any economic stimulus through fiscal policy has been impossible. Hence the weakness of the recovery. The only stimulus has been the result of monetary policy through the Fed’s quantitative easing programs which primarily benefit investors and big business – hence the Wall Street vs. Main Street dichotomy.

      What is noteworthy is that the U.S. recovery has been better than other industrialized countries. This is a direct result of the impact of the original stimulus package as opposed to the austerity programs favored by Republicans and imposed by those other countries from the outset. See The Facts Are In: Stimulus Worked - Republican Plan Fails.

    2. Much to my surprise (and validation) exactly the same point about monetary vs. fiscal policy was made by departing Fed chief Ben Bernanke in a speech before the American Economic Association as reported in today’s Boston Globe.

  3. It is common sense that people who have the money to invest will do better in a struggling economy than people with no money to invest. It is fool-hearty to think that by increasing government handouts and Increasing the size of government that the wealth of the masses will increase. However, shrink the size of government and government's footprint on businesses, especially in the energy and health care sectors, prices at the pump, at the store, and at the doctors office will come down.

    The affordable care act is probably the one government program that is keeping people from starting up and expanding businesses. Especially since they Barry and the boys are making up the rules as they go along. With such predictable unpredictability emanating from the Democratic Party's stranglehold on an America that neither wants or needs any sort of "Fundamental Changes.

    1. It is a wonder to me that all of you who feel free to pontificate on the economy insist on remaining anonymous. Your common sense is the product of simple mindedness. Why don't you take a few courses in economics and political economy.

  4. Why would we want to expose ourselves to the ranting and name calling of the liberal left? Every time the left is presented with creditable information and statistics they result to name calling and character assassination.

    1. Here's some name-calling for you and your anonymous brethren - Cowards.

    2. Your excuse for anonymity is indicative of the base paranoia that underlies your entire political and economic philosophy.

    3. And finally, as regards your remark, "Every time the left is presented with creditable information and statistics they result to name calling and character assassination."
      I don't thank that is a fair characterization of my response to the Investors Business Daily article. Rather, it was you who resorted to unfounded assertions and boilerplate conservative talking points in response to my reply.

  5. Michele Bachman is hot

    1. Look, I'm not saying she's not batshit, I'm just saying she's hot. Same as Palin, batshit but hot.


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