David Bradley is the Executive Director of the National Community Action Foundation, the lobbying arm of the nation’s more than one thousand Community Action Agencies, including Community Action. David spoke at our Annual Meeting in October and pretty accurately predicted the outcome of the November election that changed the course of our nation’s politics and its policies.
What is clear is that the concentration of wealth in this nation and the decline of the American middle class is causing tumultuous change in our society. One might ask how, in a democracy where the top 400 families’ wealth is equivalent to the bottom 150 million Americans’, our policies could so favor the few.
One might ask how an economy thrives when people’s purchasing power and home equity evaporate; how it thrives when upward mobility becomes a dream, eventually a distant memory. How will the people who make the toasters make any money when there’s nobody left to buy the toasters?
And will that middle class ever side with those whose hopes and dreams may never have formed, because poverty is so gripping? Or will they continue to think of the poor not as victims but as people who chose failure?
And what of agencies like Community Action? With low salaries, overworked staff and an administrative overhead of just 7.6%, there is nothing to cut but the services that make such a difference.
So here is the outcome of this year’s cuts: we will close a homeless shelter. That’s right, we will close Safe Harbor Easton, barring some miracle, by September 30. We will also no longer have much of an ability to advise tenants of their rights and responsibilities. We aren’t sure whether our program that matches families’ savings so they can buy a house or start a business will survive. Our free tax preparation program that helps over 1,600 taxpaying families avoid the rip-off artists at some of the commercial preparers may be lost.
And, no doubt, the radicals in Congress won’t stop at this year’s cuts; next year will surely bring more. Who knows what we’ll have to shut down next year?
You can help us stop this madness. Contact any elected official you can. Tell them enough is enough. This is America. We want economic opportunities. We also want to return to a policy agenda that ensures that, if you work, you can afford to pay your bills. And if you can’t work, or the jobs are gone, we take care of each other. That’s what it means to live in a civilized society.
We stand or fall together.