America’s poor are getting the shaft

November 3, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

 

 

By

Sami Jamil Jadallah

In a few days, the ugliest and most distasteful presidential election in US history will be over and we will see which candidate won to preside over the US as president, an election that is all about groping and emails, making us the laughing stock of the world.

As we all saw throughout this campaign, there was little of anything about the priorities that really matter to the American people. Both candidates talked about bringing back jobs, but we know well that both are liars and will never bring back the kind of industrial and manufacturing jobs that gave middle-class Americans the sense of dignity and security they deserve and earned.

The two candidates did their best to cater to the rich and powerful, the people with the money and the billionaires who always shaped our national agenda and politics. Billions have poured into this year’s national elections, no different from previous national/presidential elections where close to $5 billion was injected and invested in the elections. The returns are for the donors, never for the voters.

America’s poor, not only the Black and Hispanic but White as well, have been neglected for a long time. They are getting the “shaft” everywhere and from everyone, especially from Congress, who empower corporate America to screw the poor at every turn and in every way. Congress does this through legislation that gives incentives to corporations to locate their manufacturing jobs overseas, allowing banks and financial institutions, especially the credit card companies, to give the poor the shaft.

It should not be a surprise that this great country of ours has such a staggering number of poor people, over 45 million or 14.5% of the population, with the prospect that most Americans will be part of this category for at least one year if they are between the age of 24 and 75.

Not all poor people are unemployed and living off the system though, there are millions in poverty who are working hard, very hard, with one or two jobs to make ends meet, the Hispanic and Black most likely to be among this category than Asians and Whites, women more likely than men to fall into this category of the working poor, White males with less than a high school education spending at least one year in this category.

It is hard to think, in this country of plentiful that 46.5 million earn less than $19,000 a year and that  20.4 million are in deep poverty earning less than $11,500 a year.

While our presidential candidates cater to the rich and powerful seeking their support, no candidates are talking about the poorly paid jobs Americans have with 50% of available jobs paying less than $34,000 annually, nor do they talk about the banks and financial institutions that looted tens of millions of their pension funds during the financial crisis of 2007-8, nor the fact that Congress allowed corporations to restructure benefiting Wall Street and the investors while cheating workers out of their pension and health care.

Of course, Republicans talk about eliminating “entitlements” for the poor while forgetting or neglecting the kind of entitlement the US Military gets or the kind of entitlement corporations and rich executives get as part of the deal worked out with members of Congress, entitlements that are triple what the hard working and poor American get.

It is true that 27 families out of 100 get cash assistance, but not all of them are Black or Hispanic as we are led to believe, thus causing an outcry to end the country’s welfare system. I should note here that 90% of the entitlements go to the elderly, poor and retired workers on social security and Medicare amounting to $500 billion.

 

But then let us look at how the system, which is sponsored and nurtured by Congress screw Americans every day.

Let us take, for example, the interest rates charged on credit cards. In most cases, the poor are the ones who get behind on credit card payments and as such, the interest rate charged is almost twice as much as the average rate and moreover if one gets behind on one payment on one card, all the other credit card companies hike the rate. Thus the poor pay a higher price and cost.

With high-interest rates charged and the likelihood of default on one payment, the credit ratings are then changed forcing the poor to pay higher interest on car loans and mortgages.

What truly is a rip off is the fact that companies like “payday loans” and “car title companies”, while considered as banks receiving funds at less than 1%, can charge borrowers 30 even 50%? Unconscionable.

The poor also get the shaft from health care companies, especially supplemental insurance. Because the poor are most likely to suffer from certain chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes their rates are much higher than average.

Add to that the way our schools are funded. Since we do not have a national tax plan that funds education, all the funding comes from property tax. As such if you are in a poor neighborhood the income to support the schools system, the police, and fire department, is much less than in affluent communities and as such children get a lesser education and will most likely be among the poor who will live on government subsidies, these neighborhoods having higher crime and higher incarceration rates also. What the government saves in support of education it pays double in the costs of crime and incarceration. It simply makes no sense.

I leave you with two incidents that I personally experienced:

Supplemental Health Insurance: We, I mean those of us over the age of 65, have and must purchase supplemental health insurance to compliment our Medicare. I purchased a policy from UnitedHealth through AARP paying $258 a month. After almost a year I discovered that the CEO of UnitedHealth earned $60,500,000 a year in salary. I made a simple calculation and it was shocking to realize that I have to pay 19,500 years of monthly premium just to pay his salary for one year. Of course, I dropped UnitedHealth because of this.

The other was when I had my private company which offered auto dealers a smart loyalty card where dealers can add to the card a special package such as oil change, discount on maintenance and extended warranty, while consumers benefited from being able to keep track of their vehicle service and maintained records on the smart chip in the card (Patented), thus saving car owners from getting ripped off by duplicate or unwarranted repairs. Many dealers, especially those in the poor neighborhood, were charging the poor interest rates exceeding 20% on car loans, and forcing these poor guys to buy additional warranties charging them thousands of dollars for services they know they will never need and benefit from. I had to drop these dealers from my network.

Who knows, maybe one day we will have a Congress and presidential candidates who will represent not only the very rich but the very poor and middle class, offering solutions that get the people to work and out of welfare and subsidies. The American people are not lazy but they need an opportunity and Trump and Clinton will not bring that opportunity. America’s problem is not the presidency, but Congress and this is where the change must take place.

 

 

 

 

Sami Jamil Jadallah

Sami is a Palestinian-American immigrated to the US while in high school. He was drafted in the US Army during Vietnam War earning the leadership award from the US Sixth Army Non-Commission Officer Academy.

After honorable discharge, Sami enrolled at Indiana University where he was active in student politics, elected class president, student president and chairman of the Indiana Student Association representing students from all colleges and universities in the State of Indiana.

Sami earned his Bachelor Degree (economics and politics), Master of Public and Environmental Affairs and Doctor of Jurisprudence. After a 2 years stint with a major Wall Street law firm Sami took on the job as general counsel of a major international construction company in Saudi Arabia. As an international legal and business consultant, Sami served as owner representative on major projects such as hotels, conservation foundation, defense, and technology.

In the area of public service, Sami was the founding member of the United Palestinian Appeal, a well known not for profit organization serving the needs of Palestinians refugees with over $100 millions in projects and donations serving 16 years as a trustee.

Sami as founding member and executive director of the New Arab Foundation, a US based Not for Profit Tax Exemp, a think tank (with a mission) and management consulting organization, and is working now on the launching of the Arab Peace Crops inspired by President John F Kennedy’s American Peace Corps.

Sami lives in Fairfax, VA and is married to Dr. Alma Abdul-Hadi Jadallah an international expert in mediations and conflict resolution, they have three children all living and working in Washington DC.

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