October 26, 2013
Editor, UT San Diego
At his October 9, 2013, town hall meeting, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed effectively said that, “parents who don’t have the time to raise their children and depend on government help to raise them should not have children in the first place.” The obvious criticism to this statement is that Abed seems to believe that poor people shouldn’t have children. Now he has changed it to, “a parent who doesn’t make time for their kids shouldn’t have them.”
The scathing criticism of his first statement seems to have registered with Abed, a bit. His second statement narrows his criticism to those parents who make the choice not to spend time with their children. Of course, someone working three jobs just to keep food on her children’s table, might find taking time or the money to take them to recreational activities not a viable choice. Literally, not a viable, “capable of living”, option.
If a poor woman wants to be responsible, and not have children, Abed and his Republican cohorts are the first to deny such a woman ready access to birth control, or, should she have access to birth control and that birth control failed, access to an abortion. Because, Republican love for the fetus will always abide though their love for poor children is remarkably missing in action. Does Abed believe that poor people should forgo sex in order not to have children?
Republicans object to the teaching of sex education—where youngsters might learn about what causes pregnancy, and how it can be avoided along with STDs. They prefer the teaching of “abstinence only”, a concept that only makes sense in a Fundamentalist fantasyland.
Abed’s basic notion that parents should be responsible is not unreasonable, but irresponsible parents are often the progeny of irresponsible parents. Back in the Nineteenth Century, people figured out that schools were cheaper than jails. Free public schools could allow underprivileged children to improve their station. What was true in the Nineteenth Century is true today. Why should children suffer for their parents’ lack of means, education, or character?
For over thirty years this nation has been experimenting in supply-side-, trickle-down-, or Voodoo economics. Call it what you will–it does not work. Since 1981, the top one-percent of income earners’ share of the total national income has grown from 9% to 23.5%. During that same period, average Americans saw their incomes stagnate. The USA has dropped to eighth in the world in social mobility. It is easier for a poor man in any Scandinavian country, Canada, Germany, and France to become wealthy than it is for an American. Countries with more progressive income-tax systems, like the USA used to have before our experiment with voodoo economics, have lower social inequality.  Republicans repeat ad nauseam that lowering taxes will decrease unemployment, even though a study by the Congressional Research Service directly contradicts this notion. Republicans like Abed continually rail against the notion of redistribution of wealth. Where is their criticism of the redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich that has occurred over the last thirty years?
Abed said “Our society would be better off if we endeavored to strengthen families, and expect personal responsibility from parents, rather than making it easy for them to give up their basic parental responsibilities.” So, in Abed’s mind, shutting down the East Valley Pkwy. Branch of the Escondido Public Library was a good thing, because now parents couldn’t just allow their children to walk to the library after school, they would have to “make time” to take them to the main (and now only) Escondido Public Library. And, raising fees for recreational activities is a good thing, because now parents will have to be more responsible and pay more?
Abed has forgotten that basic truth realized in the Nineteenth Century, schools are cheaper than jails. Libraries and recreational opportunities as cheaper than graffiti removal. Abed has often stated his goal of increasing income levels in Escondido. He appears to want to accomplish that by making things more difficult for the poor, hoping they’ll move away. What he is accomplishing is alienation of half the population. They won’t move away, but they may vote in the next election.
Margaret McCown Liles
 Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.
 “Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945 “, Thomas L. Hungerford Specialist in Public Finance September 14, 2012 Congressional Research Service