In the midst of all this talk about DADT and bullying in schools and DOMA and right-wing haters, it's important not to forget some of the most vulnerable people in what we call a community:
My parents told me I was no longer welcome in my home when I was 18. I grew up in a religious household, and they could not accept that I was gay.
Before long, I became one of the almost 4,000 youths who sleep on the streets in New York City, more than 1,000 of whom are gay like me. Because there are only a couple hundred shelter beds for homeless youth in New York City, most of us have to make it somehow on the streets while we wait for a bed to open up.
Two weeks ago Mayor Bloomberg decided to cut services to homeless youth in New York City to deal with a deficit. They are cutting street outreach and drop-in centers. I cannot believe he would hurt us like this. When you are alone ion the street, the outreach workers find you and bring you to the drop-in centers. The drop-in centers feed you and give you a place to shower and go to the bathroom and have staff who help you get into the shelters, and make you feel like there's someone in the world who cares about you. [Read the rest]
I posted about the budget cuts a couple weeks ago when I was in Manhattan, and there's really no reason this is happening other than the fact that no one with power cares about the homeless. They cite deficits, but there are ways around deficits that don't involve forcing people out into the street in the winter.
In related news, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, the Religious Right org that lives off getting offended at silly things, has a $400,000 income:
Controversial Catholic League president William Donohue - whose work has now gained the support of the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - earned a salary of $342,500 in 2009, with an additional $56,656 in fringe benefits. According to annual IRS Form 990 filings, the organization spent more than $2.6 million in 2009, despite the fact that its program work constitutes little more than the issuing of inflammatory press releases.
Back in the 1950's, the highest marginal tax rate in the US was over 90%. That doesn't mean that the rich were taxed at that rate, it just means that the portion of their income over a certain level was taxed at an enormous rate. Tax rates below that, going down to the upper end of the middle class, were much higher than they are today even if they weren't over 90%.
That wasn't a tax that was supposed to be collected, obviously. If someone is going to be taxed at 92% for their increase in income, the company isn't going to give them that raise. It operated as an effective salary cap, keeping money within corporations where it could at least be used for investment, employee compensation, charity, and to lower the prices they charged customers. It might not have been enough to effectively deal with homelessness, but it was better than cordoning all that wealth off from people other than wealthy individuals and using it for huge houses and yachts and private jets.
And it's for situations like these where it's useful to have that kind of taxation. It should make people mad to see someone who cares about nothing besides forcing people to respect his religion making that kind of money while someone else has to sleep in the street.
There are solutions to NYC's budget issues that don't involve cutting funds to the Ali Forney Center and other homelessness outreach projects, one of the most basic ones being raising taxes. Of course, those other ways take away money and power from the wealthy and powerful, so they're unlikely to happen on their own.
Update: Looking around for stuff for my earlier post on the NPG's gay art censorship, I found this quote from an NPR interview with Bill Donohue on the subject:
But the removal of the art may not have ended the debate. Donohue said he wants Congress to eliminate all federal funding for the Smithsonian.
"Why should the working class pay for the leisure of the elite when in fact one of the things the working class likes to do for leisure is to go to professional wrestling? And if I suggested we should have federal funds for professional wrestling to lower the cost of the ticket, people would think I'm insane. I don't go to museums any more than any Americans do," Donohue said.
Don't you just love the implication that he's "working class" and people he opposes are "elite"? He's just Joe Six-Pack, making the average American salary of $400,000 a year.