On paying for the poor

By Stephen D. Capillas May 18,2017


A letter written by a certain Barbara Rank of Iowa in the US in response to her congressman who questioned why American men have to pay for “pregnancy insurance” under Obamacare caught my attention in light of a national housing program that may be doomed to fail due to the insistence of militant leftist urban poor groups that the houses be given for free.

Rank’s letter which I read in a Yahoo! article made its rounds in Reddit and was met with enthusiastic public support with one Twitter user urging Rank to “run for office” since the American people need elected officials “with her perspective.”

The letter read thus: “Congressman Rod Blum in a town hall meeting asked ‘why should a 62-year-old man have to pay for maternity care?’

“I ask, why should I pay for a bridge I don’t cross, a sidewalk I don’t walk on, a library book I don’t read? Why should I pay for a flower I won’t smell, a park I don’t visit, or art I can’t appreciate?

“Why should I pay the salaries of politicians I didn’t vote for, a tax cut that doesn’t affect me, or a loophole I can’t take advantage of? It’s called democracy, a civil society, the greater good. That’s what we pay for.”

As I read it, I was reminded about what happened to a housing project intended for soldiers and police officers in Pandi town, Bulacan province that was overrun by members of the militant leftist urban poor group Kadamay.

After President Rodrigo Duterte called on the military and the police to let the Kadamay group occupy the housing units and promised them a better housing project, Kadamay was emboldened to initiate similar takeovers of government housing sites and rejected calls by the national government for them to pay for the units they stole from the soldiers and police officers.

Rather than pay for the housing units, the Kadamay leadership said the members should pool their resources to pay for the maintenance of the housing units and lots which includes the power and water supply.

Admittedly, these housing units are small and of poor quality, but they are built with taxpayers’ money and the Kadamay group wants the government to give them to the group and to the poor for free.

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And rather than wallow in a long-winded debate about their actions and political beliefs, I ask myself the same question posed by Rank in relation to that issue: why should my tax money go to paying for poorly built housing units that were intended for the soldiers and police but were stolen by an urban poor group that doesn’t believe in paying for it?

This issue also acquires relevance in Metro Cebu where residents should also ask themselves why they should pay with their tax money for relocation sites for the urban poor and not expect them to pay for their units and lots in return.

They may be poor, but unless they are physically and mentally handicapped, they should not expect and demand freebies. And even the physically handicapped have shown to be able to support themselves.

Indeed, the poor can work and earn a living to pay for their houses and lots given to them by the government so long as the terms and conditions are reasonable, i.e, don’t tax them beyond their capability in paying for it.

That’s what some urban poor occupants of the lots covered by Provincial Ordinance 93-1 did, and they acquired their titles fair and square from the province with the sweat of their brows.

The common and often much-abused argument is that the rich and powerful should be made to pay more under the law, to pay for the poor it seems — “to whom much is given, much is required,” if one wants to be biblical about it.

But while the rich should be required to pay more taxes in accordance with the law, to give more in shouldering the burden of supporting the country and to be especially held accountable and punished for whatever abuses and wrongs they commit, that still doesn’t exempt the poor from pulling their own weight and doing their share.

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