EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT/The revolting peasants
The peasants are revolting, or at least it must appear that way to government leaders worldwide. From the Ukraine to Lebanon, residents are flooding into the streets to remind their fearless leaders that they indeed may have something to fear.
Historically, Americans, too, have expressed themselves at the street level about events ranging from integration to wars. And now, thanks to President Bush’s proposed cuts in 2006 to the HUD-Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, some Americans have returned to the streets, but not in numbers that would warrant much attention.
This month, more than 75 Miami community agencies met in front of city hall to say how the CDBG cuts will affect the individuals they serve. But rather than agency executives staging a small, civilized protest, maybe they should think big. After all, large protests seem to be effective in Lebanon and in the Ukraine. They also have captured the imagination of the world, including our president’s.
Therefore, in addition to issuing press releases, local governments who are against the CDBG cuts should mobilize the millions of people who will be most affected by them. For example, senior residents whose facilities and meals programs are threatened should be protesting in mass. The problem, though, is that most of them can’t get around like they used to, which is why their meals are brought to them in the first place, courtesy of the apparently expendable programs.
Because local governments really can’t rally enough broken down old folks to build an impressive demonstration, perhaps they could encourage the disabled to join the protest. Disabled Americans, too, have good reason to be upset, because many of their activities will be curtailed if the cuts go through.
Certainly we can count on the children whose childcare or afterschool programs will be reduced or eliminated by the cuts to add mass to the demonstration. If those programs no longer exist, our children will have plenty of time after class. Even the youngest kids can enjoy their new-found freedom at the protest, although they’d probably prefer being in a parade.
Add to the mix the millions of people who will be affected by less funding for transportation, economic development or urban revitalization, and you’ve got an impressive, television-quality crowd. Maybe if the president saw millions of people passionate enough to protest the cuts — which, by the way, represent less than 4/100 of 1 percent of the total $2.57 trillion budget — he would reinstate the funding that helps many of the most vulnerable Americans. But then again, considering that the president submitted a budget that takes money away from individuals who need it the most, you have to wonder if he already sees those people, much less any demonstration of theirs, as simply revolting.