So I have just been given this blog to attend to and have no idea how to start. Since I am technologically disabled, that is to say very limited in computer abilities, I will initially use this space as a repository for the “opinion editorials or opposite editorials” (op-eds) I have had published locally and nationally. This is just a fancy way of saying that I found a place to recycle my old stuff.
My primary teaching assignment at Chaminade is in an area that covers law, accounting and ethics and since I came into the academy from a practice and advocacy oriented profession, it seems only fitting that I continue on this path. As I have taken a job that requires that I engage in some form of scholarly writing and since Chaminade allows for a broad definition of what constitutes scholarship for those on its faculty I have written a lot of these op-eds. I write on issues related to taxation and its effects on the community as well as matters related to diversity and marginalization. This is just another fancy way of saying that since I am not that smart, I write things directed to the general public and not to the academy. I guess I will have to explain this approach in greater detail later on but for now, I hope that this blog results in more discussion on the various forms of civic engagement that are promoted by Chaminade and its fellow Catholic and Marianist universities. It would be nice to create a place for others in this discussion, especially as it relates to the issue of poverty.
This summer I will be part of a group from Chaminade that is going to the Marianist Universities Meeting (MUM) at Saint Mary’s in San Antonio Texas. This year’s MUM theme is civic engagement. Below is an excerpt from a report “Civic Engagement in Catholic and Marianist Universities: A Continuing Conversation.” The table illustrates the continuum of civic engagement from “service” (action that addresses immediate civic problems) to “social change” (action that addresses systemic change of community structures that provides long term solutions to civic problems). Seems like a variation of that saying on giving a fish and teaching how to fish and how important both actions are.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN CATHOLIC AND MARIANIST UNIVERSITIES
Examples of the Continuum of Civic Engagement
|Focuses on the needs of individuals and families||Focuses on the rights of individuals and families|
|Looks at individual situations||Analyzes social structures|
|Meets an immediate need||Works for long term change|
|Address painful symptoms||Address underlying social issues|
|Depends on the generosity of donors||Depends on just laws and fair social structures|
So after that rather long introduction here is the first of the op-eds that actually made it to print. This article appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser on Monday, March 21, 2005. Hopefully it is applicable to the MUM theme of civic engagement. The subject matter continues to be applicable to things that are still being faced by the working poor in our community:
Posted on: Monday, March 21, 2005
Legislature should adopt earned income tax credit
The earned income tax credit (EITC) benefits very-low-wage workers by decreasing the amount of income taxes they must pay. The federal version of the EITC is refundable, which means that in some cases, a family may receive a “refund” of up to $4,300 even if its income was too low to pay any taxes.
Earned income tax credits provide tax reductions and wage supplements for low- and moderate-income working families. The federal tax system has included an EITC since 1975, with major expansions in 1986, 1990 and 1993, and an additional expansion in 2001. More than 19 million families and individuals filing federal income tax returns, or roughly one out of every seven families that file, claim the federal EITC.
I have witnessed the benefits of the EITC over the years in the lives of many families that successfully made the transition off welfare and out of homelessness into the workplace and market-priced rental housing. In Gordon Pang’s March 8 article, “Lower-paid workers likely to get tax break,” one of the critics of the idea of a state EITC said that the EITC was “initially designed to refund low-wage earners what they pay in Social Security and unemployment taxes,” but that “over the years, they just pulled numbers out of the air.” The EITC is calculated to result in moving large numbers of people out of poverty. The success of the program has been documented in a 2004 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy research organization, as follows:
“The federal credit now lifts more children out of poverty than any other government program. Some 4.8 million people, including 2.6 million children, are removed from poverty as a result of the federal EITC. The federal EITC also has been proven effective in encouraging work among welfare recipients; studies show it has a large impact in inducing more single mothers to work.”
So if this is something that Congress “just pulled out of the air,” then perhaps our state legislators should be reaching into that very same air for the benefit of the children living in poverty right here in Hawai’i.
The federal EITC is the largest anti-poverty program in America. It has lifted millions of poor Americans out of poverty. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already have their own version of the EITC in spite of the same types of budget shortfalls that confront us in Hawai’i. These states have made the commitment to help their residents in their pursuit of a better life because it is the right thing to do.
Wayne M. Tanna