Was it really just a few years ago that Missouri and the nation were enjoying budget surpluses? Can the late-'90s economic boom really have evaporated this completely, this quickly?
The Missouri Coalition for Budget and Policy Priorities (MCBPP) would not only say yes, they'd point out that the boom was never really felt among society's poorest and most vulnerable citizens. For millions of Americans, times were hard throughout the gilded dot-com age, and they're even harder now. Will the federal government step in to rescue these citizens? No, they're too busy handing taxes back to the wealthy. They can't do nothin' for you, man, unless you're a crabby millionaire who doesn't want to pay your fair share of the costs of running society.
So more and more of the tattered social-safety net is maintained by state governments, who are just as broke as the feds, just as loath to lose votes by raising taxes and often hamstrung by balanced-budget laws, such as in Missouri. The result is ever-more-desperate poverty and ever-stingier services for the physically and mentally disabled. A depressing world we live in today, huh?
But you can play a part in the "fight against the assault on the working class and poor as the result of the Missouri State Budget" by turning up at this MCBPP benefit show. It's also a party for the release of the new CD Blind Clown by socially conscious roots-rockers Old Man Joe.
Despite the band's name, bassist and songwriter Joe Squillace isn't really that old, and he still considers himself an amateur musician. But he's an experienced activist who has signed Old Man Joe on to support progressive causes from the band's earliest days. In keeping with the socially aware Catholicism of their St. Louis University roots, Old Man Joe's first show was a benefit for Amnesty International and Pax Christi. Along with the usual guitar-bass-drums rock format, the band adds fiddle, mandolin and congas, arriving at a sort of global-rustic pop.