Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Poor and Cold

I'd be interested in knowing how many of my Republican friends truly know what it's like to be poor.

ELIZABETH MEHREN, LA TIMES - Winter has barely begun, and the soaring cost of home heating oil has already forced the poor to cut back on food, medicine and clothing — a plight known in the frigid Northeast as "heat or eat." Heating oil costs doubled in the last two years and climbed 21% during November and December, the Department of Energy said...

When 3 feet of snow fell on the northernmost part of Maine after Christmas, state officials got scores of calls for help. One man had 35 gallons of heating oil in his tank — less than a week's worth even if he kept his house below 60 degrees — and not enough money to buy more. In his 50s and on disability, he said he wore two pairs of socks, two sweatshirts and a jacket inside his house, which was 50 degrees.

A mother said she and her two kids were sitting in front of the clothes dryer to stay warm.

Murdock Cote, 43, called from Ashland, near the Canadian border, to say he had used his last $100 to buy oil for his nearly empty tank. But he couldn't get it delivered because his long, steep driveway was buried in snow — and Cote, who is disabled, couldn't afford a plow service.

"It's been minus 5 degrees at night," he said. "And this is only the first snow. It's going to get a whole lot worse."

States like Maine say they are hamstrung because federal money to help the poor pay their energy bills has not increased substantially in the last two years, despite the jump in fuel costs. [more...]

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress and the White House extend gargantuan tax cuts for the wealthy indefinitely...


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