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A Holiday Note to Congress: Half of Your Country is In or Near Poverty


#1

A Holiday Note to Congress: Half of Your Country is In or Near Poverty

Paul Buchheit


#2

This won't be covered by MSNBC and its phony minions. Instead, a more likely scenario will be an "end of the year roundup" with glowing quotes from the sainted Paul Krugman, et. al., on how the economy has recovered to pre crash levels and is on track to Nirvana. The problem I have involves my "lying" eyes. I don't see it. Again, maybe the mavens of the macro see it, but I don't, not where I live. I've alway had a problem with the macro, it never aligns with the reality I live.


#3

Something that's always seems to be missing from discussions like this is that employers like having a high unemployment rate. A high unemployment rate means the job market is an employer's market. That means there's more people competeing for fewer jobs. That makes them more desperate and more willing to accept lower wages and worse working conditions and employment terms. If the job market were a job-seeker's market, employers would have to compete against each other to get people hired on. They's have to offer higher wages, better working conditions and more favorable terms of employment. Ooh, couldn't have that now can we?... So, a high unemployment rate when there's such great income inequality is most certainly contrived by deliberate plan. There's more than enough money out there for everyone to be employed and earn a sufficient income. The conservative saying that only rich people create jobs is misleading. Rich people are plenty rich enough. So, why aren't they creating jobs? They're creating a high unemployment rate instead for the reasons described above.


#4

We can blame it all on the conservatives and neocons (Norquist wants to drown our government in the bath tub) but they can only do what the Democrats will let them get away with. Too many Democrats, like Clinton, are neoliberals and are funded by those big corporations too. So both would like to make us competitive with third world countries meaning wages low, lots of unemployment and so on. They are in this together. They go about it differently in some ways but they are the same. Obama has done nothing to stop it and Clinton will be worse.
I don't have a great deal of hope for changing that direction but am voting for Bernie because he is an honorable man and has fought these people all his life. Course they won't let him get any air time so they will probably not let him win even if he has the votes. Hello, one dollar an hour.


#5

Averages based on statistics can be problematic when there are a few families that make billions each year. That pushes the scales upward in a way that doesn't really show a true median.

"This chart from Pew Research shows the dramatic shrinking of the middle class, defined as "adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median, about $42,000 to $126,000 annually in 2014 dollars."

I seldom made more than $30,000 a year (and still don't); and at one point I was able to purchase a townhouse (in Key West), and afterwards, able to rent a 3-bedroom nice townhome in Gainesville, Florida for $550. a month in rent.

Currently, I live in a low-income area where rents are about $450-600 for a decent 2 bedroom apartment or mobile home.

My point is that I've always considered myself "Middle Class," albeit on the lower side of the spectrum. And I think families that have decent shelter, and own a car, and have money for food and what medical care SHOULD cost fit the definition I always held for "Middle Class."

Perhaps Middle Class should be presented as 3 tiers: lower, middle, and upper. Making over $100,000 a year is certainly in the upper portion of this category.

Another division might be those who work--at all, and those who live well exclusively on investments and fees drawn from others.

One wonders if the engineers of treaties like NAFTA understood from the get-go that they'd be setting up a global marketplace for labor which would invariably drive labor wages down. Did they endeavor to turn the U.S into a 3rd world nation after gutting its resources and using its military for backing in foreign resource/labor exploits? Was all this known from the start?

The next step--judging from the horrors contained in TIPP and TPP--is to turn every community into a polluted Texas-like outpost. (See Chris Hedges' piece today for "a preview" of things to come!)


#6

Since right-wing types ("know them by their fruits") love money more than people, ecosystems, and human rights... I like to listen to THEM on the true nature of the U.S. (and global) economy.

You Tube provides quite a menu: Greg Hunter has interesting guests on his show as do Max Keiser and at times, Alex Jones. I also like to listen to the very animated Gerald Celente. Oh, and Paul Craig Roberts who is in many ways a wise man enlightened by his exposure to the "inside of Washington" and all of the graft and corruption that stands so nakedly before his eyes.

ALL of them speak about the smoke and mirrors. That around the world commodity prices (steel, copper, oil) are WAY down and that this is producing Recession-like events in Brazil, Chile, Russia, etc.

These individuals are well-aware that the printing of money (Q.E.) has only set up a flood of U.S. dollars which are largely propped up by the U.S. military in its commitment to protect "U.S. Interests," which the enlightened recognize is nothing more than formerly U.S. based CORPORATIONS. The current resource/access wars have NOTHING to do with bettering the lives of citizens.

They expect a gigantic financial implosion that will impact bond markets. They also explain that when the U.S. economy went OFF the gold standard, there was an immediate drop in the purchasing power of the dollar. In those days, gold was about $20 an ounce. Now it's close to $1200, but of course dollars have long been decoupled from gold or silver, for that matter.

U.K for a time was on a silver standard.

In any case, these pundits (and others) explain that spreading "the good news" about the economy is a way of keeping the masses quiescent. They expect a massive global reset. That means that the purchase power of the dollar will fall substantially. And any attack on "the homeland" (which would seem to be the goal of all the neocons who are taunting Russia) would allow for a sudden jolt of this nature.


#8

What's also missing is that this surfeit of would-be employees is ALWAYS left out of the toxic campaign speeches offered by fools like Cruz, Rubio, Trump, etc.

THEIR theses are based on the idea that people do not WANT to work, or that they are not trying hard enough.

Of course these Calvinist clowns either are oblivious to the actual numbers (ratio of jobs to applicants) or keep that data under cover in order to repeat their tireless lines that BLAME the poor for being poor.

If Hell truly were a place, it would require major expansion in the form of gigantic new wing that would "house" the souls of all those Ebenezer Scrooge types who argue that employees don't deserve a whole turkey at Christmas, nor heating in their office areas. They are lucky to have a job at all!

"Are there no work houses?!"


#9

There many problems with the charts showing "median household income" that understate how bad it is.

As example Median Household income was much lower in the 1950's and 1960's and into the early 70's. Household income climbed after that not so much because of a stronger economy , but because more households were forced into having both adults working.

Back in the 1950's not only was the price of all goods very much lower and especially shelter and food , but generally speaking only one person in a household worked. There are politicians who now suggest child labor laws be changed so more children can be employed.They claim this will help give the child experience so when they enter adult life they can better cope. Well it will also raise "median household income".

As you suggest one can not rely on these statitistics to tell much. One has to look more to the misery index and to well being . One has to look at measures of stress, hours worked types of shelter and what income spent on.One has to look at environmental destruction and the numbers of people living in areas that are toxic due to pollution and waste. One has to look at the overall health of people be it mental or physical.There a whole pile of things economists just never measure so as far as they are concerned if it can not be measured in dollars it does not exist.


#10

I don't see it either, like so many other millions who do not see it.

Not to worry though. The people with money are cleaning out their shelves of additional can goods and other stuff they no longer want and donate it to the poor and unfortunante to have a nice Christmas.


#11

Yes, it is happening in my hometown.


#16

Poverty can be measured in absolute terms, in which case the poor in America are still better off than >50% of the rest of the world. (Why do so many people want to come here, if it is so oppressed and evil?)
-- Poverty can also be measured in relative terms, thus the complaints on this forum about inequality and the numbers and wealth of the upper middle class and rich. And I am certainly no fan of the masses of McMansions that I see a few miles from where I live.
.
People on this forum who complain about income and wealth that is so low, below a 'living wage', should go and read the articles on this forum about climate change and the environment. There are people on this forum who advocate for 'de-growth', that people earn less income (less taking of the world's resources) and have a lower standard of living (less consuming of the world's resources). The person who evoked Ebenezer Scrooge and 'half a turkey' and less heat in the office should keep in mind people on this forum who hate the waste of holiday consumption, who think that the meal should be vegetarian, the office smaller and people should remember Jimmy Carter when they put on a cardigan sweater.
-- According to the new ethic, 'tis better that everyone (particularly the rich and wasteful) consume less than it is to raise wages to some arbitrary higher 'living level'.


#19

Jimmy for the BINGO! :wink:


#20

there's always a bit of chicken egg action going on with this approach, tho. Sure, we're a nation of assholes. But how much of that is intentionally engineered and, if so, howmuch responsibility can you lay at the feet of the brainscrewed?

I do think we're responsible for a good chunk of our national horror show. There is some propaganda that simply should not work against a good soul. But still, there's no such thing as a bad dog, only a bad owner? :smile:


#22

The guy bragged about killing someone.

It's always amazed me that the male elite that run academia, churches, the presses, and politics find their sages in dark alcoholics who don't have an ounce of love or compassion for humanity. What they are decrying is their own projection...
That's a huge portion of perception: what people see and are capable of recognizing has to be familiar enough to hold resonance.

And as requires mentioning, this painting with a singular brush-stroke about what this country is always falls short because it maintains the invisibility of all those groups, ethnic and otherwise, who do not fit the rubber-stamped stereotype being parlayed as the one and true narrative within which contains the full spectrum of human expression, ideology, and possibility.

Just look at Paris: Mostly white males at all of the decision-making tables and PLENTY of brilliant Indigenous people, female leaders in particular, who were cast outside and made it quite evident that it's still the same demographic holding the rest of humanity hostage.


#23

Take a look at the video I posted. This pseudo-tough guy admiration for Hunter Thompson reveals serious moral depravity.


#25

" But any upbeat news about the unemployment rate should be balanced against the fact that nine of the ten fastest growing occupations don't require a college degree."

I have a slightly different take on this fact. I think there are two important issues that we need to take into consideration. The first is that ALL jobs, whether they require a college degree or not, should be paid a fair wage that allows the wage earner to support a family of four at a modest but adequate level. ALL jobs. If we as a society deem that a job is either needed or wanted, then the person doing that job should be paid a living wage. The second is that we need, IMO, to stop this conversation that everyone must have college degree to get ahead. Rather, we need to recognize that some people--without regard to their level of intelligence--simply are either uninterested in the academic life (particularly at the usual age of graduating from high school) or don't particularly have an aptitude for college studies while having a great deal of ability in more hands on types of work. And, in all honesty, some people are simply incapable of college level study. If we fix the first problem, however, and then recognize that college is NOT the only way to get ahead, we can provide better opportunities for some young people who go to college only because that is the "conventional wisdom" and who quit because they are bored out of their minds or who graduate with almost worthless degrees in fields for which there is not much demand. See the article "Millennials Wanted as Boomers Expected to Leave a Crater in the Job Market" which can be found at the website of Public Source, an online investigative news service based in Pittsburgh (sorry, not allowed to post a link). (In addition to the young man profiled in this article, a family friend was in this situation also. He's very bright but hated high school. barely made it to graduation, was in community college and hated that, too, and then found his future in being trained in modern-day auto mechanics.) Along with changing the conversation about "only way to get ahead is going to college" and making sure that jobs that do not require a degree are paid appropriately, we need to make sure that financial aid is available for non-college training when necessary. I also suggest that we find a way to ensure that young people who choose this path right out of high school later have the opportunity to either enroll in college or to take college courses that are of interest to them if that is what they want to do.


#27

A rude awakening from the American Dream


#29

Congress will not read nor heed the note...why should they when their only worries are how much the 1% is going to contribute to their election (or re-election) campaigns. The lion's share of goodies goes to the U S Senators whose retirement bundles are all wrapped up along with lifetime salaries and medical benefits when they retire?! If any Rep or Sen really takes in the reality of the widespread poverty (homelessness, hunger, working three jobs, increasing utilities including water rates, rising food and housing/rent costs, out-of-sight cost of health care, exorbitant college tuitions eliminating equal access to education, etc.) in our nation, their consciences (if they still have one) should motivate them to eliminate the conditions causing poverty (stagnant wages, no benefits/retirement, i.e.) and expand the shrunken social safety net...well, at least a sane, reasonable person would. And just how conscientious are those pillars of society, the Koch Brothers who over scores of years (along with their JB father) have undermined our electoral process; turned many state legislators and governors into prostitutes; created "think tanks" to disseminate their lies; corrupted local, regional, and state government with their money and ALEC?


#30

Wow, I've never before had so much trouble using a comment system. My comments keep ending up in the wrong place, then when I try to edit or delete them from the wrong place, they also get edited or deleted from the "correct" place. Very frustrating.

My original comment here was that the OP is unfair to Krugman. Yes, he talks about what is working right in recovering from the recession, but he also points out what is still going wrong. In July, for example, he wrote: "Some of us look at these changes and see them as consequences of an economy that no longer offers good jobs to ordinary workers. This happened to African-Americans first, as blue-collar jobs disappeared from inner cities, but has now become a much wider phenomenon thanks to soaring income inequality." That hardly sounds like Krugman thinks this country is "on track to Nirvana".


#31

What's my practice? In the long ago past I would send parcels to those I knew needed it but would actually go to a different postal zone so that they would not know where it came from. So that they did not feel obligated to say thank you. That cannot be done anymore. The post office requires a return address in case one want to send a bomb.

Now I do not have much money but give to some local charity on a regular bases and to some animal shelters.