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Poverty: The Dark Side of the American Empire


Poverty: The Dark Side of the American Empire

César Chelala
If we have learned anything from this last presidential election it’s that poverty continues to be an ignored concept by president-elect Trump and by U. S. politicians. Although both avoid using the word like a naked man avoids a poisonous snake, poverty is integral to the current reality of the U.S. socio- political landscape. The selection by president- elect Trump of the richest cabinet in the country’s history doesn’t bode well for the poor in America.


A recent study by a team of economists from Stanford, Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley discovered that the chances of American children growing up to earn more than their parents declined substantially from 1970 to now.

  • In 1970, 92% of 30-year-olds earned more than their fathers at that age.

  • In 2014, that fell to 51%.

Their findings are even worse when you look at males only. Only 41% of 30-year-old-males earned more than their fathers at that age.

Let's look at another study based on actual incomes.

1980 avg. income of the bottom 90% --> $34,062
2015 avg. income of the bottom 90% --> $34,074

1980 avg. income of the top 0.1% --> $1,598,976
2015 avg. income of the top 0.1% --> $3,984,218

While the average income of the bottom 90% remained stagnant, the average income of the top 0.1% grew by 249.2%! (Income stats from inequality.org)

As the above statistics document, the interests and needs of the working class are not being met under capitalism.

If the 90% referenced above are to have any chance and hope of a good life, they must, in solidarity, advocate and fight for a decentralized socialist society in which they (the workers and other community members, (not the state and/or capitalists) own, operate and manage the means of production and the fair distribution of all products and services that their physical and mental labor created.

From each according to their [individual] faculties, to each according their [individual] needs.
-- Mikhail Bakunin, Social Anarchist


For the first time in a long while the life expectancy of Americans overall dropped last year. While life expectancy for the poor has been dropping for some time overall expectancy was getting higher as those with better economic circumstances lived longer. The number of poor with shortened expectancy has now reached the level where it brings own averages overall.

While this might well be a one off , the report points out that expectancy still rises in other countries.


Seems Americans do not want to be compassionate, peaceful, moral, they only want to be right, regardless of what it takes, even if it takes war.


I think Bernie Sanders is one of the few I heard address these issues.


That's not all Amercians- not by a long shot.


Be careful in distinguishing what it is Americans want and what it is the media tells Americans they want.


The idea is that poor and even slightly above poor people will be eliminated or slowly die off. We have an overpopulation problem in the world. Life expectancy might dip also because of obesity a HUGE ( excuse the play on words) problem in the US. Some people believe that if one works hard then they are moral and go to heaven( like the Puritans). Wonder what the Ps would say today since there is a shortage of jobs.


Now, THAT's an issue to ponder, however for people who care about issues beyond themselves and their own circles, I believe that they do not consult the media for directions.


I have heard that- perhaps ones with better safety nets , and less use of cars.


Hey, here's a question: Who are the poor- is it anyone in goldenland US making less than one million per year?


Ah but those people are individuals . Many of them that believe in those causes think they are in the minority because the media keeps telling them it not what Americans want.

This is core to how Bernays helped develop the propagnada state. He was not so very concerned as to what an individual might feel towards those issues. He wanted to create the illusion for those individuals that every other American (or the vast majoirity) thought otherwise.

See the old childrens fable "The Emperors New Clothes" as to what I am getting at.


I'm fortunate -- college dropout (could not afford to finish), but at age 40 I started making just over $15 an hour (that was six years ago -- I am currently making $15.52). I live in a large city and the cost of living (especially housing -- even crap apartments). I have a car note and a credit card I'm paying off. No kids, single, no one else to support but myself in a small one bedroom apartment. I'm still recovering from a job loss in early 2014.

--But I'm not complaining -- I'm lucky. And yet I can't help but thinking -- I am making only $0.52 more than what some people are demanding for minimum wage -- and my bills are manageable! Other people are hardly so lucky. My point is $15 an hour for minimum wage is hardly enough to survive on -- not for me, I mean, but for so many other people out there.

I just don't know how people manage to just get by (back when I was married, the financial strain was so bad back then, even with a combined income, and we filed for bankruptcy). I only get by because I live a deliberately spartan lifestyle (this is a personality quirk of mine -- it's not merely out of necessity). And yet we accept this way of living as "normal." It's insane.

And these people are the vast majority of Americans -- who represents these people politically? It sure as hell isn't the Republicans, but it's hardly the Dems either, whose more affluent constituency is too busy congratulating themselves on how "progressive" they are on social issues.


I agree! Even many people who have gone on to get degrees are living s spartan lifestyle. And you have a personality quirk about this? Maybe you just learned to adjust. Look at what even Pres Obama encourages people to do better STEM careers -really? How many people are engineers? You mentioned you were a college drop out. Obviously you are bright otherwise you would not have gotten in there. Perhaps you could look into finishing or even get a certificate that would help you to not struggle as much( or get a second part time job). Of course I am sure you have heard that as well. I agree most people are not living the million dollar a year salaries that people would have us believe we all should make. What a fantasy! Many teachers WITH degrees are making twelve dollars an hour- yes that's right- why even bother going to college? And the banks make a business out of students being in debt.


Meant to say sorry loss as well. I have been through that too. Seems the "progressive" issues are talking about who is going to use which bathroom.


Personally I think that people should be given the right to die with dignity. I believe that Oregon is the state that allows for this when someone has a terminal illness. Isn't "living" in poverty and doomed to get worse a type of slow dying and indignity?