Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Record Unemployment Now, Record Child Poverty Now, Record Senior Poverty Approaching

DSWright of FDL has some details. In America, if you are a person of ordinary means... formerly of ordinary means... your prospects have literally never been worse.

Unemployment, nominally 7.7%, is actually 23% by the old metrics. It's an old game: if you don't like the numbers, change the metric.

According to Yahoo News, "nearly 50 million Americans — one in six — were living below the income line that defines poverty, according to the [US Census] bureau." Fifty million Americans suffer in poverty. Those "lucky duckies"!

From the same Yahoo News article, again according to the Census bureau, "20 percent of the country’s children are poor." Twenty percent. Of children. Some things are just plain wrong: child poverty is one of them.

Meanwhile, banks are bailed out, the wealthiest 1% pay taxes at the lowest rates, and the poor and middle class pick up the tab. All of this appears to be fine with President Obama and a bipartisan majority in Congress. And if you're poor in America, and dream of emigrating to western Europe, don't bother: European governments are pursuing austerity as surely as our own.

According to Laura Clawson at Daily Kos Labor, writing this January, having a moderately high income may not save you if you lose that income:
If you suddenly lost your income, how long would you be able to live on your savings? For 43.9 percent of American households, the answer is less than three months, even if they keep their spending to the most basic needs. That's not just true of families that know they're close to poverty, either—one in four households earning between $55,465 and $90,000 are in the same boat, according to the 2013 Assets & Opportunities Scorecard.
If you live in the South, there's a greater chance you're in poverty or headed there. There are dozens of maps; here's one from, chosen more or less at random and because it subdivides at state boundaries and is hence easier to view:

Poverty in America, 2010, percentages by state

This cannot stand. How soon will we begin seeing people in the streets, occupying public spaces, etc.? Oh, wait; we've already seen some of that, and it was met with police repression. How long before we start seeing scenes like this?

Great Depression bread line

Gawd bless America, land that I love[d].


  1. "...nearly 50 million Americans — one in six — were living below the income line that defines poverty,..."

    Or that companion game, don't change the metrics for 30 years. That federal line is just over $23k per year for a family of four. I can think of several areas of the country where a family of ONE couldn't live in independence or security (for example, being able to see a healthcare provider when ill or injured) on $23k per year.

    1. In our county the median base income for sustainable living is about $60,000.00. I just barely make it on $20,000. With cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security I (we) will be homeless or nearly. On the short end of 70 and ill, I don't expect to survive and don't expect anyone in Congress to give a good God damn.

  2. Indeed, Constance. As it is, my medical bills are burdensome, but at least I'm on Stella's insurance through work. (She works for a private entity now. When she was a federal employee, she could not get coverage for a domestic partner; the GOP forbade it.) I'd hate to think where I'd be financially if it were not for her insurance... on my way to bankruptcy, more than likely. $23k won't go far in today's world of truly expensive medical treatments.

  3. We are out there Steve, millions of us. Yesterday I was waiting at the Post Office when a car pulled along side in the parking lot and an older man with white hair and beard struggled to get out of his car. I looked over at him and said, "I can so relate to that". He burst out in a hearty laugh and said----getting on socks in the morning is just as bad". We are not alone. Somehow I think community will be our only salvation before the end.

    1. ... and what expensive socks they are, karmanot! My prosthetist has mostly treated me fairly in what he billed relative to what insurance paid for, except for one item. Noting that 30% to 50% of people who lose a limb end up losing the other, he provided me two cardboard boxes each containing one pair of compression socks... basically, "ted" hose, though not by brand... list price, $300.00. My insurance basically said, those are for the unaffected foot, and paid... **ZERO**. Welcome to America, home of the best health care no one can afford!


    1. Enfant, thanks.

      There is irony in the fact that such charts have existed, transformed of course as inequality grew, since 1984, the year I jumped ship and started my own small business. My 20 years of self-employment were the last years in which independent IT professionals like me had a more-or-less decent chance of making a living at it. And I did... just barely.

      At some point, my income stabilized and then declined, and eventually the bottom dropped out about 2007 or so, leaving me with no earned income, living off my savings.

      My investments? Believe me, that game is rigged. The former middle class who invested through one of the major brokerages became food for the sharks. My investments would literally have done better if I'd stuffed them in a mattress. I now have less than half the money I had when the economy plummeted, while those in the much-ballyhooed 1% are vastly better off than they were... literally nothing bad happened to them. Why? Because they fed on my losses. No bullshit; that's exactly what happened.

      I expect to apply for Social Security this year in about May. Even if Mr. Obama doesn't touch the third rail, I may not be paid a minimal livelihood, but at least it may slow the draining of my economic lifeblood.

      As Rep. Alan Grayson once put it on the floor of the House of Representatives, the Republican Health plan was "don't get sick", and "if you do get sick, die quickly." By now it isn't just Republicans; Obama appears to have adopted the same attitude. I was fortunate to get sick while on my still-employed mate's insurance; that got me through one major illness, and even so may leave me... us, actually, despite her continued employment... fairly nearly broke. If I have another major illness, I'd better follow Grayson's notion of the Republican plan, and die quickly.

      I have done everything my country asked of me. And I have done everything I could to improve the circumstance of my clients. And this is my reward. If they think I'm going to shut the fuck up, they'd better think again.

  5. Reading here and there most sites in English agree that Obama is indeed cutting Medicare:
    "......... Millions of Americans remain out of work and the job market is especially devastating for young people. Young people ages 20-24 are facing 13.3% unemployment rates. Without the prospect of good jobs in their early and crucial earning years, these young people will bear the cost of these proposed cuts in Social Security.
    In a time of rampant income inequality and stagnant wages, a blow to retirement security is the last thing we need.
    It's unconscionable we're asking seniors, people with disabilities and veterans to be squeezed of every last penny when corporations and the wealthiest 2% are not paying their fair share of taxes, despite soaring profits. .."




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