the paradox of american poverty

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2008
the paradox of american poverty
43
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 2:01pm

According to the US Census Bureau report released this week, the number of Americans living in poverty has jumped to 43.6 million, or one in seven Americans. It is the highest single-year increase since the government began tracking poverty levels in 1959, five years before President Lyndon Johnson launched his war on poverty; and the indications are that the trend is continuing this year.

Yet, there is no talk of an all-out war or even a euphemistic Operation New Dawn to tackle the most pressing issue for ordinary Americans – their economic security. In fact, in a strange paradox, the party that is accused of doing too little to combat the crisis is poised to suffer heavy defeats in the upcoming mid-term elections by the party accused of doing nothing at all.

.....

I just hope that when it comes to making a decision in November about who will be in charge of our economic futures, we choose leaders who at least try to address the dire straits facing ordinary Americans, rather than those who cultivate short memories about how deficits grew and hold firm to policies that benefit only the few.

full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/sep/17/census-bureau-poverty

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-15-2010
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 2:10pm
Be careful of the info you post. I read the same article. They weren't including all the extra pay types people receive; unemployment, food stamps, housing assistance, medicare/medicaid, SSDI, earned income credit, etc.....add those in and the figures change dramatically.

>>Luck is what you call it when preparation meets opportunity<<
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2007
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 2:43pm
Another thing that no one is addressing is that now a company can "lay-off" those workers that are making a decent wage. Then turn around and hire workers for minimum wage. It happens all the time. It's getten worse in the last 5 years. They know that some one is waiting for any job.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-15-2010
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 2:57pm

If hiring another worker makes better business sense then how is this a problem?

Why pay $3.00 for a pound of ground beef when you can get it somewhere else for $2.00 a pound?

Why buy an Apple if an Emachine will suit you just fine?

The thing is it's normally more productive to keep a good employee who is trained already than it is to hire someone new and unknown. When that's no longer the case you'd be foolish to overpay for your labor and even more foolish when it jeapordizes your very existence.

The reverse happens just as frequently if not more so---employees leave when they find a compensation package they like even better.

>>Luck is what you call it when preparation meets opportunity<<
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2007
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 3:29pm

Unless the person beig hired is a single person with no children chances are they would need government help.. If a worker is making, say , $35.00 an hour and is laid-off. They are more likely to receive unemployment until it runs out, they give up or take a pay cut.

If the new hire is a single parent, chances are, working for minimum wage, they would be eligable for FS, medicaid, WIC, etc. Who pays for all of this?

As the saying goes, "Pay me now or pay me later."

No one wins when a companies does this.

Edit to change a number. Watching FB and not paying attention.






Edited 9/18/2010 3:36 pm ET by ohearto
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-28-2009
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 4:00pm

I just finished reading this article. Perhaps this is a good thread to post the link. It's long but a very interesting read (I will put in a few quotes I found particularly interesting).

http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/14/third-world-america/

Third world America

Collapsing bridges, street lights turned off, cuts to basic services: the decline of a superpower

In February, the board of commissioners of Ohio’s Ashtabula County faced a scene familiar to local governments across America: a budget shortfall. They began to cut spending and reduced the sheriff’s budget by 20 per cent. A law enforcement agency staff that only a few years ago numbered 112, and had subsequently been pared down to 70, was cut again to 49 people and just one squad car for a county of 1,900 sq. km along the shore of Lake Erie. The sheriff’s department adapted. “We have no patrol units. There is no one on the streets. We respond to only crimes in progress. We don’t respond to property crimes,” deputy sheriff Ron Fenton told Maclean’s. The county once had a “very proactive” detective division in narcotics. Now, there is no detective division. “We are down to one evidence officer and he just runs the evidence room in case someone wants to claim property,” said Fenton. “People are getting property stolen, their houses broken into, and there is no one investigating. We are basically just writing up a report for the insurance company.”

---snip

Cincinnati, Ohio, is cutting back on trash collection and snow removal and filling fewer potholes.

The city of Dallas is not picking up litter in public parks. Flint, Mich., laid off 23 of 88 firefighters and closed two fire stations. In some places it’s almost literally the dark ages: the city of Shelton in Washington state decided to follow the example of numerous other localities and last week turned off 114 of its 860 street lights. Others have axed bus service and cut back on library hours. Class sizes are being increased and teachers are being laid off. School districts around the country are cutting the school day or the school week or the school year—effectively furloughing students.---snip

A July survey by the association of counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors of 270 local governments found that 63 per cent of localities are cutting back on public safety and 60 per cent are cutting public works.

----snip
These cuts in infrastructure and education are more than just a temporary belt-tightening in response to a recession. They threaten long-term damage to American’s economic foundation—a foundation that has long been eroding. When the eight-lane Interstate 35 bridge collapsed in Minneapolis in 2009, killing 13 people and injuring 145, the American Society of Civil Engineers warned that the infrastructure deficit of aging postwar highways and bridges amounted to US$1.6 trillion. More than a quarter of America’s bridges were rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Steam pipes have exploded in New York City and the levees failed in New Orleans.

-------snip

Despite its position as the world’s unrivalled superpower, international comparisons show the U.S. slipping on a number of fronts. On education, the United States has been falling behind, in everything from science and engineering to basic literacy. The U.S. once had the world’s highest proportion of young adults with post-secondary degrees; now it ranks 12th, according to the College Board, an association of education institutions. (Canada is now number one.) In 2001, the U.S. ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use; it now ranks 15th out of 30 nations, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “We have been involved for three decades now in paring back public commitments and public spending, and that started with the Reagan revolution. We are living with the outcomes and consequences,” says Michael Bernstein, an economic historian at Tulane University in New Orleans.

---------snip

“The United States is expanding its underclass of a whole group of individuals who will become less employable, less integrated, more subject to criminal and other deviant behaviour—and probably become part of the larger problem of structural poverty in America as well,” says Sherle Shenninger, director of the economic growth program at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

Arianna Huffington sees an even starker big picture emerging from the reams of bad economic news. “As we watch the middle class crumbling, for me this is a major indication that we are turning into a Third World country,” said Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, in an interview. “The distinguishing characteristic of the Third World country is you have the people at the top and the rest—you don’t have a thriving middle class,”

----snip

But the problem isn’t simply a product of the current recession or the 2008 financial crisis. It is now well understood that for years Americans lived beyond their means on borrowed money.

The real estate bubble enabled many homeowners to borrow against inflated house prices, giving families the feeling that their wealth was increasing. It was all a mirage. Low interest rates and easy credit allowed consumers to spend enthusiastically, masking the fact that the standard of living and incomes were stagnating, and public and private investment was lagging.

Over the past decade, private sector job growth was sluggish. Combined with recession job losses, there are now only as many private sector jobs as there were in early 1999, a decade ago, while the population continues to grow. And incomes stagnated for a full decade—the longest such period since the U.S. Census Bureau has been keeping track of household income.

“There is certainly a serious erosion of both the American social contract and the American dream for a great majority of Americans,” says Shenninger. “There is a worrying trend that the private sector has not been able to generate jobs for now more than a decade.”

While business productivity increased—workers created more output per hour of work—that did not follow the traditional model of translating into higher wages. “Eighty to 90 per cent of productivity gains went to corporate profitability—which means that in order to make up for the gap in demand, working families resorted to relying on rising housing prices and debt,” says Shenninger. Workers lost the ability to bargain for wage increases as they competed with lower-wage workers in Europe, Asia and other emerging markets. Meanwhile, corporate earnings exploded.

----snip

There are numerous theories about the path America took to get where it is. Prestowitz blames the American approach to trade and globalization. A former trade negotiator who worked on NAFTA and advised Ronald Reagan’s commerce secretary, he argues that at the root of the problem is a long-term American naïveté about global trade, a case he makes in his book The Betrayal of American Prosperity.

---------snip

Huffington blames politicians’ domestic economic policies: first, Republicans for tax cuts and deregulation that favoured top earners and corporations, and now Democrats for failing to undo the damage. As a candidate, Barack Obama accused George W. Bush of ignoring the middle class, she notes. But now Huffington criticizes Obama for campaigning on prioritizing the middle class and then failing to do so in the White House.

----snip

Shenninger points in part to foreign policy: waging expensive wars overseas rather than spending the money at home. “Our priorities are horribly distorted,” he says. “We spent billions on new energy plants in Iraq and most of the money got siphoned off. We are spending billions of dollars trying to build schools in Afghanistan. But we are not willing to borrow at historically low rates to keep teachers at work or improve public infrastructure at home.”

Whatever the causes, the way out is not clear. While some critics are calling for a major program of reinvestment in public infrastructure and reviving parts of the U.S. manufacturing base, the politics do not favour it. In a speech in Milwaukee on Monday, Obama asked Congress to pass a US$50-billion infrastructure spending program to refurbish roads, runways and railways. But concerns about government deficits among Republicans and some Democrats make it unlikely that any large spending package could pass Congress—especially after the gains the GOP is widely expected to make in the mid-term elections on Nov. 2.

-----snip

But where does that leave people like the good citizens of Ashtabula County, Ohio? How can they be safe from criminals without a fully staffed local police force, TV station WKYC asked a local judge in April. “Arm yourselves,” came the reply from Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey. “Be very careful, be vigilant, get in touch with your neighbors, because we’re going to have to look after each other.”

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-15-2010
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 5:34pm

Good. Some belt tightening is certainly needed and was needed a long time ago.

Good news is crime rates are down. Much less likely to be a burglary victim when you're sitting home watching the telly all day. And yes, I read an article just today explaining why we have a drop in crime rate during the recession. So apparently fewer policemen are needed anyway.






Edited 9/18/2010 5:35 pm ET by gripcon
>>Luck is what you call it when preparation meets opportunity<<
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2007
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 5:52pm
That's how a lot of people felt here. Then when reality hit, they realized it was better to pay taxes and have pot hole fixed, then to take a car in for busted rims, wheel alignmemts, new exhust systems, struts, new tires, etc.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-15-2010
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 6:21pm
Or they could have went a different way or slowed down a bit. Remember streets used to be made of bricks. We still have quite a few of those around my neck of the woods--they don't form potholes. But then they were created to last, when money needed wasn't simply printed.

>>Luck is what you call it when preparation meets opportunity<<
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-02-2009
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 6:25pm
They were created to last before there were so many automobiles, tractor trailers, and other vehicles. And they can form potholes - bricks can break, crumble and otherwise disappear from their intended location in the street.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2007
Sat, 09-18-2010 - 6:38pm

When there's 6 inches of snow, 2 inches of ice, then 5 more inches of snow, no one drives over 15 mph. When you turn on a street and slide into a curb, or hit a pot hole the size of a sink, it takes a toll.

Because of all the freezing and thawing, the pot holes just appear. When Spring arrives we have a lot of rain. That also causes problems for the roadways. Flooding and over flowing streams cause the pavement to come lose and sometimes crack.

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