People Are Starting To Get 'Real'
Could it be possible that people are starting to get ‘real’? I recently read a long article in the WaPo accentuating 3rd party candidate, Ross Perot. Today, there is an article relating that the poverty rate is expected to rise still higher. One tenth of a percent increase will put us at the highest level since 65.
Since the 'war on poverty' began, circa 1965, we have spent some $1T to address the problem. The poverty level was calculated to be 17% in 1965 and is now around 16%. From 1970 support for poverty programs increased some 5500%.
It does need to be said that poverty today is not the same as in days gone by. Those below the poverty level, $11-12k, today are likely to have a car, TV, cell phone, etc. There are reports where folks use their special debit cards in casinos and strip clubs.
Hope Yen, writer of the article, goes on to tell it like it is and I get the sense that people are aware of the real picture. Even CNN and FOX talking heads are taking a bent toward a more realistic take on the well being of the country.
Yen's article relates that while the recession is a problem we also are experiencing long-term changes in the economy such as globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigrations and less unionization that have worked to push median household incomes lower. Now, that's some real straight talk, IMO.
Further, she relates that the tidal wave of low-wage jobs is dragging us down and the wage problem is not going to go away anytime soon. More straight talk, wouldn't you agree?
Yen relates that demographers are saying:
Poverty will remain above 12.5% for many more years with several predicting that levels will remain high because of expiring unemp benefits and a high jobless rate.
That suburban poverty, 11.8% will increase again.
That child poverty will increase from its 22% level of 2010.
In trying to sell a 3rd party approach I've been bleating away that we are in for a long-term assault on the middle class, getting wages, entitlements, etc down to a level compatible with other countries so that we might begin to compete in a global economy.
People wonder why the two parties keep kicking the can down the road re the debt and others. IMO, the reason is that the parties have to take that approach until people get scared enough to be willing to give up wages and entitlements, even beg congress to make them poorer if that will help the situation. Come January we will approach a test point. Will congress kick the can again or will they begin to change entitlements, taxes, etc.? Another five or six month and we will get an answer.
Still, for the EU and the US to get their house in order to compete in the global economy it will take decades, IMO, maybe 50 years or so. You could trust your gov't/Corpocracy to deliver a soft landing or you could support a 3rd party with a different political attitude - - -
Otherwise, it is nice to hear some straight talking finding its way to the forefront.
Posted by Roy Ellis at July 23, 2012 11:22 PM
The glib answer is that we declared war on poverty and poverty won.
As you point out, being in poverty today often means you have too much to eat (hence obesity), own a car, have air conditioning and generally have buying power of a middle class family of the time when the poverty rate was invented.
That does not mean we should do nothing, but it does mean that we will never get rid of poverty, which we redefine every time we address it.
By the standards of 1965, we have mostly eradicated poverty. If we were to list the things a poor person could buy today with the income he/she gets from all sources, Lyndon Johnson would consider that he had won. Our problems today are more subtle. In the past, it was enough to create opportunity. Today we are confronted by a tougher culture of poverty. In many ways, we face that because of the success of earlier programs, which pulled out of poverty those held back only by lack of opportunity, leaving a harder core of behaviorally challenged individuals.
Agree, C&J, that we have a large number of folks who are content to live off the system with a subsistence life style rather than pursuing work at the first rung of the ladder.
Some folks wouldn’t take a job beyond a few blocks from their neighborhood. Others wouldn’t move to another city in their state. Other’s wouldn’t move across the country and still others wouldn’t relocate overseas.
Was reading a WaPo article about an EE who was working for Motorola in the mid 80’s. They wanted to transfer him to Malaysia and he quit, invested in a computer store, ‘Computer Land’, and when Dell drove him out of business he bought in to a deck design/build company. Now is doing great with a couple of franchises, etc.
The bigger story is that in a globalised world these new young grads have to be willing to work overseas for much of their career. Also, that as the high end job market has moved overseas that leaves many more folks competing for service jobs, remodeling, deck building, etc. We really are ‘cutting each others grass’ for a livelihood.
For sure, not all are on the dole. From the poverty article to which I referred; a young woman grew up in a wealthy home but her parents lost bigtime in the housing market. They were left in a half million dollar house and began living off food stamps and college money evaporated. She tried joining the Army but was injured in basic training. Now she is on disability, living with her young daughter and a boyfriend who can’t find work as a landscaper. They are making it on his $650 unemp and don’t know how they would get by otherwise.
Now, the boyfriend could go to China and find work as a truck driver, etc. But, how realistic is that? We need to recall that prior to globalization things were going swell and now they are not. There are a number of ways we could have implemented a broadened trade system and help people out of poverty without creating the near dire situation we have today. One suggestion: we could have worked to bring other countries up to our level rather than taking the wealthy/developed nations down to the level of Bangladesh, etc.
Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.
Well said Roy. But the “free market” C&J and other conservatives talk about don’t work that way. They believe it is better for the Walton kids to have as much as the bottom 50% of the country. Cause the Walton kids worked for it and the bottom 50% didn’t got to China to work as a truck driver. It is called conservative ideology.
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