Monday, July 23, 2012

The Impoverished States of America

Poverty in the United States is set to reach levels not seen since the 1960s.

Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.

..."The issues aren't just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy," said Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Centre on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.
He pointed to the recent recession but also longer-term changes in the economy such as globalisation, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionisation that have pushed median household income lower. Even after strong economic growth in the 1990s, poverty never fell below a 1973 low of 11.1 per cent. That low point came after President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty, launched in 1964, that created Medicaid, Medicare and other social welfare programs.

"I'm reluctant to say that we've gone back to where we were in the 1960s. The programs we enacted make a big difference. The problem is that the tidal wave of low-wage jobs is dragging us down and the wage problem is not going to go away anytime soon," Edelman said.

Poverty in the U.S. is a watermark of the decline of liberal democracy and the ascendancy of a corporatist oligarchy.  The richest of the rich have never been richer and they intend to see continued the predatory policies that enabled their windfall, the same policies that will only undermine their economy and hasten America's decline.   This is not going to end well.

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