Thursday, September 22, 2011


I read an article in Time Magazine (9/26/2011) by Rana Foroohar, “The Truth About the Poverty Crisis”, that almost hit the nail on the head about the current state of poverty in this Country. Contrary to the editors’ beliefs, this is not an article that their “elite” readers are going stop and read. The subject material is of no value to them. This article is relevant and of remarkably high value to the rest of us. It seems like the “rest of us” are headed in the subject matter’s direction, or we are already there. To wit, in my neighborhood, if your household income is not $60,000.00, you are considered to be in the ranks of the working poor. If your household income is at the $40,000.00 level, you are already at the poverty level.
Ms. Foroohar still relies on the “en’vogue” numbers that Washingtonians love to banter about. Numbers such as unemployment being 9.1%, $22,000.00 being the National poverty level of income, 15% of American families living at, or below, that level, and a mere 6.5 million jobs lost to this “recession”. Her argument is right on; her numbers are misleading, to say the least.

Let’s start with the unemployment rate. This number is accurately defined by doubling it, and breaking it down by race and location. Indeed, it is hovering around 18%, overall, and when you consider that Black Youth have an unemployment rate close to 40%, you can then understand that we are not in a “recession”, but rather, a “depression”. Of course, you will never get a pollster, or politician, to admit to numbers like this. They all have good paying jobs, with benefits, and really don’t care too much what the real numbers are.

Take a quick look at this $22,000.00 number that our government claims to be the poverty level. $22,000.00 per annum equals $10.58 per hour in wages. Ask yourself if, and where, you could possibly live on that amount. The minimum wage is $8.25 per hour, and that grosses you a whopping $17,160.00 per year. Perhaps you could live on that amount if you lived with your parents, still. I doubt seriously if a family anywhere in the U.S. could live at that level. If you are in the category of the unemployed, you may be receiving government assistance at a rate of $400.00 per week. This works out to be $10.00 per hour, and grosses you $20,800.00 per year. You would have to at least triple these base numbers to have even a fighting chance of surviving. The one thing that is a guaranteed constant in these figures is that all of these monies go directly back into the economy; there is no personal saving of money at these levels.

That covers items one through three. Now let’s look at the fourth, and final, item in this article; job loss. I’m afraid our memories are short on this issue. Does anyone remember “NAFTA”, the North American Free Trade Agreement? Remember all those “nattering nabobs of negativism” saying they heard a giant sucking sound from the South? It turns out that they were right. Our government swore up and down that we were not going to loose jobs because of this “treaty”. To set the record straight, that’s exactly when this Country started hemorrhaging jobs. Moreover, it wasn’t just to the South; it was going global at that very point. The 6.5 million, or more, jobs lost recently is a drop in the bucket compared to what we’ve lost over the last thirty years. Over that period, we are talking 10’s of millions in the job loss category.      

In conclusion, I feel it is safe to say that, “Yes, Dorothy, we are in an economic depression.”  The systematic pace of job loss ensures the obliteration of our middle class, as we no longer manufacture much of what we consume. As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, those of us who comprised that middle class will sink into poverty, and a two-class society will be upon us. Our captains of industry will be doing happy dances all the way to the bank, and they will truly own the government. It would have been political suicide for any elected official to speak the truth about any of this over the past thirty years. They are simply not going to bite the hand that feeds them. Do you remember the phrase, “no taxation, without representation”? The second American Revolution may be the result.

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