Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Plight of the Poor is Becoming the Fate of the Middle Class


Yesterday a friend of mine was talking about a situation where some people she was with kept listening to right wing talk radio. On that program they were talking about how no one is really poor in America. Everyone is wealthy and even the "poor" have Jewelry and I phones and so on.These talk radio guys were getting anecdotes form angry conservative Texans who hate the poor, they would call in and say "I saw one with an expensive watch the other day." How divisive and silly can you get? We used to talk about that when I was a kid, shacks with big fancy cars in front of them. When I was bout 13 I realized that these guy are just emulating the value system they see the major part of the culture emulating.

As a sociology major in college I learned about the theory of Thorstein Veblen, conspicuous consumption. They are literally aping the leisure classes who engage in conspicuous leisure as trophy symbols. How can we expect them to do otherwise?

We have always had this kind of delusion that the poor should suffer in silence, accept their lot and refuse to own anything nice as a punishment for being poor. It stems form jealousy that causes well off Americans to even begrudge the poor anything at all. This hatred of proof--what else could it be--is growing more vicious as the ranks of the poor swell. These people who imagine themselves to be solidly within the middle class decry the attempts to help anyone to blind to see the country crumbling around them.

The "America" that so many of us have taken for granted for so many decades is literally disintegrating right in front of our eyes. Most Americans are still operating under the delusion that the United States will always be "the wealthiest nation" in the world and that our economy will always produce large numbers of high paying jobs and that the U.S. will always have a very large middle class.

Michael Synder "15 Shocking facts
About Poverty in America"
Business Insider

But that is not what is happening. The very foundations of the U.S. economy have rotted away and we now find ourselves on the verge of an economic collapse. Already, millions upon millions of Americans are slipping out of the middle class and into the devastating grip of poverty. Statistic after statistic proves that the middle class in the United States is shrinking month after month after month.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are starting to wake up and are beginning to realize that we have very serious problems on our hands, but they have no idea what is causing our economic distress and they are unaware that most of our politicians have absolutely no idea how to fix the economic disaster that we have created.

Let's check out some basic facts about poverty and education:

Do Something.org

  1. What is the Poverty Line, anyway? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it's a family of four (two adults, two children) that earns less than $21,834.
  2. Still, $35,000 is basic-needs budget for a U.S. family of four (two adults, two children), as calculated in An Atlas of Poverty in America.
  3. In 2008, nearly 43.6 million people Americans lived in poverty (about 13.2% of the population); 12.9 million were under the age of 18.
  4. In the US, poverty is still tied to race: 24.7% of the African American population live below the poverty line while 8.6% of Caucasians do.
  5. School budgets are tied to property taxes. This is why schools in poor neighborhoods get about half as much money per student than schools in affluent neighborhoods.
  6. Three-quarters of the nation's schools (almost 60,000) report needing repairs, renovations or modernization in order to reach good condition.
  7. Not surprisingly, most schools in bad condition are in cities where at least 70% of students are below the poverty line.
  8. Urban students are less likely to graduate than their suburban counterparts. High school graduation rates are 15% lower in the nation’s urban schools when compared with those located in the suburbs.
  9. Graduation rates are also lower among certain groups, particularly ethnic minorities and males. In 2008, the graduation rate among African-Americans was 61.5% compared to 81% for whites.
  10. In 2008, 17 of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50%, with the lowest rates reported in Detroit (24.9%), Indianapolis (30.5%) and Cleveland (34.1%).
  11. Children of poor families are up to six times more likely to drop out than wealthy children.

Latest Releases

Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 (P60-239)

Sharing a Household: Household Composition and Economic Well-Being: 2007-2010 (P60-242)

Areas With Concentrated Poverty: 2006-2010 (ACSBR/10-17) [PDF - 764k]

Child Poverty Brief 2009 and 2010: Rates by Race & Hispanic Origin by State (ACSBR/10-05) [PDF - 1.3M]
More than one in five children in the United States (15.75 million) lived in poverty in 2010.
More than 1.1 million children
were added to the poverty population between the

Poverty: 2009 and 2010 American Community Survey (ACSBR/10-01) [PDF - 737k]

Nationally, the poverty rate increased from 14.3 percent in the 2009 ACS to 15.3 percent in the 2010 ACS. The number of people in poverty increased from 42.9 million to 46.2 million during the same time period.

• Thirty-two states experienced an increase in the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2009 and 2010. For 20 states, this was the second consecutive annual increase.1

• No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number of people in poverty or the poverty rate between 2009 and 2010.

• The percent of people with income below 125 percent of their poverty threshold increased from 18.9 percent in 2009 to 20.1 percent in 2010. During the same time period, the percentage of people with income

Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Poverty 2004-2006

Latest Research - Supplemental Poverty Measure

Tables of NAS-based Experimental Poverty Estimates: 2009

Effect of Benefits and Taxes on Income and Poverty: 2009 (R&D)

Which party is doing the most to alleviate poverty and restore the economy? The republicans want to keep tax breaks for the rich while placing the tax burden on the disappearing middle class. They cater to the kind of "hate the poor" mentality that blames poor people as lazy (even though most of them work two or more jobs) and they want to eliminate coverage of medical care for the poor by repealing Obama's helth care program and not replacing it with anything, even though Romney's Massachusetts wasn't much different.

Obama's tax structure would increase the burden on the 1% who own 90% of the wealth and pay almost no taxes. His health care program would have expanded medicaid to cover those who can't afford health insurance, that was negated by the supreme court who left it up the states; some state like backward Texas are willing to allow the poor to die rather than give them medicaid the feds would have paid for. It's clear the Dems are the only part that sees the issues and understands what's happening to America's Middle class.

September 21, 2011|
By Roland S. Martin, CNN Contrib

CNN opinion Piece
When the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week that a record number of people were living in poverty, Republicans were quick to attach the figures to President Barack Obama, desperately trying to lay them at his feet.

But anyone with common sense knows that someone doesn't just fall into poverty overnight. The deplorable economic conditions that led to today's poverty numbers began in 2007. Republicans often ignore such facts.

Yet when you start digging deeper into the Census Bureau report, what stands out is that of the 10 poorest states in the country, most are the reddest in the nation -- solidly GOP states.

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