Monday, September 20, 2010

Let go of that limb and pull on your bootstraps

In case you weren’t having fun yet, you’ll be glad to know the longest recession since the last time the Republicans broke the economy in 1929 ended more than a year ago. It lasted just 18 months (two more than the Reagan recession) but we’re out of the official recession mostly on strength of a stock market propped up by Wall Street banks who in turn have been using free Federal Reserve money to fund their very profitable trading divisions. By the way: those profits come out of your retirement accounts, it will look like everybody is making money until the next flash crash, then only Wall Street will have money.

To give Obama credit, keeping the auto industry from going the way of the US steel, textile, electronics, appliance (the list goes on), keeping autos from going extinct like those industries did help. That and his stimulus measures did give the economy a branch to grab but we’re still hanging over the bottomless gorge.

Today we have 4 million Americans added to the poverty rolls and another 3 million avoiding poverty only on the strength extended unemployment benefits and a record 49 million Americans living in multi-generational homes to make ends meet with 44% of that number that would be in poverty if measured as sub-family units. Sub family units are like the grandparents as a unit, each child with their children a unit, the thirty something guy listening to the radio while polishing his gun counts a unit, and so on.

We now have 14% of adults 25 to 34 living with their parents and as single individuals their poverty rate would be 43%.  That means 57% make more than $10,830 but likely not much more. Minimum wage for full time workers at 7.25 for year is slightly more than 14,000 if you can find it. The 25 cents an hour minimum wage established in 1938 would translate into between 12 and 14 dollars an hour in today‘s economy.

So instead of 44 million Americans in poverty the real number is more like 70 million. You can say these people are getting by so they really aren’t poor, just like tens of millions more who make enough to not be classified as poor at the arbitrary cutoff point. So you have a real big chunk of the country living in poverty or in conditions that aren’t that much better.

The right-winger says, “let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps, get a job”. A job? Perhaps in the steel industry, electronics, textiles or appliance manufacturing? They could go into the small business the family has owned for generations, oh wait, there’s a Walmart in town now. We won’t even talk about the family farm. How about a good union job down at the slaughter house, that’s a place to start. Your chances there aren’t that much better than the animals in the yard.

No, the recession hasn’t ended anywhere but on paper. The stimulus money is working through the system but it’s just draining away to China. The unemployment extension is already running out and those millions have already used up their savings and assets. If they are lucky they can join a multi-family household along with the 1.5 million young adults that come of age every year and find no work in the jobless recovery.

But don’t worry, the Republicans have all the answers, they say they’ll just do more of what they did when they were in charge before and that worked so well.


ickenittle said...

Praise jesus! the recession is over,just in time too-no more boot straps for dinner.My neighbors are having a party to celebrate-we call it pretend BBQ.We sit around drinking pretend beer and smell those briquettes a smoking.Reminds us all of the good ole days.