Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Greed is good, for the greedy

That forlorn looking couple standing in front of their house holding a pitchfork in the Grant Wood painting American Gothic are on their way to the homeless shelter. More than 500,000 people from rural areas and small towns are seeking a cot at homeless shelters and this is up 57% from 2007 to 2010.  This number of people if they were a city would rank 33rd in population between Tucson AZ and Fresno CA. This “small town” would be larger than 42 state capitals and also qualify as the 103rd largest metropolitan area.

Of course this is only the rural homeless and in total 1.56 million are without shelter in the US and this population would rank as the 39th metropolitan area at about the same size as greater Milwaukee Wisconsin and larger than metro areas of Jacksonville FL, Memphis TN, Louisville KY or Richmond VA. It would 2.5 times larger in population than the District of Columbia  The total homeless population is also larger than any state capital just edging out Phoenix AZ.

These are of course only the “official” homeless who find themselves on the street at least part of the year. On any given night it’s estimated that people in shelters or out of doors totals 750,000. But this doesn’t begin to cover the total number of Americans who don’t have a home, it just counts those who have run out of options. If you can stay with friends, family or just never register with a social services agency seeking shelter you won’t be counted as homeless, officially you are still living the American Dream.

Of the 80 million baby boomers, fully half report having at least one adult child living with them which is another 40 million plus people without a home of their own.
In the last Census there were 15.5 million multi-family households, again not counted as homeless, a number that has doubtless grown in the past year and will continue to rise with 1.7 million foreclosures in process and many more on hold as banks struggle to unload houses already on the market.

Multi-family households are mostly two or three generations of the same family with Social Security going a long ways to keep everybody from living out doors. Over 54 million people live this way according to the Census but they don’t count siblings who live together or single adults living with parents so the number of people who can’t afford housing is much larger, tens of millions larger. You may in fact be talking about a third of the population, if not now, it will come soon enough. But this is the age of “new normal”, so a roof over your head is counted as a good thing no matter how stressful or tenuous.

At minimum wage, even two people working fulltime cant’ afford an apartment in any market and this is the reason that a third of the homeless are rural poor. No more going home to grandpa’s farm like folks did in the last Great Depression, the farm is long gone. Work is scarce in rural area with 58,000 factories closed in the last ten years. People who don’t live under the threat of deportation don’t get hired for migrant work anymore like in the good old days the “Grapes of Wrath“ so that isn‘t an option, but there are Hoovervilles down by the river or in the wooded areas beside the Interstate just like in the good old days.

We could really use a “New Deal” in this country but the vestigial elements of that are being stripped away under the slogan “we’re broke” so we can’t afford to take care of the poor, the sick and the elderly. The homeless better pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

The truth is the exact opposite of course. Even with the economy devastated by Reaganomics if we simply returned to Clinton era tax collection rates which were extremely low by pre-Reagan standards we would run huge surpluses. If we eliminated everything stupid that has been done since Reagan we would be enjoying the kind of growth only the godless communist Chinese have today. The kind of growth we used to have before greed became good.


Anonymous said...

There will be no New Deal 2.0 along as Obama is President. You see, FDR came from the elite-so he didn't feel the need for their acceptance. However, Obama comes from lower middle class/working poor roots. So all his life he has been trying to "fit in." I may not be a psychologist, but then again it doesn't take Sigmund Freud to figure this guy out.

He wants to be loved and accepted by the elite. So doing anything to upset them is out of the question. Therefore, though Obama will continue to be the master of the teleprompter, hoping for repeat of the 1936 FDR DNC speech is fools gold. Obama will never "welcome the hatred" of the "economic royalists" because he so badly wants to be one of them. They will never "meet their match" because they will always be Obama's "master."

prairie2 said...

None is more sure of himself than the cynic. It's easy to second guess the President when you don't see the briefing books. I like many things he's done but I see a drift to inaction that disturbs me and I in my infinite wisdom would do things differently of course. But the notion that Obama is just a suck up to the elite because he wants to be one is absurd because as POTUS he is the elite of the elite and always will be. Maybe he has become timid or maybe he's just shrewd and sees things in the briefing books that is turning his hair gray but craving acceptance from the elite, I don't think any President suffers from that.

Anonymous said...

You are right, I have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of the WH. However, Obama wouldn't be the first POTUS to crave acceptance from the elite. Nixon did-though he resented them for it. And though he has a huge competitive streak inside him(like any POTUS), I doubt Jimmy Carter would ever categorize himself as "the elite of the elite." But I guess we can agree to disagree. Love you work-please keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I agree that if we "returned to the Clinton-era tax collection rates"..
and "if we eliminated everything stupid that has been done since Reagan", we would be able to afford to spend the money on New Deal-type programs like the W.P.A., which put millions of Americans to work in the 1930s....
But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would never agree to such actions; because they don't give a rat's ass about providing jobs for low and middle class Americans......
By "elimination of every thing stupid" alone, we could save hundreds of Billions of taxpayer dollars....

Vice President Biden is now in charge of a new "Campaign To Cut Waste"--"a new effort to cut out wasteful spending at every agency and department in the federal government" (From

Somehow, I don't expect Biden's new "Campaign To Cut Waste" to make the deep cuts needed in such programs as were described in the
Washington Post"s "TOP Secret America"....
The Post series "described an alternative geography in the U.S.--
one that has grown so large, so unwieldy, and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work"

prairie2 said...

Somebody kind of missed the point, we wouldn't need to afford the New Deal programs like WPA if we had in place all the New Deal reforms that were stripped out between 1980 and 2006. The economies that are eating our lunch now still adhere to those principles.

Anonymous said...

Good point-I guess I should have wrote "New Deal Redux."

Dave said...

" If we eliminated everything stupid that has been done since Reagan we would be enjoying the kind of growth only the godless communist Chinese have today." This is a quote from the column.

Has anyone worked out, in dollars and cents, the cost of Reagan and post Reagan policies? Is it true that this entire nightmare had a really good chance of never happening had America not been so stupid to fall for Reagan's crap?

prairie2 said...

One estimate is that middle class income should be 20,000/year higher.

Productivity has doubled but wages have declined. Family income is down 3,000 but the number jobs in the average family has risen from 1.2 to 1.8 in thirty years. Costs of College, health insurance and everything else a family needs have far outpaced the rate of inflation.

Social Security should be 70% higher and we have 3 trillion in neglected infrastructure.

The Bush tax cuts alone stole 2.5 trillion. The 14 trillion in debt represents uncollected taxes as the rich can't spend that much money and buy low yield Treasuries with it.

Anonymous said...

$14 trillion in debt. ... think the Chinese will float us more money for New Deal 2? I wouldn't go to Macao and bet on it.

Anonymous said...

"The Bush tax cuts alone stole 2.5 trillion. ..." Say what? So when people keep more of their earnings that is "stealing?" Interesting. Ha. So what is mine is really not mine. So when we go to work, invest our money to produce more income, we are really "stealing". Because that is really govt. money.

Anonymous said...

"The 14 trillion in debt represents uncollected taxes (not according to the current "Bush" tax law) as the rich can't spend that much money and buy low yield Treasuries with it. ..."

Ha, those with their own money are better off letting the govt. take it and spend it. The govt. always knows best what to do with MY money. I would say the $14 trillion in debt is really overspending by the govt. But, hey, what the heck, raise that phony debt ceiling. Wait.Sorry, there is no debt ceiling if it can be raised when required. .. How much can we get for selling Hawaii or Alaska to the highest bidder? Are they worth $14 trillion?

prairie2 said...

How can people on the right be this stupid? It's your money when its small enough you can spend it. When it is big enough that wielding it can destroy the by god United States of American then no it's not your money.

ickenittle said...

When the fire sale comes to sell off the states it will look like this;

1.Nevada 84.5%
2.Alaska 69.1%
3.Utah 57.4%
4.Oregon 53.1%
5.Idaho 50.2%
6.Arizona 48.1%
7.California 45.3%
8.Wyoming 42.3%
9.New Mexico 41.8%
10.Colorado 36.6%

The federal Gov. owns this much of these states.

We will just have to make room for our new foreign investor "neighbors." The melting pot might get a little crowded though.

Dave said...

I am amazed by the idea that tax is your money being taken by the government. Do you owe any obligation of support to the commons, the public spaces and services we all use? If so that tax money isn't yours any more than is the part of your pay you give to your landlord or mortgage-holder every month.