[expanded from yesterday] New Census data is coming out showing that poverty in America rose by 6/10th of a point to 15.7% nationwide in 2011. This is a dramatic increase given that the economy is in fact growing, it's supposed to work the other way. Don't the Republicans keep telling us that if the economy grows that it will then trickle down to eliminate poverty? Could Saint Reagan have been wrong? The righties will blame Obama's high taxes, except that in reality he cut taxes for the working class, and hasn't raised them on the rich.
The increase in poverty can of course be laid at the feet of Republicans. Laying off 1.1 million local government workers in the Red States had a lot to do with it, not just those jobs but just as many jobs in the private sector. Knocking the long term unemployed off of benefits at 55 weeks instead 99 weeks pushed several million people into immediate poverty. The only thing is that didn't happen until this year, and isn't counted in the Census data. There were plenty of 99ers who slipped away in 2011, however we don't even hear about those anymore.
The systematic conversion of the middle class into the working poor by corporate America has been done with the full blessings of the Republican party. They don't even pretend to support middle class wages anymore. Union workers are overpaid, teachers are overpaid, police pensions are too generous. There is no individual (save the mythical job creator) that deserves his pay in the Republican world. Middle-class Republicans are just too stupid to catch on that this means them, they think it's everybody but them, and that they gain from increased poverty.
The thing is, the official poverty level is entirely too low to mean anything. At $11,000 for an individual and $22,000 for a family of four, you aren't talking about enough to live on, and many millions aren't making even that much. The median family income has fallen to barely double the poverty rate. At $46,000 per year for a family this is poverty in any real sense of the word. Adjusted for inflation and productivity gains since 1981, the median family income should be $75,000 per year and should not require two people working full time to accomplish that.
Republicans don't like the idea of being forced to pay 7.25 an hour, even though that only comes to $15,000 per year, and that assumes that you can find a job that is full time. A family needs five of those jobs full time to achieve the pre-Reagan American standard of living. We're really back to the gilded age when unions were striking for the 10 hour day, six day week. Except that we have no unions now, not that represent the poor. Not that unions don't try, but they are simply being squeezed out, the Pinkertons only had clubs and shotguns to suppress workers. Today's union busting is a multi-billion dollar high tech industry, and getting fired in today's Republican world can mean never working again. Who will risk that? Besides, most Americans think the next lottery ticket is a winner, or god will bless them, guess which has worse odds.
Increasingly the new poor are the children of the upper middle class. That $200,000 law degree has a 50% chance of resulting in a job at Best Buy. This is a permanent job among the working poor, new corporate lawyers are mostly located in India. Following the rules is not a guarantee of the American dream, it's the chance to play "flip that coin". Heads you're poor, tails you're almost as well off as your parents were. Which is a good thing if you are, you will probably need to support them.
The slow motion train wreck in Europe has led to US Treasuries hitting a record low of 1.4365% for ten year US bonds trading on Asian markets overnight. Inflation indexed bonds are selling on the Treasury Dept auctions at negative interest rates. That means rich people are paying the government a lot of money to babysit their nest eggs. That lack of confidence in Obama that the Rich are supposed to have? Not so much when put into black numbers on white paper. Racism is for poor people.
Nearly 90% of US corn crop is being impacted by the drought. It ranges from moderate damage to no crop at all in the heart of the corn belt. The actual impact on US food prices is really negligible, food is mostly everything but food in the US. It's processing, transportation, marketing, packaging, retail market up, you get the idea. Fox News would like you to believe something else, Obama has his Ag Sec out pounding the pavement to convince people not to allow price gouging to go unchallenged. Beef for example should be going down with the glut of livestock on the market. Even long term, higher prices allow cattle to be fed to higher less efficient weights (the last few pounds cost more), so there won't be any huge shortage in the future. That is, assuming it starts raining again someday. It's all about the canned goods people. www.prairie2.com