Category Archives: poverty in America
The State of Working America is something I am not thankful for, nor am I proud of. Tao, a wonderful intelligent human and fellow blogger, whom I just recently discovered, does informative, enlightening and damn educational blog posts on whats wrong with Amerika and why. I mention Tao because his recent series on Progressive Economics is a must read..so go fucking read it before the carbs and shit make you lazy tomorrow.
More than one in five children under age 18, and almost one in four children under age six, were living in poverty in 2009. The Figure, from EPI’s forthcoming State of Working America Web site, shows how poverty rates for different age groups have changed in recent decades. Widespread job loss during the latest recession, along with reduced hours and slow wage growth, have all contributed to higher rates of poverty.
I live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Bakersfield, it’s called Oildale and btw..not by choice. Oildale was created way back when, for the white folks that were showing up to work the oilfields that had been discovered, and later became a magnet for folks escaping the midwest when farming became non-existent during the Dust Bowl era. Parts of The Grapes of Wrath is based largely on Oildale and what went down here during the Dust Bowl era.The worker camps, which were really nothing more than prison camps for the poor field hands which we now call farm workers, are part of the history of this area. Oildale is nothing more than wooden ramshackle houses or cheapass rundown apartment complexes and every face you see is at or below the poverty level. But enough about my ‘hood’. Back to the EPI report:
Individuals are officially considered poor when their family income falls below the poverty threshold. The 2009 poverty threshold throughout most of the United States was an annual income of $14,570 for a family of two and $22,050 for a family of four (thresholds are higher in Alaska and Hawaii). The comparatively low poverty rate among the over-65 population is largely attributable to Social Security, which lifts millions of seniors out of poverty.
First off..I call bullshit on the official poverty threshold. If we are struggling on my spouse’s social security and my disability payments, I damn sure know every family in Oildale is doing the same thing. The cost of living in Bakersfield is a whole lot less than say…Detroit, San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston and probably every other larger city in the U.S. So, I can’t begin to imagine how families with children, or the disabled, or the unemployed survive in other areas and cities. The folks that live and work in this neighborhood make minimum wage, you can bet your sweet ass on that fact and if you are disabled or unemployed you live in Oildale as well…because it’s the cheapest area there is around these parts. The EPI report on minimum wage and it’s decline and effect doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy either:
The minimum wage is not worth nearly as much as it was decades ago. The Figure, from EPI’s forthcoming State of Working America Web site, shows the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage since 1960, in 2009 dollars. When adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage was worth $8.54 per hour in 1968, compared to the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Based on a typical, 2,000-hour work year, the 1968 inflation-adjusted minimum wage would equate to an annual salary of $17,080 per year, versus $14,500 for today’s minimum wage. (The Figure shows a 2009 minimum wage of $6.84 because the minimum wage was increased in the middle of that year.)
Although each legislated increase in the minimum wage has served to increase its value, the Figure shows these increases have generally been short-lived, with inflation naturally eroding its purchasing power over time. As a result, the current value of the minimum wage is well below its historic peak in the late 1960s. EPI’s 2009 paper Fix It and Forget It notes that increasing the minimum wage stimulates the economy by giving workers more spending power. It proposes amending the minimum wage law to guarantee a consistent wage standard that will ensure that it keeps up with inflation and overall wage growth.
Since we can’t expect the Federal Government to ‘fix’ everything, we..the generalized we…need to rely on our State Government to help out the folks at the bottom of the ladder, many who are at the bottom through no fault of their own.
Well, in Cali, that ain’t happening because Ahnold has gutted or ended every fucking program that helped the poor or disabled since his worthless ass took over. I feel quite sure that he did that because, as most folks know…the poor and disabled have no voice in our state or federal governments. They Don’t Count and their votes count even less to those in power since historically poor folks don’t get out and vote.
And that is wrong on every fucking level that you can think of.
Voting isn’t a priority when your ass is poor or just struggling to make it from one day to the next…sorry but it’s not.No matter how hard I try to get these folks around me registered to vote, I hear the same thing from them…nothing is gonna change girl….and I can’t argue with them because it hasn’t changed in Oildale for over a hundred years.
And the Politicians count on that.
I spent the weekend in San Diego. My yuppie sista had an emotional emergency and I responded. As we were driving towards Carlsbad, a nice and very expensive beach community, I spotted a beautiful car that I did not recognize.
It was a Maybach. At least the nameplate on the ass end announced it as a Maybach. The logo was nothing I had seen before:
My sista thought it was part of the Mercedes family of cars. The vehicle was simply gorgeous. When we got home I googled the sucker and learned the following:
They don’t call dealerships..dealerships. They are ’studios’. A used Maybach can start around $200,000.00 and a new one goes for, depending on the options you want, around half a million devalued american bucks.
I shit you not..check it out if you don’t believe me. And my sista was right..they are part of Mercedes Benz.
As we sat around her living room..I asked her and her husband, both upwardly mobile, hard working individuals, how much they thought Maybach’s went for..both said $100,000.00. That is a price range seen for Bentley’s, Lamborghini’s and the Rolls-Royce Phantom..to name a few.
The Maybach’s price makes those other vehicle prices pale in comparison.
Conspicuous consumption is something that really jerks my chain.
Especially when you consider that almost fifty million american’s can not afford health insurance, whole families are homeless, millions go to bed hungry at night and the official number of poor in the US in 2008 was 39.1 million people or 13% of the population..children of color make up the majority of the poor with 34% of them African-American and over 30% of them are Hispanic. And our way of measuring poverty is grossly flawed at best.
In America people..in America.Of course the neocon Heritage Foundation will tell you otherwise and actually call it all bullshit. But I have seen poverty and it sure as hell exists, many times generation after generation in the same family. I have looked into the eyes of a hungry child who was too ashamed to admit that the only decent meal they got each day was the fucking free breakfast or lunch at their school. It broke my heart..then it made me so mad I can’t begin to describe it here.
Sure, the top one percent or “ultra high net worth” households (roughly 1 million people in the US) can drive whatever the fuck they want, and I can marvel at the beauty of such a vehicle. But that doesn’t make it morally right.
Heaven help those Maybach owners if all the poor folks ever rise up and want to even the fucking score. It would make the russian revolution look like a walk in fucking Central Park on a sunny day.