The great economic divide in America finds its roots in politics, in unrestrained capitalism, if you will, and in unrestrained money for politics. The following articles explain some causes and effects.
Some questions for you to think about as your read this.
Before you do, look at this graph from Moyers and Company; The Triggers of Economic Inequality. Be sure to roll your cursor over the triangles to see what action to place at these critical junctures.
Does the present political/economic system bode well for our country?
Does the present political/economic system bode well for you and your descendants?
Do you approve of the money in politics, is it democracy in action?
What does the death of the middle class mean for the future of the United States? Is it good or bad?
Where do you fit in this political/economic system?
January 13, 2012
Moyers & Company dives into one of the most important and controversial issues of our time: How Washington and Big Business colluded to make the super-rich richer and turn their backs on the rest of us.
Bill’s guests – Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, authors of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, argue that America’s vast inequality is no accident, but in fact has been politically engineered.
How, in a nation as wealthy as America, can the economy simply stop working for people at large, while super-serving those at the very top? Through exhaustive research and analysis, the political scientists Hacker and Pierson — whom Bill regards as the “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” of economics — detail important truths behind a 30-year economic assault against the middle class.
Who’s the culprit? “American politics did it– far more than we would have believed when we started this research,” Hacker explains. “What government has done and not done, and the politics that produced it, is really at the heart of the rise of an economy that has showered huge riches on the very, very, very well off.”
Bill considers their book the best he’s seen detailing “how politicians rewrote the rules to create a winner-take-all economy that favors the 1% over everyone else, putting our once and future middle class in peril.”
By Dave Jamieson
Earlier this year, temporary workers at a Pennsylvania plant packing Hershey products staged a mass walkout over what they described as abusive working conditions. The workers, who were students from Asia and Eastern Europe here on J-1 guest visas for the summer, said they were required to lift 50-pound boxes throughout the day and were threatened with deportation if they couldn’t keep up. Although they packed Hershey goods, the students were employed by a staffing company twice removed from Hershey, which had more than $5 billion in revenues last year. Similar outsourcing has spread to much of the American food-packing industry.
But such sub-contracting isn’t contained to warehouses and plants. In an effort to cut costs, even hotels have started quietly contracting out a considerable chunk of their back-of-the-house workforce to labor agencies. Hyatt, for example, has replaced many of its housekeepers with cheaper temp workers. Hyatt’s direct hires now work alongside many lesser-paid agency workers, some of whom work on a temporary basis for years on end, tracking the minimum wage.
Such subcontracting enables corporations to essentially take workers off their books, foisting the traditional responsibilities that go with being an employer — paying a reasonable wage, offering health benefits, providing a pension or retirement plan, chipping into workers’ compensation coverage — conveniently onto someone else. Workers like Dickerson, of course, aren’t accounted for when Walmart touts that more than CNNhalf of its workforce receives health coverage.
Millions of Americans live in poverty, more families are suffering and hunger is seen growing.
By Octavio Blanco, CNN/Money staff writer
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Poverty and hunger are problems that many Americans relegate to the Third World. But the steady growth of poverty has left millions of American families afraid they won’t have enough money to put food on the table.
According to the most recent Census Bureau statistics, nearly 36 million Americans lived in poverty in 2003, an increase of 1.3 million from 2002. And since 2000, 4.4 million more people in this country are living in poverty. The Census Bureau defines poverty as an individual earning $9,393 or less and $14,680 or less for a family of three.
And American families are faring worse than they have in years. Last year 7.6 million American families — or 10 percent of all families — lived in poverty, a big jump from 2000.
The rich get richer …
But these figures don’t complete the story. Read More
Hard at work but can’t buy food
While the ranks of the working poor grow in number, should employers step up to stop the trend?
By Katie Benner, CNN/Money staff writer
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Being poor doesn’t mean being jobless, said a recent Challenger, Gray & Christmas report that found more and more working families are living at or below the poverty line.
“Poverty and hunger are rapidly becoming a workplace issue… if for no other reason than the fact that an employee who is worried about where his or her next meal will come from is not going to be very productive,” said John Challenger, company CEO, in a statement.
But that’s just the job placement firm’s assessment. Aside from wage laws, there are no other rules telling businesses what they must give their employees.
“There is no mandate for corporations except for the minimum wage, which is set at $5.15 an hour. After that, the issue’s up to the ethicists,” said William Dickens, a labor economist with the Brookings Institution.
Several economists, labor activists and legal analysts also agreed that placing the welfare of American workers at the mercy of corporate largesse is dangerous for employees because of what Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has dubbed Wall Street’s “infectious greed.”
However, some labor economists say altruism could hurt bottom lines, Read More
Living and working without healthcare
For millions, healthcare is secondary to keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table.
By Jilian Mincer, CNN/Money contributing writer
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Even though Maribeth Jones works at a hospital, the Kansas City woman doesn’t have health insurance.
“I can’t afford it,” explained the nurse assistant, who would have to pay $36 a week for coverage.
Jones’s situation is not unusual. An estimated 45 million Americans, or 15.6 percent of the population, was uninsured in 2003, up from 15.2 percent in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent data.
“The number of uninsured has been growing the last several years,” said Catherine Hoffman, senior researcher and associate director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
She blamed, among other things, the sluggish economy and growing cost of health care for the decrease in coverage. As the cost of health insurance has escalated, companies have opted to pass those higher premiums on to employees or to not provide coverage.
“We are in the midst of a weak economy,” said Paul Fronstin, director of health research, at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. “That means fewer jobs and fewer people with coverage.”
Job-based coverage — one of the major sources of health insurance in the United States — dropped from 61.5 percent in 2002 to 60.4 percent in 2003, according to the US Census Bureau. Read More
Over the past decade, child poverty grew in 38 states. Economic recession and housing foreclosures are among the major reasons, wiping out earlier gains, a new report finds.
By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer / August 17, 2011
There has been a “significant decline” in economic well-being for low-income children and families over the past decade as the official child poverty rate grew by 18 percent and poverty levels for families with children increased in 38 states, according to a new study.Economic and housing difficulties are the main culprits, reports the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization that focuses on disadvantaged children.
“The recent recession has wiped out many of the economic gains for children that occurred in the late 1990s,” said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the Casey Foundation, as the report was released Wednesday. “Nearly 8 million children lived with at least one parent who was actively seeking employment but was unemployed in 2010. This is double the number in 2007, just three years earlier.”
RECOMMENDED: Are you middle class? Take our quiz to find out.
“The news about the number of children who were affected by foreclosure in the United States is also very troubling because these economic challenges greatly hinder the well-being of families and the nation,” said Ms. Speer.
In the United States as a whole, nearly 15 million children (20 percent) live in poverty. … Read More
If the U.S. economy is improving, then why is child poverty in America absolutely exploding? If we are experiencing “economic growth”, then why are more than half of all children in major U.S. cities like Cleveland and Detroit living in poverty? If we are the “greatest economy on earth”, then why are one out of every four American children on food stamps? The shocking statistics that you are about to read below should absolutely break your heart. Tonight, millions of precious American children will go to bed without any dinner. Tonight, millions of American children will shiver as they try to go to sleep because their families cannot afford any heat. How bad does child poverty have to get before we all finally admit that our economic system is completely failing many of the most vulnerable members of our society? If you want someone to blame, you can blame Congress, the Obama administration, the Bush administration and the corrupt Wall Street bankers. But most of all, blame the Federal Reserve and the debt-based monetary system that the Fed administers. Our economy is in the midst of a long-term decline and is slowly but surely dying. Many of those that are suffering the most from this decline are children.
The following are 16 shocking statistics about child poverty in America that will break your heart….
#1 Child homelessness in the United States is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007.
#2 According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, 1.6 million American children “were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year”.
#3 The percentage of children living in poverty in the United States increased from 16.9 percent in 2006 to nearly 22 percent in 2010. In the UK and in France the child poverty rate is well under 10 percent.
#4 A higher percentage of American children is living in poverty today than was living in poverty back in 1975.
According to a report released today by the National Center on Homelessness, more than 1.6 million children are currently homeless in America. This amounts to one child in 45. It represents a dramatic increase of 38 percent since the onset of the recession in 2007. The report “America’s Youngest Outcasts” paints a grim picture, and it provides a ranking between the 50 states. It also recommends some policy solutions to be implemented both on Federal and State levels.
“The recession has been a man-made disaster for vulnerable children. There are more homeless children today than after the natural disasters of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which caused historic levels of homelessness in 2006. The recession’s economic devastation has left one in 45 children homeless, an increase of 38 percent from 2007 to 2010,” says MD Ellen Bassuk, President and Founder of the National Center on Family Homelessness and associate Professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. … Read MorePrint This Post