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'Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California'
Photo Credit:  'Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California" [1936], National Media Museum's Photostream, Flickr

Frightening, eh?  Just think--literally every other person that you and I "lay eyes on" are not even members of the much-vaunted "Middle Class" to which politicians on both sides of the isle, incessantly pander.

I cannot believe how little press this piece got when it was published, just over one year ago.  I forget when and where I first saw this piece, although I posted it on numerous blogs.  And, I apologize that "it is dated," but the content is not of any lesser significance, in my opinion.  

I am still appalled at how little mention the many important statistics from the 2010 US Census Bureau received, at the time it was published.  

I am hoping that some of you can offer an explanation as to why this startling "news" was all but ignored by both the mainstream, and for the most part, the liberal media.

If ever there was a time in our nation's history that 'inequality and poverty' should be front and center for discussion and action, it is truly now.  Especially, since our politicians appear to be 'bent and determined to inflict austerity upon the American populace.'  

It is my hope that this piece, and the statistics it references, will renew interest among progressive activists to fight for not just a higher minimum wage, but a living wage.  [The italics and boldface are mine in this diary and excerpt.]

For the most part, I will let this article excerpt speak for itself.  

'Dismal' Prospects:  1 in 2 Americans Are Now Poor Or Low Income

Dateline:  Washington D.C., December 15, 2011, 4:59 am, EST, By Associated Press.

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays.  The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.
"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years." . . .

With nearly 14 million Americans unemployed, a new child welfare study finds one in five children are living in poverty.  Nearly one in three live in homes where no parent works full-time year-round. NBC's Chris Jansing reports. . . .

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it.  Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job.  Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy.  By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million. . . .

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty.  Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population.  That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure. . . .

Broken down by age, children were most likely to be poor or low-income — about 57 percent — followed by seniors over 65.  By race and ethnicity, Hispanics topped the list at 73 percent, followed by blacks, Asians and non-Hispanic whites. . . .

Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three straight years to 31.2 percent, or 10.2 million.  That proportion is the highest in at least a decade, up from 27 percent in 2002, according to a new analysis by the Working Poor Families Project and the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group based in Washington.

Among low-income families, about one-third were considered poor while the remainder — 6.9 million — earned income just above the poverty line.  Many states phase out eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit and other government aid programs for low-income Americans as they approach 200 percent of the poverty level.

The majority of low-income families — 62 percent — spent more than one-third of their earnings on housing, surpassing a common guideline for what is considered affordable.  By some census surveys, child-care costs consume close to another one-fifth.

Shrinking Paychecks

Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking.  The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000.  In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.

A survey of 29 cities conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors being released Thursday points to a gloomy outlook for those on the lower end of the income scale.

Working-Age Poor Population Highest Since '60s

Many mayors cited the challenges of meeting increased demands for food assistance, expressing particular concern about possible cuts to federal programs such as food stamps and WIC, which assists low-income pregnant women and mothers.  Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger in cities, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

Across the 29 cities, about 27 percent of people needing emergency food aid did not receive it. Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn., Sacramento, Calif., and Trenton, N.J., were among the cities that pointed to increases in the cost of food and declining food donations, while Mayor Michael McGinn in Seattle cited an unexpected spike in food requests from immigrants and refugees, particularly from Somalia, Burma and Bhutan.

Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 51 percent were in families, 26 percent were employed, 19 percent were elderly and 11 percent were homeless.

"People who never thought they would need food are in need of help," said Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Mo., who co-chairs a mayors' task force on hunger and homelessness.

[Here's the link to the entire piece on the NBC News website.]

Originally posted to Music City Mollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 02:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Invisible People and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

    by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 02:24:51 PM PST

  •  It gives me no pleasure to say this, but (7+ / 0-)

    I'm glad I am 56 years old, as opposed to 26 years old.  I am a pessimist, and I believe that our best days are most definitely behind us.  There is so much writing on the wall.

    We will never see another president present a challenge such as JFK did, to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade...and garner the support required to do just that.

    And even if we did, the cost today would be so much more prohibitive, and the political wrangling so much more bitter.

    If any president...set Obama aside...issued such a goal, they would be immediately beset upon by hordes of groups who feel that goal doesn't move their agenda forward sufficiently.  As a consequence, we don't do big things anymore.  And when we try to do so, they cost so much more...both in money and in time spent arguing about it.

    For this, and other reasons, I am glad I lived through America's Great Years...and I feel sorry for those who follow.  It will be a much more downscaled presentation of the country which preceded.

    I can't help did such a country rise to power so quickly, and fall from the peak so precipitously?  More than the gun control debate and our propensity for gun violence, this aspect of our national character intrigues me to no end.

    We haven't been a shining beacon upon a hill...we have been a Roman Candle.

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 02:44:18 PM PST

    •  Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Keith 930. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, BusyinCA

      The fact is that I feel sorry for "everyone."

      I read a good deal of Dean Baker, and I can't get my hands on the link at this moment, but he's pointed out numerous times that there's a sorta right-wing meme out there (put out by David Brooks, right-wing economist Robert J. Samuelson and others) that "Boomers" are all 'Greedy Geezers' who were immune to the effects of the "2007-2008 Crash, and therefore should be willing to "sacrifice," by giving up a great portion of their Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid (nursing home) benefits.

      I, for one, don't ascribe to that meme.  (Which, is not to imply that you do.)

      As Baker points out, especially since the  2007-2008 Crash, there are many near-retiree Boomers who took very substantial financial "hits."  And it wasn't just limited to their investment portfolios, but for millions, included losing their biggest investment (their home) to foreclosure.

      And as Baker points out, the folks with the wealth or assets (including the homes lost) were not mostly in their 20's and 30's, but obviously most likely individuals and couples in their 40's, 50's, or older.  (Which is not to say that no young people lost homes.)  But, apparently, statistics bear out that most the homeowners were not young people.  As a matter of fact, in many inner-city communities of color, large numbers of the homes that were foreclosed upon, had been refinanced by elderly people.

      On the other side, college costs have certainly escalated.  I would love to see higher education in the US subsidized for everyone, as it is in many European countries.  

      But, financial misery has been pretty evenly spread around the generations during these several years since the Crash.

      The right-wing (and some Dems, too) obviously are trying "to pit generation against generation."

      To that, I say, our social safety net programs should not be looked at in the light that "reform" has to be a zero-sum game.  

      I saw a statistic that was truly frightening a while back--it is being projected that by 2030, the annual cost of a skilled nursing facility will be as high as $275,000 ANNUALLY in some areas of the country.  

      If there is any truth to that, it would be beyond cruel to cut one penny of Social Security benefits for ANYBODY in the future.  It's all a matter of priorities.  And unfortunately, most politicians serve the interests of the wealthy, not of the greater masses.

      Thanks again for commenting.  [I wish we could go back to the economy of the '50's and '60's, too.  LOL!]

      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 03:40:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism allows nations to rise and fall quickly (0+ / 0-)

      Capitalism speeds everything up.  All of our political leaders believe and benefit from Capitalism.

      If we changed to a Socialist country back in the 60's, we might still be the greatest nation on earth.

      The symbol for the Republican party shouldn't be an elephant -- it should be a unicorn.

      by Deadicated Marxist on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:44:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I'll certainly agree with you that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deadicated Marxist

        "unfettered capitalism" leads to boom and bust cycles, which clearly does not benefit the masses.

        And the US could stand to model its social insurance programs after the 'Social Democratic' European countries.  What we have today, barely qualifies as a "safety net."

        “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 01:21:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Where are we headed? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leftcandid, JayRaye, BusyinCA

    And why are we in this hand-basket?

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 03:34:05 PM PST

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, BusyinCA
  •  If things get bad enough, Egypt happens. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nicolemm, JayRaye

    Things aren't bad enough, for enough, yet.

    While we may encounter many of these low-income earners in retail settings, just think of how many we don't see because of our own class barriers.  I'm borderline low income, but went to college, & my friends are almost without exception college educated & now middle class or close.  Only a couple of us are struggling, & the majority who aren't are mostly preoccupied with small children instead of Occupying.  They aren't personally threatened yet, which seems to be the threshold for activism among parents.  They aren't gonna move on behalf of millions of low income/impoverished Others when they're doing their best to ensure that their kids are coming along fine.  That other class is just not on their minds & won't really be unless they find themselves in it one day.

    Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

    by Leftcandid on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:40:46 PM PST

    •  Bingo... (0+ / 0-)

      "unless they find themselves in [that Other class] one day."

      That Other class has been steadily growing....

      While the rich get steadily richer and richer richer.

      Recipe for trouble ahead.

      WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

      by JayRaye on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:20:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't argue with you, JayRaye. (0+ / 0-)

        And there was very interesting "wording" from Sen Dianne Feinstein on the December 30, 2012 Fox News Sunday Show:

        FEINSTEIN: . . .

        Now, let me respond to Lindsey about the murder rate. Over 9,000 people are killed with guns a year. Where there aren't guns, there isn't that murder rate -- 9,000 people. That's a lot of people.

        Secondly, I think we've come to a point where these mass murders, the grievance killers that go out there, that get the most sophisticated weapon they can possibly get their hands on, and then go into movie theaters, malls, offices, businesses, and schools, and mow down people, you have to have some appropriate controls on these weapons.

        Let me add, I haven't followed this story that closely.  But, I thought that the shooter had some type of mental and/or emotional illness (due to Asperger Sydrome, or AS).  IOW, I didn't see this tragic incident as a revenge killing, near so much as a mass shooting by a mentally imbalanced or ill individual.

        [I never did hear if the bill passed, but] only weeks ago, a bill with bipartisan support was to be voted on to change the Secret Service protection of former Presidents to "lifetime protection."  

        Apparently, under former President Bill Clinton, full time Secret Service protection was changed from "lifetime protection," to a "10-year protection," at the taxpayer's expense.

        Apparently, a former President can (under present law) petition and receive, at taxpayer's expense, protection after the initial 10 years while traveling overseas.  However, after they've been out of office for 10 years, they foot the bill for their domestic security protection.

        Many experts argue that "lifetime protection" is not only unnecessary, but financially prohibitive, since this protection extends to all members of a former President's immediate family, as well.  

        So, it would mean that someone as elderly and innocuous as Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, would be put back under Secret Service protection (along with her children).

        In addition, there's the argument that most former Presidents have 'done quite well' in their private lives, and can well afford to pay for their own private security.

        Frankly, I've "had bigger fish to fry" than to put much thought or energy into this issue.  I would be curious to know, however, if this bill passed, and at what cost to US taxpayers.

        I do fear that as a 'policy matter,' if inequality is not reduced, we will see even more mass shootings perpetrated by mentally imbalanced individuals.  Something needs to be done, and soon.

        “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 08:48:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, mass shootings was not on my mind (0+ / 0-)

          when I wrote my comment.

          I had in mind massive civil unrest on a scale of 30s when the ruling class thot we were on the verge of revolution. Joe Kennedy is supposed to have said, "I'd rather give them half my money now than all of it later." The New Deal saved Capitalism then, but no one in WDC is offering the poor and working class anything close to a new deal now. And even the Dems seem willing to help the Repugs chip away at the New Deal in the name of "Shared Sacrifice" wherein the rich give up a few luxuries and we give up more and more necessities.

          During the massive strikes of the 30s, the strikes of just one year, 1934, cost the working class more lives than all of the the mass shootings of 2012 put together.

          And as for the ruling class needing protection: labor history tells us that it is the working class that needs the protecting. From the weapons of the ruling class. When ever the starving working class fights for bread, the ruling class answers with more starvation, and if that doesn't work, then bullets.

          But as one young striker said, "I'd rather starve striking than starve working." That is the situation we are facing now. Too many Americans work and yet go hungry and/or homeless.

          That is a situation which leads to massive civil unrest as surely as water flows downhill.

          WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

          by JayRaye on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:44:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you for your reply. I agree. But I wonder (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            if "civil unrest" wouldn't be met with greater force today, than in the 1930's.

            Our university town Campus Police are outfitted like SWAT teams.  Wasn't always the case.

            I agree that labor needs more protection.  But, I have to wonder if "the elites" don't see that differently.

            I've seen a couple of studies that indicate that inequality breeds both more mental illness, and much high homicide rates in societies.

            Washington elites know all too well what the 'Grand Bargain' austerity measures will bring to the masses.  Maybe I read into her comments, but Feinstein's words seemed to demonstrate that the elites may be getting anxious.

            Certainly, we need major policy changes to address inequality.  Unfortunately, I imagine that the elite solution will be ONLY to confiscate some weapons, not change the plight of the masses.  (BTW, I certainly don't have a problem with restricting automatic weapons.)

            “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

            by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:35:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Note that I am not calling for civil unrest. (0+ / 0-)

              I prefer that we get economic and social justice thru legislation. However, that seems unlikely to happen at this time. And as economic inequality increases the chance of civil unrest becomes increasingly inevitable.

              Sadly, you are correct, the ruling class as shown itself time and time again to be ruthless. Hard to imagine worse massacres of workers than those that occurred in 30s (and before), but the ruling class is already prepared. Local police have already been militarized and stand ready, and sadly, probably willing.

              Don't mean to be sounding pessimistic.  For now, we need to keep fighting for justice using all available peaceful means. More justice, more peace.

              But American history tells us that when they massacre us, and especially children, then the working class will fight back.

              WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

              by JayRaye on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:02:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  For clarification, neither am I. Actually, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                the masses of folks seem to be in an "ether" of a sorts.  I can't imagine in my lifetime that there will even be an "awakening."  Much less protests, including peaceful ones.

                Every day, we see around us either apathy, or abject ignorance regarding politics, and or policy.

                What disturbs me, is that it appears that many folks do not read and think for themselves.  Partisans of both legacy parties many times appear to be content spouting "talking points."  So I don't think that anyone needs to be overly concerned about even peaceful protests occurring.  Won't happen until folks wake up.

                I was a federal public employee union steward a couple of decades ago.  And I'd be the first to admit that I believe that unions (as they are configured today) are pretty much obsolete.  I don't expect them to be in existence (in their present form) in another decade, or so.

                I blog in hopes that I can learn more, and share some of my knowledge (for what it's worth).  But I agree, one cannot give up hope.

                “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:18:32 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  mollie, (0+ / 0-)

                  This would make a great diary for Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up.

                  I mean, about unions as they are configured today becoming obsolete. I was one of the first women ever in IUOE. and then later was shop steward for SEIU working in health care (psych).

                  Unions as they operate now cannot survive, I agree completely with that.

                  I believe that I am the only former or present member of a union that contributes to that group. Someone else would be most welcome.

                  You don't need to have all the answer to write for that group. Observation, action, raising questions, all contribute to the conversation.

                  This would make a great diary and raises great questions. Like what organizing forms could take their place?..etc

                  Please consider!

                  WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

                  by JayRaye on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:27:38 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  JayRaye, I would certainly enjoy participating in (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    the Anti-Capitalist Group.  But, as of this past November, I basically consider myself to be a commenter, not a diarist.

                    Family medical issues forced this upon me.  But ironically, after several weeks, I realized that it was probably for the best if I curtailed blogging.  I was nearing "burn out."

                    I don't expect to post any "long-form" diaries in the near future.  But if participating as a commenter in a Group is an option, sign me up, please.  

                    I did start a diary entitled:  "Baptism By Fire:  The Story of An Unlikely Union Convert." I hope to finish it eventually, only because I detest not finishing something that I start.  Since there seems to be a fairly sizeable labor faction here, I'm sure I'd post it at DKos.

                    Thank you for engaging.  I made an exception and posted this AP excerpt/diary, because I couldn't stand the thought that more than a year after those startling statistics were released, I saw almost no mention of them anywhere.

                    Thank you for engaging.  I haven't run into too many fellow female union stewards.  [My union was AFGE, American Federation of Government Employees, at Eielson AFB, Alaska.]


                    “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                    by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 01:39:35 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

    •  "That other class is just not on their minds & (0+ / 0-)

      won't really be unless they find themselves in it one day."

      I think that maybe you just nailed it, Leftcandid.

      The PtB weren't "stupid" (from their vantage point) when they pushed "individualism," all but destroying even a modicum of a sense of community and/or empathy among most Americans.


      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:49:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I suspect you already know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the "liberal media" is no such thing. Most media outlets are owned by big corporations that don't want us thinking about this kind of thing.

    I am one of those on the edge, since child support ended, monthly housing costs are more than one of my regular biweekly paychecks. The "children" are over 18 but not at all self supporting yet. And I make just a little too much to be eligible for SNAP, so my credit card debt keeps rising as I try to make the mortgage payment and keep us fed :-(

    Yes I should be eligible for a loan modification, but my servicer doesn't give a damn. They have denied me 4 times now.

    -7.75, -6.05 And these wars; they can't be won Does anyone know or care how they begun?-Matt Bellamy

    by nicolemm on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:42:34 PM PST

    •  Touche. Maybe I should have said "faux liberal" (0+ / 0-)

      media, nicolemm.

      And no one should be faced with the circumstances that you just described.  Funny--money to bail out investors and banksters is plentiful.  Just not for us "common folk."

      Good luck.  Just maybe this Administration will get a program going that helps all those folks who are "underwater."  I sure hope so.  This (and job creation) should have been the first priorities.

      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 08:54:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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