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On Monday, Alternet executive editor Don Hazen (the former publisher of Mother Jones magazine) announced the beginning of a new series, "Hard Times USA." Despite how grim much of this series is guaranteed to be, I have to say that I'm excited. I come from hard times myself, and although I've been fortunate in many, many ways, I've never forgotten where I came from or the plight of those who weren't so lucky. The series isn't just about what the situation is but makes suggestions on what we can do about it. Us. Not somebody else.
Many middle-class people who thought they had escaped hard times, or who never knew them, have in the past few years discovered otherwise. Some of these newly impoverished folks had looked with disdain on people they had viewed as losers or lazies. They discovered that much of the nation is, as Laura Clawson recently wrote, just one crisis and 90 days away from poverty: "[W]hat's particularly scary about these numbers is the realization of how fragile the middle-class lives of so many middle-class people are..."
The Alternet series began with two pieces. Part 1, Hazen says, "looks at how America punishes poor people living on the street, part of a larger pattern of dealing with poverty through criminalization rather than social and policy fixes that have been shown to work better."
The ability of the U.S. to deal with problems of money, housing, healthcare, food and the basics of life for many millions of people, is pretty damn rotten. The problem is getting worse. Increasingly, as the gap between rich and poor keeps growing, more people may be less interested in and have less empathy for the people who are left out. That is what I am wondering about.
Some of us were lucky, some privileged, and some of us have been able to achieve a level of economic security where we never have to worry about the necessities for the rest of our lives. But a very large number of Americans, a shocking number really, feel vulnerable every day of every week. Their future is unknown. They don't even how they are going to get through tomorrow.
And it is quite a range of people. More than 100 million are teetering on the edge in the working/middle-class and more than a million, depending on how you count (812,000 people live in the entire city of San Francisco), are homeless for some part of the year, living on the streets, in cars, or bouncing from street to shelter, barely surviving. [...]
I know it may seem outlandish, but there is very little chance things will change unless we take matters into our own hands. Everyone can do something constructive, but especially the 40 million people in our country who are the “mass affluent" — and the 1 percent who are the super-wealthy. We all got where we are for many reasons, but most of the reasons for success have to do with being born into a class and families with resources; we were able to go to college, often to good schools; we network with our friends and get more power, money and influence. Or we got lucky in other ways: sports, a special talent, or where we lived.
I know, this isn't the way we normally think. We say: damn, the government is taking 35-40 percent of my money already, and I'm supposed to use more of it to help others? Well, yes, that is what I mean. A key way we can really help is to give parts of ourselves to the cause — our time, our money, stuff we don't need, jobs we can give poor people, even temporary or part time. [...]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—Posters, billboards and white privilege:
Though a lot of attention has been focused on the racism and privilege inherent in recent remarks made by Republican presidential candidates, designed to garner support from the party's southern and tea party base, and the actions of elected officials like Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, too often, fingers are unfairly pointed at our warmer climes as being the sole site of racist activity and/or attitudes. Frankly, the history of racism in the U.S. has no regional boundaries; it was embedded in our roots from the moment indigenous occupants were attacked and removed. Hand in hand with systemic racism goes what those engaged in civil rights struggles and the academic study of racial disparity have dubbed "white privilege," which is a cornerstone of the academic discipline of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
A northern case in point is Duluth, Minnesota, where there has been controversy over a recently launched campaign designed to confront racism and white privilege. [...]
The rich aren't against a tax hike because it will hurt them. It's the principle of the thing. The principle of always getting their way. — @cdashiell via web
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, it was Guns N' Meta today. Greg Dworkin joined us as usual, to discuss the curious issue of pediatricians being banned in Florida (and perhaps elsewhere) from "harassing" parents (whatever that may mean) about the presence of guns in the home, and the safety issues associated with them. Then, a Daily Kos meta-fest with special guest GideonAB, wherein we reflected on Greg's analysis of the Florida law, threw out a few ideas for filibuster reform, and even got into the ins and outs of the moderation of discussions on Daily Kos!