The piece of legislative insanity known as the sequester has finally started to bite into the lives of one in five Americans.
Heading into another budget battle this fall, the number of Americans who say they have been negatively affected by the sequester budget cuts is on the rise, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.Lest anyone forget, the "inability to reach a compromise" was primarily the product of the Republicans' refusal to raise taxes a tiny degree on multi-millionaires despite the fawning tax treatment afforded to such persons over the last three decades (although in fairness, they did offer to gut Medicare and Social Security as a compromise).
Twenty-two percent of Americans in the survey say they have been significantly affected by the cuts, which are a product of Congress’ inability to reach a compromise on a broader budget deal last year. Shortly after the sequester first took place in April, just 16 percent said they had been significantly impacted by the policy.
The poll indicates that the people most severely impacted are those who can least afford it--people making under $30,000 per year. While most voices in the Republican House, which eagerly championed and is ultimately responsible for this madness, undoubtedly counted on the fact the victims of their policy would be African-American and Hispanic-- two constituencies for whom the Republican Party could care less-- they may have allowed their racism to drown their logic. Because it's not only black and brown people who are poor, but a whole swath of young people in general trying to gain a footing in a desperate economy in which few companies are hiring and the U.S. labor force is being transformed by expendable temporary workers.
NBC news interviewed some of the casualties of the sequester:
Ben Rhiger, a 28-year-old warehouse worker in Portland, Ore., didn’t lose his job, but said a researcher friend lost his job due to the sequester. And Rhiger voiced outrage that the spending cuts potentially set back a generation of young workers.
“In a time when we could have had more cash in the economy by having the government be a spender, be a customer to the economy, we didn’t do that. In fact, we took more money out of the economy. For that reason, there’s just less job opportunities for everybody entering the job market after college,” he said. “It just decreased any opportunity of getting more work experience, learning a trade or skill on the job, while being able to support ourselves.”
* * *The effects of this pathological exercise in self-mutilation are affecting people across generations now:
...Randi Allen, a 21-year-old student in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, said that cuts to education funding for her National Guardsman husband have become a “constant” stress for the two of them.
“The cost of schooling is already enough, when he went in they promised he’d get it paid for,” she said. “He has to pay a lot out of pocket now
Robert Deuel, a 61-year-old man in northern Michigan, said that his son has seen his hours cut from his job at Camp Grayling because of the sequester, leaving him, with less money in his paycheck to support his spouse and two-month-old at home.Meanwhile, the AP has conducted a survey that concludes 4 out of 5 Americans are struggling with some issue of joblessness and are in danger of falling into poverty.
“They offered him a job on the federal payroll and now they’re only paying him for half what he works,” Deuel said.
Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.According to the AP survey, the problem is not a "racial" one (which may surprise some Republicans):
Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.
While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in the government's poverty data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.On the other side of the equation, the cost of maintaining a yacht has become dangerously prohibitive:
The gauge defines "economic insecurity" as a year or more of periodic joblessness, reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.
Turn the key of a 71-meter-plus yacht and 10 minutes later you will have spent €400 ($540) on fuel, according to research by yachting Web site Superyachts.com . Cruise to Porto Cervo in Sardinia in your 50-meter boat, and a berth in the marina will cost you over €2,500 a day, according to Swiss yacht management company Floating Life.The Wall Street Journal article strongly recommends consideraton of hidden costs such as staffing and berthing:
Owning a super yacht is obviously an expensive hobby. Super-yacht prices range from around €3.5 million for a 30-meter boat to more than €135 million for a 71-meter-plus mega yacht. But few people realize how the running costs can mount up.
Operating a yacht costs approximately 10% of the initial value of the boat every year, according to Tork Buckley, the Côte d'Azur-based editor of The Yacht Report. But this does not take into account unanticipated expenses, breakdown, berthing and accessories, which can easily raise costs by another 10%.
The financial crisis has led to widespread redundancies among yachting staff and pushed down wages, according to Mr. Buckley. But the best captains still charge as much as €20,000 a month while top chefs can command up to €9,000 a month. Depending on the size of your boat, you could also need a captain's mate, boatswain, deck hands, engineers and stewards. The largest yachts may have as many as 50 permanent staff, generating a wage bill of €100,000 a month during the summer
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[F]or those who want to see and be seen, berthing a yacht in the world's most glamorous marinas comes at a steep price. Porto Fino in Liguria, Italy, charges a daily mooring fee of €2,500 for 70-meter-long boats and €540 for 30-meter-long boats in high season. Don't bother stopping by on a whim, though—berths are booked up months in advance and year-round mooring is not allowed. .
And then there are the pesky add-ons, which, let's face it, are really necessities given the turbulence that may lurk just beyond your bowsprit:
And then of course there are security measures and fancy flourishes such as panic rooms, submarines and anti-paparazzi shields.Indeed, these are anxious times for everyone, but the hammer has fallen acutely on yacht owners. As we gear up for the fall debate on yet again raising the debt ceiling, we need to take it on trust that the Republican House will afford due consideration of this unfortunate minority. As one of the authors of the AP study put it:
Attacks by Somali pirates have made military-grade lasers, which temporarily blind attackers, a must-have for paranoid yacht owners, even if they are sailing no further than the French Riviera.
"We can't answer requests for the Sealase [laser system] fast enough," says Dr. Scott Buchter, who founded the Finnish company Lasersec Systems Corp. last year. The company has sold nearly 100 of the lasers, which cost €70,000, including installation.
"Poverty is no longer an issue of 'them,' it's an issue of 'us,'" says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. "Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need."