Half of America is poor.
Poor. Not "low-income". Straight up poor.
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.I don't use the term "Middle class" when I speak or write. Doing so pretends that America still has a middle class. It doesn't. I use the term "Working Class". America only has two classes nowadays, a working class that works for a paycheck and a super-rich investor class, the 1%. There is no middle. Even Paul Ryan's budget doesn't have a middle tax bracket, just two, one for those who earn a quarter million a year and one for everyone else. There can not be a middle when half of the middle is poor and the other half of the middle is 3 months away from poverty.
By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.
When 80% of us are going to be poor at some point or another there is no "middle class", because the middle is still fucking poor.
And it wasn't like a rampant case of laziness broke out. The ranks of the poor grew by 25% since George W Bush came into office. Turns out when our Government, and one political party in particular, go out of their way to coddle the rich and extract 'sacrifice' from the other 99% of us you end up with a country that is going broke. Must be the season of the rich.
For those of you who like Overwhelming Evidence to go with your righteous indignation here are some facts for your daily lunch, if you can still afford lunch these days.
This is based on the Census Department's Relative Poverty Measure (Table 4), which is "most commonly used in developed countries to measure poverty." The Economic Policy Institute uses the term "economically vulnerable." With this standard, 18 percent of Americans are below the poverty threshold and 32 percent are below twice the threshold, putting them in the low-income category.Be sure to read the full article.
The official poverty rate increased by 25 percent between 2000 and 2011. Seniors and children feel the greatest impact, with 55 percent of the elderly and almost 60 percent of children classified as poor or low-income under the relative poverty measure. Wider Opportunities for Women reports that "60% of women age 65 and older who live alone or live with a spouse have incomes insufficient to cover basic, daily expenses."
Now, I always look at the term "Low-income" as a George Carlinesqe way of saying POOR. What a euphemism that is! I'm not poor, I'm "low income", I mean I don't have enough money to survive but I can make myself feel better about it since I am not "Poor" like "Those people".
Whatever you need to tell yourself while being "Low-income" saps you of your ability to survive, bro.
Now, how did these people get poor? What magical thing happened over the last few decades that stopped people who work from earning enough money to survive?
It isn't because they are lazy or don't value the "Culture of Work". Most of these Americans have jobs, and among the ones who don't many of them are too old or young to work. The ones who can find work do work, they just don't get paid, and when they do get paid it is not enough to survive. It's because 40 years ago they stopped getting raises, right around the same time the wealthiest 1% saw their share of our national wealth skyrocket.
Other studies have shown very much the same, though it seems the only way to get the media to notice this is by shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge.
More below the orange infinity symbol of incredulity . . .
Poor people are poor because they don't have enough money. Kicking them in the ribs and taking away the few lifelines they have left isn't the answer, neither is lecturing them about culture while screaming "GET A JOB". The only way to fix poverty is by giving money (GASP!) to poor people. Preferably in the form of wages that can help them sustain a decent lifestyle that allows them to cover basic human needs and save a bit too. Killing labor unions has made that an impossible task.
In our two party system only one party gives a rat's ass about poor, "low-income" and working class Americans. The other thinks that kicking struggling Americans in the ribs will inspire them to get jobs, jobs that quite frankly do not exist. I've been to these jobs fairs and interviews where there are 10 people applying for one position. What happens to the nine people who do NOT get that job? One party seems to care, the other clearly does not.
Must be the season of the rich.
So how do you win over those struggling working class voters? Well, one way is to stop pretending they are in "the middle" and start addressing reality, and that reality is that these people are broke. Most of us are broke or going broke. You can't win over these people who are struggling with technocratic jargon, you have to first address the real problem facing the vast majority of Americans today, they are going broke while their CEO/investor class contemporaries are doing better than ever. This isn't a bug in the system, it's a feature.
Now, Democrats are getting it half right by identifying the villains in all this, super rich CEO's and Billionaires who want to rig the system even more in their favor by completing the corporate capture of Democratically elected institutions, but even that leaves the other shoe waiting to drop. You can't blame the Koch Brothers and then offer nothing but fundraising appeals, you have to spell out exactly why it is that these billionaires so badly want to control government. Democrats have been wise to paint these guys as the villains since that is exactly what they are, but they pull their punches in order not to offend the rich people who fund their own campaigns.
It's as simple as this . . . Capital + Labor create profit. That profit is no longer being equitably divided between the capital and labor that created it. Capital is taking more than they deserve to the detriment of everyone else. Economic Growth means nothing anymore when 95% of that growth is going to the one rich guy while everyone else backslides into poverty and instability. In short, the rich people are fucking over the rest of us, and only progressive Democrats have the solutions or even any interest in doing something about it. Conservatives and Third Way centrists don't even want to talk about this issue, an issue that has grown into a national crisis. Raising taxes on the rich and using that revenue to invest in the other 99% of us is the only simple solution. Once you take that one simple solution of taxing the rich off the board you are left with overly complex technocratic solutions that inspire no one in the working class.
The GOP has a solution as well, and that is to blame Government, blame "inner city lazy people" aka "Blah" people, blame immigrants and immigration, essentially the GOP offers zero solutions other than tax cuts, deregulation and their usual platform of fiscal blowjobs for billionaires. Must be the season of the rich.
But seasons change, and as more and more people come to know of poverty and instability first hand discussing the root of the problem becomes unavoidable. Everyone is going broke BECAUSE that one rich guy keeps getting even richer and richer. That one rich guy can not drive consumer demand single-handedly, there just aren't enough yachts for him to buy, but if we tax that one rich guy we can actually afford those things we must have to support a thriving working class. Any debate that forgoes raising taxes on the obscenely rich just reinforces the cuts only sado-masochism of the Paul Ryan's and their Koch Brothers puppet masters.
Of course, raising taxes on the Super-Rich alone won't solve everything, but it would be a great place to start. The other side of that is that we must find a way to get wages to start rising. Fighting tooth and nail for labor unions and collective bargaining rights is one way to achieve that. Raising the minimum wage is another way. Pegging the minimum wage to fortune 500 CEO compensation would be another big step. A financial transaction tax on stock sales would be another, my point is, any real solution is going to take money, and anyone who tells you that we can solve this epidemic of growing poverty without spending money is lying to you. Tax cuts alone will never be as efficient in ending poverty as rising wages will.
If I was a Democratic strategist or a campaign adviser I would beat my candidate with a wooden spoon every time they say the words "Middle Class". You might as well refer to birds as flying dinosaurs. No one will know what the hell you are talking about because flying dinosaurs no longer exist. The reality is that the middle class no longer exists, we have two classes, one that works and is underpaid and one that invests and is grossly over-compensated. Rich people who dominate American politics don't even want to have that conversation. Fortunately for the rest of us rich people who fund shady SuperPac's don't decide elections, working class people do when they vote, and the easiest way to get those working class people "Fired UP' about voting in every election is to stop sugar-coating their problems. They aren't "Middle class", they are struggling working class people. The only way to alleviate their struggling is to find a way to get them more money in the form of rising wages and a strong safety net for when those rising wages are not there. Anything short of that is just fantasy that doesn't exist outside of our modern Versailles-on-the-Potomac.
If 80% of Americans are either poor, going to be poor or recently poor than there is no "Middle Class". The people in the "Middle" are still fucking poor or right on the edge of poverty.The sooner the one party that isn't wholly owned by our parasitic oligarch class figures that out, the better it will be for all of us.
Tomorrow I will have a more personal post, but I just had to get this off my chest. We are all going broke, and the reason why is obvious. The rich decided to stop paying 99% of us so they could keep the difference. Until Democrats start screaming that at the top of their lungs they won't be able to win the people they should be winning in every election. Calling out the obvious bad guys like the Koch Brothers is a good start, but not as good as explaining why the bad guys are such bad guys. They are getting rich by keeping you poor. Until we address that there will be no real economic recovery for 99% of us.
The GOP wants a never-ending season of the rich. There is no more difference to split. Democrats can't offer half-measures and tehcnocratic jargon anymore. To solve the problem you must identify it, and the problem isn't the "struggling middle-class", the problem is that half of America is poor and another 30% or so of us are on the brink of poverty. Until you address that clearly all you have left is salad and no meat, and you don't win friends with salad.
I leave the floor to you . . .