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I was greeted this morning with a visit of the Ghost of Retirement Future:

In a matter of months, I went from a comfortable life with decent pay and health insurance to a $6.50-an-hour job with no insurance, no furniture and just enough resources to keep the wolf from the door.

I no longer buy anything unless it's absolutely essential. I spend $40 at the supermarket and make it last for more than two weeks. I never turn down a free meal. I've learned to graciously accept money, furniture, elk meat and encouragement from worried friends.

I am no longer proud.

Suddenly Poor in her 50s

Now, she goes on to tell how from being an editor in a magazine, she became another proud service worker. She ends the article in a remarkable way:

The fact is, a fall from financial grace can happen to anyone. And in reality, I'm not really poor. The official poverty line for a one-person household is an income of $9,800 a year, and I'm still above that. And can I really be considered poor if I still have some savings, or still have my house?

The reality is that she is poor. She has practically no financial security, she is about to "retire", and an illness is all what it will take to take away her home and her savings.

The US is remarkable in that she we cannot accept the idea of social classes. Worse than that, the country firmly believes that if you are poor, it is your fault.

My feeling is that our government keeps the poverty line artificially low for two reasons: to deny services to people and to declare by fiat that we as a society are better off than we actually are. Moreover, as long as poor people feel that they are middle class, they will complain less because they feel better about themselves.

And let’s face it: without a solution for dealing with the coming old age of boomers, many will probably end up in a similar situation if they lose their current jobs and can’t find another one with equal pay.

Originally posted to Hugo Estrada on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 06:16 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Answer on the Horizon (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lysias, Halcyon, va dare

    The answer is on the horizon:

    Take away the "security" in Social Security through a privatization program.

    We can help these people by exposing their retirement finances to the risks of the stock market and by siphoning off a cut of their savings to the financial services industry, which makes record profits year after year.

    Help is on the way.

  •  I think it's a positive sign (0+ / 0-)

    that the story appeared in MSN money. Someone there had a twinge of recognition: "Hey, this woman is someone like me -- she's a former magazine editor! Suddenly, bare-bones poverty took on an uncomfortably familiar face for that reporter ... and that's why it's a story on MSN today. Maybe, just maybe, the MSM is starting to see that it's not all rosy out there.

  •  FDR had the answer. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hugo Estrada

    I just read a diary on NewMexiKen today on FDR's agenda. I share it below. As NewMexiKen says - it is just as valid today. Enjoy. "What the agenda should be"

    What the agenda should be
    Franklin Roosevelt gave us a platform 63 years ago that is just as valid today:

    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

    Among these are:
    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

    All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

    America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

    [Excerpted from Franklin Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944, State of the Union Address]

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