Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

I’m having a tough time with something and I invite anyone to help me understand what’s going on with our economy.

We’ve got high unemployment and rampant under-employment; falling wages; an increasing concentration of wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands; a lack of career opportunities for recent graduates who are crushed under the weight of college loans that could follow them forever; an increase in poverty rates coupled with a decrease in socioeconomic and class mobility; tragically high incarceration rates; and, perhaps most startling, the unwillingness of our politicians to acknowledge what’s going on.

To look at it another way, the purpose of our economy is not to hire workers but to produce goods and services. In fact, if goods and services could be produced without any workers at all it would be just fine. No, it would be better than fine: it would be the best that capitalism has to offer.

But what would happen to all the workers who are no longer needed by the economy? What about their American dreams? Should they just go away or, better yet, die? And with this as a backdrop we hear an endless stream of bullshit flowing from Washington calling for reduced entitlements and a diminished social safety net. Really?

No, the American people need entitlements and they should start with our being entitled to political leaders who have the balls to tell it like it is. The system is broken.

So please, anyone, explain why better days are ahead and that I have it all wrong.

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In a perfect world the Sunday morning talk shows would provide some measure of clarity in an otherwise confusing and conflicted world. Clearly, it isn’t a perfect world, and just how imperfect it is was on display this morning on Meet the Press. The subject was the fiscal cliff and deficit reduction.

For example, Tom Brokaw said it is ridiculous that he should get the same Medicare benefit as his less-wealthy brother. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Maybe there should be a means test where only those who need Medicare should get it. That way Medicare would be turned into a welfare program that the Right could whittle away at by adjusting the means threshold. Good idea, Tom. How about controlling run-away medical costs, instead? That might work.

Mr. Brokaw also suggested that the maybe Social Security retirement age could be increased to 67 now, and maybe even 70 in a few years. Uh-oh, this is a back breaker…literally.  Some workers, particularly those at the lowest end of the wage scale such as laborers and farm workers, spend their lives doing work that takes a terrible toll on their bodies. Are we going to ask them to work even longer before they can retire? Riding a desk is one thing, as the people in Washington do. Day-after-day physical wear and tear is something else, again. Or, how about this? There are fewer and fewer jobs to go around, now. The effect of asking people to work additional years before retirement would actually increase the labor pool, which would increase unemployment, while driving wages down even more.  Sorry to be picking on you, Mr. Brokaw, but your ideas suck.

David Brooks offered that the Republicans were going to take most of the blame if we go over the cliff, but he was critical of the president for not getting more involved in the negotiations. So, let’s see. Brooks wants the president, who ran on a clearly defined platform of how he wanted to cut the deficit, to bring the Republican caucus around to agreeing to a more conciliatory plan than he actually campaigned on, which the Republican Majority Leader John Boehner was unable to sell to his own party. Really, Mr. Brooks? You want the president to bloody himself on a fool’s errand? As a Republican flack I can understand why that would work for you, but it doesn’t work for the president or the Democats. And let’s not forget that a sizable percentage of Mr. Boehner’s caucus believes that the president stole the election in the first place (Birtherism 2.0), which would tend to harden the positions of the right-wing nut jobs who control the Republican Party.

Finally, there’s the constant banter about how important it is to get control over entitlements. This makes my blood boil. The people need Social Security, Medicare/Obamacare and Medicaid and Obama’s win makes it clear that the people don’t what Washington messing around with these programs. Moreover, the people did not create the economic mess we are in; the banks and Wall Street created it and, in the process of doing so, the inequality gap got larger, unemployment and poverty increased, more families need food stamps, wages declined and the rich got richer. And now the people’s social safety net needs to be reined in to reduce the deficit? Really? What about corporate entitlements? Defense Department entitlements. Tax dodges for the wealthy? Endless colonial wars?

WTF! It least it’s Sunday and there’s football to watch.

Federally-supported gun violence intervention ...

Image via Wikipedia

While watching the news on TV a few days ago, I saw the pained faces of two mothers who had recently lost youngsters to gang violence in Newark.  What a terrible tragedy!  They spoke about wanting to motivate other moms to stand with them against those who have such little regard for human life.

I think the time has come for mothers to use the enormous political power they could have in a world that has gone mad.  Inspired by their mother’s love, they should organize against the gun lobby that assures a steady supply of guns to the street…or any testosterone-fueled special interest group that all too easily trades precious lives for business objectives.

Frankly, this world needs a hell of a lot more estrogen than it is getting and it can only come from one place.