I’m sure most of you have noticed the bit by bit move in the grocery store of paying more for less. Food packages are getting smaller but the price is getting higher and if you are like me when you go grocery shopping a few words echo through your mind on almost every item. RIP OFF!! Remember when President Obama said, “Americans can do with less”? Well that was a warning sign to the brighter ones among us, apparently, because he meant it. Right after he made that comment I began to notice food packages shrinking and prices going higher. He was warning us but, sadly, most of us paid no attention.
Paying more for less is just the latest peg (read RIP OFF!) by corporate America to stick it to YOU the consumer! Of course the Corporatist offer many reasons as to why this is happening but what it all boils down to is good old GREED. And, sadly, GREED seems to be the newest National Anthem of America. But that’s not all…..
Whether you realize it or not or whether you want to realize it or not America is quickly joining the ranks of THIRD WORLD NATIONS. The unbridled greed we see reigning over this nation today is taking its toll and, as to be expected, the biggest toll is being felt by America’s WORKING poor.
Not that US Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders needs anymore statistics to back up his claims that this nation is moving towards disaster that will make the Great Depression look minor in comparison but, it seems now that a growing number of WORKING Americans are living on $2 or less per day. How’s that possible? Try living on $2 per day and find out firsthand!
Since 1996 the number of Americans who struggle to live on $2 per day or less has doubled and that works out to be about 1.5 million families and 3 million children. This is according to a new book released yesterday from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt entitled “$2.00 a Day Living on Almost Nothing in America.”
What living on $2 per day or less amounts to is ULTRA-POVERTY and this threshold is not arbitrary as it is used by the World Bank to measure the scale of global poverty in developed nations. What this book reveals is a shocking trend in America today and that trend is that the working poor are moving from poverty to ultra-poverty! And this is the most developed Capitalist nation on the planet? How’s this possible?
The first thing you need to realize is that these families are WORKING. They aren’t sitting at home taking a free ride on welfare. The other thing you need to realize is that their slide into poverty and then into ultra-poverty is the result of a failure of the labor market and our social welfare safety net. And you can include the personal circumstances of these families also.
There have been great changes in the way employers deal with low wage workers over the past few years. Take Walmart for example. A few months ago they bumped up worker pay and everyone thought that was great. But now Walmart is going to start cutting worker hours so a worker that had 40 hours per week might only end up with 30 or 10 hours per week based on business! So in essence the workers aren’t going to be any better off than they have been without the raise.
And Walmart isn’t alone. This is quickly becoming the trend across America. Cutting worker hours! And that’s sending the once working poor into the new working ultra-poor and sliding America, the richest Capitalist nation on he planet, into the THIRD WORLD.
On call scheduling is becoming popular among US employers and that means some workers might get 30 hours one week and ZERO hours for the next two weeks. So worker pay is quickly becoming unpredictable for these working families and sent them struggling to make ends meet and just obtain the basics needed for human existence (read SURVIVAL).
Fast food employers and retailers are using sophisticated software to make it possible to tinker with work schedules at the last minute depending on customer volume and what that means is that you might have been scheduled for 20 hours this week and when you get to work you discover your schedule has been changed and you now have 5 hours this week. And just who in the hell can live on that? These moves might reduce the bottom line for the employer but they are creating DISASTER for America’s working poor!
These practices are now commonplace in the world of working America, sadly, and they are one big factor quickly sending working Americans beyond the Poor House and into the 3rd World Gutter! But wait! What about welfare?
You might not know it but welfare was reformed back in the 1990s which resulted in the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This program provided limited temporary assistance for families that qualify but not much. It replaced AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) after 60 years. TANF only provides families with MAYBE $300 per month help or less. Further, in 2012 only 1/4 of the poor families in America received TANF benefits. In 1996 that number was up to 2/3. According to the new book in 1994 America’s welfare programs reached more than 14.2 million needy Americans but by 2014 they only reached 3.8 million.
The author’s own research revealed that many working ultra-poor families weren’t even aware of the TANF program. He further found that many of these families put off applying for TANF or other benefits due to the social stigma attached in this country to people being on “welfare.” Stipulations in the program one must meet to get benefits were also a factor in the poor not taking part in TANF. These stipulations include registering for employment services (even though these people are already employed), attending “orientation” meetings, and making employment plans (even though these people have jobs).
One finding that surprised the author was that the working poor have a “clear attachment to the labor force….and see work as a way to lift themselves up out of (their) circumstances.” Well that certainly bursts the bubble that many Americans have about the poor doesn’t it? You know, the poor are lazy, do drugs, stay drunk, sleep all day, have lots of sex and 10 million unwanted babies, blah..blah..blah. All of that CRAP is a SOCIAL MYTH and does NOT describe MOST poor at all period!! If you buy this rot then you must be living in a cave.
The book reveals some strategies America’s growing number of working ultra-poor employ to survive. They sell their own plasma for about $30 a pop, collect and recycle cans and metals, some sell their food stamp benefits (which is ILLEGAL), barter sex for food, shop at the Dollar Store, fetch thrown away food out of trash dumpsters behind restaurants, homes, stores, etc. and a host of other things they do in order to survive and provide what little they can for their families. Now I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Why don’t they just get a second job?”. Have you seen the Want Ads lately???? Living in a cave still?
The sad fact is that despite all their efforts just to survive NONE of their survival strategies lifts them out of ultra-poverty and that’s a FACT. Most of these people aren’t worried about paying the bills because they know they can’t. They are worried about SURVIVAL and their children’s survival.
Having worked in Social Work for many years I can tell you firsthand that the stereotypical image most Americans have of the poor is DEAD WRONG! (Take note Arizona Governor Ducey as you seem to like targeting the working poor). I can literally count on one hand the number of poor people I’ve worked with that are “fat and lazy and just don’t want to work but collect welfare instead.” MOST poor people want to work and DO WORK once you give them JOB SKILLS. MOST poor people DO take care of their families and provide for them within their limited means! And MOST poor people are NOT SUCKING THE SYSTEM!!!
The TRUE FACT is that America’s social service (“welfare”) system is BROKEN and has been for a long time now NOT because of the poor but because of POLITICIANS who like to use it as a toy and play with it to no end! Most of these politicians were born with silver spoons in their FAT mouths and have no idea at all what it’s like to go hungry or be without money! They do NOT understand the plight of the poor or their circumstances nor do they understand the circumstances that work against them and prevent them from rising out of poverty! Instead these politicians believe the “American Dream” is real when, in fact, it’s a MYTH and a FARCE! Oh and one more thing…. YES I have found that many poor are horrible money managers. BUT once they learn how to manage money they make ends meet on very little income. Instead of condemning them we ought to be teaching them and providing them with JOB SKILLS so that they are employable.
That’s a start but there is much more this country can do IF we REALLY wish to lift the poor out of this growing ultra-poverty. A big thing that needs to be done NOW is a reform of the current welfare system which in itself is a JOKE! Most of the current programs are designed to keep people OFF of the “welfare rolls” not on them until they can get job skills. That’s what Arizona’s Governor Doug Doucey seems NOT to understand as he wants Medicaid limited only to a certain time for the working poor and he wants them to pay into a health savings account. This man clearly has no concept of what it is to be one of the working poor because IF he did he’d know that these people DON’T have the money to pay into a health savings account! When you are poor or one of the working poor quickly becoming the ultra-poor EVERY CENT MATTERS and every sent is NEEDED.
One of the biggest things this country needs to do is in terms of JOBS. Oh yes, there are some minimum wage jobs out there but these jobs DON’T pay workers enough to rise out of their ultra-poverty. Sadly, America’s Corporatist are bent on shipping jobs overseas where they can pay foreign workers $1 per day and make HUGE PROFITS. And the latest trend among the Corporatist (read Disney) is to keep the jobs in America but terminate American workers and replace them with foreign workers brought into America to work these jobs and for LESS than Americans want to be paid….far less in fact!!
During the Great Depression there was something called the WPA (Works Progress Administration). This was a government sponsored work program initiated by America’s first Socialist President FDR (yes I know he was a Democrat but his policies were all socialist, thank God!). This program saved many Americans from the horrors of the Great Depression and it’s a program that CAN work again and SHOULD BE re-employed. If you notice some of the old sidewalks and other infrastructures in America you might notice the letters “WPA” stamped into the concrete. That means it was built by workers in this program during the Great Depression and it cannot be underestimated today that America’s infrastructure is BADLY in need of repair NOW! Relaunching something like the WPA would provide thousands of jobs for America’s ultra-poor and even though President Obama has toyed with the idea throughout his tenure he has done NOTHING to make it happen. The question is why not? You may already have the answer to that one as I do 🙂
It’s said that you can tell a lot about a people, society, and nation by the way they treat their old, young, and poor. Well if that is true then what does it say about Corporatist America? And for that matter what does it say about “Christian” America? Turing away from the poor and leaving them to wallow in their plight alone and without help is something I do NOT think Jesus Would Do, Christian America!!
Our social service (welfare) system, jobs system, and a host of other systems including our political system in this nation today are flat ass BROKEN! For some reason we ignore it all hoping it will resolve itself or just go away. Ain’t goin’ to happen! In FACT, what IS happening is that all of our broken systems are getting WORSE by the minute! Disaster is on our horizon and when that disaster comes most of you will be thinking something like, “Ya know we should have done this and that to provide jobs…..blah, blah, blah” but all of your afterthoughts will simply be in vain as it will be TOO LATE once that economic disaster dawns.
What SAD times we live in America! What VERY SAD times!