What does come after impoverished on the hopeless scale? The disappeared?
With 1 in 2 Americans living at, or below the poverty level, more and more people are living, not the American dream, but an American nightmare. The latest census data depicts a declining America where the former middle-class is moving down the poverty scale at break-neck speed. Over the years flat wages were cleverly concealed by easy credit, doled out in extra-large portions by predatory lenders who encouraged personal greed over fiscal responsibility.
"Why save money?" the vultures cooed,"We can get you into a home that will make your dreams come true."
Easy credit bought all the trappings of a middle-class lifestyle (homes, cars and stuff) while wages remained flat. Clever financiers created an illusion where credit equaled savings in the minds of gullible Americans who believed having a high credit limit meant they had " money in the bank."
For those too poor to pursue the new American scheme, it was Medicaid, food-stamps and tax credits that held them together. With this social safety-net glue in place, poverty rates stayed roughly the same in 2010. Now entitlement slashing is the theme of the day- and we are likely to see a great flood of broken dreams sweep across the states forever changing the American landscape.
Republicans have borrowed the saying,"Rising tides lift all boats" as their trickle-down propaganda bumper-sticker slogan. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The only boats rising are those owned by the 1% who have never seen better days. For the rest of American it's become a fleet of sinking ships.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats were sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending. They decided to kick the can down the road agreeing to only a two month extension, to further postpone the showdown.
One noble republican, and senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, wondered aloud whether some people classified as poor or low income actually suffer from hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far, citing poor people who live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.
But what about the microwaves and refrigerators? Surely if you have either of these you can't be considered poor, just ask Newt Gingrich, who believes poor children and their parents have no work habits.
Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping like flies way below the low-income threshold – roughly $45,000 for a family of four – because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income
Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking. The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000. In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.
Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 51 percent were in families, 26 percent were employed, 19 percent were elderly and 11 percent were homeless.
The Republican dream of a neo-feudal society is progressing