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"never send to know for whom the bell tolls;  it tolls for thee. . ."
John Donne

This diary isn't about The Dream Act, or promising young Latinos who find the ladder to success missing a few rungs.  Although it could be.  It's not going to be republished to BlackKos, although it should be.  It won't deal with homeless LGBT teens living on the Mean Streets, but not because they aren't part of the picture.  It won't focus upon the grinding poverty that marks many of our Native American communities and reservations, but not because they don't deserve attention. There will be no "awe shucks, that's so cuuuute!" pics of heart melting Labrador pups, or feisty kittens.  Neither will it deal with the latest political assault upon the rights of women.  Or the plight of Pacific Islanders in an age of global warming and rising sea levels.  It's doubtful that any mention will be made of the dangers of fracking, or the ominous reach of Monsanto and the importance of eating local, organically grown food.  

There will be no cheap and easy shots taken at the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Rick Santorum, the tortoise like visage of Mitch McConnell, the shrill rantings of Michele Bachmann or ruminations upon how, when and why Al Franken lost his moral compass.

This diary is about America.  It is about all of us.  It is about what is happening to us.  Maybe not to you...but to a lot us us.  According to data just released from the U.S. Census half of us are now either living in poverty, or skating on the edge of poverty.

That, my fellow Americans, is approximately 153 million people.  And this is 2011.  

We are not moving forward as a nation.  We are moving backwards.  All of us.  And this is the single most important issue of the day.  I would hope that we could all agree upon that...but sometimes I'm not so sure.  I know that this site is about electing more Democrats, and I support that goal.  But sometimes I feel, as I read the diaries posted here, as though  we get lost in the thicket.  We cling to ephemeral statistics, like initial unemployment claims, or dubious BLS data which seem to suggest that things are trending in the right direction...mostly because we are searching for positive reinforcement that "our man" will win next year.  The larger picture gets lost in the horse race analysis.  The larger picture also gets muddled in identity politics.

When I read this morning that 1 in two Americans live in poverty or near poverty, I didn't have to go far to see the picture of that reality.  I only needed to shave.  As jarring and hard as it is to admit it, I am part of that picture.  I look in the mirror, and I see a White, middle aged man, with a B.S. degree but no specific job skills, who lost his job in 2000, during the last recession...spent 2 years finding another job that was promising and seemingly stable, only to lose that one as well during the Great Recession we are still suffering through.

So what?  How does that differentiate me from others who never had a firm foothold in the American Economy, and never enjoyed a bounce from the Clinton years?  It doesn't.  My current poverty is no "better", nor any "worse" than anyone else's.  I'll take that back...it is better.  It's better only because it isn't generational.  I did not grow up poor.  My parents did, but I didn't.  I was supposed to be the kid that never had to face that reality.  My parents did everything they possibly could to make sure that it would turn out that way.  You have no idea how deep, how inescapable the feeling is of my sense of failure with respect to the sacrifices that my parents made in order to insure that I enjoyed a better life than they did.  I hide the details of my descent from them, ashamed.

But that's just me.  I am not the picture...just a tile in the mosaic.  There are millions of others.  Some Black, some Brown, some Gay, some disabled, some Vets, some vegans, some deer hunters, some Nascar fans, some who watch PBS, some Christians, some Atheists...but all struggling.  

And the struggle for survival surpasses all other struggles, my friends.  If you think otherwise, you have never struggled for survival.  

I see diaries here from time to time...I won't and can't name names, and it wouldn't be appropriate to do so...but the jist is this:

"So and so is really struggling...can we help?"

These diaries invariably end up on the rec list, and the community opens its heart and its wallet to these individuals...and everyone feels good about it.  It's a feel good story.  For those of you who are flush and fortunate, it's an opportunity to feel like your donation made a real difference for a real person.  I understand that...yet, at the same time...I feel almost like there is something...I don't know...not quite right about it at the same time.  I can't put my finger on it, exactly...but something about it just leaves me with a queasy feeling.  There is so much need...and so few people come forward or ever get noticed...and on the other side there are people who know that they are fortunate in their circumstances, and are looking for a way to make a difference.  So somebody steps forward.  Meekly, probably.  Hesitantly.  Not without a bit of shame, no doubt...but desperate.  And when they do...this community steps forward and helps them out.  

What's not to like about that?  I don't know...I'm hesitant to say that there is anything wrong with that.  Good is good.  But helping one person does not wash us all of the guilt or the obligation to help the many...and I'm not saying that anyone who has ever helped a Kossack in need did so with the feeling that it did so.  This is a big problem.

It's the biggest problem out there, I would suggest.  The Great Recession has morphed into something else, and poverty is what it has morphed into.  I'm 55.  The last politician I can remember who really talked about poverty was Robert Kennedy.  And he mostly focussed on Appalachia and inner city Blacks.  As well he should have.

Today, inner city Blacks and Appalachians are still poor.  Nothing much has changed.  What has changed is that we are no longer making progress on that front.  Black poverty is still a huge issue.  Rural poverty is growing, not diminishing.  Native American poverty is still grinding in too many places, even as tribes have found new revenue streams over the years.  But the demise of the Middle Class over the past 30 years has catapulted people who only 30 years ago thought that they had made it back into the ranks of the poor.  That's no more tragic than the fate of those who never escaped it to begin with...but it IS cause, I feel, for all of us to stop for a moment and reevaluate our priorities.

If the census numbers just released get worse...if the trend towards greater poverty in this country increases...I don't care what your pet peeve or your pet issue is...this country is doomed.  And the doom will be accompanied, eventually, by real violence.  Because you can only corner a wounded animal so long before it lunges, in one last effort at survival, for your throat.

I never thought I would live to see the day when this country retreated from the basic assumptions of fairness, of progress and of economic growth that I took for granted in my youth...But, having said that, I never thought I would see the day when Americans would become so self absorbed and so indifferent to the most pressing needs of the day that they would pursue so many peripheral issues, to the neglect of the most central issues, and thereby lose their way.

I used to give to the Sierra Club.  The Nature Conservancy.  The ACLU.  I put two dollars into the kettle of the Salvation Army bell ringer today.  2 dollars, as puny as it is, that I probably can't afford.  But I can't afford not to.  They are on the front line.  And I'm on the front line too.

Our whole country is on the front line...and the front line is our slow descent towards poverty.  Maybe you don't feel it yet.  I hope you don't.  But it is creeping forward, not receding.  Diaries about lowering initial unemployment claims notwithstanding.

Originally posted to Keith930 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 11:19 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight and Barriers and Bridges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (189+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III, kitchen table activist, WiseFerret, nosleep4u, indiemcemopants, cany, begone, ninkasi23, Angie in WA State, tardis10, Williston Barrett, peachcreek, Emmy, OLinda, scorpiorising, donnamarie, elwior, Purple Priestess, farmerchuck, dear occupant, Orinoco, jennifree2bme, tonyahky, MartyM, totallynext, sngmama, Flying Goat, hopeful, techno, DSC on the Plateau, lilsky, mjfgates, No one gets out alive, kevin k, radarlady, revsue, TexasTom, inclusiveheart, Matt Z, dle2GA, coppercelt, J M F, Wendy Slammo, Florene, SSMir, Ohkwai, glendaw271, M Sullivan, radical simplicity, LSmith, greenbastard, Shockwave, Egalitare, Dartagnan, bluebloodedlib, oakroyd, Leo in NJ, Habitat Vic, offred, elengul, artisan, JayRaye, Oh Mary Oh, molecularlevel, dinazina, deep, h bridges, KnotIookin, maryabein, highfive, zerelda, jct, GeorgeXVIII, Amor Y Risa, Actbriniel, FloridaSNMOM, Evolutionary, Geenius at Wrok, DixieDishrag, hazey, el dorado gal, Preston S, 4Freedom, northsylvania, Crashing Vor, LI Mike, Brooke In Seattle, dotsright, freesia, estreya, maf1029, Saint Jimmy, zinger99, CarolinaCatbird, rlochow, linkage, kharma, smokem2271, Hanging Up My Tusks, gulfgal98, MrBigDaddy, Spaghetti Western, Fracturedchaos, opinionated, montressor, triv33, bnasley, Killer of Sacred Cows, Pescadero Bill, dksbook, leonard145b, kevinpdx, peregrine kate, eru, Livvy5, BlackSheep1, flitedocnm, mkor7, citizen dan, Bluesee, amilamia, jamess, Ed in Montana, bozepravde15, barbwires, Cintimcmomma, Renee, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, bfitzinAR, kait, doingbusinessas, mookins, Nag, dejavu, DWG, trinityfly, blueoregon, asterkitty, disrael, SuWho, millwood, Syoho, allenjo, susie dow, Statusquomustgo, TexH, MuskokaGord, Wes Lee, nofear, PeterHug, joliberal, poligirl, divineorder, cpresley, Jakkalbessie, Ms Citizen, santamonicadem, Cronesense, Involuntary Exile, ruscle, Bob B, milkbone, Brunette, War on Error, Lily O Lady, Calamity Jean, Celtic Pugilist, monkeybrainpolitics, Lefty Coaster, Louise, Deejay Lyn, camlbacker, ladywithafan, Eric Blair, RandRegL, esquimaux, jjblazer, blueoasis, SD Goat, left rev, 207wickedgood, CenFlaDem, viet vet, SadieSue, CJB, terabytes, slathe, greengemini, Stripe

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 11:19:31 PM PST

  •  thanks for the tip, Horace. I appreciate it (28+ / 0-)

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 11:31:45 PM PST

  •  I don't 100% agree (26+ / 0-)

    but honestly this is a great post and I tipped and recommended it. This is a great discussion to have.

    Read my stuff at burn after writing and The Huffington Post @indiemcemopants on Twitter

    by indiemcemopants on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 11:50:45 PM PST

  •  Too many of my circle have either slipt (67+ / 0-)

    from middle class to lower class, or from lower class to poverty, during the past decade.

    Myself included.

    Lack of jobs, and lack of income is destroying at least a generation, and possibly three of them.

    I think the #Occupy Movement is the tip of the iceberg. 2012 is going to be a year to remember.

    I'm sick of living in interesting times.

    :(

    * * *
    I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization
    * * *
    "A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy."
    THEODORE ROOSEVELT

    by Angie in WA State on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 12:09:44 AM PST

  •  I agree so thoroughly, that I have no interest in (32+ / 0-)

    returning to the USA. I see more potential for my children in the 3rd World SE Asian country where I have retired, than for the USA. People on this forum seem to call it the tipping point, but, whatever you call it, the USA has probably reached it.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 12:26:23 AM PST

  •  Yes...no second fiddle to the environment (10+ / 0-)

    though. Fracking, Keystone, BP oil disaster...we've got some crisis issues in this country.

    •  I agree, all of these issues (41+ / 0-)

      and the ones at the front of the diary Life and Death. BUT, an increasingly tiny portion of the population can or will work on them if more and more of us are wndering where the next meal comes from, or are devoting what remains of our resources or just trying to keep people in our community alive.

      "I took a walk around the world, To ease my troubled mind. I left my body laying somewhere In the sands of time" Kryptonite 3 doors Down

      by farmerchuck on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 03:06:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is part and parcel (6+ / 0-)

      of the same beast. Too many people, which makes individuals worthless; and too few resources, which makes going after even the most toxic profitable.
      I am reading that this happened before in early 17th Century England. The resulting upheaval gave rise to extremist religious groups, the repression of women, and flight to the New World. Unfortunately there is no where left to go, we need to make the here and now as liveable as possible for as many people as we can, and that includes Americans, Africans, Europeans, and Asians. We've had our head in the sand too long.

      "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

      by northsylvania on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 07:53:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No ... the environment AND poverty are backburner (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cordgrass

      to election integrity and the control of elections by money. ALL issues are backburner to that. As long as money controls elections and therefore policy, we are stuck on all other issues.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 08:08:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yet don't you have publicly financed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, blueoasis

        elections in most countries in Europe? Yet the global elite are still able to bring down the European economy. Taking money out of elections is a start, but prioritizing our values is absolutely necessary on a variety of fronts. If enough folks took to the streets, we could accomplish all of this much more quickly.

    •  Elephant in the room: climate change (7+ / 0-)

      Yes, elections, poverty and all the rest are our most pressing national issues and hugely important.

      However, none of them threaten to wipe out 6.5 billion people and much of the life on earth.

      / public service announcement.

      •  Reading about all these issues and how they (5+ / 0-)

        tie together reminds me of watching a toilet flush.

        •  well said! (as did John Muir) (3+ / 0-)

          it's always tough to pull a single thread apart.

          For example, dealing with climate change is near impossible if people are feeling to backs-against-the-wall that the idea of shelling out another $5 or $10 a month for renewable energy is just going to break their backs.  etc, etc.

          or as the great man said

          When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
      •  At this end of calendar year, (5+ / 0-)

        when the MSM is listing things left and right, all I can think about for 2011 are two things;

        1. The rise of the protest and occupy movements around the world, and...

        2. How many climate records were broken this past year.

        curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design

        by asterkitty on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 10:30:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do you have a link on 6.5 billion? (0+ / 0-)
        •  I am looking for it (0+ / 0-)

          It was from a piece in an Australian paper that I came to from a piece from Grist.  Of course, searching for Climate Change on Grist brings just about the whole site up.

          I think the basis was ultimately an expert opinion (rather than a study) by Lovelock or Hansen that, worst case scenario 4C+, we could be looking at big swathes of unihabilitable areas with small populations near the poles.  A kind of "I've looked at a lot of studies and done some myself, and this is my take away" kind of thing.

          I'll put the link up as soon as I (or someone else) finds it.

        •  in the meantime (0+ / 0-)

          can we go with 300,000 a year?

          Think, 10 9/11s every year.  If we devoted the $2.whatever trillion to this that we did to our wars, we might just get somewhere.

          •  300,000 a year is certainly a far cry (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            207wickedgood

            from 6.5 billion. I'm not sure that it would really spending very much money to stop it, as compared to:

            1. The 8 million children who die from malnutrition and preventable diseases each year; the

            2. the 11 million people who die from preventable infectious diseases; or

            3. the 2 million who die from preventable and treatable AIDS; or

            4. the 1.3 million people who die from tuberculosis; or

            5. the 863,000 who die of malaria (easily preventable with $5 nets); or

            6. the 600,000 who die of typhoid fever; or

            7. the 164,000 people who die of measles, even though their lives could've been saved with a $1 vaccine).

            http://www.globalissues.org/...

            •  That is currently (0+ / 0-)

              the issue of course is that this will pick up speed exponentially, so it's all stacked in the future.  

              •  I sort of dispute the 300,000 figure too (0+ / 0-)

                given that we haven't had any appreciable warming since 1998 . . .

                •  umm (3+ / 0-)

                  taken a look at the 5-year trend lately?  It ain't exactly flat, showing a 0.15C increase since 1998

                  Besides, as you may be aware, there's also issues of local variabiliyt which makes extremes happen with more intense impacts than an even increase would.  Still, methodologically, pinning a number on it is pretty difficult.

                  •  That's within the range of annual noise (0+ / 0-)

                    La Nina/El Nino cycles can warm or cool the Earth about that amount in a single year.

                    There are of course local extremes that have always happened absent any human intervention, and I think it's also the case that deaths by extreme weather events have been trending rapidly downward even as the planet has warmed, so I'm not sure if you can attribute any of them to global warming. In any event, deaths from extreme weather are less than 30,000 per year globally, so I'm not sure that it would be a significant part of the 300,000 in any event.

                    •  Did you even look? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      207wickedgood, NoMoreLies

                      First of course the original claim that the earth hasn't warmed is toast, but here the trends since 1998 is part of the longer trend , so while any small enough slice would fall within a given band the trend is not consistent with noise as an explanation.   To say it hasn't warmed appreciably when it has clearly warmed significantly, and enough to be forcing events, is kind of specious.   Also please not we are talking climate related deaths not heat related deaths.  Starvation due to famine or ven increased food prices for example would count as the former but not the latter.  In fact that'll be the bulk of what people are worried about

                      •  I'm not sure I'm even understanding what you're (0+ / 0-)

                        saying. The Earth has warmed. There's a 150 year trend of warming, then there's a 30 year trend from 1980-1998. From 1998 to the present, there hasn't been significant warming. I don't think you can make a straight faced argument that warming on a scale (0.15C) over more than a decade that more or less approximates the effect of a La Nino in one single year is significant. It's nominal.

                        Extreme weather related deaths does not just count heat-related deaths, but deaths due to droughts (famine), cyclones, cold snaps, etc. I don't know what sorts of climate-caused deaths you want to count that don't also count as extreme-weather related deaths, but you're free to throw up some examples. I would reject "increased food prices" because there are a million and one causes for that that have nothing to do with climate change.

                        •  yes, there has been significant warming (0+ / 0-)
                          From 1998 to the present, there hasn't been significant warming.

                          This is a technical answer here.  Warming represents the trend in the data that is unlikely to be caused by chance alone.  This has been examined extensively and the odds that noise alone would produce a consistent rise of that kind is very small, thus, the warming trend is statistically significant.  Whether you are concerned by it of course depends on what the consequences of it would be.  By itself, not much.  I think most agree that we can handle perhaps another 2C without terrible things happening.  Bad things are happening now of course, excinctions, displacements and the like.  But lperhaps the key thing is that it reinforces the science, and the trends we see are more or less what Arrhenius said we'd see way back in 1895 or whenever this idea was first kicked off.

                          Yes, there may be a million and one causes of food prices, but massive heating in Eurasia and floods in south asia from weather related issues suggests that of the million and one, some are more critical than others.   I'll take a look at the paper when I get a chance though

                          •  0.15C over the course of 13 years (0+ / 0-)

                            is essentially .01C per year. If we warmed at that pace, it would be 200 years before we hit 2C of warming. If we haven't killed off half the human population in a biological or nuclear attack by then, I'd be surprised. In any event, I don't see that it would be difficult to adapt to 2C of warming over the course of two centuries. I would think the natural course of technology would also mean that we could end carbon-emissions with little pain 75 years from now, and thus avoid most of it.

                            By the way, 2011 is on track to being one of the coolest years since 1998.

                            0.15C is not that significant. Certainly not significant enough to fundamental alter our way of life.

                          •  and... (0+ / 0-)

                            why would you expect natural systems to operate in a linear fashion?  none of the scientists do...

                            (and as for Canada, they're pullin out because their greed overcomes their moral responsibility.  Let's not forget slavery was a common practice throughout much of history.  Let's not pretend they're engaged in anything so principled.  Frankly, if they could get a buck by wiping Bangladesh off the map, I'm fairly sure the Canadians would in a heartbeat. )

                          •  Well re linear fashion (0+ / 0-)

                            I'd asked for links in another diary to climate scientist who predicted that temperatures would essentially level off after 1998 instead accelerating their increase exponentially, and I don't think those links exist. If you were to extrapolate in linear or non-linear fashion from the growth curve of 1980-1998, it would be a lot hotter already.

                          •  cool 2011 (0+ / 0-)

                            That's a bit like the patient dying of cancer saying, "I haven't felt this good since last month!"  True, but missing the point.  

                            For example, this November is shaping up to be the coolest since 2000...[and the 16th warmest in the last 131 years  This marks the coolest monthly average temperature anomaly over land since February 2011 and the coolest November land temperature since 2000. However, it was the 16th warmest November since records began in 1880. ]

                            *  shakes head  *

                    •  Interesting choices of sources (0+ / 0-)

                      A think tank opposed to regulation?  Srsly?  

                      •  Feel free to question the data (0+ / 0-)

                        The numbers are readily available from other sources.

                        •  no, that's true (0+ / 0-)

                          I don't have time to read it at the moment, but the fact ultimately is that one study or another study individually doesn't undermine the general point that there is not a blockbuster metric tons of multidisciplinary information that climate change is, in the words of our vice president, a big fucking deal.

                          •  Yes, it does (0+ / 0-)

                            If that were the case, countries like Canada would not be pulling out of climate talks. There is plenty of evidence that climate change is in fact NOT "a big fucking deal", at least relative to other problems faced by humanity. As mentioned in my other thread, .15C every decade and half or so would not be a big fucking deal at all. It would be a very minor nuisance that we would have plenty of time to adapt to and/or stop.

                          •  riiight (0+ / 0-)

                            Well, I'm going to go with the scientists on this one. Having read the IPCC report, I think 1) that expecting it to stay at .15 a decade is unrealistsic and 2) we need to keep in mind what that kind of temperature increase might well cause.

                            In any event, looking at the predicted impacts (such as a los of 30-50% of species going extinct.) seems serious enough.

                          •  Ipcc (0+ / 0-)

                            The scientists

                          •  The same ones who predicted that the (0+ / 0-)

                            Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035?

                          •  We will have to see (0+ / 0-)

                            The problem is I am trained as a scientist so I know good science when I see.  People like you see headlines about one study and believe what you want.  I have read the AR4 and one technical error in one study that represents literally 0.01% of the science in the AR 4 from al fields (my PhD is in plant ecology and I know a few IPCC authors in that area personally. They are the best there is.).

                            So people get all huffy about small details.   It is a bit like chiding a running back for one play when the team just finished a perfect season winning the super bowl 54-7.  

                            I know science intimately and this one is solid.   Yes the climate modelers have been wrong on several things. Unfortunately for humanity they have underestimated the magnitude and speed of the changes.  If you aren't scared you are kind of a fool or haven't really paid attention ( I don't blame anyone for that.  We are all busy and there's a lot of misinformation out there.  Read the report first.  The. Think about it

                          •  You don't see how you could be biased (0+ / 0-)

                            by the fact that you know several of the people personally? To continue your analogy, we're nowhere near the Super Bowl. It's more like two or three games into the season, and the running back in question, the number one pick in the draft, severely underperformed expectations in the first two games of the season and got caught taking performance enhancing drugs. And now you, his college roommate/sports columnist, are urging the team to bet its future and give him a contract that will preclude the team signing any other star players for the next decade. It might be a good idea, but there's plenty of reason for doubt as well.

                            Yes, you can "cherry-pick" a few things in the IPCC report (which I have read in relevant part thank you) that are gross errors, and if that were it, you'd have a good point. But if you look at the data presented in each of the IPCC reports dating back to 1990, you don't see any of them showing graphs with temperatures leveling off after 1998, and obviously they don't provide any explanations why they will or they did. The IPCC graphs all show temps increasing continually and at an escalating rate, unabated by anything other than radical reductions in CO2 emissions.

                            The climate science community in general denied the leveling off temperatures for years. Now that it seems incontrovertible that temps have leveled off, you get papers like this attempting to explain it away with reference to all of these factors like solar variation, volcanic activity and La Ninas that evidently did not exist when the IPCC report graphs were charted. I would actually suggest that you read that report because then you might realize that climate scientists themselves have stopped trying to deny that temperatures have leveled off (this is a fact acknowledged by the authors of the report, who are not at all climate skeptics) and have begun talking about why. You are out of step in your continual denial of that scientific fact.

                            I would also take issue with your claim that "the science is sound" in a couple of other ways. Number one, that doesn't actually sound very scientific. A healthy skepticism and doubt are at the foundation of the scientific enterprise. There's plenty that we don't know about weather and climate. Did happen to catch this news this week:

                            American's top hurricane experts have admitted defeat and abandoned efforts to make a December forecast of the number of hurricanes the following year.

                            William Gray and Phil Klotzbach are famous for their advance predictions of how many storms are likely to hit during the following hurricane season, which runs from June to November.

                            But the pair, from Colorado State University, have now announced that a look back at the past 20 years of forecasts shows that their methods do not actually work.

                            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

                            So the top forecasters of climatic events six months into the future have determined that they lack the ability to accurately predict those events, but we're supposed to believe that climate science is accurate 100 years into the future, when it hasn't been accurate in predicting the last 10 years? Does that not strike you as somehow odd?

                            But the most important point that really actually drives me up a wall re "the science is sound" argument is that you aren't making a scientific conclusion; you are making a policy conclusion. Even if I accept that the Earth is warming, and that human beings are contributing to it by emitting CO2, there's a big leap from there to whatever it is that we are supposed to sign onto in order to stop it. The climate change movement does not itself even agree upon exactly what should be done about it (there's a deep divide, for example, between carbon taxes and cap and trade), much less anyone else. So what do you mean, "the science is sound" in the context of public policy?

                          •  You are wrong and you are very right (0+ / 0-)

                            First the "you are wrong part.".

                            I am biased by the fact that I have a phd in science and I understand how science works, having been a professional.   I have read the primary reaserach literature (which you will find in the IPCC report)

                            You have shifted from "the increase has not been significant" to "leveling off". The DATA plainly show that the have not , and in a statistical sense significantly departed for not relationship.  That is what significance means.  And as scientists when the data show that it hasn't leveled off we reject that hypothesis. So now. You are just wrong on that one.

                            I would say that a lot of people here myself included would love for you to be right.  I would be thrilled to death to find that co2 emissions made no difference at all.  But I am scared by what I see that says otherwise

                            (as a side note, in the 1980s a lot of scientists did not want to study climate change because a lot of scientists wanted to study more basic scientific questions.  There was significant resistance to getting people to address it)

                            Next people have been investigating the hypothesis of climate change for over 100 years, with a small boost in the 1950s and then a major shift to large amounts of research in the 1980s. So no, we are not in the first quarter of this research effort.  

                            Next hurricane prediction is more akin to meteorology in its scale.  That is a more complex task than predicting large scale trends

                            I love that paper you cite because it is course concludes that the warming signal is clear (not that it has levelled off) especially when you account (not explain away) for other factors that have known effects.  

                            I love that example too because your interpretation shows up how not being grounded in science leads to misinterpretations.  In complex data analysis, it is a standard approach to account for the effects of all the things you know have effects (such as volcanos or more commonly age race gender and socioeconomic status) to see what remaining signal there is.

                            It is pretty much and ackknowledgemtn that there are other things going on and look to see what is going on.  Alas the trends did not go away.  I'll have to dig into the meat to see what function they fit, though because if it does not have a non linear component to the model it may not have had the capacity to detect a leveling off (since they started in 1979).

                            Anyway more in the "you are right" response coming next

                          •  The reason I love that paper as well is (0+ / 0-)

                            because it shows that natural factors can have just as strong of an effect even over the short term as CO2. Clearly over the longest horizon, I'm sure that we can agree that natural factors can have far more influence over climate than manmade CO2. After all, for most of the Earth's history, there were no glaciers at all, and for some of its history, there were glaciers to the equator. Even the worst case scenarios of man-made climate change don't amount to climate change greater than either of those scenarios.

                            But if solar variation, volcanic activity and La Nina are capable of negating CO2 for a decade plus, and we had no way of knowing that they would, how do we not know that there are other unknowns that will kick in over the coming years with even stronger negative effects? The argument made in the paper, that in order to find the global warming signal you have to eliminate the "noise" of natural forcing factors, seems to me to be exactly of the skeptics, that you can't look at CO2 in isolation from the natural factors, and that those natural factors are more powerful, more unpredictable and less understood than we might think.

                          •  well, to some degee, yes (0+ / 0-)

                            After all, most of the CO2 in the atmosphere is natural and without it the surface temperature of the earth would be something like -150C

                            The issue of noise and natural factors is a critically important one, both on an overall picture sense and a technical sense.  The issue in that paper was that in a technical sense, signals in variable data require accounting appropriately in order to evaluate the hypothesis that there is warming.

                            However, another flipside of that is that even with all the noise lining up in the negative direction, there is still warming underlying that the noise couldn't eliminate.  Thus, when these same factors cycle around to go the other way, it's going to get very hot very fast.  Ultimately the chart is climving and still will continue to do so.

                            The scond point that it's a wicked complex system is one that has been acknowledged from the get go, and a lot of what we know about these other factors have come out of the big push in understanding the atmosphere.  However, the big issue that we are faced with right now is that with the discovery of each new "unknown" feature of the atmosphere and climate system, the problem seems to get worse rather than better.

                            It would be great if the atmosphere were to throw something at us to make it go away. Unfortunately, all of the surprises so far have been in the wrong direction, which means that the best estimates have been wrong, because in fact things are getting worse much faster than we had initially predicted.  For those of us who are paying close attention, that is an extremely bad sign.  There are things we dont' understand, but those things are not helping us out.

                          •  How can you possibly say that? (0+ / 0-)
                            all of the surprises so far have been in the wrong direction,

                            Are we back at square one in this discussion where I have to demonstrate that in terms of raw data, there has been less warming than expected since 1998?

                          •  I think folks (0+ / 0-)

                            Pretty well put that one to bed.  It is warmer as the trends show, but the attic sea ice has melted much faster than expected and methane is coming out faster.  ( which happened by magic since that wasn't warming?)

                          •  So are you actually denying that the raw data (0+ / 0-)

                            shows that warming leveled off after 1998, even though everyone on your side is citing a paper that showed exactly that, and then explained it?

                          •  Um yes absolutely (0+ / 0-)

                            First I posted the raw data from NASA that showed the continuing upward trend (which you acknowledge but said wasn't significant). Then the paper you posted showed that even accounting for various other factors there is a clear warming trend present in the data.  So far no actual evidence of a flattening out has come to light that I've seen.  In any event, any slowing in the increase is partly generate form choosing a high temp year as a baseline rather than looking at the series.  If you cherry pick data, you get specious results.   But yes.  We've looked at the data, and it is still getting warmer

                          •  Now you're constructing a strawman (0+ / 0-)

                            I said it's leveled off. If you can choose a "high temperature year" as the baseline, then that by definition means that it's leveled off. If you have an accelerating linear or exponential growth curve, there's no way that 13 years later, there would still be a "high temperature year". But you're just sticking your head in the sand on this. Even if you take 1998 off the table, the rate of growth during the 1999-2011 period has been slower than it was in the 1980's or 1990's. If you look at the growth curve starting in 1979 it clearly slows down. And that's what's frustrating to me, is that you know that, and you have your explanations for that, yet, we have to keep going back to arguing about it.

                          •  Here's a useful illustration (0+ / 0-)

                            This chart is a nice illustration of the point I was trying to make with the bank account analogy.  [This chart has three panels. http://www.grida.no/...

                            The first is a graph of the temperature projections modelled including all the things we know drive temperature:  El nino, volcanoes, solar incidence, all of it, with the acutal observed temperatures superimposed.  As you can see, just accounting for natural forcing elements doesn't get that rise we see.

                            And your point that natural forcings make a big differnce is shown here too, because as you can see, that grey band moves up and down a lot:  that is they have a big influence.  (the big difference is that they move up AND down)

                            The second leaves all that out and models only with temperature changes driven by elevated CO2.  Again, this chart cpatures the rise, but is pretty wide of the mark at soem points. Notice here, the trend goes up a lot more than it goes down.  This is as big a driver of temperature as the natural factors, but unlike those, it only goes forward. No reverse gear for this one.

                            The third are the predictions with both factors included.  As you can see, the big swings up and down from natural forcings are in there, but the overall trend upward is also in there.  This is the graph where the model gets closest.

                            And finally, my point that the models have been wrong in that they've underestimated the temperature.  That refers to the fact that the red line is at the TOP of the range fo grey predictions.  If the models were accurate, you'd hope to see that red line right through the middle.  After about 1950, the red line starts to creep out of the grey zone.  Something else IS going on here, and it isn't' good.

                            Final point:  We have a scientific consensus that this is happening.  Maybe its right, maybe its not, but that consensus means you have to at least acknowledge that there's a good chance it's right.  Even allowing for the extreme complexity of climate, science overall has a pretty good record for getting things generally correct.

                            So, let's say there's a 60% chance that the models are right, and a 40% they aren't.  Isn't paying an extra $10 a month as insurance against the prospect of a 60% chance of extremely bad outcomes (think, no more wide scale industrial agriculture possible, mass starvation, etc.) is worth it?  After all, everyone pays a lot more than that for car insurance on something that is a lot less likely, and a lot less expensive overall.

                          •  Compared to what though? (0+ / 0-)

                            We had 200,000 people die in Haiti from an earthquake that would've killed no one if it had happened in California or Japan. We know for an absolute fact that there will be more earthquakes in places like Haiti that kill hundreds of thousands of people unnecessarily. Should we take up a fund to retrofit buildings everywhere there might be a strong earthquake?

                            We know for a fact that millions will die from diseases for which we have vaccines. Why don't we complete the task of making vaccines available universally across the globe. We know that millions will be severely affected or die from malaria that can be prevented with $5 mosquito nets. Why shouldn't we make them universally available? Billions will suffer because of a lack of access to energy for transportation, agriculture or electricity. Should we not make such energy available to them?

                            I would take issue with the expense and likelihood of being impacted by climate change as opposed to a car accident. If you drive, it's almost a certainty that you will experience an accident at some point in your life, and when it does happen, it's likely to be very expensive. I cannot identity any particular bad thing that has happened to me personally exclusively as a result of climate change (excepting of course, banging at my keyboard arguing about it!).

                            Back to your bank account example, I think you miss the whole point. If I'm spending $100 a month less than I'm taking in, yes, the "cash" level in my account will not save me over the long run, but my paycheck might be much more important. I could for example be working in a field that typically pays out X% of annual salary in bonuses, or gives out large performance based raises at the end of the year, in which case, I might already know that this $100 a month is going to be dwarfed by a $20,000 bonus and a $10,000 raise at the end of the year. See, you must pull back the camera and look at the bigger picture!

                          •  Three points (0+ / 0-)

                            well, yes, we should get mosquito nets to people instead of paying gazillion dollar bonuses to wall street bankers.  That too is a policy choice we've made not to.

                            And the point in the bank account scenario is that there is no bonus coming.  In the climate change scenario, that's like expecting God to wade down from heaven and set it all right.  People have looked and looked for the "bonus" factor that will make this go away.  So far, none has been found, although we have found a fair number of small bills we'd forgotten about in our budget that are driving us to bankruptcy faster.

                            Finally, ,you don't seem to graps the magnitude of the possible effects of this.  Entire countries are going to vanish with near certainty, large areas of our agricultural production will become unfarmable (as in much of teh Central Valley) which is going to raise real issues about how to feed people, and there's a decent chance that most of the Southwest will becoem too dry and hot for the big cities there now to continue.  There is a saying, things that are not sustainable won't be sustained.  So then the question is, where are all the Texans and peopl in San Diego goign to move to?  That'as all going to cost money, and a lot mroe money than if we just did something to avoid it.  In a certain sense, we aren't insuring against a fender bender. We are insuring against the accident that kills your kids and leaves you a quadriplegic.  Sure, maybe all your bills will get paid, but wouldn't it be even better to avoid the accident entirely?

                            I am going to say that people enjoy taking medicines to cure their diseases (products of science), using their electronidcs (products of science), and all the other aspects of modern civilization, but somehow when science says something that people don't want to hear, then magically science is all wrong all the time.  Coincidence?  I think not.

                          •  And that is why we end up circling back to (0+ / 0-)

                            arguing about the science. Right now, I can name probably dozens if not hundreds of different ways that we could save more lives in the short term by investing in vaccines, and mosquito nets, and earthquake retrofits, and local pollution control, and whatever else, than we could by putting the same sorts of resources into climate change. On the negative side, I could think of hundreds of ways in which higher energy prices will cause more suffering in the short term than fighting climate change will alleviate.

                            So, in order to adopt the sorts of policies that are being proposed, I have to accept the validity of what science says will happen decades in the future, as opposed to a thousand and one ways that I now for a fact that people are suffering in the present, many of which have everything to do with the fact that energy is not affordable to most people. That requires a degree of certainty in the science that I just don't see, particularly given the fact that nobody has correctly predicted the current lull in the warming trend, and the fact that corruption in the scientific process has been proven, and the fact that some of the most important climate scientists are not being transparent or open to the public about how they've reached their conclusions, and the fact that nobody even claims to know exactly what the effects will be, and the fact that even climate change advocates don't have consensus on what to do with it, and that nobody wants to give an honest assessment of the costs, etc.

                          •  mostquito nets (0+ / 0-)

                            do nothing for bears, or any of the gazillion species being driven extinct.

                            Nor do they protect sea islands vrom vanishing.

                          •  and that (0+ / 0-)

                            is only if your rosy predictions (which aren't necessarily grounded in science) are right.  If the scientists worst case scenarios happen, higher energy costs will look trivial by comparison.  I'd think people would rather pay more for gas than starve or go without water or drown in a typhoon.

                          •  And yes! Yes! Yes! (0+ / 0-)

                            Science CANNOT tell you what do to.  The science can be as sound as hell, but it is up to policy bodies to decide what to do about it.   This is true across the board. In fact a great many scientists will not venture into the policy area at all as a matter of professional ethics.   They quite rightly feel that, like judges, getting in the policy mix compromises the perception of impartiality.  There were two big debates going on on that issue for quite a while.  One about the extinction crisis and another about climate change.  Some felt that having discovered a major problem, there was a social responsibility to alert the public.  Others felt it wasn't the job of scientists to do it.   The formation of the IPCC was a pretty daring thing in a way (though smaller analogous panels exist on other issues as well of course). But the idea has been to collect that study results and synthesize them.  And they have done that.  

                            So I would love it if the folks who don't want to do anything about climate change would drop the public disinformation campaign and debate the policy on the merits.   As I alluded to above, Canada did not drop out of Kyoto over doubts about science they dropped out because they'd rather have the cash from the tar sands.  Being conservatives, the government is not concerned with damage to the environment or to people as externalities because part of conservative philosophy is to not care about either.  That's fine.   Obama too is in the camp of ackowledging the science but not particularly caring to do much.  However to avoid the moral opprobrium that would naturally follow, they try to follow the anti-evolution and tobacco lobby play book and attack the science.  That is not legitimate really, but predictable.   Scientists historically always been targets for people who don't like their results, from Gallileo's time to Stalin's to ours.   This too is part of science's culture to be aware that people who don't like what reality is like will attack the messenger.  

                            And finally I whole heatedly agree that the policy debate is a whole other kettle of fish.  The question of how to do something extends well beyond either the question of whether something is happening (a scientific question). Whether we should take action (a moral one) and finall how should we take action ( a policy question). Science only helps with the first

                            As for disagreements about how to proceed this isn't unusual.  We have full agreement the economy should be strengthened but wide disagreement about how to do that.  

                            Personally I would favor first and end to carbon subsidies and a carbon tax, but that's because I trust the economists who suggest these are the most effective approaches. ( may e I shouldn't!). I also favor cap and trade schemes and RPS and the like.   However I am no policy expert so I'd go with whatever we can get done and will work.

                            As you will note. That's a stage three question. We are only now making profess on stage one.  

                            Anyway I have to run, but thank you for a very stimulating conversation. I want to say how much I appreciate how you approach talking about these issues.  I am mulling the idea that perhaps we could do a pro con diary or something as a collaboration someday.  Thanks!

                          •  That would be fun (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Mindful Nature

                            I also appreciate the back and forth that we've had. And I should probably get the hell out of the house as well!

                          •  Canada is pulling out of climate talks (0+ / 0-)

                            not because of the science, but because of the profits from the tar sands. An agreement to limit greenhouse gases would reduce or eliminate demand for tar sands petroleum.

                            Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

                            by NoMoreLies on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 05:05:58 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If they truly believed that humanity faced (0+ / 0-)

                            certain imminent catastrophe if we fail to stop burning carbon-based fuels, then I'm sure that they'd be willing to forsake those tar sands profits in favor of cooperating with the international community on greenhouse emissions reductions.

        •  I don't have actual research for this, (0+ / 0-)

          but Lovelock did an interview with Rollingstone a few years back in which he predicted a the Sahara Desert taking over southern Europe and Asian resource wars by 2040, and the human population shrinking to 500 million by 2100.

          The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing George W. Bush that he was Jesus

          by Darth Cheney on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 11:50:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Call it the 50% (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, revsue, mookins, divineorder

    ...that the 99%™ don't really care about, unlamented in all the ink spilled about the poor suffering middle class.

    In typical rhetoric about the current economy we hear of people fallen on hard times "through no fault of their own," often an over-extended house flipper or unemployed Ivy leaguer with $100,000 in student loan debt--in contrast to those chronically poor through their own bad karma I guess, who would love in the first place to be given a loan that they could default on, and who haven't had a sense of entitlement in their family for generations.

    If there is to be a New Deal that would be the place to start.

  •  Shann's comment says it all (17+ / 0-)

    If opportunities for our children are now greater in third world countries, then the country I grew up in no longer exists.

  •  i appreciate your effort and passion to bring (42+ / 0-)

    this discussion to the forefront, keith930. the discussion might not be taking place by our politicians or msm but these conversations are taking place around the kitchen tables of more and more americans as they face the truth.

    many of us, are realizing that we can no longer afford to live in our own country at a bare minimum living standard let alone attain or maintain the so called american dream. this is a profound and staggering realization and in our country, it's embarrassing because we've been told oh so many times that poor is bad for oh so many reasons.

    most of us have done everything we were told to do and now, through no fault of our own, we see everything we ever dreamed of and worked for, just vaporize. that's a very bitter pill for folks to swallow.

    but it's many times worse for the folks who were poor to begin with. their lives are exponentially worse with every meager job opportunity lost and every safety net program being cut. i was very poor during my childhood and would be now except for my wife's salary and i did everytning i was supposed to.

    i was listening to wcpt, chicago yesterday and a woman called ed's show and said she was a volunteer who traveled around the country, trying to find funding for charity organizations. during the holiday season, her goal is to make sure that programs geared towards children, like toys for tots, were able to fulfill all the kids' wishlists.

    what she said put a lump in my throat. ed's too.

    apparently, the #1 request by far, on the wishlist is SOCKS. not toys but socks, which told her, that what the kids are really asking for is underwear but were just too embarrassed to write it. the next three most requested items were articles of clothing, not toys.

    i say keep writing diaries like this. the truth needs to be told and our government needs to hear this truth, no matter how hard they try not to.

    thank you for a great diary and for your courage.

    There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

    by dear occupant on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 04:29:06 AM PST

  •  I read this yesterday in my local paper (19+ / 0-)
    At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

    Stearnes said at first she thought it was a joke when someone from the Omaha store called to say someone had paid off most of her layaway bill for toys and outfits she bought for the youngest four of her seven grandchildren.

    The total bill was about $250, but after the stranger helped, she only had a $58 balance, she said. Stearns, who cleans medical instruments at a hospital, said she and her husband, Lloyd, live paycheck to paycheck and that layaway often helps spread out the costs of Christmas.

    Dozens of other customers have received similar calls in Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Montana.

    The benefactors generally ask to help families who are squirreling away items for young children. They often pay a portion of the balance, usually all but a few dollars or cents so the layaway order stays in the store's system.

    What a simple, great way to help someone.

  •  Poverty is on the rise... (3+ / 0-)

    ...because we have 7 billion people on the planet, all of whom want to live like Americans, and we have neither the power nor the moral authority to tell them that they can't.

    Remember that even as poverty deepens in America, third world salaries are rising, sharply. Add in a stable-to-declining natural resource base and the result is clear.

    Any child had by anyone these days contributes to this dynamic. As global population increases, expect further declines in living standards.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 07:11:05 AM PST

  •  People liviing in real poverty in foreign (7+ / 0-)

    countries, like North Korea, would scoff at America's idea of poverty.

    That's what one moderate Republican I know said to me a couple weeks ago as we discussed this issue.

    It's the "move the goal post" approach to avoiding a real conversation about the problem. I suggested that he would not find America's definition so lacking if he were living on a small income and no healthcare. He proceeded to tell me about a ski bum son who is doing fine on $10 hour, sharing an apartment with 3 other ski bums, etc. I neglected to probe how much assistance his son was getting from his dad, which I suspect was in fact significant for someone living on those means...

  •  "Our whole country is on the front line." (13+ / 0-)

    Aye. And the line is not advancing, maybe not even holding.

    The picture you paint is not lovely. It's sole merit is its truth.

    Corporations are people, my friend Yeah, well, so's Soylent Green, so I don't find that very comforting. New video: Not Enough (HD)

    by Crashing Vor on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 07:47:25 AM PST

  •  No, it's NOT "the" issue (5+ / 0-)

    "The" issue is money controlling our elections and our government. The issue is Citizens United and corporate personhood and voter supression. And until that issue gets solved, all other issues cannot be addressed. It's the gateway.

    Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

    by anastasia p on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 08:06:31 AM PST

  •  48.5% of American households receive some sort (16+ / 0-)

    of government benefit. 34.2% of those benefits are related to low income subsidies like food stamps and Medicaid.

    In Europe, the participation rate is much higher, but most of those benefits are for vacations, healthcare, and parental leave, and are not so much poverty-based.

    America is exceptional all right. It is led and governed by an exceptionally small and extremely greedy elite.

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. ~ George Washington

    by 4Freedom on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 08:15:18 AM PST

  •  i try to keep it simple (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Evolutionary, SuWho, divineorder, cpresley

    if someone asks, if I can, I will help.

    Pretty simple, I always give money to anyone on the streets that asks, what's a buck here and there a day? I dont care what they do with it, not my business.  All I care about is another human asked for help, and I said, OK.

    Some friends ask me why I do it, I say it make me feel good, so its selfish, and secondly, I think its a way to thank that desperate person. That person could of easily come up to me, you, or anyone and demanded, stolen, beaten, or done even worse damage to us, but they didn't, they just quietly asked for some change.

    we are in this together.

  •  Poverty is a "slippery slope", but we tend to (10+ / 0-)

    think of that slope being slippery on the downward angle.  It's just as slippery trying to move back uphill.  How many of the Americans who have slid into poverty will be able to make it back up that hill?  Some of them, in time, certainly will.  But not all of them.The Brookings Institute has done some great research using the census figures and the American Community Surveys.  It got some mention in the press, but not nearly as much as it deserves.  It should be in the forefront of our national debate...not to mention the GOP debates.  Good luck with that.

    Among their findings:

    After declining in the 1990s, the population in extreme-poverty neighborhoods—where at least 40 percent of individuals live below the poverty line—rose by one-third from 2000 to 2005–09.

    Concentrated poverty nearly doubled in Midwestern metro areas from 2000 to 2005–09, and rose by one-third in Southern metro areas.

    The population in extreme-poverty neighborhoods rose more than twice as fast in suburbs as in cities from 2000 to 2005–09.

    The recession-induced rise in poverty in the late 2000s likely further increased the concentration of poor individuals into neighborhoods of extreme poverty.

    When economic conditions force people who are borderline poor to move into areas that are marked by widespread poverty, chances are their futures will continue to cycle downward.  They "downscale" in an attempt to make ends meet, and then end up living in neighborhoods marked by higher crime rates.  Bills get juggled.  Perhaps the car insurance lapses because groceries and utilities take precedence, and then your car gets stolen, or your home or apartment gets burglarized...it can set up a series of events that push you further and further away from the shore you once stood upon.

    That is how poverty works.  And that is what's going on all around us.

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 08:44:26 AM PST

  •  I think we all know and understand what needs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, OneCharmingBastard

    to happen to reverse this downward course.  We just don't talk about it.

    #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

    by Evolutionary on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 09:14:48 AM PST

    •  Misidentification (0+ / 0-)

      You think some kind of revolution against the rich is going to solve this problem?

      My thesis (supported by loads of evidence) is that our economic problems are caused by population overshoot and resource depletion.

      If my theory is correct and not yours, getting rid of the rich will do absolutely nothing and will in fact exacerbate the problems we face, a lot.

      7 billion people on this planet (compared to less than 3 in the "middle class golden age"). All of them want to live like Americans.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 09:22:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is not happening by accident (19+ / 0-)

    At Netroots Nation 2011 in Minneapolis I sat down with a woman who was reading Paul Krugman's classic book, the Conscience of a Liberall. She said, "You know until now, I never thought that the American Middle Class was actually built. I thought that the middle class just happened, as the result of a developing society".

    And she was right right. the American Middle Class was consciously built by the policies of the great progressives such as Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

    And the American Middle Class is being consciously diss-assembled by the policies of the great regressive wing nuts such as Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

    Too few democrats are doing anything to stop it.

    “I never bought a man who wasn't for sale.” Senator William Clark D-MT 1901-1907

    by Ed in Montana on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 09:16:59 AM PST

  •  A wonderfully well-written post. Thank you! n/t (7+ / 0-)

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 09:28:14 AM PST

  •  Fifty States. Fifty Diaries. (7+ / 0-)

    I would like to toss out an invitation to the many excellent writers here.  Write a diary about your own state, and draw a portrait of the poverty that exists there.  Let's see the commonalities that surely exist, but perhaps learn about the differences, too.  How is poverty in Hawaii, for example, different from poverty in New Jersey or North Dakota?  Where is it?  Who are they?  How has it changed over the past decade or two?  How does it manifest itself day to day?  Who is working to address it?  

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 09:47:18 AM PST

  •  Things aren't getting better under Obama (0+ / 0-)

    Obama keeps sucking up to Republicans and he's afraid to call their bluffs. Maybe it's time for a Republican in the White House. Maybe Americans need to take their medicine before they realize Presidents stand up for Wall Street rather than Main Stree. Things may need to get worse before they get better. Obama is listening to Republicans rather than Democrats and Progressives. It's time we send a message that we will not take anymore compromises. After 4 years of a Republican Presidency, Washington and Americawill realize we Democrats and Progressives are serious and give us a candidate with a backbone and dedication to the Democratic Party that will stand up for Democratic and Progressive principles rather than caving in to Republican demands.
    It is time for Obama and the Republicans to stop the scare tactics and police brutality and give us back our freedoms.

    •  Go look up the 99 Declaration. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder

      Here.

      People suggesting that we run non-politically connected citizens in every damned congressional district in which the candidates won't sign on to the demands which to my view are bi-partisan and necessary for real and just change.

      Poverty = politics.

      by Renee on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 09:54:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary, Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

    by blueoregon on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 10:28:25 AM PST

  •  Good read (0+ / 0-)

    We have really been hollowing out the middle class in this country. I see it all around me. People are sinking and there's not too much they can do about it. One or two layoffs and that's usually all it takes.

  •  America Centric Viewpoint (0+ / 0-)

    It's an important issue, but it's only 'the' issue if you put Americans ahead of what Americans do to:

    A. All the other humans on earth. Meaning wars, drone attacks, and son on.

    B. The environment. Which effects both Americans and the other humans on earth.

    Then there's the domestic erosion of civil liberties,  w/o which you can't even protest things like poverty or any other issue--and we've seen this happening.

    Basically, it's very silly to call anything 'the' issue.

    •  hunger clarifies the mind (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux

      come back when your stomach is growling.  Or your electricity gets shut off.  We'll see if you want to talk about drone attacks then.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 11:42:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  See, (0+ / 0-)

        you don't care about 1 million dead civilians in some place you've never been.

        That's the American way.

        And you aren't hungry, and clearly you're electricity is not shut off.

        •  I wonder what torments the liberal soul (0+ / 0-)

          in Lithuania?  Or Bolivia?  

          Inner city violence in Detroit?  Sweatshop labor conditions in the Marianas?

          Somehow I doubt it. If you are accusing me of having parochial interests, I confess.

          "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

          by Keith930 on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 12:38:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Without this, what would DK FP talk about: (0+ / 0-)
    There will be no cheap and easy shots taken at the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Rick Santorum, the tortoise like visage of Mitch McConnell, the shrill rantings of Michele Bachmann or ruminations upon how, when and why Al Franken lost his moral compass.

    I guess, well, maybe real ISSUES like you raise in your diary.

  •  Declining real income, fewer good jobs (5+ / 0-)

    ...are problems that hurt those with the least the most.  It makes upward mobility much more difficult even for the most talented if they are starting from a lower economic rung.  (You can see this clearly in the breakdown of change in median household net worth by race--the groups all fell by similar absolute dollar amounts, but the relative amount (percentage) was of course much more catastrophic for the groups that started with less.  If one person starts with $10 and loses a $1 he's only lost 10%, but if someone starts with $2 and loses the same $1 he/she has lost 50%...and if starting with only $1, it's 100%.)

    This economic regression is a problem that transcends issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.  In fact, historically these sort of economic ills historically have intensified those kinds of divisions.  When folks fear for their own future, they worry less about others' futures.  

    I grew up rural poor, although we considered ourselves "lower middle class" at the time.  Looking back on it we had to have been in the lower quartile.  We received the govt. cheese and reduced lunches at school.  It was tougher for me because I had to do things with less in the way of financial backstop from family...and as soon as I started working I became the financial safety net for all of them.  Plus my parents weren't knowledgeable about how best to steer my efforts for financial aid/scholarships and such.  Had I been in a truly middle class family I might have chosen law or medicine, or at least gone onto graduate school.  But these were not options for me, as I had others to think about.

    "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

    by Celtic Pugilist on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 02:25:11 PM PST

  •  My Republican friends (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    interpret this data as:

    This shows almost 50% of Americans are lazy. They don't want to work hard.  If they work hard they will be rewarded and won't be poor any more.  People prefer to live off Uncle Sugar than to work.  Cut off benefits and that will create an incentive to work.

    There's also a belief that poor people simply haven't bothered to educate themselves to be valuable in today's economy.  They have no one to blame but themselves.  

    Republicans (and many Democrats), never having been poor themselves, believe they earned their wealth, and therefore anyone who isn't wealthy hasn't bothered to achieve it.  

    So there's a disconnect that seems inpenetrable.  No matter how many descend into poverty, it's not a flaw in the system but flaws in individuals that create the problem.

    I believe this disconnect will make change impossible without collapse of the system.  Until there's an indisputable system failure, individuals will continue to be blamed for systemic faults.  

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 04:53:09 PM PST

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