Skip to main content

Income inequality is at an 80 year high.
The problem with our economy isn't just at the top or at the bottom. It's how the whole thing is organized, and the power structure that sustains that.
Millions of Americans are living in the kind of poverty you generally associate with those "you can save a child for the price of a cup of coffee a day" ads. Deep poverty, defined as 50 percent or less of the official poverty level, hit a new high in 2010, with 20.5 million people—6.7 percent of the population—in deep poverty. But sociologist Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, a social work professor, are looking at a level below deep poverty, occupied by nearly 1.4 million households:
In doing so, they relied on a World Bank marker used to study the poor in developing nations: This designation, which they dubbed "extreme" poverty, makes deep poverty look like a cakewalk. It means scraping by on less than $2 per person per day, or $2,920 per year for a family of four.

In a report published earlier this year by the University of Michigan's National Poverty Center, Edin and Shaefer estimated that nearly 1 in 5 low-income American households has been living in extreme povery; since 1996, the number of households in that category had increased by about 130 percent. Among the truly destitute were 2.8 million children. Even if you counted food stamps as cash, half of those kids were still being raised in homes whose weekly take wasn't enough to cover a trip to Applebees.

This is in line with the Agriculture Department's finding that 20 percent of households receiving food stamps had no cash income in 2010.

How does this happen? It happens when there's no work for millions of people, where there are 3.3 job-seekers for every job. It happens when unemployment insurance benefits expire, as they are about to do for two million people. It happens when single mothers don't have child care and don't want to leave their kids alone, making work outside the home impossible—they don't get Ann Romney's choices. It happens when the jobs people do find are just a few hours a week, at or below minimum wage.

It happens as it has for two men Mother Jones' Gabriel Thompson talked to waiting outside a temp agency in Fresno. Both had been laid off, one from a job installing phone boxes, one from a job delivering radiators. Both had had to move in with family. And both were desperately looking for work, showing up at temp agencies before sunrise and taking even the worst jobs:

when the temp office clerk announces that there's a job available, Harper leaps at it even though the gig starts at 2 a.m. and he knows he'll have to arrive at the work site in the early evening, thanks to Fresno's limited bus service. He shrugs off the six hours he'll waste "twiddling his thumbs." What matters, Harper says, is to keep knocking on doors and making the calls, because "you never know when you might get your foot in the door."
In such an environment, other people give up on finding jobs, and fall out of the unemployment statistics. But if those people were at the temp agency before sunrise every day, it wouldn't create anymore jobs, it would just mean that more people were counted as trying to find jobs that aren't there.

Maybe there's someone in America who's so ascetic or so lazy that living on $2 a day, or even $10 a day, is a choice freely made. There are not millions of such people. Rather, there is an economy that has failed millions of people completely, utterly, beyond belief, that has failed these people beyond growing income and wealth inequality and stagnant wages and wages as the lowest-ever share of GDP.

The breathtaking range of ways the American economy has failed the American people—or around 90 percent of them, anyway—shows how fruitless it would be to focus on one group of people suffering in this economy and propose a fix for that single group. Yes, we should have a more robust safety net that ensures that deep poverty just does not happen. Yes, we should raise the minimum wage so that it's impossible to work full-time and still be below the poverty line. Yes, we should tax more at the top. But if we don't rebuild our economy at every level, we leave the power structure that produced this disaster intact, ready to reproduce it.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Outstanding, Laura. (13+ / 0-)

    I'm in the middle fifth and keep hoping the line will go up again soon.

  •  So, instead of focusing on Limting Gun Ownership,. (7+ / 0-)

    ...we should be focused on crafting fiscal policy to better distribute the rents of American labor.

    But I guess it's easier for lawmakers to propose a bill which bans assault weapons than to introduce a proposal to tax wealth.

    Starting at 1% annually for households with net income of at least 50M, to 8% annually for the likes of Buffet and Ellison.

    Which lawmaker will have the courage to introduce such legislation?

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:05:15 AM PST

    •  Thankfully, we have legislators (19+ / 0-)

      who have an attention span adequate to do both. We shouldn't choose between them, and we don't have to.

      I'm amazed by people's courage and kindness in the face of everything and life.

      by LaraJones on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:52:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  However, neither is likely for the same reason. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alice kleeman, Ian H

        This country holds individual ("normative" - white, male, hetero, Christian) rights primary over social or collective rights. This is our culture, our historical narrative, and the basis is our myths. Aberrant events and people are filtered out of our history purposefully, mindfully, and reliably. Realistically, public sentiment will need to be measured and pushed toward transformative possibilities before any measurable progress can be made since our gov't intentionally functions to the lowest common denominator. This is who we are and who and what we are have to change before we elect agents of change.

    •  A temporary interim emergency wealth tax. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alice kleeman, Ian H

      Something along the lines of the temporary interim emergency redistribution of newly minted money into the banks by the Fed? Great idea. Let's conscript Warren Buffet to run the country for one term.

      Tragically, it's unreasonable to expect our impotent government to even consider emergency powers without a, yes, a "Pearl Harbor" event. They simply have no vision, are not organized, and lack a mandate to do truly constructive solutions - wealth tax or gun regulation. If they were anything but status quo incrementalists they would not have been allowed to run.

      Apparently, IMO, we first require a modern discussion about what kind of government we want - a modern version of how the Constitution can function with a muscular government beyond homeland security measures - and then we need to fight for it. Fight for a visionary activist administration and a compliant Congress.  

      There's less support for a wealth tax than for gun regulation and there is no support for gun regulation out there in the real world.

  •  Taxing "More" at the Top Isn't Enough, We Must (21+ / 0-)

    restore compressive levels of taxation such that the compensation at the top drops in a big way to pre Reagan comparables.

    Of course that's not the whole solution. The closest we can come to stating the whole solution in a simple formula is to reverse every economic policy change since Carter. That's not perfect but it's the simplest first estimate.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:08:08 AM PST

    •  It's also WHAT we tax and what we don't (8+ / 0-)

      tax.

      We've untaxed free lunches and have taxed labor and industry.

      That's the biggest problem

      And until people understand the basics of both our monetary system and national accounting system, we will forever fear that we'll never pay off the deficit.

      And the deficit isn't even a debt.

      It's very sad.

      •  business taxes are at lowest (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        katiec, Pescadero Bill, Ian H

        since at least depression era.  And I'm sure that doesn't take into consideration the cough foreign profits issues.

      •  Help, katiec, I do not understand this: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        katiec
        We've untaxed free lunches

        Do you mean federally mandated free/reduced school lunches?

        Ok, color me ignorant but I've always thought my federal, state & local taxes helped cover this subsidy of the USDA program(?)

        If not so, when did we "untax free lunches"????

        And how exactly would it make much of a drop in the bucket to "re-tax" free lunch programs, all things considered?

        •  surely that comment was not about lunches per se.. (4+ / 0-)

          but about tax giveaways to the wealthy and to people who've figured out how to work the system.

          Why don't oil companies pay taxes on all their income rather than just 80% of it?

          Why can "ranchers" who've bought land for recreational use figured out how get Federal subsidies for not producing wool (or other surplus crops) - which they never intended to do in the first place?

          Why are the wealthiest getting huge tax write offs for their expensive first, second and third homes when the poorest don't even have a plastic sheet between themselves and the rain and the near poor are losing their houses because they can't find jobs or afford the rent?

          Why have tax exemptions for the wealthiest increased dramatically while the minimum wage is frozen at half the current a living wage?

          Why has Federal law made it increasingly difficult to unionize just as profits from labor have gone increasingly to managers and owners in the form of untaxed capital gains?

          WHY?

          "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

          by fhcec on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 12:37:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, things like: capital gains, monopolies (0+ / 0-)

          that can charge huge premiums for needed products, patents on things like DNA (yes, it's coming).

          Making money out of money, rather than either labor or building something new.

  •  I find this absolutely terrifying (27+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure many people realize just how little it would take to end up like this.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:12:41 AM PST

    •  It's a slow boil. (10+ / 0-)

      When you're finally living in your paid off house without any utilities and cooking your food on a grill on the back deck, selling your house for pennies on the dollar looks like moving up.

      "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

      by blueoregon on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:25:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Denial is a powerful thing (11+ / 0-)

      A recent study that was all over the news spoke of a majority of American families being only a paycheck or two away from financial disaster.  Yikes.

      I'm an eyewitness to this firsthand.  A close relative with a graduate degree has found himself unemployable and on disability in his early 50s.  A cold-hearted person would point some poor financial habits or question his health but this person was a vegetarian who exercised regularly and while not perfect never owned a home.  I doubt his habits would have changed anything.

      Instead we need to have a safety net to allow folks like him to live out the rest of their lives in dignity.

      •  good argument for SS/medicare (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvaire, worldlotus, akeitz, fhcec, Ian H

        starting in the 50s for these people.

        •  My theory is that age discrimination is linked (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus, NoMoreLies, Ian H

          I have a hunch that a majority of age discrimination is linked to our crazy means of insurance via your employer.  If medicare reached down to age 50 IMO we'd see more employers willing to hire folks over age 50.

          My relative lost his insurance in 2009 and has only been able to get contract positions that had no benefits since.  Now it makes more financial sense IMO for them to call it a career though I think there's lots of work in his profession that he could be doing if someone would hire him and overlook the fact that he is no longer allowed to drive.

    •  That's why we need to look very closely (4+ / 0-)

      at what happened in the 30s, and see what we can learn.

      1)  The left was larger, better organized and utilized powerful language.

      2)  We need to look at the language they used, cuz a lot of it is no longer being used, and needs to be.

      3)  There was almost as much talk about monetary policy as their was fiscal policy (or lack thereof).  People need to understand what money IS better, and what type of money we have.  

      We have fiat money, not commodity money (went off the gold standard nationally in 1933, and internationally in 1972).  Fiat allowed FDR to create jobs programs, just as it helped Lincoln win the Civil War.

      Fiat = money created at will from nothing.  And nothing backs it's value but laws.

      We have fiat money and the deficit is a fiat record of our fiat money.  As such it doesn't signal a debt.

      Google Modern Monetary Theory if you'd like to learn more.

  •  It was obvious that Reagan's policies (27+ / 0-)

    would turn the US into a third world country, and they did.

    We should view the Owners as colonialist exploiters who have conquered us -- because that is exactly what they are.

    Now we have to take back everything they have stolen.

  •  The worst part? (16+ / 0-)

    We need all hands on deck in order to solve the problems facing us. The ongoing waste of human potential is beyond the pale.

    The dire straits facing America are not due poor people having too much money

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:16:12 AM PST

  •  American Indians (25+ / 0-)

    particularly those living on reservations, tend to be the poorest Americans. For additional information about poverty on the reservations see:

    Indians 101: Reservation Poverty

  •  How do we address the macro problem.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winsock, worldlotus

    The world's central banks [most notably ours] have permanently broken the link between what is produced and the money supply in order to provide 'leverage'.  But w/out this leverage wage arbitrage would mean virulent dislocation in developed economies.

    For instance, a house in America costs $100-300 sq ft based on a 8 ft 2x4 at $2/per and a 3/4" sheet of CDX at $24/per plus labor equal to the cost of materials.  But if wages were set at the world rate the $2-500,000 US house would be worth half or even as low as 1/10th of what it is now.  Indeed, few large houses would be built because people would live in 100 sq feet as opposed to 500-1000 sq feet/person.

    It would be a fundamentally different economy--more 'equal', but not a $16 trillion economy.

    The game central banks have played is to cram so much $$ into the world economy that the super wealthy can still gain despite the fact that the rest of the world is slowly rising.  Americans are feeling the effects, but not nearly as much as they would if the money supply weren't inflated.  We're like frogs slowly being boiled.

    My best guess was a reflection that did not look back, an image lost in every mirror.

    by Zacapoet on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:19:34 AM PST

  •  One caveat: the dual economy (6+ / 0-)

    From my work several years as a tax preparer in a poor area of the city, I'd like to offer one caveat. Some of the people in this category are what they appear to be -- and the fact that they're showing up at a day-labor site is good evidence of that.

    In my experience, however, many have a significant source of cash income; it's just not the kind you report to anyone, especially not the food stamps agency or the IRS (or unemployment bureau, disability office, or SSDI). We have created huge incentives for both employers and employees to lie, employers to avoid paying workers' comp and unemployment premiums (and soon, healthcare), employees to get the maximum public benefits/freebies.

    Babysitting (sometimes long hours every week), construction work on a cash basis, hairdressing, gambling (numbers running), prostitution, drug dealing, whatever. I used to push people who showed under $4,000 in total income and claimed to be supporting 3 or 4 people on it -- tried to convince them that whatever they were actually doing, if it showed up as "earned income" they'd be eligible for the earned income credit and all sorts of tax benefits. I couldn't get anyone to fess up. I documented in my file the fact that I'd asked, and had told them that the IRS might review the return and ask for additional information, and then filed the return based on what they told me.

    The same was true of people collecting unemployment, BTW, but who told me not to try calling them at home during the day. That's a red flag for "working under the table and not reporting it."

    And in some cases it looked very much like the woman and kids were presenting themselves as zero income, and getting food stamps, and another adult in the household was bringing in very good money (in the $60,000 range, sometimes) that wasn't being reported on the food stamp application either.

    Call me a cynic (just don't call me a Republican) -- I don't necessarily blame people for doing what they have to do to get a total of enough to live on, and the wealthy certainly don't set good examples. But I'm reluctant to base policy demands and recommendations on numbers that seem to me full of very dodgy accuracy/reporting issues.  

    •  Well (9+ / 0-)

      The government spends a lot of time and money studying welfare fraud. The conclusion is that very little exists. People actually are poor, it seems.

      I'd say that it's more likely that the poor are underserved than the opposite. Just one factor of this is the huge number of undocumented immigrants in this country, many working for low or even sub-minimum wage jobs, who don't have access to government assistance.

      Anyway, I read somewhere that unemployment fraud is somewhere in the 1% range. Food stamp fraud is even lower.

      At some point, the amount of fraud is so low that it becomes more expensive to try to detect and prosecute it, than it does to actually pay it.

      "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

      by bink on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:25:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not necessarily welfare fraud... (5+ / 0-)

        ...as it is tax avoidance.  I've known people who do construction work for cash, and their goal is simply to avoid taxes, not to gain eligibility for government aid.

        Aside from that, some of the "job categories" listed (drug dealing, number running, prostitution) by Rugbymom aren't exactly legal, which means that there's a powerful incentive to avoid reporting income when doing so could make one subject to criminal prosecution.

        For that matter, another category that is ignored in these statistics is someone who returns to school and is living out of savings while completing their degree program.  I was in that category for a couple years, myself.  Yes, this is often driven by economic calamity in the form of losing another job...but it isn't really accurate to say that someone who is living out of savings while earning a degree is living on "less than $2/day".  

        There's real problems in the US with income inequality, poverty, and associated problems -- but that doesn't mean that we want to engage in sloppy analysis that might end up misrepresenting the nature or scope of the problem.

        Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

        by TexasTom on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:42:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Curious about this: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alice kleeman
      In my experience, however, many have a significant source of cash income; it's just not the kind you report to anyone, especially not the food stamps agency or the IRS (or unemployment bureau, disability office, or SSDI)
      If they did not tell you, how did you know this?
  •  Through Our Government ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon, nolagrl, worldlotus

    We do for the rich what we won't do for ourselves. What is wrong with us?

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:21:10 AM PST

  •  This is so heartbreaking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, worldlotus, corvaire

    This situation would never be allowed in other countries.  What a monument to selfishness and greed our economic system is!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:21:41 AM PST

  •  And I was shocked when I found out many people in (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, worldlotus, Don midwest, Ian H

    India live on only $1 a day.

    The 1% have created a whole society of people living on the margin.

    The wealthy don't want to provide health insurance to their employees and then don't want to pay the taxes for the government to provide health care for their workers. And then employers want to cut minimum wage so how is the employee able to afford to buy health insurance themselves?

  •  "Rebuild our economy at every level" (5+ / 0-)

    What exactly does that mean?  Tearing down present economic structures?  Which ones?  Enacting new laws?  Besides the raising the minimum wage, what kinds of laws?  Reforming markets?  Which markets; how?

    I'm not trying to be cute or negative or hopeless.  I genuinely don't know what to ask for - to demand - from political leaders.  God knows, business and corporate leaders and investors aren't going to give up the way things are just because we want those things to be different.

    All I can think of is to keep raising taxes on the people with all the money until they find it more palatable to spend their money on workers rather than having it confiscated by the government.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:22:23 AM PST

    •  And, SueDe, isn't that exactly the situation that (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      offgrid, ichibon, worldlotus, kyril, SueDe

      obtained during the Eisenhower years?  The income tax then was what, 91 percent on the really rich?

      And as far as I know--I was too young to pay much attention at the time--the country as a whole was prosperous from 1952 to 1960.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:25:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's because the idea of killing off rents (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, SueDe

        seeking was still common in political discourse.

        Now it's not.

        •  Not only is it not common in today's (5+ / 0-)

          political discourse, it's so uncommon that I have no idea what that phrase even means.  I can look it up, and I will; but I consider myself to be quite aware politically -- hell, I spend hours every day reading DKos, the NY Times and other on-line political sites. (I'm retired and happy to be able to do so.)

          The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

          by Alice Olson on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:57:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Google fee lunch, rentier, rent seeking, (0+ / 0-)

            Michael Hudson does a great job reminding us what these terms are, their history and meaning.

            •  In earlier form, it was known as rent farming, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              katiec

              an occupation into which my forebears were forced, and then for which they were persecuted and evicted from various states.  

              Most of the ills that plague the world today have been with us since first we crawled out of our caves or climbed out of our trees, perhaps earlier.  All we can do is keep trying to improve the world, and hope that one day we'll succeed.

                 

    •  Come now, we don't need to rebuild at EVERY level (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alice Olson, corvaire, alice kleeman

      because one level, at least, is doing just fine. We need to rebuild the economy at all the other levels, and hold the corrupt and simply selfish members of that one level accountable for its actions and the resulting consequences to society.

      I'm amazed by people's courage and kindness in the face of everything and life.

      by LaraJones on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:54:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  First is to realize how a new dollar gets put into (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      circulation.

      What the deficit actually is.  Cuz it's not a household debt.

      Then demand direct fiscal action into the real economy.

      That's what happened in the thirties, and what type of money thing would be best was much talked about.

      So FDR took us off the gold standard for national accounting.

      Nixon took us off in 1972.

      Now we have a fiat currency.

      And this means the deficit does not signal a debt.

  •  A little labor history from an article posted on (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, kyril, Don midwest

    Huff Post:

    http://www.nsfwcorp.com/...

    It will be a long, hard, battle to win back prosperity for American's workers.  Who will be the leaders and their supporters?  Who will dare to stand up for "we the people"?

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:26:23 AM PST

  •  I'm so glad I'm not just now (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, worldlotus, Alice Olson, kyril

    starting my working life. I wonder what my two grandsons will face when they begin theirs.
    The oldest is a first year university student, and is thinking of a career in law enforcement, which may not be a bad decision: With more and more poor people, the rich will need more protection from the unwashed masses.
    I just hope I'm not one of those he'll have to arrest.

    Severely Socialist

    by ichibon on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:28:32 AM PST

  •  Nationalize big banks. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle, Alice Olson

    That's a start, look at taking over the corporations that manufacture offshore, bring vital industries home, tax the hell out of the bastards that are destroying workers by moving offshore. Get the US out of trade agreements such as NAFTA that are screwing workers here.
    Socialism works when done right.

    Severely Socialist

    by ichibon on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:43:55 AM PST

  •  We need to tax the rich (3+ / 0-)

    a lot more. Not just the piddling few percent that we'd get by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, but raising taxes on the wealthy by 20, 30 or 40%. Tax all forms of income the same.

    This is NOT a matter of fairness; it's a matter of what is best for the country and its citizens. We should stop the talk of asking the rich to pay their "fair share" and start talking about maximizing the well-being of our country.

    Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:52:23 AM PST

    •  We need to tax free lunches and untax labor and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alice Olson, alice kleeman

      industry.

      •  That's a bit cryptic; could you elaborate? n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus

        Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

        by Tim DeLaney on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:32:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Money making money doesn't require either (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alice Olson

          labor nor industry.

          Capital gains is crap.

          And everyone keeps buying it.

          The Value Added Tax is the most regressive tax America has ever had.

          The patent industry is patenting 1s and 0s (computer code) and soon will be patenting DNA.  

          No one ever has made the numerical system nor DNA.

          Nor land.  

          Michael Hudson has a lot to say about free lunches.

        •  The idea of a free lunch is old, but has been (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alice Olson

          removed from our vocabulary, as witness by you needing to ask what it is.

          It used to be widely talked about, and to be once again.

          The left is loosing because they've lost their history, and their language.

          Now the poor are moochers, and the rent seekers are job creators, though they make money without working for it.

          •  I'm sorry, but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            worldlotus

            Your communication skills are wanting.

            I didn't ask what a free lunch is. I just don't understand the concept of levying a tax on a metaphor. A figure of speech cannot pay taxes.

            The poor are moochers? Do we inhabit the same galaxy? Are you under the delusion that people choose poverty in order to get something for nothing? What kind of sense can that make?

            I don't understand your viewpoint.

            Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

            by Tim DeLaney on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:50:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, I'm saying that we've lost the language (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Alice Olson

              wars.

              If the left could get the phrase "rent seeker", "the don't work for their wealth, they just get free lunches", then we wouldn't being having this  stupid debate about whether a person who makes capital gains on the hording of land and money is actually making anything at all.

              Cuz they're not.  They're making money from hording, not working.

          •  It used to be widely talked about, and needs to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Alice Olson

            be once again....  I forgot "needs" in that sentence.

    •  Obama tax increases on the wealthy... (7+ / 0-)

      ...are quite substantial.

      Consider that the extremely wealthy make most of their income from investments, not from labor.

      For capital gains, all of Obama's proposals will increase the tax rate from 15% to 23.8%, which is a 58.7% increase.

      For dividend income, the increase is even greater, going from 15% all the way up to 43.4%, which is close to tripling the tax rate.

      The bottom line is that the extremely wealthy could see their tax bills going up by 50% or more.

      We tend to get distracted by the top marginal tax rate on earned income, but that rate really has less impact on the extremely wealthy than do the rates on investment income.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:46:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is more. (5+ / 0-)

    So much more.

    Medical. When you are poor beyond reason, the prospect of receiving adequate medical care is completely lost.

    We know the drill by now. Simply go to the ER and life is fine right? Yeah right.

    For no other reason other than the fact that these human beings were born into the United States, they will not receive the proper medical care that by all accounts is a gawd given right.

    Suffering the indignity of poverty, scrapping for a nutritious meal, wanting to see a doctor, yet knowing there is no way in hell it is going to happen. In the end, more pain and suffering. A travesty beyond measure that this is the way we care for our fellow Americans.

    The statistics are sickening.

    "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis Brandeis

    by wxorknot on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:52:45 AM PST

  •  how can anyone survive (5+ / 0-)

    on $ 2 a day?

    I can't take it in.  It doesn't even sound like slow death; it sounds like quick death.

    We need to remake everything; everything.

    When will people be ready?

    Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

    by BlueDragon on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:53:00 AM PST

  •  Constantly changing work schedules (9+ / 0-)

    Two of my grandchildren work retail, one for a pharmacy and one is a burger flipper.  They are both in their early 20's and would prefer to work full-time.  They get minimum wage and no benefits, and only get assigned 5-25 hours a week. In addition, when they work varies; the days and times change every week -- one week they may work M-Tu-Wed 9-12 AM, the next week it could be Thu-Sat 8-11 PM.  No way can they get a second or third job to try to hobble together enough work to live on.

    Why do store managers do that?  I can see why they might need to alter the number of hours, but why do they have to change the days and time of day an employee works?  

  •  After the Bubonic Plague ravished (10+ / 0-)

    the population in the middle ages, there were more assets to go around and wages went up (until aristrocrats wrote laws preventing workers from moving about looking for better paying work).

    Absent a Plague, perhaps arranging to kill off as many of the useless aged and the lesser sorts of people would be the way to improve the economy. At least, that's what I suspect some "Big Picture" people are thinking, though they might say this to each other only in private papers and meetings.

    What it appears that NOBODY in our political elite is thinking about is creating jobs as the most urgent priority of the nation. And those who do care at all, seem to think some Rube Goldbergesque strategy of feeding the organized crime outfits we call "bankers will" lead to that. Despite all the evidence proving the contrary.

    So the important question is: How exactly do we get them to focus? And we're going to need to do something much more urgently than just getting more and better Democrats someday.


    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:04:37 AM PST

    •  Thank you Jim P for this: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alice Olson, corvaire, Jim P
      What it appears that NOBODY in our political elite is thinking about is creating jobs as the most urgent priority of the nation.
      And especially this:
      So the important question is: How exactly do we get them to focus? And we're going to need to do something much more urgently than just getting more and better Democrats someday.
      How???  It is bipartisan-poverty, hunger, joblessness or underemployment or no healthcare is not just affecting dems...
      •  thank you worldlotus! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus

        usually I post a comment, and can't help trying to be witty and entertaining, and the point gets missed by other commenters.

        You high-lighted exactly the purpose of the comment.

        And there we are:

        Is there really no way for DailyKos to take the lead in mobilizing the entire blogosphere to beat down the usual Beltway Bullshit and get these vainity-ridden, crooked, and/or severely distracted fools to set some priorities suitable for a democracy for a change?

        Someone has to take this step, and if it's between me and Kos/Front-Pagers, it's going to be... well, I'm an anonymous nobody.


        The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

        by Jim P on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 12:56:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  overheard in Bangkok (5+ / 0-)

    "Eat your fish. There are millions of starving children in the United States."

    The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers. - The Communist Manifesto

    by nolagrl on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:05:08 AM PST

  •  The left is failing, in part because they've (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, alice kleeman

    drinking the kool aid.

    The left needs to have a better grasp of both what type of money the world uses now, it's not a commodity money, it's a fiat money -- money out of thin air.  Money has exactly notional value now.  

    Notional value is a notation in an accounting ledger.  It accounts for how many money things have been created out of thin air and placed into the private sector.

    The US creates it's fiat, it owns it.  Greece does not create it's fiat, it rents it.

    The US cannot run out of points on a computer screen.

    Greece can run out of Euros, cuz it doesn't create the Euro, it rents it.

    The US Deficit = all dollars in the private sector.  If you were to pay the Deficit down to 0, you'd have 0 dollars in the private sector.

    As such, the deficit does not signal a debt.

    So the left is failing in not understanding both our monetary system and the way in which we keep track of our money things -- national  accounting.

    Until there's better understanding, people will wonder how we can afford to make things better.

    It's never an affordability issue.  It's only always an inflation vs deflation issue.

    The 99% are experiencing deflation -- they need more money (inflation).  The 1% are wildly inflated, both in dollar money and credit money.

    Secondly, the left is failing to understand the relationship between the Treasury and the Fed Reserve, and how a free liquidity point becomes a dollar.

    They need to understand this.  And quick.

    •  I'm thinking it is not just the "left" failing to (0+ / 0-)

      understand or who "drank the kool aid"

      I'm also thinking that the millions of people living in dire poverty understanding your comments will bring them any relief.  No matter how "quick they need to understand this".

      And this:

      Until there's better understanding, people will wonder how we can afford to make things better
      Since you know & understand these things, surely economists & those in power do as well.  

      Those of us not in the position to actually apply this understanding to make things better have no recourse-no matter how quickly we understand-now do we?

      •  Look, I'm not sure I understand your comment. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus, alice kleeman

        However, no, I'm not sure many people in power know this stuff.  Cuz most congress critters aren't particularly smart or educated about economics.

        There's a youtube video of Alan Greenspan trying to explain to Paul Ryan that, because money is merely a mark on a computer screen, money is not the issue when it comes to Social Security.  Rather it's the real economy, real resources, that are the issue.

        Ryan didn't get it.

        The left needs to.

        Does understanding create a magic wand?  Of course not.

        But when the left doesn't understand what type of money we have, then they can't  demand reasonable policy solutions.

        They can't ask the right questions.  Like:

        Given the US can never go broke, is the deficit too large, or too small, or just right?

        Given the unemployment figures the answer is:  The deficit is too small.

        Unemployment should be targeted, and let the deficit float.  The poor and middle class being asked to "pay their fair share to bring the deficit down" is sad.  It needs to be bigger, not smaller.

        Google Modern Monetary Theory if you'd like to learn more about fiat money and national accounting practices.

        •  Thank you katiec; especially this: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alice kleeman, katiec
          But when the left doesn't understand what type of money we have, then they can't  demand reasonable policy solutions.

          They can't ask the right questions. Like:

          Given the US can never go broke, is the deficit too large, or too small, or just right?

          Given the unemployment figures the answer is:  The deficit is too small.

          Unemployment should be targeted, and let the deficit float.  The poor and middle class being asked to "pay their fair share to bring the deficit down" is sad.  It needs to be bigger, not smaller.

          Google Modern Monetary Theory if you'd like to learn more about fiat money and national accounting practices.

          Scary this whole bit (& the implications):
          However, no, I'm not sure many people in power know this stuff.  Cuz most congress critters aren't particularly smart or educated about economics.
  •  I hate reading stuff like this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, worldlotus, corvaire

    I had to go look it up and found out that I'm 3k a year below poverty level. Now I really feel poor. Actually, I felt poor before but this is just rubbing it in.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:33:29 AM PST

  •  How does a dollar get made? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alice kleeman

    Imagine there's no dollars at all in existence.  This is how 1 dollar gets into the private sector:

    We have a fiat currency -- money created out of thin air.  It's no longer backed by a unit of gold or any other commodity thing/object.  Fiat is NO object.  It's an accounting of how many dollars are issued, it's NOT the dollar itself.  

    Ok, so no dollars in the private sector.  How does one get there?

    The Congress says, raise the debt ceiling, we need a dollar in the private sector.

    The Fed Reserve says, ok.  It then marks up the account at one of the few private banks that deal in reserves.  The bank makes a bond,  and then sells the bond.  Someone buys the bond for $1.  If the Fed Res buys it back, it credits the account Treasury has at the Fed Res.

    And the Fed prints a dollar bill.  Thus, the first ever dollar bill is now in the private sector.

    Deficit = every dollar in the private sector, to a penny.

    Deficit = $0 = $0 in the private sector.

    Thus the deficit does not signal a debt to be paid to $0.

  •  $2/day isn't poverty, it's not even survival... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvaire, Hohenzollern, worldlotus

    ...it's certainly not "living".  I cannot even imagine.

    And there are as many people living on $2000/day.

    This is so wrong and immoral IMO.

    We are not talking India or Haiti or Afghanistan here.  We are talking America.

    And what are these people supposed to do?  Die?  

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 12:00:58 PM PST

  •  Eat cholesterol. It's good for you. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hohenzollern

    Get all you can chew on $2 a day. it's called meat scraps.

    “Cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease. Nothing wrong with saturated fats.”

    -- Rush Limbaugh, March 8, 2011

    So there. Silly Libruls....

    "We have nothing to apologize for." NRA 12/14/2012

    by bontemps2012 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 12:04:21 PM PST

  •  I only know one family (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hohenzollern, Don midwest, worldlotus

    who is not 1 - 2 paychecks away from the street.  And they inherited their money.  Everyone else is close.  I "joke" that I have our overpass already picked out in case I lose my job.  I am the breadwinner for my family, and now I have cancer.  But, stress is bad for cancer... but now I'm meandering again...

  •  Here is the money, here is a start on a program (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, alice kleeman, NoMoreLies

    Specifically, DSA (Democratic Socialists of America)  advocates that Congress pass legislation to:

    1. Restore all the automatic cuts to the domestic discretionary budget. These cuts would deny WIC nutrition to 750,000 mothers and children, eliminate Title I funding for 1.8 million low-income school children and would deny 734,000 households home heating assistance. In addition, it would cut financing of all federal regulatory agencies by 10%.

    2. Reauthorize federal funding of extended unemployment insurance. Otherwise, on January 1, 1.5 million unemployed workers and their dependents will lose their unemployment benefits.

    3. Restore the improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Care Credit that have reduced the tax burden on the middle and working classes. To preserve the purchasing power that would be lost by an end to the 2% FICA payroll tax cut, reintroduce the 2009 Recovery Act refundable tax credit of $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families earning under $110,000.

    4. Abolish the Bush tax cuts on the top 2% and tax capital gains and stock dividends at the same rate as earned income. Increase effective corporate taxation through the elimination of corporate tax loopholes and corporate “tax expenditures.”  These reforms would yield $275 billion in additional annual revenue. In addition, instituting a “Robin Hood Tax” could net another $300 billion in annual revenues. (This financial transaction tax is a small sales tax , for example, 0.25 % on all trading in stocks and debt instruments such as bonds, derivatives, and futures.
    5. Make major cuts in our bloated defense budget, while creating a public jobs program that trains the unemployed to rebuild infrastructure, creates an alternative energy grid and expands mass transit.  

    6. Extend and strengthen Social Security for future generations, funding enhancements by progressively lifting the cap on earned income subject to the FICA tax and extending it to income derived from capital.

    7. Progressively extend and strengthen Medicare/Medicaid, until it covers U.S. residents of all ages, while installing effective cost controls.
    Duane Campbell

  •  there is a lot of propaganda out there (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    and a lot of people who buy into it.

    an important piece of that is the RW '47% of the country are lazy moochers' meme.
    and its ALL OBAMA'S FAULT.
    somehow.
    the somehow is never explained.

    but it has to do with the welfare state creating dependency and destroying moral fiber etc. and we all know that Obama created and massively expanded the welfare state the moment he was inaugurated, and that in turn is solely and completely responsibly for the national debt and the deficit which will destroy "America as we know it™"....
    yeah, right...

    most of the 1% believe it no matter what.
    most of the 'angry white guys' believe it no matter what.
    (I'm one that doesn't btw, but that's another argument...)
    and they're not the only ones...

    here's a prime example:

    http://rabbipruzansky.com/...

    got this Rabbi's 'insightful' and 'true' article forwarded to me by my cousin. I usually ignore those or send back a link to snopes or something debunking them but this one really pissed me off so I found the guy's site.

    I posted several replies attempting to rebut his "argument" that were never approved for posting.

    they don't want to hear it. they won't hear it.

    how do we break thru "The Big Lie?"

    the first step is realizing we have a problem, the 2nd step is identifying the problem. ironically 47% of the country (who voted for Mittens) refuse to do that.

    we've got a hard road to get to steps 3 and 4:
    deciding what to do about it which we can all agree on
    and then implementing it effectively.

    no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

    by srfRantz on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 02:20:40 PM PST

    •  Exactly, srfRantz! HOW? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      srfRantz
      they don't want to hear it. they won't hear it.

      how do we break thru "The Big Lie?"

      the first step is realizing we have a problem, the 2nd step is identifying the problem. ironically 47% of the country (who voted for Mittens) refuse to do that.

      Yep:
      we've got a hard road to get to steps 3 and 4:
      deciding what to do about it which we can all agree on
      and then implementing it effectively.
      •  I've been trying to focus the discussion on that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus

        on Kos and other Liberal/Progressive sites for a long time. sometimes I get tired of beating my head against the wall.

        I guess its a whole lot easier to just point and laugh at them, or just hate them, or just write them all off.

        and yes, trying to get thru to 'them' is like beating your head against a wall too, so I understand wanting to stop trying...
        but really its our only chance. we have to keep trying.

        its not enough to point out the lies and the bullshit they spew for what it is. we do that well.

        we need to get our message, and the Truth, out there as effectively as they are getting The Big Lie(s) out there over and over and over again.

        can we talk about how to do that?
        and then maybe start doing it?

        no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

        by srfRantz on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:54:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Deeply Depressing (0+ / 0-)

    Deeply disturbing.

    But hardly a surprise in a country that spent the last thirty to forty years shipping wealth-producing jobs out of the country.

    When I talk about how we have a choice between bringing up standards in other countries or descending to third-world status here, I imply this might happen in the future. But clearly the third-world economy is already starting at the bottom here and working its way up.

  •  Canada- Surprising study of income inequality (0+ / 0-)

    Canadians have been getting used to believing that income inequality and had been rising at the fastest rate in the G8 countries, and that wealth transference to the top few percent had been accelerating. A surprising new study now reveals this is not the case.

    The evidence appears to suggest that during the recession the continuing health of Canada's economy, its healthy employment picture, declining poverty, regulations on banks which protected homeowners and borrowers - all of this gave economic stability.

    Here is the full story. The reporter's grandfather was James Coyne, who died recently at 102, distinguished public servant, principled Governor of the Bank of Canada who stood up to a Prime Minister.

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/...

    Here is the link to the whole TD study
    http://www.td.com/...

    "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage " Ontario

    by ontario on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:43:42 PM PST

  •  Failed economy... interesting framing. (0+ / 0-)

    Great piece here. Thanks.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 03:47:30 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site