Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Lost Decade

A story in the New York Times a few days ago underscores what a terrible ordeal millions of people in this country have been enduring. Last year another 2.6 million Americans slipped below the poverty line. According to the census bureau, 46.2 million Americans are impoverished, the highest this number has been in 52 years. The percentage of Americans living in poverty (15.1) is the highest it's been since 1993. Household income levels are also down to levels that haven't been seen since 1996.

While these numbers might help Obama make the case for his jobs program, the Republicans will certainly use them to blame the administration for this miserable state of affairs.

Oh, then there's this:
The past decade was also marked by a growing gap between the very top and very bottom of the income ladder. Median household income for the bottom tenth of the income spectrum fell by 12 percent from a peak in 1999, while the top 90th percentile dropped by just 1.5 percent. Overall, median household income adjusted for inflation declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year, to $49,445. That was 7 percent less than the peak of $53,252 in 1999. Part of the income decline over time is because of the smaller size of the American family.
I was talking to somebody last week at a posh wedding reception. This lady and her hubby both work for a living, but amazingly--to me, at least--she doesn't exhibit much concern about the fate of poor people. People who are desperate and sinking. What she does is quote the old Biblical bromide about the poor always being around. Yeah, right. This doesn't do a damn thing for them, but it sure makes the observer comfortable with doing nothing to help them. I hate this kind of hypocrisy; I really do.

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