Welp, that’s fucked up
I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.
…a UBI would not dramatically overhaul society. The basic institutions that make up our economic and social structure — private property, capitalist markets, etc. — would remain entirely intact. No new basic institutions would be added either: the government would collect tax revenue, which it already does, and disperse benefits, which it also already does. Compared to actual utopian ideas, a UBI is actually quite modest in what it does and does not change.
There is no single jurisdiction in the U.S. where a minimum wage worker can afford the fair market rent for a home.
At the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies last week, there was a new call for pediatricians to address childhood poverty as a national problem, rather than wrestling with its consequences case by case in the exam room.
Poverty damages children’s dispositions and blunts their brains. We’ve seen articles about the language deficit in poorer homes and the gaps in school achievement. These remind us that — more so than in my mother’s generation — poverty in this country is now likely to define many children’s life trajectories in the harshest terms: poor academic achievement, high dropout rates, and health problems from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, substance abuse and mental illness.
Recently, there has been a lot of focus on the idea of toxic stress, in which a young child’s body and brain may be damaged by too much exposure to so-called stress hormones, like cortisol and norepinephrine. When this level of stress is experienced at an early age, and without sufficient protection, it may actually reset the neurological and hormonal systems, permanently affecting children’s brains and even, we are learning, their genes.
Toxic stress is the heavy hand of early poverty, scripting a child’s life not in the Horatio Alger scenario of determination and drive, but in the patterns of disappointment and deprivation that shape a life of limitations.
At the meeting, my colleague Dr. Benard P. Dreyer, professor of pediatrics at New York University and a past president of the Academic Pediatric Association, called on pediatricians to take on poverty as a serious underlying threat to children’s health. He was prompted, he told me later, by the widening disparities between rich and poor, and the gathering weight of evidence about the importance of early childhood, and the ways that deprivation and stress in the early years of life can reduce the chances of educational and life success.
“After the first three, four, five years of life, if you have neglected that child’s brain development, you can’t go back,” he said. In the middle of the 20th century, our society made a decision to take care of the elderly, once the poorest demographic group in the United States. Now, with Medicareand Social Security, only 9 percent of older people live in poverty. Children are now our poorest group, with almost 25 percent of children under 5 living below the federal poverty level.
I know someone personally who also compared a higher minimum wage to a handout. This is a good sign of our times when a living wage is considered a “handout for doing nothing.” - zenodotus5
And minimum-wage workers are the hardest workers in America. I’ve worked minimum-wage jobs, and I’ve worked part-time jobs that pay barely above minimum wage. I’ve also worked well-paid desk jobs.
Compared to waiting tables and scrabbling at startups? White-collar jobs are a vacation. You’re not docked pay if you come in late. You take lunch whenever you want. You sit in front of a computer all day. Your legs don’t feel like cement pillars by the time you get home because you’ve been standing for so long. When you’re sick, you can take a day off without worrying about whether you’ll make rent. You can afford to take a vacation and relax for a few days. You can afford to visit your family at the holidays. You can afford to replace your car when it breaks down. This is paradise.
And there are fewer and fewer jobs like this in America, and more and more minimum-wage jobs that require physical labor and dealing with customers and not having benefits or health insurance, and the least - the VERY least - that we can do as a society is make sure that people who work those jobs, or two or three of those jobs, don’t have to struggle to pay for food and housing. Minimum-wage workers aren’t “doing nothing.” They’re achieving record-breaking corporate profits for their CEOs. They’re doing EVERYTHING.
“American Dream”: Food loaded into Dumpsters while Hundreds of Hungry Americans Restrained by Police
Hundreds of poor people waiting outside of a closed grocery store for the possibility of getting the remaining food is not the picture of the “American Dream.” Yet on March 23, outside the Laney Walker Supermarket in Augusta, Ga., that is exactly what happened.
Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.
The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”
And what would be more likely to cause a riot? Hungry, desperate people denied the food they were told they would receive, or distribution of said food? I’d be tempted to say that this is capitalism at its most dysfunctional, but it’s actually functioning as it is supposed to here. If a commodity can’t turn a profit for a capitalist, the capitalist is encouraged by the profit motive to dispose of the good quickly. As the author, Sarah Carlson, writes:
In a capitalist society, the motive behind the production of food is not to feed people, housing is not made to give them shelter, clothing is not made to keep them warm, and health care is not offered primarily to keep people healthy. All of these things, which are and should be viewed as basic rights, are nothing other than commodities—to be bought and sold—from which to make a profit. If a profit cannot be made, usually due to overproduction in relation to the market, the commodity is considered useless by the capitalist and destroyed.
Disgusting and heartbreaking. This is not an economic crisis — this is economic violence.
this makes me want to break shit.
People who think that no one uses welfare/food stamps to actually buy things they need can tell that to my hungry 11 year old self who wouldn’t have had decent lunches or meat (at all) without government assistance.
Oh, and who might have gone hungry if there had been drug testing involved. Thanks. I’m glad that you know more about my life than I do! If only I had realized sooner that my mom wasn’t really buying food with that money! I mean, I don’t know what she was doing with it, since our lives were fucking awful at that point and we had a grand total of zero luxuries (I shared a room with my mom! In the basement of my grandma’s condo! I did laundry for the whole house to earn enough dimes to buy myself sodas and candy!), but really, please, enlighten me.
Also, as a child of a drug addict, this law fucking terrifies me. The idea that some kid who is trying to cope with having an addict for a parent (not always easy) also might go hungry or without new clothes or whatnot because some privileged assholes think poor people have to be suffering saints to qualify for help literally makes me cry to think about.
YAAAS TO ALL OF THIS
All these bullshit “welfare reform” laws that are designed to fix some imaginary problem in the system that doesn’t exist all comes out of the perpetuation of the “welfare queen” stereotype that we love to vilify all the time.
When we think welfare we think poor black woman who’s having babies for extra government benefits who’s really just taking the government handouts to buy drugs, candy or brand new shoes or some shit…
Making laws based off stereotypes is NOT how we combat poverty. Its how we make the issue even worse
Reblogged for commentary
My sister had asked me about drug testing laws a few weeks back and this is the quote I wanted to pull up because it sums up how I feel.
1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.
According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.
2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.
In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.
3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.
The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that’s $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places.
Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.
4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.
After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.
U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They’ve passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.
5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.
That’s enough to pay the salaries of over a million nurses or teachers or emergency responders.
That’s enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN’s World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food.
For the free-market advocates who say “they’ve earned it”: Point #1 above makes it clear how the wealthy make their money.
6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.
Another stat that required a double-check. Based on research by the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes), which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion.
Other sources have estimated that about two-thirds of the annual $850 billion in tax expenditures goes to the top quintile of taxpayers.
7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.
The Insight Center for Community Economic Development reported that median wealth for black and Hispanic women is a little over $100. That’s much less than one percent of the median wealth for single white women ($41,500).
Other studies confirm the racially-charged economic inequality in our country. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.
8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities. Ninety percent of the available benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households.
Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day.
9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.
21- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It’s now less than $4,000.
That $4,000 has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you’re still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt.
With an unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds of almost 50%, two out of every five recent college graduates are living with their parents. But your favorite company may be hiring. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, can pay you about $12 per hour.
10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.
That’s about the same amount of money made by America’s richest 10% in one year. But we all paid for the bailout. And because of it, we lost the opportunity for jobs, mortgage relief, and educational funding.
Bonus for the super-rich: A QUADRILLION DOLLARS in securities trading nets ZERO sales tax revenue for the U.S.
The world derivatives market is estimated to be worth over a quadrillion dollars (a thousand trillion). At least $200 trillion of that is in the United States. In 2011 the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reported a trading volume of over $1 quadrillion on 3.4 billion annual contracts.
A quadrillion dollars. A sales tax of ONE-TENTH OF A PENNY on a quadrillion dollars could pay off the deficit. But the total sales tax was ZERO.
It’s not surprising that the very rich would like to fudge the numbers, as they have the nation.
Saez lays blame for the increasing income inequality in the United States on the attack on so many New Deal and WWII policies, programs and laws made during the FDR administration. The never ending attack on labor, progressive tax policies, social security, wages and low cost education have taken their toll. We could throw into the mix global labor arbitrage, where corporations have an unlimited pool of workers so they consider Americans disposable. Saez seems to believe we could turn this around through government policy. Considering our Congress right at this moment is guaranteeing to harm the economy through sequestration, it does not look like there is much hope of getting real policies passed to return America to her former glory.
We need to decide as a society whether this increase in income inequality is efficient and acceptable and, if not, what mix of institutional and tax reforms should be developed to counter it.
We cannot decide. Large corporations and very rich people decided for us and it’s not good news for economic justice in the United States.
While the minimum wage does need to rise, let’s not kid ourselves about the benefits of raising it a bit over a buck on hour.
Real wages (wages adjusted for inflation) have stagnated in this country over the past 40 years while corporate profits have skyrocketed. The official unemployment rate hovers near 8% while executives are taking home more money than ever before.
The minimum wage should be increased - but that alone will not solve the problems of growing inequality in this country.
Myth #1. Noblesse oblige, the idea that nobility must act nobly, was an effective system for class management in late Victorian England. In Downton Abbey the nobles are incredibly kind to their servants. In one episode, Lady Grantham catches the kitchen staff setting up a soup kitchen (with stores from Downton Abbey) for unemployed WWI veterans. Instead of firing her staff, Lady Grantham offers to help. In another episode, as Lady Grantham is battling the Spanish flu, Lord Grantham starts a series of clandestine make-out sessions with the new maid, a war widow named Jane. She has a smart son but no connections to get him into a good school. Lord Grantham realizes that he cannot continue the affair, and Jane nobly resigns. But not before Lord Grantham gives her some financial and string-pulling aid that will help her son get a good education. In the world of Downton Abbey, servants are cared for, and sometimes even cherished.
But what about the real life English servants who toiled under the staircase in the first quarter of the 20th century? According to a California blogger the gap between rich and poor in England a century ago was frightful. The effects of poverty and malnutrition produced a five-inch difference in average height between rich and poor young men! As for the secret lives of servants, the long running British series Upstairs, Downstairs as well as Downton Abbey were both “inspired” by the real-life memoir of a servant girl, Margaret Powell, born in 1907. Her 1968 best seller, Below Stairs (recently released in the US), gave a much more negative and varied portrait of English employers. In one kind family, like that of Lady and Lord Dowell, servants received gifts of silk underwear at Christmas time. But the servants in Mrs. Hunter-Jones employ were issued thin straw mattresses (not a perk), older servants were “accidently” left out of family wills and left to age with nothing, and female servants were often impregnated by a male member of the employer’s family and cast out. Powell recalls, as one reviewer explains, “how easy it was for the master to manipulate the servant.”
Finally, according to historian Jennifer Newby, the servants on Downton Abbey are far too clean and well rested to approach the standards of historical realism. Most servants of the period had limited access to bathing facilities, and they were forced to work from before dawn until long after dark with few breaks. Instead of getting their own servants’ party on Christmas day (as they are permitted in Downton Abbey), one servant whose diary Newby read described eating Christmas dinner “on the draining board, by the sink (again).”
Myth #2. The class hierarchies in Downton Abbey are a relic of a distant place and time. As a writer for Bitch magazine explained, “what Downton Abbey…offers for the modern viewer is the idea that, today, class differences have been overcome.” Indeed on Downton Abbey the bleak separation between “upstairs” and “downstairs,” the great divide in speech, dress, quarters and manner, seem utterly remote to our American sensibilities. We still believe that in America of all places a child born into a poor or working class family can rise—with relatively frequency—to become rich and famous (or at least middle class). Ironically, however, The New York Times reported just a year ago that social mobility in the United States is lower than it has been in decades and that it is lower in the US than in Canada and all of Western Europe. According to a study from 2006, only eight percent of American men born into the lowest fifth of American society were able to rise to the top fifth, compared to 12 percent in Britain and 14 percent in Denmark.
Myth #3. Americans don’t have servants. First of all, yes we did. In addition to the US being a slave holding society for more than 300 years, many 19th century immigrants to the US worked as servants, as Daniel Sutherland has shown.
And, second, yes we do. The 2010 the Census Bureau reported that there were more than 700,000 nannies alone working in the US, a number which is certainly much smaller than the actual number, since so many domestic workers receive pay “under the table” and/or are undocumented immigrants. According to a shocking 2012 report on the state of domestic workers in the US today, 67 percent of live-in domestic workers are paid below their state’s minimum wage, and nearly half are paid less than is required to support a family. 65 percent do not have health insurance. Many work without contracts, without a day off, and with numerous work-related pain and illnesses—including sleep deprivation. They encounter unreasonable requests from employers, about which they remain silent: “91 percent of workers who encountered problems with their working conditions…did not complain because they were afraid they would lose their job.” These jobs are especially abusive, the report explains, because of the intimate nature of the work. The report described one awful (but not atypical story) of a live-in nanny who was given no bedroom of her own and was forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor—in between the children she cared for during the day.
Yesterday during his inauguration, President Obama said, “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else.” But she does not—not today. In the US we have a large and growing underclass that has virtually no hope of advancement. We have servants that we mistreat as badly as any ruling class has ever done. And the noblesse oblige of Downton Abbey is either an aberration or a complete fiction—perhaps the most remarkable achievement of Julian Fellowes’s vivid, and narratively compelling, imagination. Through Downton Abbey we transport ourselves back to a glorious past that never existed, and, at the same time, we escape from own brutal, unequal, and empire-crumbling present.
If that strikes you as too extreme, consider this. The Earl of Carnarvon, the owner of Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed, and who actively campaigned to have the series filmed there because he needed the money, thinks that people love Downton Abbey because “they miss the feudal system…because the feudal system made people feel secure.” And if that sounds too extreme, consider this. Recently a group of economists determined that Tsarist Russia distributed its wealth more equally than we do in America today.
During the ’70s and ’80s, the introduction of the catalytic converter, combined with increasingly stringent Environmental Protection Agency rules, steadily reduced the amount of leaded gasoline used in America, but Reyes discovered that this reduction wasn’t uniform. In fact, use of leaded gasoline varied widely among states, and this gave Reyes the opening she needed. If childhood lead exposure really did produce criminal behavior in adults, you’d expect that in states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime would decline slowly too. Conversely, in states where it declined quickly, crime would decline quickly. And that’s exactly what she found.
A study I would like to see: what does lead poisoning look like when we take privilege into account? Does a disadvantaged kid turn to petty crime as an adult, but an upper-class kid grows up to become a sociopath banker or hypocrite politician or a corrupt lawyer?
I’d like to see that too. But I wanted to talk about this in the context of the whole article. I think it’s focusing on mainly violent crime, which: I don’t know how the studies defined that, what was included, etc., so I have no idea what is considered violent for the purposes of this article. But it would suggest that both petty crime and white-collar crime would be excluded for this particular hypothesis.
But the article does say very specific things about lead’s effect on the brain: it leads to poor impulse control, poor aggression control, poor emotional regulation, lower IQ (whatever that means), and reduced attention. So what that suggests to me is that violent kids from higher-income families are more likely to have a safety net when they act out their aggression and can’t control their impulses. They’re more likely to be sent to a psychologist or psychiatrist, because their families can afford to do so. If they have poor impulse control when it comes to, say, spending habits or gambling, they’re more likely to know people who can bail them out. Basically: they get more chances.
As the article says:
Needless to say, not every child exposed to lead is destined for a life of crime. Everyone over the age of 40 was probably exposed to too much lead during childhood, and most of us suffered nothing more than a few points of IQ loss. But there were plenty of kids already on the margin, and millions of those kids were pushed over the edge from being merely slow or disruptive to becoming part of a nationwide epidemic of violent crime.
For children like the ones in the Cincinnati study, who were mostly inner-city kids with plenty of strikes against them already, lead exposure was, in Cecil’s words, an “additional kick in the gut.”
Source: Mother Jones
Beyond mockery, though, that the Wall Street Journal would even dare publish such a thing without irony is indicative of the reality that the wealthy don’t live in the same country as the rest of us. Their experience of life, and therefore of public policy, is on an entirely different plane. These are people who take tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of yearly passive investment income for granted and think they earned that money, deserving to pay very low taxes on it. They’re people who see a single individual making $230,000 as struggling to get by, and severely put upon by the loss of a couple thousand dollars to help pay for decrepit infrastructure and basic healthcare for the indigent.
this is incredible. that graphic.