Friday, September 17, 2010

Recession? ... Depression? What is Going On? (Part 5)


Poverty in Canada
The persistence of poverty amid plenty
Nov 25th 2010
Compared with many other developed countries, Canada has had a good financial crisis. Its banks and public finances are sound, and the economy recovered quickly and strongly from recession, even if the pace is now slowing. But there is one sense in which Canada does less well. When it comes to child poverty, it ranks 22nd-worst out of the 31 countries in the OECD, a rich-country grouping. More than 3m Canadians (or one in ten) are poor; and 610,000 of them are children.
The problem is a chronic one. Back in 1989 Parliament unanimously supported a resolution to eliminate child poverty by 2000. Having failed, the politicians last year approved a woolly resolution to do better. This week they were rebuked by Campaign 2000, an activist group, which reported that child poverty is now as bad as it was two decades ago. Earlier this month Food Banks Canada, an association of charities, reported that 900,000 Canadians rely on food handouts, up by 9% on last year. Many are among the country’s 300,000 or so homeless people.
All this is despite long periods of steady growth over the past two decades. But only a third of the poor are in jobs. The rest are mainly single mothers, disabled people, aboriginal Canadians and immigrants. In the 1980s and 1990s these groups suffered cuts in welfare payments (which are too meagre to keep someone above the country’s de facto poverty line) when governments, both federal and provincial, cut public spending to restore fiscal health. One of the keenest slashers was British Columbia, which despite being one of the richest provinces has one of the highest rates of child poverty (10.4%) after taxes on family income. Critics of such policies say that children who grow up in poverty forfeit the chance to prosper as adults, or to become productive workers.
Half a dozen provincial governments, including those of populous Ontario and Quebec, have launched poverty-reduction programmes; many include attempts to prod or help people back into work. Newfoundland, helped by royalties from oil and mining, has cut its poverty rate in half (to 6.5%). Earlier this month, a House of Commons committee urged the federal government to adopt a national strategy. The response of Stephen Harper’s Conservative administration was that the best long-term strategy to fight poverty is “the sustained employment of Canadians”. That is certainly a necessary condition, but is it sufficient? Both the government and its critics might ponder why it is that growth seems to bypass so many.
Hunger in America
By Patrick Martin
Global Research, November 17, 2010
World Socialist Web Site
Some 15 percent of US households, 17.4 million families or about 50 million people, were too poor to buy adequate food last year, according to a new report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). More than a third of these households, with as many as one million children, were missing meals on a regular basis, the study found.
The number of families classified as “food insecure” according to the USDA, which administers the food stamp program, has more than tripled since 2006, before the current economic slump which has brought near double-digit unemployment. Because most people are reluctant to admit they have a problem putting food on the table, particularly when they have children, “food insecurity” was calculated from survey questions about skipping meals or running out of food stamps, combined with comparisons of income and food prices.
Virtually the sole cause of food insecurity in America—the largest producer of agricultural and food products on the planet—is lack of money. The poverty rate has risen sharply over the past three years, with an estimated 50 million people living below the official poverty line, which grossly underestimates the income needed for basic necessities.
Highlighting the significant inequalities in food resource availability across US households, the USDA report noted that the typical food-secure household spent a whopping 33 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition.
In keeping with the Obama administration’s policy of minimizing the depth of the social crisis, the USDA
official who released the report, Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, said the latest hunger survey showed a “stabilization” of the problem compared to the year before. In other words, just as many people were hungry in 2009 as in 2008, as though that represented “progress” rather than making permanent a level of social misery not seen in America for 40 years.
Concannon said the report was a hopeful one, since the number of hungry people did not increase even though the number of unemployed Americans rose sharply from 9 million in 2008 to 14 million in 2009. He credited food stamps and other federal programs for staving off any further increase in hunger. “This report highlights just how critical federal nutrition assistance programs are for American families,” he said.
The number of Americans receiving food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rose to 42.4 million. Another one million children received free or subsidized school lunches daily, while some 400,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers received milk, butter, eggs and other food under the WIC program. All told, one quarter of US households have at least one person receiving food stamps or other food aid. However, 43 percent of food-insecure households were not participating in any of these three programs.
Despite the complacency voiced by the Obama administration official, there is ample reason to believe that
the present nutrition programs, already inadequate to meet the social need, will be further slashed by Congress. The Child Nutrition Act must be reauthorized this year, and the Senate version of the bill cuts more than $2 billion from food stamps in order to pay for the increasing cost of school lunches—essentially robbing children at home in order to feed them in school. Earlier this year, an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless was funded in part by cuts in the food stamp program.
In a society which took seriously the value of human life and the future of its children, the spectacle of 50 million people at risk of hunger, including 17 million children, would be a social emergency. Given that the United States once boasted of its ability to feed the planet, the indifference to the growth of hunger at home is a national scandal.
But in the America of 2010, the news about hunger was relegated to small items on the inside pages of newspapers (A21 in the Washington Post, nothing in the New York Times), and failed to make a splash on the evening news broadcasts, more concerned with the engagement of Britain’s Prince William.
The hunger report provides another dimension for measuring the social irresponsibility, greed and outright cruelty of the US financial aristocracy, which is far more concerned with fattening its own outrageous bank accounts and assets than with alleviating mass suffering in the richest country in the world.
The US Congress began its “lame duck” session Monday, to be followed by a bipartisan summit Thursday between President Obama and congressional Democratic and Republican leaders. The food crisis will not be on the agenda in these discussions. The only hunger being discussed is the truly insatiable craving of the rich for even more wealth.
The Obama administration and the Republicans are currently negotiating the terms for the Democratic Party’s surrender to right-wing demands for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. This will cost $700 billion over the next decade, or $70 billion a year, more than the cost of all federal nutrition programs combined.
Meanwhile, Obama has praised the proposal from the chairmen of his deficit reduction commission to impose drastic cuts in social programs for the elderly and the poor along with lower taxes for the rich and for corporations and higher taxes for the working class. The mantra of the White House, the political establishment and the media is that the American people have been living beyond their means and must accept a reduction in their consumption.
The US ruling elite and both its political parties, the Democrats as well as the Republicans, are indifferent to the growth of hunger and deprivation. Those most intoxicated by “free market” ideology likely regard such social evils as a positive good, since hungry workers are more willing to take any job available, no matter what the wages and conditions. They should be careful what they wish for.
The American ruling class is creating the conditions for an explosion from below that all its servants in the political establishment, the trade unions and the media will be unable to prevent. The most urgent task facing working people is to make the necessary preparations to give the coming movement a revolutionary political character. This means the building of the Socialist Equality Party.
40 Million Americans Subsisting on Food Stamps
By Frosty Wooldridge
September 13, 2010
Congress Imports 180,000 Legal Immigrants Every 30 Days Without Pause: 1.5 Million Annually
A whopping 40 million Americans subsist on stamps, yet the U.S. Congress imports 180,000 legal immigrants every 30 days to add to the number of people dependent on the Federal Government, i.e., your tax dollars. At the same time, those 180,000 immigrants need jobs, homes, medical care, education, food, and assistance.
But, today, 15 million Americans cannot secure a job. At the same time, somewhere between eight to 10 million illegal alien migrants hold down full time jobs. And, according to NBC’s Katie Couric, 13.4 million American children live below the poverty level.
Does anyone see a disconnect here? Does anyone see a complete abrogation of responsibility at the highest levels of government in our country?
Charles Abbot, journalist for Reuters said, “Food stamps are the primary federal anti-hunger program, helping poor people buy food. Enrollment is highest during times of economic distress. The jobless rate is 9.9 percent.”
Why do we suffer 40 million poor people? Look to Congress: insourcing, offshoring and outsourcing of jobs to China, India, Bangladesh and a dozen other third world countries sucked jobs out of America—from car manufacturing, textiles, steel, construction materials, tools and a dozen other goods. At present, America suffers a $700 billion annual trade deficit. Congress makes no changes to halt that situation.
The Agriculture Department said, “39.68 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, were enrolled for food stamps during February, an increase of 260,000 from January. USDA updated its figures on Wednesday.”
"This is the highest share of the U.S. population on SNAP/food stamps," said the anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center, using the new name for food stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). "Research suggests that one in three eligible people are not receiving ... benefits."
Abbot said, “Enrollment has set a record each month since reaching 31.78 million in December 2008. USDA estimates enrollment will average 40.5 million people this fiscal year, which ends Sept 30, at a cost of up to $59 billion. For fiscal 2011, average enrollment is forecast for 43.3 million people.”
Why would sane, rational, educated and reasonable men and women in Congress continue adding 180,000 legal immigrants to our country every 30 days with the figures showing our deepening jobs problems in our own country? Why would anyone allow such travesty against our minorities, our poor, our children and our communities?
What did Americans do to deserve the betrayal of our presidents and Congresses? George Bush stands guilty of a fraudulent war in Iraq, but Barack Obama continues that war with 50,000 troops and notches up the other fraudulent war in Afghanistan with over 100,000 troops.
All the while, Iraq doesn’t want us in their country and neither does Afghanistan. The ridiculous policy that we must chase down terrorists in Afghanistan—when they can train in Somalia, Yemen and a dozen other places—illustrates the absurdity of our government charade.
In a Denver Post article, “Record boost in poverty expected”, 9/12/10, by AP writer, Hope Yen, “…a significant rate increase in poverty to 15 percent. The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Obama’s watch, with the ranks of the work-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.”
We may expect a 20 percent child poverty rates. American Blacks and Latinos suffer higher unemployment rates.
One lady asked, “Why are we doing this to our own citizens?”
Homeless camps sprout up all over the USA. One look at Los Angeles shows progressing signs of John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.”
Nonetheless, Congress happily outsourcings hundreds of thousands of jobs, insources hundreds of thousands of jobs and offshores hundreds of thousands of jobs—to make certain that Americans remain on welfare, stuck in unemployment lines and eat on food stamps.
Meanwhile, our president and Congress keep 40 million Americans subsisting on food stamps. It’s sickening! Know what’s more disgusting, over in Arizona, the voters will return U.S. Senator John McCain back to his seat in Congress and many others like him—and they’re the ones that shoved us into this national nightmare.
Is Congress completely stupid?! Are the American people stupid?! You got that right!
20 Million Americans Unemployed: Case for Immigration Moratorium
By Frosty Wooldridge
March 29, 2010
Part 1: Immigration drives unemployment and undercuts wages in the USA
Let’s face it, immigrants over the past 300 years swarmed this pristine continent with reckless abandon. They crushed the Indians and their way of life. Immigrants built mines, factories, cities and constructed a gargantuan civilization.
“We are a nation of immigrants,” shout those in favor of relentless immigration.
However, you never hear, “We are a nation of 300 million immigrants on our way to 400 million and beyond that, we’re headed to 500 million and then, 600 million. What exactly will we do with 600 million people trying to eat, drink and grow food for survival as resources such as water and oil dwindle?”
Nobody Looks Down the Road to the End Result of Relentless Immigration
In the winter publication of The Social Contract,, notable economist Edwin S. Rubenstein, president of ESR Research, wrote, “The Economic Case for a Moratorium.” Vol.XX, No.2, Winter 2009-10, The Social Contract Quarterly.
In it Rubenstein said of earlier immigration, “In economic terms, immigration was a win-win proposition—benefiting immigrants as well as natives. Our immigration policy reflected this…until the 1920s there were no limits on immigration. Eventually the frontier vanished and American lives became overcrowded. Our physical capacity to absorb new arrivals eroded. Immigration became a zero sum game: the gains accruing to immigrants were more than offset by losses suffered by natives.”
Today, in March 2010, over 20 million Americans cannot procure a job, but the U.S. Congress imports over 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days. At the same time, 35 million, yes, you read that number correctly, 35,000,000 Americans subsist on food stamps because they cannot secure a job. CBS’ Katie Couric reported that 13.4 million American children live in poverty.
Yet, as we import millions of immigrants, they record even more children.
“In 2000, native-born Americans averaged 13 births per 1,000 population, while immigrants averaged more than 28 births per thousands,” said Rubenstein.
Thus, U.S. population projections show this country adding 100 million people in the next 25 years and hit another 38 million in 40 years to reach 438 million by 2050. Does anyone possess an ounce of fright or even terror at those numbers—given the problems we already suffer in 2010 as to water, energy, toxic air pollution, gridlock and crowded cities?
The Crisis of 2007, 2009 in Jobs
“This gargantuan rate of increase since 1965, [100 million people added to USA in 40 years], has led to an immigration disaster that adds an immigration dimension to every public issue—government debts, health care, the housing bubble, crime, school overcrowding and cost of living,” said Rubenstein. “Nowhere is the immigration employment more evident than in employment. Nearly eight million jobs vanished since December 2007. Economists estimated 100,000 new jobs must be created each month just to absorb new labor force entrants.”
Tell me how we can put to work 20 million unemployed American workers by only adding 100,000 jobs monthly when we add 100,000 immigrants every 30 days. As a math teacher, I can tell you unequivocally, it doesn’t add up; it cannot be done; and in the end—it means we are screwing ours own citizens.
“In 2008, 1.1 million new immigrants and 400,000 ‘temporary workers’ were allowed to enter and take up residence in the United States,” said Rubenstein. “Most will receive work permits and look for jobs. This translates to 125,000 new immigrant job seekers per month, 29,000 per week and 4,100 per day. Implication: one year’s worth of legal immigration could easily take most of the 650,000 jobs the Obama Administration claims were saved or created by its stimulus package.”
The Wisdom of a Total Immigration Moratorium
“Perhaps the most compelling reason for a moratorium is to protect native workers from job and wage losses,” said Rubenstein. “Economics 101 teaches that an increase in the supply of labor will reduce the price or wage of labor. Immigrants accounted for nearly 50 percent of the U.S. labor force growth between 1996 and 2000 and as much as 60 percent of the increase between 2000 and 2004.”
In the end, you cannot continue adding workers for less and less jobs. You cannot expect to raise the standard of living for American workers by lowering the wages to reflect the growing numbers of immigrants competing for jobs. You cannot maintain the American Dream if 10 percent of Americans cannot secure a job. Thus, we need a total moratorium on all immigration to give American workers jobs, homes and the ability to sustain America as a viable and sustainable civilization.
Tent Cities: National Coalition For The Homeless Begins New Study Of Encampments
Arthur Delaney
First Posted: 05 March 2010
The National Coalition for the Homeless is undertaking a new project to document the tent city phenomenon across America.
"Tent cities are American's de facto waiting room for affordable and accessible housing," said coalition director Neil Donovan in a statement. "The idea of someone living in a tent (or other encampment) in this country says little about the decisions made by those who dwell within and so much more about our nation's inability to adequately respond to those in need."
Donovan told HuffPost that the coalition originally planned to do a national report, but there were so many encampments when they began their research on the West Coast that they decided to tell the story in pieces.
"We started by doing on-the-ground research where we actually went to tent cities. And when we got there, they said there's one down the road, and then another," he said. "We just started working our way down the coast and realized we just needed to get the report out. The next report is going to be Florida and up the East Coast."
Last Spring, the coalition's report notes, the tent city phenomenon gained national attention after the Oprah Winfrey show featured a report about a growing tent city along the American River in Sacramento, Calif. But even though the media jumped on the idea that the recession was sparking a new wave of tent city living, a closer look reveals that there's nothing new about tent cities in America.
The report provides details on 11 encampments on the upper West Coast, such as the population and regulatory status (many tent cities are sanctioned by local governments).
"Encampments range in structure, size and formality," the report says. "Larger more formal tent cites are often named and better known, but don't represent the majority of tent city structures or residents, found with smaller populations and dimensions. This report and future national reports rely greatly on information provided from the 'field.' We request that readers of this report provide NCH with information about tent cities in their local communities."
Also See:
Recession? ... Depression? What is Going On?
Part 4
02 August 2009
Part 3
19 April 2009
Part 2
02 February 2009
Part 1
06 October 2008