Escalating the War on Low-Income Families, by Paul Buchheit

Escalating the War on Low-Income Families, by Paul Buchheit

Postby admin » Mon Aug 22, 2016 6:58 pm

Escalating the War on Low-Income Families
by Paul Buchheit
August 21, 2016

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Illinois Governor Rauner recently cut “Meals on Wheels” for seniors and at-risk youth services. Chicago residents were hit with a nearly 13% property tax increase. Some Chicago public schools could face 2017 cutbacks of an incredible 20 percent.

But six of Illinois’ largest corporations together paid ALMOST ZERO state income taxes this year. Full payment of their taxes would have exceeded the $1.1 billion Chicago Public School deficit.

It’s much the same around the nation, as 25 of the largest U.S. corporations, with over $150 billion in U.S. profits last year, paid less than 20% in federal taxes, and barely 1% in the state taxes that are vitally important for K-12 education.

Sticking It To Low-Income Mothers

Because of the missing corporate tax revenue, House Republicans have tried to break even by proposing cuts to programs that are essential to mothers and children, such as Centers for Disease Control health programs, family planning, contraception, and — unbelievably, again! — food stamps. It is estimated that almost two-thirds of the proposed cuts would largely impact low- and moderate-income families.

At the state level, the suffering residents of Louisiana are facing some of the steepest regressive tax increases, along with cuts to vital programs that investigate child abuse and provide pediatric day care. The maternal death rate rose dramatically in Texas after women’s health programs were cut. In Kansas, where a Republican state senator has called Governor Brownback’s lowering of taxes on the rich a “train wreck,” 2017 cuts are targeting universities, Medicaid recipients, and the Children’s Initiatives Fund.

Sending Mental Health Patients to Prison

A 2014 government report found that nearly one in five adult Americans experienced mental illness the year before. Yet in the four years before that report, states cut $5 billion in mental health services and eliminated nearly 10 percent of the nation’s psychiatric hospital beds. Over half of U.S. counties don’t have a single psychiatrist or social worker.

So jail becomes the only option. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, there are 10 times more mentally ill Americans in prisons and jails than in state psychiatric hospitals.

Letting Workers Heal Themselves

In the last 15 years, two-thirds of the states have cut worker’s compensation programs or made it harder to qualify.

With Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Humana backing out of insurance coverage for sick and injured Americans, low-income families are more and more on their own.

Making Education Wait While Corporate Taxes Are Cut

Throughout the nation public K-12 education continues to be cut, even six years after the end of the recession.

Our state leaders are instead handing the money over to corporations. The governors of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Florida have together given away billions in tax breaks while cutting billions in education funding. In the beleaguered state of Illinois, Governor Rauner has combined corporate tax cuts with greatly reduced funding for education and health care. Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool called Rauner’s education plan a “reverse Robin Hood system” in which wealthier school districts get increases, poorer districts get cuts.

Getting Worse?

It may not improve much next year, if House Republicans have their way. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns us about “the most severe budget cuts in modern history in assistance for Americans of limited means. These programs would be cut a stunning $3.5 trillion over ten years, eliminating, by 2026, roughly 40 percent of federal resources for low-income assistance.”

Nothing short of war on the poor.
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Re: Escalating the War on Low-Income Families, by Paul Buchh

Postby admin » Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:50 am

How American life continued to deteriorate in 2016. We're living in an era of suicide in America, in parallel with our era of inequality.
by Paul Buchheit
January 16, 2017

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The reality of the disposable American has been building up in recent years, and new evidence keeps pouring in. Now the potential exists for greater suffering under the rule of a billionaire Cabinet that is far, far removed from average workers and renters and homeowners.

First the “upside” – 5% of us are millionaires

Depending on the source, America has anywhere from 7 million to 13.5 million millionaires – about 5% of U.S. adults, and about a 40% increase in just six years. At the other end, 90% of us have gained NOTHING since 1997, and at least half of us NOTHING since 1980.

New evidence of an overall collapse

Recent studies show America at or near the bottom among developed countries in disposable income poverty, income and wealth inequality, safety net provisions, employment, economic mobility, life expectancy, infant mortality, and the well-being of children. We’ve run the table. The better part of America is equivalent to a third-world country.

Neglecting the most vulnerable among us

We have fallen far as a nation when a half-million of our children under the age of four are taking anxiety drugs, and when the great majority of American families have to spend over 10% of their income just to send their four-year-olds to pre-school. And the “American Dream” for our kids? According to one careful study, they only have about half the chance that they had fifty years ago.

Racist gap-widening

Today just 100 individuals own as much wealth as the entire Black population of America. Even a middle-aged African-American with a graduate degree has only about the same odds of becoming a millionaire as a white person with a high school diploma. The common misperception is that Black youths turn to drugs at a disproportionate rate. Not true. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “drug-use disorders were most prevalent among non-Hispanic Whites, followed by Hispanics, then African Americans.” Yet “racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately incarcerated, especially for drug crimes.”

Finding a stable job is becoming impossible for much of America

We keep hearing about the drop in the unemployment rate. But with nearly two out of every five American adults not even in the labor force, the unemployment rate is more like 30 percent. Partly explaining our employment frustration is a Princeton study which concluded that only 6% of the ten million new jobs created in the past decade were traditional full-time positions, while 94% of them were temporary or contract-based.

Even finding a place to live is impossible for many of us

After a precipitous drop in the number of starter homes around the country, the homeownership rate hit a 50-year low, and the increasing number of “cost-burdened” renters (spending half their incomes on rent) has increased by 50 percent. Two out of every five middle-class households (incomes between 80 and 125 percent of the median) have dropped to lower-class.

According to Pew Research, median household expenses increased by about 25 percent between 1996 and 2014. Income hasn’t budged. Young adults are living with parents to the greatest degree in the modern era, and now the parents themselves (people over 40) are moving back in with THEIR aging parents.

For those Americans with visions of retirement in their heads, the median working-age couple has saved only $5,000 toward that goal, while the “free-market” capitalist solution of the 401(k) pays about $100 a month.

Americans: sick and dying, and killing themselves

Harvard researcher Dr. Samuel Dickman said, “We spend more on medical care than in any other country, and those dollars are increasingly concentrated on the wealthy.” Less fortunate Americans are 15 pounds heavier than in the 1990s, dying from alcoholism at a record rate, and struggling with mental health problems for which treatment facilities have been continually cut, leaving many mentally ill people in jails rather than in psychiatric hospitals.

Finally, most disturbingly, we’re living in an era of suicide in America, in parallel with our era of inequality. Suicide is at its highest level in 30 years. It’s especially high for veterans. War is traumatic and depressing, but so is a return to a deteriorating nation.

Any good news?

Only if the blurred and battered American Dream turns into a progressive 2020 Vision. Only if Americans get beyond their irrational fear of the word ‘social’ and begin to work together to dismantle the plutocracy that rules us. It may take the unrelenting stream of bad news to finally make that happen.
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Re: Escalating the War on Low-Income Families, by Paul Buchh

Postby admin » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:53 am

How 90% of American households lost an average of $17,000 in wealth to the plutocrats in 2016. The obscene transfer of wealth and income to the plutocrats won't end until we demand a return to the Commons, where we work as a society rather than allow predatory plutocratic individuals to control us.
by Paul Buchheit
March 6, 2017

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


America has always been great for the richest 1%, and it’s rapidly becoming greater. Confirmation comes from recent work by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databooks (GWD). The data relevant to this report is summarized here.

The richest 1% extracted wealth from every other segment of society

These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016. While there’s no need to offer condolences to the rest of the top 10%, who still have an average net worth of $1.3 million, nearly half of the wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) came from the nation’s poorest 90% – the middle and lower classes, according to Piketty and Saez and Zucman. That’s over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.

Put another way, the average 1% household took an additional $3 million of our national wealth in one year while education and infrastructure went largely unfunded.

It gets worse: Each MIDDLE-CLASS household lost $35,000 to the 1%

According to Piketty and Saez and Zucman, the true middle class is “the group of adults with income between the median and the 90th percentile.” This group of 50 million households lost $1.76 trillion of their wealth in 2016, or over $35,000 each. That’s a $35,000 decline in housing and financial assets, with possibly increased debt, for every middle-class household.

Housing wealth for the 90% has Been converted into investment wealth for the plutocrats

In the 1980s, the housing wealth of the bottom 90% made up about 15 percent of total household wealth (Figure 8 here and Page 41 here).

In the 1980s, the corporate equities owned by the richest .01% made up about 1.2 percent of total household wealth (Figure 8 here).

Housing was 12 times greater than super-rich stock holdings back then. Now they’re nearly equal. The home values of 112,000,000 households have been reduced to just over 5 percent of total wealth, while the stocks and securities of the richest 12,000 households are approaching 5 percent of total wealth. Our homes have turned to dust, and the plutocrats have turned the dust into gold.

Even the wages of the poorest Americans have been transferred to the plutocrats

It’s bad enough that the poorest 50% of America have no appreciable wealth, but their income has not increased in 40 years (see Table 1 here). More evidence comes from Pew Research.

As Piketty, Saez, and Zucman note, the richest 1% and the poorest 50% “have basically switched their income shares.” They explain, “We observe a complete collapse of the bottom 50% income share in the US between 1978 and 2015, from 20% to 12% of total income, while the top 1% income share rose from 11% to 20%.”

Making America great for 1% of us

In his book, Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town, Brian Alexander describes today’s America through the lens of his hometown of Lancaster, Ohio, which had been a leading glasswares manufacturer. But the town started falling apart in the 1980s. A major glasswares company was bought up with borrowed money by private equity firms, which then cut jobs and wages, allowed manufacturing facilities to fall into disrepair, stopped contributing to pensions, moved company headquarters out of state, and demanded tax breaks to keep the glassware plant in Lancaster.

Capitalism as usual. Yet 59 percent of Lancaster’s county voted for Trump. Alexander explains that the people of Lancaster “remained captured by an ultra-conservative, anti-tax philosophy that prevented them from raising funds to repair the crumbling streets..”

Delusions persist about the power of the market and the dangers of governing ourselves. The business media has conditioned us to fear the words ‘social’ and ‘public,’ as if they connote evil or ineptitude or anti-Americanism. But the public good depends on cooperation. Society fosters individual accomplishment, not the other way around.

The obscene transfer of wealth and income to the plutocrats won’t end until we demand a return to the Commons, where we work as a society rather than allow predatory plutocratic individuals to control us. There are 112 million households in America that are giving thousands of their hard-earned dollars to the 1%, and we have finally begun to fight back, together, as a massive force of Americans who refuse to let the theft continue.
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