Thursday, September 10, 2009

A 'Curiosity'...

Greetings good citizen,

As I await a puzzled call from MGH inquiring about my whereabouts shortly, I’m doing research for tonight’s offering. [Postscript: either my cardiologist kept them posted or they are both ‘slouching’ big time as no call ever came. The ‘proof’ will come next week when I darken their doorstep only to find they aren’t expecting me.]

{For reasons of her own, my wife prevented me from ‘firing’ them and finding a more competent cardio team…} Er, sorry, back to the business at hand…

While there is this intriguing but decidedly ‘wonkish’ piece from one of my personal favorites, Henry C.K. Liu, it delves a bit too deeply into the intricacies of central bank policy to be engaging for the average reader.

So I continued to search and encountered several interesting items, Cryptogon has a video of Dennis Kucinich er, ‘trashing’ Mr. Obama’s healthcare plan.

It is precisely what we have all feared…nothing more than the same ‘mandated’ insurance we have here in Massachusetts. This isn’t an ‘improvement’ unless you’re an insurance company. The plan makes insurance ‘compulsory’ with Federal ‘assistance’ for those who can’t afford it based on how much they earn…so if you’re already ‘stretched tight’ in other parts of your budget, chances are excellent the new ‘mandatory’ insurance is going to destroy your finances.

Did you ‘stretch’ a little bit to rent in a ‘nicer’ neighborhood? Better call the movers because you won’t be able to afford it now.

Anyway, that was interesting but too short. So I finally decided on this tidbit which is already 2 years old…which makes you wonder what today’s figures are?

Last Year’s Poverty Rate Was Highest in 12 Years

Published: September 10, 2009

In the recession, the nation’s poverty rate climbed to 13.2 percent last year, up from 12.5 percent in 2007, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Census Bureau. The report also documented a decline in employer-provided health insurance and in coverage for adults. [Understand good citizen, the ‘Great Recession’ didn’t ‘officially’ start until December 2007, although the poverty figures say otherwise.]

The rise in the poverty rate, to the highest level since 1997, portends even larger increases this year, which has registered far higher unemployment than in 2008, economists said. [Wait a minute Slim…wasn’t the economy ‘booming’ in the late 90’s? Why things were going so well that President Clinton even eliminated Welfare! (which is to say we were already suffering from the ‘Two America’s’ syndrome that John Edwards based his presidential bid in 2000 on.) ‘Part’ of the economy was doing great but the ‘real economy’ pretty much sucked, like it does now.]

The bureau said 39.8 million residents last year lived below the poverty line, defined as an income of $22,025 for a family of four. [Here we see a very bizarre number, there isn’t anyone you know that eats regularly and lives indoors on that kind of money. Maybe a single person, but certainly not a ‘family’ of four.]

In another sign of both the recession and the long-term stagnation of middle-class wages, median family incomes in 2008 fell to $50,300, compared with $52,200 the year before. This wiped out the income gains of the previous three years, the report said. [What they don’t tell you is most states have a ‘multiplier’ because they know the Federal poverty figures are too low. Here in Massachusetts, if you make less than 4 times the Federal Poverty figure, you qualify for benefits under most state programs…but Boston is one of the most expensive cities (metro areas) in the nation.

Adjusted for inflation, in fact, median family incomes were lower in 2008 than a decade earlier.

“This is the largest decline in the first year of a recession we’ve seen since the Census Bureau started collecting data after World War II,” said Lawrence Katz, an economist at Harvard University, referring to household incomes. “We’ve seen a lost decade for the typical American family.” [And there’s no way to ‘make that back’, it’s gone for good. Sort of puts those ‘executive bonuses’ in a whole different light, doesn’t it?]

The share of American residents who said they lacked health insurance throughout the entire year remained steady, at 15.4 percent, or 46.3 million people. But the total masked some more worrisome trends that are helping to drive the debate over a national health care overhaul.

Continuing an eight-year trend, the number of people with private or employer-sponsored insurance declined, while the number of people relying on government insurance programs including Medicare, Medicaid, the children’s insurance program and military insurance rose.

The share of children who were uninsured declined, to 9.9 percent from 11 percent in 2007, apparently because of the federal government’s special efforts to insure low-income children. But at the same time, the share of adults aged 18 to 64 without health insurance rose, to 20.3 percent in 2008 from 19.6 percent in 2007. [Naturally, the kids didn’t go out and buy their own insurance, their parents covered them while foregoing benefits for themselves.]

In a speech Thursday to promote his health care overhaul, President Obama referred to the census survey and said that things had grown worse since September 2008. “Over the last 12 months, it’s estimated that the ranks of the uninsured have swelled by nearly six million people,” he said. [Now go back and have a gander at the video…]

The accuracy of the census numbers, which are collected each spring for the previous year as part of the Current Population Survey, is subject to debate. Family incomes in the poverty area do not include the value of food stamps, money received through tax credits or unreported income. On the other side, the poverty threshold has not been adjusted over the years to reflect the rising relative costs of housing and medical care and does not take account of large regional differences in the cost of living.

Whatever the flaws, which remain similar every year, “we think the C.P.S. data present a very good measure of the trends over time,” David S. Johnson, chief of the housing and household economic statistics division of the Census Bureau, said Thursday in an audio news conference.

Because unemployment has climbed so much more sharply in 2009 — averaging 9 percent, compared with an average of 5.8 percent in 2008 — “the real spike in poverty is going to be in the ’09 numbers, which we get next year,” said Sheldon Danziger, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan and co-editor, with Maria Cancian, of the coming book “Changing Poverty, Changing Policies” (Russell Sage Foundation).

There was another ‘curious’ piece today that cited a report by Citigroup which stated that the US was ‘officially’ a ‘Plutocracy’, a society run by the wealthy, for the wealthy.

I passed over this offering as well because the ‘evidence’ was on one of those damn ‘script reader’ thingy’s that won’t let you copy (besides giving you severe ‘eyestrain’ because the font size is so small.)

Oh yeah…and even if you could copy it, there were 18 pages of text to go through.

Here’s the link for the more intrepid among you…

Where were we? Oh yeah, time to wrap up this ‘poverty’ piece…

Like ‘Sherlock’ says at the end of the piece, the er, worst job market since WWII ended sure isn’t helping the damn poverty situation.

Perhaps more telling is the fact that we haven’t lost one decade, the last two have been a total washout...the sad reality is it's all coming home to roost now.

The ‘average’ US family has been bleeding purchasing power for more than twenty years while the only ‘segment’ of society to see any net improvement are the ones who didn’t need it…and that’s the hell of it good citizen.

The ‘hole’ got deeper and we’ve got nothing to show for it, we’ve been ‘ripped off’ by the same people we busted our asses for all these years…and we’re the ones they accuse of being ‘ungrateful’.

All I have to say to that is ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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