This AP article appearing in USA Today contains solid material and is well worth the read. It throws cold water on any happy-talk about economic recovery. The whole thing is worth reading. The following is just a taste:
“The issues aren’t just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy,” said Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.
He pointed to the recent recession but also longer-term changes in the economy such as globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionization that have pushed median household income lower. Even after strong economic growth in the 1990s, poverty never fell below a 1973 low of 11.1 percent. That low point came after President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, launched in 1964, that created Medicaid, Medicare and other social welfare programs.
“I’m reluctant to say that we’ve gone back to where we were in the 1960s. The programs we enacted make a big difference. The problem is that the tidal wave of low-wage jobs is dragging us down and the wage problem is not going to go away anytime soon,” Edelman said.
The obligatory balancing paragraph was short and predictable with a quick visit to some heartless snob at the Heritage Foundation:
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, believes the social safety net has worked and it is now time to cut back. He worries that advocates may use a rising poverty rate to justify additional spending on the poor, when in fact, he says, many live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.
For the conservatives, poverty won’t be convincing until they see distended bellies. Thank goodness the article writer spent just enough time with the awful Heritage Foundation to find out how mean and useless they are and then moved on. An article on declining standards of living on the pages of USA Today is a good sign, because it reflects the reality we experience, feel and see all around us. This is what newspapers are supposed to do.