For the first time, suburbs have a higher percentage of the nation’s poor than cities

Myth: “Poverty doesn’t exist here.”

Thanks to the Recession, this myth has become too obvious, too uncomfortable, to ignore. For the first time, suburbs have a higher percentage of the nation’s poor than cities. Many are newly-impoverished: home-owners who lost their nest-eggs, who are chained to mortgages they can’t afford.

However, those most affected by the Recession are the nearly 10 million people in suburbia who were living below the poverty line before 2000, including many new immigrants who flocked to the suburbs for the availability of low-wage construction/service jobs. With the housing market folding and those jobs dwindling, suburban poverty, in ten years, has increased by 53%.

Saving Suburbia Part I: Bursting the Bubble

College tuition, room and board, student-loan debt: students today vs. one decade ago

NY TIMES: “For the past three decades, increases in college tuition have outpaced the overall rate of inflation, and increases in room and board have risen even faster. That has driven a substantial increase in the volume of student-loan debt. American students took out twice the value of student loans in 2011, about $112 billion, as they did a decade before, after adjusting for inflation. Overall, Americans now owe about $1 trillion in student loans.” (via: randomactsofchaos)

Just one decade (Bush years). Can you imagine what the comparison of these factors would look like between today’s college students and when their own parents were in college? The past three decades of bottom-to-top wealth transfer and money hoarding by the one percent has affected every aspect of the American Dream. Upward mobility through hard work and a college degree is on the verge of being a memory, a “legend” — much like the legend that once upon a time, the ‘M’ in MTV stood for music.

Some Republican solutions for today’s college students: 

The American Dream is alive and well… in other countries

Study Finds USA Has Among the Lowest Economic Mobility of Industrialized Nations.

CHART OF THE DAY: Paul Ryan Wrong About Upwardly Mobile America

Put differently, if you are born poor in America you are likely to stay poor in America.

Countries where you have a better chance of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and making it rich:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Canada
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Denmark

via: stfuconservatives

If we’re talking upward mobility, and we are, then the American Dream is not only alive and well in other countries, but primarily in the Socialist countries. But let’s go ahead and shrink our working and middle class even more by extending Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and balancing that lost revenue with cuts to safety net programs the rest of us use. Viva the United States of Capitalism!

OWS: Students should just get 3 jobs to pay for college instead of depending on Pell Grants

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) says students should just get 3 jobs to pay for college instead of using Pell Grants

Tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations? That’s a-ok! Why are students complaining? Working 3 jobs to pay back student loans is the American dream. (via: mohandasgandhi)

YET ANOTHER REASON WHY THIS WEEK OBAMA IS INTRODUCING INITIATIVES to help the economy that won’t involve congressional approval.

The tunnel people of Las Vegas

Daily Mail | The tunnel people of Las Vegas: How 1,000 live in flooded labyrinth under Sin City’s shimmering strip

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar.

But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly.

Austin Hargrave Las Vegas tunnels

Deeper underground: Steven and Kathryn live in a 400sq ft 'bungalow' under Las Vegas which they have lovingly furnished with other people's castoffs

Austin Hargrave flood tunnels

Flood tunnels: Amy lives in the labyrinth with her husband Junior. The couple lost their home after the death of their baby son

O’Brien has published a book on the tunnel people called Beneath The Neon.

Matthew O’Brien, author of Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas, takes you on a tour of the storm drains.
First video is a news segment and the second is a private video featuring O’Brien:


The post-mortem on the American Dream

This article is a must read:

Financial Times: The crisis of middle-class America

What happened to America’s middle-class? This article’s calling it the Great Stagnation:

nullThe slow economic strangulation of … middle-class Americans started long before the Great Recession, which merely exacerbated the “personal recession” that ordinary Americans had been suffering for years. Dubbed “median wage stagnation” by economists, the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973 – having risen by only 10 per cent in real terms over the past 37 years. That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation. Over the same period the incomes of the top 1 per cent have tripled. In 1973, chief executives were on average paid 26 times the median income. Now the ­multiple is above 300.

The trend has only been getting stronger. Most economists see the Great Stagnation as a structural problem – meaning it is immune to the business cycle. In the last expansion, which started in January 2002 and ended in December 2007, the median US household income dropped by $2,000 – the first ever instance where most Americans were worse off at the end of a cycle than at the start. Worse is that the long era of stagnating incomes has been accompanied by something profoundly un-American: declining income mobility.

Some blame globalization or the technology explosion. There’s no doubt those are important factors. But I agree with Paul Krugman on one of the main causes:

…Paul Krugman [blames] politics, notably the conservative backlash which began when Ronald Reagan came to power in 1980, and which sped up the decline of unions and reversed the most progressive features of the US tax system.

Fewer than a tenth of American private sector workers now belong to a union. People in Europe and Canada are subjected to the same forces of globalisation and technology. But they belong to unions in larger numbers and their healthcare is publicly funded. More than half of household bankruptcies in the US are caused by a serious ­illness or accident.

I’m not sure exactly how Reagan and the conservatives demonized unions in the ’80s — but they did it successfully AND they got people who would have benefited from labor unions, who DID benefit from labor unions (directly or indirectly), to vote against their own self-interests. Nothing new there – it’s just incredible when you think about it. Trading your own (and your country’s) economic security for “Guns, God and Gays!” social conservatism. A good example of “patriotic” corporate doublespeak is WalMart, which used to have “Buy American!” banners throughout their stores and a well-publicized “Made in the U.S.A.” campaign — even though 85% of its  merchandise is made outside the U.S.  Another aspect of Walmart’s ‘patriotic’  hypocrisy: the company is rabidly anti-union for its own employees. Yet, for whatever reason, conservative voters will argue for Walmart’s success above their own.

nullAmerican labor unions used to be considered patriotic (see 1981 classic ad: “Look for the union label!“). Think of the generations of American union members who worked hard and proudly raised middle-class families before unions were demonized: meat-packers, stevedores, telephone and garment and manufacturing and auto workers, police, firemen, truckers, construction trades, printers, teachers, nurses — and, of course, air traffic controllers. The list goes on and on. And today, the GOP-TeaParty would probably call union ideology and membership “Marxist” or “Socialist” (or ‘corrupt’). Because, conservatives seem to say, true American “patriots” believe in Capitalism:  Let the market decide! Trickle down! Deregulate! The invisible, benevolent hand of the free market! Don’t let the terrorists win — go shopping!

What’s the future hold for the American Dream? Read the rest…