We were once a great country that proudly built things, exported goods, and earned a living wage—in large part because we had thriving labor unions. We also had a healthy public sector employment rate, which contributed to employment, the economy and America’s overall success. Over the past 30 years or more, we’ve been outsmarted with tax laws written to benefit the one percent, had our labor unions and government workers demonized by conservative ideology, and we were Bain Capitalized out of our manufacturing base—we were Bain Capitalized to death. The GOP and their wealthy benefactors have killed America’s middle class for nothing more than greed—and here we are today.
According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line will reach its highest point since President Johnson made his famous declaration of war on poverty in 1964.
Close to 16 percent of Americans now live at or below the poverty line. For a family of four, that’s $23,000 a year. On top of that, 100 million of us — 1 out of 3 Americans — manage to survive on a household income barely twice that amount. How is this poverty crisis happening?
[...] One half of all jobs in the U.S. today now pay less than $35,000 a year. Adjusted for inflation, that’s one of the lowest rates for American workers in five decades.
There’s a common perception that somebody who’s poor or living below the poverty level is lazy or simply living off government handouts. Edelman says the actual average poor person is working.
[...] Many economists say that when the economy does recover, a lot of the jobs that were lost won’t be coming back. That suggests the possibility of significantly high unemployment for a long time — maybe even a permanently large class of Americans who live in poverty. Blackwell says we can act to prevent that future. “And it’s not rocket science.”
“We know now that by 2018, 45 percent of all jobs in this nation will require at least an associate’s degree,” she says. “We could invest in the system of training — particularly focusing on community colleges and preparing people to go to four-year institutions and improving our high school education.”
“We actually have extraordinary infrastructure in this country, from the manufacturing base we once had,” she continues. “We need to retool it, we need to refit it, we need to make sure that it’s ready for the kind of advanced manufacturing that we’re seeing develop in other countries.”
What we don’t need is to be “Bain Capitalized” further — or more of those “great” ideas like outsourcing work that can be done locally in the public sector. To let Republicans find more ways to cut spending, more austerity cuts for 99% of us—just to give the wealthiest even more tax breaks—costs our society, and our people, in too many ways to count.