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Τετάρτη, 31 Ιουλίου 2013

William Blum - The myth of America’s “booming economy”

William Blum


The myth of America’s “booming economy”

By William Blum – Published January 2000
(Written 1999-2000, but can be applied to any other period in which we’re assured that the US economy is booming. Indeed, most of what follows can serve as a descriptive list of America’s huge underclass at any time.)
You cannot escape it. You read it and hear it everywhere. From every news medium, every politician – the economy is booming … thriving … soaring … the leading economic indicators are looking great … stock market is going through the roof … “economy showed signs of continued strength last month as Americans’ personal income rose by a robust .7 percent” … prosperity everywhere … the world’s richest country …
But … but what about … what about …
  • the working poor, the millions who toil at full-time jobs, yet remain below the official poverty level (an unrealistically low figure to begin with), their real purchasing power below 1979 levels
  • the husbands and wives each having to work full time so that together they manage to rise a little above the poverty level
  • the millions forced to surrender 30 to 70 percent of their paycheck for rent
  • those living in severely substandard housing
  • the more than a million families who do not have indoor bathrooms or hot-and-cold running water
  • the unemployed (the real amount, not the fudged figures announced to the public)
  • those who want and need a full-time job, but can only get a part-time job, minus benefits
  • those who want and need a permanent job, but can only get a temporary job, minus benefits
  • the underemployed – college graduates and those with advanced degrees working at relatively menial jobs with no connection to their studies
  • the more than 43 million without any health insurance
  • the even greater number without dental insurance
  • the further millions with inadequate health insurance, including those with Medicare and Medicaid
  • the elderly who spend half their income for health care and prescriptions
  • the elderly who have to choose between prescriptions and food; (about half the prescriptions written go unfilled because many elderly people literally have to make this choice)
  • the elderly who purchase cat and dog food, but don’t own any pets
  • the millions with inadequate sick leave or maternity leave, or none at all
  • those – the great majority of employees – who are lucky to get two weeks vacation, compared to the European norm of five weeks
  • those forced to choose between heat and sufficient food in the winter
  • those literally dying on sweltering summer days because
  • they can’t afford an air conditioner or are concerned about their electricity bill
  • those whose phone, gas or electricity has been turned off for non-payment
  • the more than a million people who don’t even own a phone
  • the homeless
  • those one paycheck or one illness or one divorce away from homelessness
  • those living five to ten people in a one-bedroom apartment
  • the millions who go to bed hungry at least part of every month; (A January 2000 report from the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Tufts University stated that 30 million Americans worry about where they will get their next meals.)
  • those frightened by the welfare reform law of 1996 into not applying for food stamps, welfare or Medicaid
  • the 1.8 million souls in prisons and jails
  • those who have enlisted in the military to escape dead-end poverty
  • those who want to go to college but can’t afford to
  • those who go to college at the cost of a huge debt hanging round their neck for years
  • the illegal aliens working as semi-slaves in sweatshops
  • the almost 20 percent of American households who are broke, with a net worth of zero or less, more than double the number of 30 years ago
  • those living on their credit cards, making only the minimum payments each month, as the exorbitant interest piles up year after year
  • the more than 50,000 businesses which filed for bankruptcy last year
  • the million five hundred thousand individuals who filed for bankruptcy last year
  • the numerous cleaning women and maids who spend four hours on a bus each day to and from their minimum-wage job
  • the middle-class people who maintain their standard of living by working 50, 60, 70 hours per week, by their choice or their employer’s dictate, plus a daily two- or three-hour commute, returning home totally wiped out and overstressed
  • those hanging on to jobs they hate – jobs making them sick – only because of the health insurance and pension
  • those forced by their employers to pay more and more of their insurance and pension costs
  • those living only on social security
  • those living only on welfare
  • the more than a million Native Americans living on reservations, for whom much of the above has to be multiplied
What’s booming are soup kitchens and homeless shelters. And a growing majority of those waiting in line for a meal or a bed are actually employed.

http://williamblum.org/essays/read/the-myth-of-americas-booming-economy

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