Monday, October 3, 2011

Rio Rising

I don't know if the Albuquerque Journal has jumped on this story, but Latino families have been rocked hard by the current war on working Americans by the wealthy -- who aren't in recession but are doing wonderfully as more and more wealth is redistributed upward.

I've written numerous posts on the declining standard of living and declining wages of working Americans. I've explained how our current economic paradigm, Neoliberalism, the academic term for Reaganomics, was always intended to achieve this end, and that the current recession is being used to speed up the process. Slashing government spending during a recession, unheard of until now, is part of the plan. Not even mainstream economists recommend cutting spending during a recession, but government is not about getting the economy going any more, it's about carrying out the wishes of the wealthy proponents of Neoliberalism, even government under Democrats, now.

A new report by the very mainstream and respected Pew Foundation verifies every bit of what I've been arguing, and fills in some of the the finer points I usually neglect to mention, such as, that between 2005 and 2009, the median wealth of Latino households in America fell by an astonishing 66 percent.

Wealth includes income and the value of all your assets -- house, car, boat, investments and so on. Asian-Americans' wealth during the same period declined by 54 percent and African-Americans' by 53 percent.

The wealth of White families dropped 16 percent, which would be startling enough, if the corporate news media reported it, but they are busy concealing our decline and directing our attention to endless successions of Washington political charades, celebrity lives, missing White women and the daily swings of the stock market while actively participating in the class war by the rich on the rest of us. And why not? That's what they're paid to do. The rich own all the media. And if you think public TV or radio is an alternative, they are under the control of the government, which is controlled by guess who?

Professors Cynthia Enroe and Joni Seager conducted the Pew study and have released a book summarizing it, The Real State Of America Atlas, which charts and maps many of the findings.  You can hear them interviewed about their findings by Sasha Lilley, a good interviewer who has read the book.

 Enroe and Seager destroy some of the myths of America, such as that we are a nation of house owners and a land of equality, by pulling together a massive amount of information from hundreds of data-collecting government agencies and non profit groups that collect more detailed information about their areas of interest, and from academics who study specific areas.

One indication of inequality is employment. In August 2010, the official unemployment for blacks was 16 percent, for Whites 8.7 percent.

And official statistics "dramatically undercount" both the unemployed and those living in poverty, the authors say. (The Census Bureau recently reported one in six Americans as living in poverty.) The government's unemployment rate counts only those who are actively seeking work and collecting unemployment benefits. People whose benefits run out -- who make up much of the long term unemployed population who have been in the news now and then  -- are not counted as unemployed, nor is the person who was laid off or fired but never applied for unemployment in the first place. The growing army of "contract workers" in America are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Non Hispanic Whites have a median wealth of $41,500, but a whopping 19 percent of households, roughly one in five, now have zero or negative wealth. Negative wealth means you are in debt.

That 19 percent is the overall average. Almost a third, 31 percent, of Hispanic households have zero or negative wealth.

It's much worse in households headed by single women. The average wealth of single African American women is $100. The average wealth of single Latinas is $200.

These figures mean that a vast number of Americans live at the edge, where one missed paycheck or one illness or even on unexpected bill can put them into the abyss, and on the street.

The people protesting on Wall Street against the class war by the rich sometimes call themselves the 99 percent. According to the Pew study, the richest one percent of households own 35 percent of the nation's wealth.

The solution to our current predicament isn't to elect Democrats. The solution is not government. The solution will be found in the streets, as the Wall Street Protesters already know and are trying to tell the rest of us. The solution is to start running our country ourselves, instead of handing our power over to a smooth talking politician who will then vote against our economic interests. The solution is an economic system that is fair. The solution is revolution.


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