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Rajan Menon: The Wages of Poverty in America
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In these years, much attention has been paid to the rise of the national security state and little indeed to what TomDispatch regular Rajan Menon calls the national (in)security state. The Trump administration and a Republican Congress have, of course, given a remarkable gift, a tax “reform” bill, to the already fabulously wealthy and are now hard at work slashing government funds for those in need. In addition, they are once again trying to cripple medical care for ordinary Americans by going after the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) — “halting billions of dollars in annual payments required under the law to even out the cost to insurers whose customers need expensive medical services.” Having vastly increased future budget deficits with that tax bill, Republicans in Congress are now promising to solve the problem by going after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And keep in mind that this is already a country in which three men (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett) have as much wealth as the bottom half of society, while inequality has reached Gilded Age levels with more to come.

As it happens, Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, recently paid some rare attention to American inequality in an up-close-and-personal way. He took a tour of poverty zones in the richest nation on the planet, some within sight of soaring scenes of incredible wealth. In the process, he grimly recorded the rise of extreme poverty (particularly among the young). Here’s just a taste of what he found: “A shockingly high number of children in the U.S. live in poverty. In 2016, 18% of children — some 13.3 million — were living in poverty, with children comprising 32.6% of all people in poverty. Child poverty rates are highest in the southern states, with Mississippi [and] New Mexico at 30% and Louisiana at 29%.” Note that, in part as a response to Alston’s report — how dare he focus on poverty and human rights in America! — the Trump administration recently withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Today, Rajan Menon explores what might be thought of as the deep state of national (in)security in America. It’s a sordid story and, in the age of Trump, it’s undoubtedly just the preface to a tragic history still to come.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Poverty 
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  1. Poor people are losers.

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    • Replies: @bluedog
    No they are the result not the cause...
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  2. Poverty is imported.

    Importing Poverty: Immigration and Poverty in the United States: A Book of Charts
    http://www.heritage.org/immigration/report/importing-poverty-immigration-and-poverty-the-united-states-book-charts

    Poverty: return to sender. They have to go back.

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  3. bluedog says:
    @Thorfinnsson
    Poor people are losers.

    No they are the result not the cause…

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  4. MBlanc46 says:

    I’m definitely going to listen to someone called Rajan Menon criticize the nation that my ancestors built. I might suggest that if he wants to criticize countries, he might start with those of Southeast Asia.

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  5. inequality has reached Gilded Age levels

    What? You mean the period of the greatest growth in human well-being in world history? How awful.

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  6. TG says:

    Ah what a wonderful world we live in today. So different from the irrational superstitious past, today we live in a golden age of reason and enlightenment.

    We know now that increasing the number of people competing for jobs makes wages go up and not down! Besides, the lower wages that result from increased competition for jobs lowers prices which helps the poor! That’s why Bangladeshis are so prosperous. We also know that ‘free’ trade agreements don’t cause American industries to ship their jobs to low-wage countries, that’s only said by idiots who know nothing about economics. When American companies ship their jobs to low-wage countries under ‘free’ trade, well, that’s just the natural order and nobody can complain about the market – and low wages lead to low prices which help the poor, see above. Unless of course the issue is private citizens importing legal pharmaceuticals or blue jeans or DVDs from low-wage countries, in that case free trade is bad and must be outlawed. And we must spend trillions of dollars subsidizing Wall Street, this will keep our economy strong, which is why so many people are unemployed or underemployed. And we must spend trillions on endless pointless winless foreign wars, anyone saying different is a fascist and ‘literally Hitler.’ And when the issue is spending on Wall Street and War, money is no object. Deficits don’t matter. When the issue is spending on Social Security and Medicare, why, we need to cut these! Don’t you know that deficits are bad? And we must avoid ‘socialized’ medicine like they have in Japan at all costs: the Japanese spend half as much on health care as we do, and nobody goes bankrupt because of medical debt, or worries about their insurance coverage, and their life expectancy is considerable higher. We can’t let that happen here! Fortunately we still worship the miracle of capitalism, which as we all know has nothing to do with markets or competition but only with big companies forming cartels and charging monopoly prices and bribing politicians into offering guaranteed-profit ‘public-private’ partnerships. The public puts up the money, and does the work, and takes the risk, and the private sector collects guaranteed profits! If that’s not capitalism I don’t know what is. Capitalism requires that all wealthy investors have their profits guaranteed by the state, otherwise the economy will collapse. Anyhow if wages are down it’s all because those evil robots are making human labor obsolete, which is why we need to worry about running out of workers and we desperately need to increase either the fertility rate or immigration.

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