15 December 2011

Where Is The Middle Class in America? Half Living Low Income Or Poor


The St. Columbanus Church food pantry in Chicago feeds 500 households a week, but some weeks it struggles to keep up with demand.
photo/CBS
From  Denny:  Where is the middle class in America?  Half of Americans are now scraping by on low income or downright poverty, according to the latest census data.  That's 146 million doing without because of high unemployment, costs that have risen fast, stayed high and suppressed wages.

Mayors of 29 cities say they cannot meet the needs for emergency food assistance, food stamps, and are turning away 25 percent of applicants.  There are already 46 million people on food stamps, a former middle class that never asked for any help until now. Federal and states' programs are frayed at the edges.

And the Republicans claim the Democrats are screaming "class warfare"?  These figures don't lie.  Just where did the GOP expect the unemployed to go?  How do they expect people to eat?  

Homelessness is at an all time high, especially among returning Iraq and Afghan war veterans.  There are over 4500 homeless female vets who are single mothers.  

What kind of a nation - and political leaders - allow such hunger in America?  What kind of leadership allows underemployed or unemployed mothers with children to get turned out of their homes, expected to live in their cars or on the street?

America is no longer the home of the well to do middle class.  Even the Christmas shopping season is experiencing cutbacks.  There is buyer's remorse from the Black Friday shopping spree.  

Read that as the spouse who didn't go shopping said, "Are you crazy?  With the economy going belly up in Europe it's spreading here next.  How long do you think we will have a job and can pay our bills?  Take that crap back to the store and get our money back.  We need to conserve all we can to prepare for the worst."

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too `rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.
"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."


This CBS video is typical of what is happening to the American middle class right now.  The Struble family are both college educated.  Their combined earning was $85,000 a year until he lost his job in 2009.  He hasn't had a steady job since then.  They have about $25 in their savings account and less than $100 in their checking account.  They are typical of the long term unemployed who no longer receive unemployment benefits.




What is the low-income threshold?  It's about $45,000 for a family of four.

How did this happen to middle class America?  Pay cuts, forced reduction of work hours, a spouse losing a job, housing costs are now one-third to half of income - instead of the recommended 25 percent - and child-care costs are consuming much of the family income.

With over a million needy in California and high unemployment many families have turned to the desert where there is an old WWII training ground abandoned and being used as a place to park their homelessness.

And President Obama and Congress wonder why writers like me continue to scream at them to stop the foreclosures and evictions?  You can't evict half of America and think there won't be bad consequences.  Keep up the usual "good work" in Washington, the Do Nothing Congress, and you can expect desperate people to do desperate things come the New Year.  It just might be literally open hunting season on politicians.

My suggestion to these arrogant insensitive fools is to hire a personal security force and start wearing bulletproof vests.  The American people are getting hungry and finding themselves homeless.  When you have nothing left to lose why not do something violent?

How many times do people like me have to warn Washington to change the picture?  Quit thinking about themselves and how much money they can make on the stock market from insider trading information.  Get busy getting real relief to a beleaguered middle class.  Millions of people are suffering.

Right now the Republicans are pressuring Obama and the Democrats to slash unemployment benefits and all federal aid programs aimed at getting relief to those now finding themselves among the low income and poor. So, the Republicans want to punish 146 million fellow Americans for their low economic status?

If the White House and Congress choose to do nothing significant before the Christmas holiday, well, "May God have mercy on your souls."  It's an outrage that the terrible suffering in this country has been so long ignored by the Democrats and mocked by the Republicans.








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