Monday, February 26, 2007

A Rising Tide Drowns All Boats

....except for yachts.

A quote, from our President:
The federal government should take no more than a third of anybody's check. But I also dropped the bottom rate from 15% to 10%. Because by far the vast majority of the help goes to people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.
"By far the vast majority of the help goes to people at the bottom end of the economic ladder."

That rung is falling off, however:
WASHINGTON - The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of the 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty.

A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 - half the federal poverty line - was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period.
(emphasis added)All the tax cuts in the world won't help people who aren't making enough to pay taxes, will they, Mr. Bush?

Is it any coincidence that this corresponds with the probationary period that was imposed during welfare reform under the Clinton administration?

No. But then Clinton assumed that the nation wouldn't lose 6 million jobs in the first three years after he left office. Clinton assumed that Preident Gore would be able to put into place a safety net that would cover the people that did lose jobs by keeping taxes in place on the people who never needed to work in the first place.

Let's look at those tax cuts for the bottom rung: in point of fact, when you count in the Social Security and Medicare taxes that people earning up to $90,000 MUST pay a portion of, you see that the bottom 60% of taxpayers got a tax cut of just over 14%.

Now, I don't know what kind of fuzzy math Mr. Bush was using, but I do know that 14% is roughly one-seventh, meaning that 60% of the tax cuts went to the top 40% earners. "By far, the vast majority..."

Now, I don't know about you, but when we've added some four million people to the rolls of desperately poor so that Paris Hilton can afford pedicures for her dog, I think there's something a little screwy going on.

When we've added four million people to the rolls of desperately poor so that Anna Nicole Smith's estate won't be taxed for essentially adding no value to the economy and indeed, sucking activity OUT of the economy, there's something very wrong going on.

When we've added four million people to the rolls of the desperately poor so that Exxon Mobil can make $39.8 BILLION dollars in profit in 2006 alone, our priorities are clearly fucked up.
The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind.

At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries. That helps to explain why the median household income for working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty - the highest rate since at least 1975.
Profits up, but wages and job growth have severly lagged behind. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in December 2000, there were 137,000,000 million people employed in the US. That level dropped in real numbers until October 2003, due to the Bush recession.

However, population climbed in that interval, so that in December 2000, that 137 million people represented 64.4% of the employable population, where we didn't reach that employment percentage again until, well, we're still waiting, Mr. Bush! (January 2007 was 63.3%)

This is something to be very concerned about. We're deeper in debt than ever before, owing some $7 trillion in mortgages alone. At least we have assets to cover some of that, but we owe another trillion dollars in auto loans, credit card debts and other unsecured credit facilities.

Which is roughly equivalent to the total debt of the United States. And when you've gone into debt, you're essentially getting an advance on your paycheck. Which assumes you will have a paycheck later on to pay off your debts. The US doesn't have that guarantee and neither do too many of us, anymore.

This is also why you see so many commercials on cable now for Countrywide home loans and other credit fixing scams.

43 million poor, sadly, may be a figure we one day look back on as "good times".

There are rocks in the road the size of Buicks. It's going to take a lot more than a war in East Asia for us to forget about them.