"It has been estimated that, at the beginning of the Twentieth Century 56% of Americans did not have sufficient income to regularly pay their bills and provide for a home and food. That is to say, significantly over half of America's population lived in poverty."
Stanley Lebergott, The American Economy: Income, Wealth and Want
"Despite the intervening Great Depression, measures and programs introduced by New Deal legislation reduced that number to 22.2% in 1961, the year JFK took office. LBJ's Great Society programs had reduced it to 11.1% by 1973."
Richard Girard Writing in OpEdNews.com July 23, 2011
"Among all households, poverty declined at an uneven pace from 44% in 1939 to 13% in 1989: the rate dropped 27% in the 1940s, 36%in the 1950s, 29%in the 1960s, 20% in the 1970s, and not at all in the 1980s."
"In 1990, only service workers and laborers had poverty rates higher than 10%. Among all those in the labor force, poverty had fallen from 27 percent in 1950 to 7% four decades later."
Michael B. Katz and Mark J. Stern, Poverty in Twentieth-Century America,
Between 2001 and 2007, poverty rose from 13.2 percent to 14.3 percent and yesterday the US Census bureau announced that the number of Americans living in poverty had exceeded 15%. While we spend trillion of dollars on pointless and immoral foreign wars a record 46.2 million Americans fell below the official poverty line, an income level of $22,314 per year for a family of four. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities is reporting that 2010 may set a new record for the number of people living in deep poverty, income below half the federal poverty level (about $11,000 for a family of four). As is always true, levels for minority populations were significantly higher.
So, what does it seem our leaders are suggesting they want to do about this? Well, the Republicans want to keep on beating the dead horse of laissez faire, trickle down economics, deregulation and free trade agreements. It is starting to look as though we will never be free of the damage Ronald Reagan and his band of Ayn Randophiles did to the middle class and poor of this country. On the other side, the Democrats, led by President Obama, are offering a package of reasonably sensible employer incentives, a badly needed but woefully inadequate investment in infrastructure repair and other measures designed to put Americans back to work and tax increases on upper echelon incomes, corporate jets and oil companies with bloated surpluses on their sheets, all clearly defensible measure which will never see the light of day. Both sides are committed to immediate deficit reduction even though anyone with an ounce of sense knows that this is the worst possible time to pursue that policy. A short term spending increase with a clear plan for long term reduction is what is needed but the sad truth is, that in the end, probably not much will actually be done. Nothing will be done because our government no longer belongs to the people. It's been bought (with the collusion of the Supreme Court) by corporations and big monied interests. We're governed now by an oligarchy that doesn't care a whit about you and me.
In Profiles in Courage John Kennedy wrote, "A revolution is coming - a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough - but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability. It's time for that revolution now/
The fact that so many of our fellow Americans live lives of daily despair below the poverty level while we spend so much on "defense" and foreign aggression is a national disgrace and should evoke national outrage. The fact that it doesn't is a sad commentary on whom we have become.