While it’s no surprise that nearly 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, new statistics from the US Census show that almost 100 million others are counted as low-income citizens, making half of the population of America officially poor.
The latest figures out of the US Census Bureau show that in addition to the 49.1 million Americans who fall below the official poverty line, those that rake in enough to be between that level and the income equitable to double it fall into a new “low-income” category, which counts an additional 97.3 million people. Altogether, that clump of nearly 150 million Americans living in dire economic standing accounts for around 48 percent of the US population.
American officials have deemed the current poverty line to be at around $22,000 for a family of four, but the new category just about doubles that figure to $45,000 and places those that fall between the numbers as low-income. The Associated Press reports that for families that fit in that range, often half of the household income is spent on child-care costs and housing bills.
Taking into account medical, commuting and other living costs, the number of people living below 200 percent of the poverty level has been drastically changed and not for the better. Before those factors were taken into consideration, the US Census reported in September that only one-in-three Americans qualified as poor or low-income.
As RT reported earlier this year, the number of Americans living below half, or 50 percent of the poverty level, is equally as alarming. Around 20.5 million Americans — or 6.7 percent — have personal incomes that place them in that bracket, which equates to annual incomes of less than $5,570 for an individual or $11,157 for a family of four. In Washington DC, which is part of the wealthiest metropolitan region per-capital in the country, one-in-ten residents are grouped into that category.
Don’t fret though. It isn’t all doom and gloom! Some Americans are in fact seeing a turn for the better. While half of the country might be considered poor now, some citizens recently saw pay raises in the last year that were to the tune of 40 percent. Unfortunately, they probably didn’t necessarily need that bump. According to the Guardian, the top CEOs in America saw pay hikes between 27 and 40 percent last year. The paper adds that the highest paid exec in the US racked up more than $145.2 million last year, and the median value of their profits on stock options jumped 70 percent.
A study released Thursday at the Brookings Institution by a group of economists found that income inequality hasn’t just widened in recent decades but the gap appears to be permanent.
The economists, including two from the Federal Reserve Board, tracked the annual tax returns of 34,000 households from 1987 through 2009 and found a rise in “permanent inequality,” or high-earning Americans becoming better off while lower-wage workers became worse off. They found that income inequality is long-lasting and the gap isn’t just the result of short-term unemployment or other temporary issues among lower-wage earners.
So the entire idea - the entire concept the right wing is building their platform on - that poor Americans are just lazy and entitled and need to work harder - it’s completely untrue. This is why cutting programs for the poor while sustaining tax cuts for the wealthy (AKA the fiscal cliff and the sequester) is so abhorrent. There’s only the most infinitesimal chance that you will end up a self-made millionaire if you’re born poor.
Unless you’re ready to defend the idea that every single poor person in America just doesn’t want to work hard, supporting cutting aid in the name of “well it’s better for them because it gives them an incentive to work harder” is absolutely nonsensical.
“How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments’ refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.”
—If you think we’re done with neoliberalism, think again | The Guardian | George Monbiot