Today I speak on sad but important things. As many of you know, I have been documenting the economic and day-to-day well-being of people and towns I encounter on my journeys. The news is not good, since most of these smaller towns are all but erased because of lack of jobs, and high levels of poverty. I woke up this morning to the news that 1 in 7 Americans live in poverty. This news was supplemented by news in a local paper here in Missouri that a friend of mine will lose his house (home) by way of a public auction at the end of this week (I will not link to this story out of respect to my friend's feelings and not wishing to advertise the sale). The final nail in the morning coffee-coffin is the lingering reminder of a conversation I had regarding another friend who is desperately trying to figure out how to pay for her son's medication, since she has no health insurance. Health insurance costs will kill us all in time - is that what is wanted? One wonders.
In the Washington Post article mentioned and linked to above, by Hope Yen, the article states that the 2009 "poverty level stood at $21,954 for a family of four." Wow. This is more than poverty, this is eating off handouts and the occasional Micky-Ds. Four people living on 21-22 thousand in this country?! Not if that family wants heat, electricity, food, clothing and you know, the basic stuff. It is time that our government totally revise the poverty level determination because I got to tell you, a family of four does not live off of 21 or 22 thousand a year. You cannot live off this type of income in this country, unless you are getting money under the table that is not reported (pan-handling?).
And indeed, as Yen reports, the government will be revising its calculation of poverty levels by incorporating the "rising costs of medical care, transportation and child
care, a change analysts believe will add to the ranks of both seniors
and working-age people in poverty."
I predict that even without these revisions, the poverty report for 2010 will be much worse, because the 99ers are growing and without any aid or jobs available, we will see the reality slap us in our faces. The biggest culprit of this rising poverty lines besides lack of jobs (seeing how companies have been outsourcing jobs for decades) is health care. The changes made in health care reform will not be enough to save many of us. You can require a person to have health care, but that does not mean the person can afford to get the health care required. Further, as companies switch from full-time workers to part-time workers, more and more of us will be out of health insurance. This is the situation for my husband and I. Consider this, companies get rid of full-time workers in order to avoid having to offer health benefits - it cuts into their profits. Indeed, one place I work for has 5 full-time workers compared to over 180 part-time workers and, judging by the help wanted notices I see all the time, the part-timers will continue to grow.
What we need is a true overhaul of how business and politics are conducted in this country - As I sit and watch the growing popularity of the Tea Party, I am deeply worried. That is not to say that I do not hold equal contempt for the Republicans and Democrats counterparts as well. But I do worry about partisan politics and divided ideologies that hinder our ability to actually make change. We are seeing this now and it will only get worse.
So, what should be done? Please, you tell me! Leave your comments and your thoughts as I would really like to know how you feel about all of this. R