HomeIssuesIncome InequalityWho we think about when we think about domestic policy.
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magsvieworlbucfanTorabsSubir GrewalBenny Recent comment authors

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polarbear4

Go Subir!

humphrey

This is eye opening. The trend during this timeframe is obviously heading in the wrong direction.

humphrey

It is not easy to see but the politicians cannot claim that they are unaware as the statistics right in DC are proof of the situation.

humphrey

This cannot be placed solely on Republicans as Democrats in DC were in control of The Presidency and at least one of the branches of government during this timeframe.

Benny

It’s very hard to respond to this without some emotion. But I will post instead some excerpts from a WaPo article I read last year entitled, “Why It Costs So Much to be Poor in America” and take it from there.

What about a place to live? If you are barely covering your expenses, a $500 security deposit is a significant sum. If you do not have it, the alternative is a low-end hotel where you can pay by the week, which lacks the upfront cost but costs much more over time — for the room itself but also increased food costs and life complexity. (I once met a woman who was fleeing a domestic violence situation and staying in a low-end hotel. She went to a food bank and received some boxes of dry pasta — which she could not cook because she did not have a stove.

Food costs themselves are higher for low-income families, creating another sort of surcharge. When you are making ends meet on a low income, you cannot go to Costco to buy in bulk because you cannot afford the membership fee — and if you could, it is hard to carry home a 40-pack of toilet paper and a huge box of Cheerios on your lap on the bus. Milk and bread at the corner store or small rural grocery will cost more, but it may be the only choice you’ve got.

The scheduling of many low-wage occupations can create significant costs, too. In retail, warehouse work and other occupations, you might show up ready for work only to be told your services are not needed that day — even though you already paid the day-care center to watch your child for eight hours. If your employer limits your work hours to keep you at “part-time status,” your earnings will be limited even if you were eager to work more. You lose pay every time you or your child get sick, because there is no “working from home” in almost any line of low-wage work.

Even the agencies tasked with helping financially strapped families can make things harder than they need to be. It is not unusual for cash-strapped families to have to line up before dawn in the cold in front of a government office just to secure an appointment to apply for limited heating assistance at a later date. (Imagine if your dentist worked this way). Many people who need, and are eligible for, government assistance with various necessities simply do not receive it, either because it requires complicated paperwork they do not have the discretionary time to manage, requires travel to an office they cannot get to, or involves an appointment during the hours they work.

I did not have to do often without food, but I do recall a time when my parents were separated when I was in 6th grade. We moved to a rural town, and mom had a hard time finding a job. My mom, sister, and I lived in motel room, with two double beds, a small refrigerator, and a two top stove. We brought a toaster oven for baking small things. During that time, we were dependent on relatives to feed us a good supper a couple of nights during the week and on Sundays. We didn’t have free lunches, but we got reduced prices. Instead of 35 cents, we paid a quarter. Sometimes mom “forgot” to give us a quarter when we ran out of lunchmeat for sandwiches to take.

Even when my parents reunited, we still had to watch our money carefully. All of us worked various odd jobs in order to have anything extra. When I was in college, I qualified for Pell Grants and work study programs but worked other jobs too, plus got some SSI. Tuition was only $4 a credit hour. I wouldn’t have made it without government help, and I always was grateful to Jimmy Carter for raising the amount of the Pell Grant during those years. I also had lots of good meals through my college sweetheart.

I got two visits to a dentist my entire childhood and teenage years. I didn’t go to one again until I got dental insurance when I started working. Dad made trips to Juarez to get his teeth pulled because the dentists were so expensive in my town. I didn’t need glasses until I was 20 years old (didn’t know I needed them until I got headaches from having to drive or read for long periods of time). Glasses weren’t as expensive then as they are today.

I could continue with lots of little things in how the government assisted me. But I sure saw my mom worry and because I was so close to her, I worried too. After I got out of grad school, I sent my parents a small check every month, even though there were times I was almost broke and saddled with student loan debt. Luckily, I was able to figure out how to manage things. Having a financial partnership via marriage has made life better for me. But that memory of being financially insecure has been forever embedded in my psyche. So I sort of know that teenager.

Benny

Torabs
Torabs

Wack. Why not teach your 13-year old that that’s the basis for socialism, rather than pander to centrists on Twitter?

Benny

orlbucfan

Excellent diary. T and R-plus, subir!!

magsview

Nice one Subir-thank you!

I think about all of the people I see as I go through my daily routines who are obviously struggling. Elderly people on fixed budgets who get more and more squeezed as the years go by. What do a lot of them need? A higher cost of living increase on their social security. Less of their tiny monthly budgets being sucked dry by Medicare premiums, drug prices, and all of their other medical costs.

I think about the people I see giving food back to the cashier when items ring through at a higher price than expected, or when the total exceeds what they have in their wallet. A lot of them are young families and I worry about how much the kids will miss that pack of chicken their dad just handed back. What do they need? A much better wage mostly. A much higher minimum wage.

I think about all the young people feeling anxious and disillusioned about their future. They need hope, they need a good, basic, education so they can contribute to solutions for the growing environmental and social challenges they face. They need less wars and a lot more positive support.

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