New Orleans In wars, if we are able and willing to endure the pain and sorrow, we can read the casualty count, virtually on a daily basis of dead and injured. As the war drags on, as we now see in Iraq and Afghanistan, the item gets smaller and moves to the back of the pages. Importantly, that does not mean it goes away. Something will happen, like a suicide bomber, and it will bounce back up. The same thing seems to be going on in the full scale war against the poor and lower waged workers. The only difference is that not many are counting, so there’s no clarity on the numbers.
Today’s papers were a full on attack. Look at the examples:
- Of course the on-going war against public employees throughout the Midwestern USA (and beyond!) is in open war. An article in the New York Times covered a family in southern Ohio of married public workers, one with the sewer department and one a janitor, and the truth behind their situation, since they are able to put food on the table and hold on to a home finally, but don’t have enough money for college for the kids or any luxuries whatsoever.
- The AP in a piece noted the devastation for lower income working families where food and gas account for 25% of their income and their inability to maintain now that gas is rising at the lowest to $3.50 and in places on the West and East Coast to $4.50 and rising. According to the DOL 2009 Consumer Expenditures Survey here’s how the distribution squeezes and starves the bottom: families making $15-20K/year use 19% of their net income for food; between $20-30K/year = 18% of net for food; and, families with $70K+ = 8% net. And beyond, there’s even more gravy. Same for gas with 6% in the lower income groups and 2% and less over $70K.
- The AP noted that Wal-Mart, like it or not the favored LMI shopping venue nationally, with 82% of its shoppers making less than $70K, reports that 51% of its shoppers surveyed will be driving less – and buying less – which is driving the stock down.
- Also in the NYT 63% of students trying to rise above the mess through college since 2005 have defaulted or fallen behind in paying back their school loans. A hard majority in for-profit 2 and 4-year schools have gone delinquent. Of course the debt is also higher. Students graduating from college in 2009 owed an average of $24000 in loans, up 6% over 2008 alone!
These are staggering indications of disaster for low-and-moderate income families.
And, can they catch a break. Hell no, it seems. A band of Senators led by Montana’s Tester, is now trying to put off the small savings won for some of them in lowering the charges for using the ubiquitous debit cards.