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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

in America they go hungry « Previous | |Next »
May 22, 2009

The Washington economic talk in the Beltway is about the economy bottoming out, green shoots of recovery sprouting in all sorts of places and glimmers of hope on the horizon, despite the economy shedding close to 600,000-700,000 jobs a month due to a fall in consumer demand. The standard response, when GM is moving into bankruptcy and the national trajectory is falling wages and jobs, is that there is a lag time for unemployment.

Sasha Abramsky, the author of Breadline USA, says in an op-ed in The Guardian that for tens of millions of Americans, things are looking extraordinarily bleak economically these days. Americans in all types of communities struggle to put any type of food on the table come the end of the month when money runs out and the social safety net isn't there to catch them.

As the economy has tanked, tens of millions of people have, quite literally, become unable to buy enough food to survive.....left to the tender mercies of the market, they would now be slipping into malnutrition, even starvation. They literally don't have either the money or the credit to buy the basic amounts of calories needed to survive. They routinely skip meals in order to put enough food on their kids' plates, or they eliminate necessary foods (in particular proteins and fresh produce) from their diets to save a few pennies here and there.

He says that they aren't starving is because, in the arena of food distribution America's frayed social safety net remains somewhat intact. There are 32 million Americans now receiving for food stamps which provide them with $16-50 a week for food (depending on assets).

Abramsky, a senior fellow at the New York based think tank Demos, adds that there are millions of poor people today who don't access food stamps and these men, women and children live on hand-me-down food, bags of out-of-date breads and old canned produce, past-sell-by-dairy products and ramen noodles.

For middle age working class Americans it is a world of disappearing pensions, slim prospects for new jobs, and vanished medical benefits. Many have, as a result, lost their homes.

Will America's future be one of years of deflation and stagnation?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:18 PM | | Comments (6)


Abramsky has an earlier op-ed on California in the Guardian. It's gone bust.

He says this about Sacramento, California:

Everywhere, building projects had stalled, partially-built malls and hotels were being left as monuments to vanished affluence, suburban lots were being sold for fire-sale prices and the private and public sectors alike were hemorrhaging jobs. On Fridays, downtown Sacramento was a virtual ghost town, since furloughed state workers had no reason to commute into the heart of the city. You could almost literally see the physical layout of economic collapse.

The latest unemployment numbers in California show declines in employment within the healthcare sector, and universities are madly trying to pare their budgets as funds from donors and the state shrivel.

Abramsky says that California now reports an 11.2% unemployment rate--- the highest unemployment rate the state has experienced since 1941. At the same time as the private sector has imploded, California's state and local governments have also veered toward fiscal collapse. It's not an exaggeration to say that California isn't in much better condition financially than General Motors or Chrysler.

Things look bad. No green shoots anywhere.

And there is way too many guns in America too.

I agree with Les re way to many guns.

I have always had the opinion that when things get bad in the USA there will be a lot of gun-toting angry people looking for scapegoats on which to vent their anger and frustration.

Plus their are raving looneys like Limbaugh who have been priming the collective psyche as to who is supposedly responsible for this collapse--the left-liberal pinkos, the academic "elites", liberal and non-Christian religionists.

Limbaugh's message would be up against the earlier ones about bankers, wouldn't it?

A lot of the romanticism about life during the depression will be tested. And the GOP stuff about protecting Americans from threats which failed to materialise, while letting this much bigger one slide under the radar.

How many guns in America would not be "too many"?

What makes you think we are not 12 months behind America?
Remember the saying "When America sneezes the rest of the world catches cold"

Our saving grace is that we still have a social safety net but people reliant on Newstart go hungry and suffer from poor nutrition which will eventually lead to health problems.