Wednesday, August 31, 2005

U.S. Poverty Rate Rises as Economy Grows

U.S. Poverty Rate Rises as Economy Grows

photo: BBC News

The U.S. poverty rate rose in 2004, even as the economy grew.
"The growth in the economy is not going to families," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. "It's in stark contrast to what happened during the Clinton administration."....
...."It looks like the gains from the recovery haven't really filtered down,"
said Phillip L. Swagel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group in Washington. "The gains have gone to owners of capital and not to workers."
"America should be showing true leadership on the great moral issues of our time - like poverty - instead of allowing these situations to get worse," said John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate. He has started a poverty center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Overall, the nation's poverty rate rose to 12.7 percent of the population last year. Of the 37 million living below the poverty level, nearly a third were children. [Winston Salem Journal]

The poverty rate climbed in 2004 to 12.7 percent, from 12.5 percent in 2003 -- the fourth year in a row that poverty has risen. The increase was borne completely by non-Hispanic whites, the only ethnic group that saw its poverty rate rise. The percentage of whites in poverty rose from 8.2 percent in 2003 to 8.6 percent. African Americans saw no change in their poverty rate, which remained at 24.7 percent. The poverty rate for Hispanics remained at 21.9 percent, while Asian Americans' poverty levels dropped by two percentage points, to 9.8 percent.

The Midwest was the only region that saw both the poverty rate rise and median household income fall, a "double whammy," said Ron Haskins, a welfare economist at the Brookings Institution.
Sheldon Danziger, co-director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, said poverty rates were still much better than in the early nineties. "The good news is that poverty is a lot lower than it was in 1993, but we went through a hell of an economic boom," Mr Danziger said. [BBC News]
...for some, the lack of long-term improvement is particularly troubling. "There is still a generation of no progress against poverty," says Sheldon Danziger, codirector of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. "Somehow, we have to confront the fact that ... a rising economy no longer lifts all boats." [Christian Science Monitor]
The latest statistics on poverty in the United States are disappointing, particularly since the economy is expanding. On Tuesday, the Census Bureau reported the poverty rate rose to 12.7 percent in 2004 from 12.5 percent a year earlier. The economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew last year at a healthy 4.2 percent after inflation. Unfortunately, the economy is not carrying everyone along with it. The gap between the poorest and the richest among us continues to widen, and the only federal strategy to reduce the disparity apparently is to wish for the best. [AJC editorial Poverty rate reflects poorly on U.S.]
There is a discussion about the issue of Poverty and the New Census Numbers at the One America website.

What Do You Suppose Iraqis Think?

What Do You Suppose Iraqis Think?

Yesterday at North Island, President Bush said:
If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition.
They've already recruited more bin Ladenists, and it pains me to have to say that I think that we made it easy for them, in a psychological sense. The recent London attacks are one example. Now, young men are more easily swayed to turn to murder for a political cause. Now, more and more men are crossing Iraq's unprotected borders from nations all over the world to join what our own President is boldly announcing as the "central front on the war on terror". We decided to turn Iraq's land into "ground zero" for the battle to end all battles - fully knowing that innocent civilians in Iraq would have to sacrifice their peace; their prosperity; their safety; their lives.

There is an element of irresponsibility within that truth that is astounding, when you think about it. When people's lives are destroyed, they look for someone or something to blame.

Hurricane Katrina killed many innocents souls and destroyed their peace, prosperity, safety, and took some lives this week. How many people in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama have cursed the sky, do you imagine?

Who is the target of the cursing in Iraq today? Do you imagine it's only the bin Ladenists who are being cursed? What do you think about the 648 innocent pilgrims who were trampled under the feet of other pilgrims in Baghdad today when the spectre of a suicide bomber was raised and panic ensued?

I'm asking you to think realistically.

If you were an Iraqi:

- you might understand that the goal of the U.S. is to make them "free";
- or you might believe that the U.S. has concurrent ulterior motives (see the above quote from the President who's telling you that the oil is a big concern);
- or you might be an average citizen who does not understand the intricacies of geopolitics and you curse anyone who has brought this undeserved misery into the "land where their fathers died."
- you might curse bin Ladenists for what they've done
- you might curse the U.S. for what they've done

President Bush is telling us he will stand with these people. The problem is that these people don't want him "standing" the way he's chosen to stand.

Bush said:
That choice – this is the choice we face: Do we return to the pre-September the 11th mind-set of isolation and retreat, or do we continue to take the fight to the enemy and support our allies in the broader Middle East? I've made my decision: We will stay on the offensive.
This is a false choice. I'm sick and tired of hearing President Bush's false choices. There are hundreds of possible choices we could make, and his personal decision to use 9/11 and try to link it to the government of Iraq has been a complete sham. If we can see that he used (and continues to use) 9/11 to deliberately bring terror, insecurity, death, and destruction to the people of Iraq (with the grande promise to clean it up later and rebuild), how can we expect Iraqis to believe him?

He revealed, in yesterday's speech, that a macho dare from bin Laden was good reason for us to rush to war in Iraq without a plan for success:
" societies lack the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy. Hear the words of Osama bin Laden that explain why he believed he could get away with the attacks of September the 11th, 2001..."

The propaganda that Mr. Bush is hard-selling should be pointed toward the Iraqis, because they are the ones sacrificing so much for their own "freedom". Yet, he's still desperately trying to convince his own doubtful citizenry because we have sacrificed something precious - our own flesh and blood. In recent days, Bush has told us we need to keep fighting because we need to make valiant the deaths of our own troops. That should tell you something has been terribly wrong with our strategy in Iraq all along.