On Friday January 25, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that 95,000 individuals registered to vote in the Lone Star State have been identified as "Non-US Citizens," meaning they are illegally registered to vote. Further evidence brought forth by Texas Secretary of State David Whitely confirms that 58,000 of these individuals have broken the law and voted in "one or more" recent elections.
“Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice," AG Paxton said in a statement. "My Election Fraud Unit stands ready to investigate and prosecute crimes against the democratic process when needed."
Border-Hawk Group ALIPAC: It’s Time To Draft Ann Coulter To Primary Trump
Oh, right. Last year the same group called for Coulter to primary Trump. Slight difference this time, though: They’re no longer politely asking her to announce her candidacy. They’re trying to organize grassroots support on her behalf and give her a running start.
I wrote about the prospect of a Coulter primary challenge to Trump a few days ago. It was a good idea last year and it’s a good idea now! No more fantasy football for populist media heroes. Let ’em put on a helmet and show POTUS how it should be done.
“There are millions of Trump voters like me who will never vote for him again because we believe America can only be saved and secured by honest men and women who treasure the truth and keep their campaign promises,” said William Gheen, President of ALIPAC. “I hope Ann Coulter will give serious consideration to running against Trump in the primary and run on a MAGA platform offering conservative voters a pledge to keep her promises…. unlike Trump!”
William Gheen believes that an “Ann Coulter for President” campaign may encourage Trump and his left-wing advisors like Jared Kushner to fall back on or abandon their plans to create millions of new Democrat voters through Amnesty legislation for Democrats, Republican employers, and illegal aliens.
Gheen believes Ann Coulter has the national name recognition, a written record on immigration and other conservative issues, debate skills, and the integrity to mount a strong run for President.
Gheen’s being cute in laying off Trump’s interest in a DACA deal on Kushner. Jared certainly does play a role, especially lately, but last year’s offer of full amnesty for DREAMers in return for the wall plus some limits on legal immigration wasn’t a pure Kushner production. There are endless comments from Trump dating back three years or more hinting about having a “big heart” for DREAMers. Primarying him over his willingness to grant some sort of relief to DACA recipients would be especially amusing in that, although the most fervent part of Trump’s base dislikes the idea, huge majorities favor it in poll after poll. It’d be the perfect populist wedge issue: Who’s Trump going to listen to, the innermost core of grassroots righties or … the other 65 percent of the country he represents?
It could work out well for everyone too. It would give populists a way to flex their muscle and pressure POTUS on their pet issues but it also might make center-righties who are leery of Trump a bit more comfortable with voting for him again, reminding them that he’s by no means the most hardline exemplar of the right. “But wait,” you say, “primary challenges always end up hurting incumbent presidents. This would hurt, not help, Trump by reducing his chances of reelection.” To which I say: Maybe. It’s true that that’s how it’s worked out historically. But none of the presidents in recent history who were successfully weakened by primary challenges had anything resembling the cult of personality that Trump enjoys. Gerald Ford didn’t. Jimmy Carter didn’t. George H.W. Bush didn’t. On the contrary, each was a centrist without an ardent base of support among any wing of their party. They were vulnerable to an impassioned challenger. Trump really isn’t. “He fights!”, remember?
To believe that Coulter primarying Trump would damage him next fall, you need to believe that her message will not only turn part of his base against him but that they’ll stay turned through Election Day. Through all of the Democratic nominee’s attacks on him, through all of the daily reminders from Trump’s campaign about the promises he’s kept, through all of the messaging that staying home means handing the Supreme Court to the left, through all of the inevitably infuriating biased media coverage of the election. To hurt him you’d need to somehow convince people who’d vote for him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue to resolutely refuse to vote for him because he didn’t get them funding for a wall which they didn’t seem to care much about through two solid years of total Republican control of government. Good luck.
If Ford, Carter, or Bush had operated in an era of negative partisanship as intense as the current one, they might very well have held their bases and won. (Well, probably not Carter.) But hey: If worse comes to worst and a Coulter primary challenge does end up costing Trump the election, at least we’ll have the spectacle of hardcore populists trying to explain why it was high treason for NeverTrumpers to stay home in 2016 and risk handing the White House to the left but perfectly patriotic for border hawks to do so in 2020. I hope she takes him on. She’d give him hell.
"Johnson tried to push the 213 “Gang of Eight” amnesty through the House during 2014. If it had passed, the amnesty would have shifted more wealth from ordinary Americans to investors, according to the Congressional Budget Office."
John Kelly Joins Establishment Push for Trump to Quit Fight for Border Wall
President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff joined four establishment figures — all former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security — to urge the President to effectively give up his push for a border wall.
John Kelly added his signature to the letter, which was signed by four former DHS secretaries who have backed various wage-cutting amnesty plans in 2006, 2007, 2013, 2014 and 2015. None of the former DHS secretaries favor a border wall.
The January 23 letter ignores the immigration impact of a Trump surrender in the budget fight, it ignores the national dispute over the federal policy of cheap-labor migration, and it ignores the President’s campaign commitment to build a border wall.
Instead, it just urges the President to focus on national security threats and the loss of pay for DHS employees. The letter says:
We write to you today with a simple message — fund the critical mission of DHS.
We are awed by the sacrifice that the men and women of DHS and their families make every day and their extraordinary services to our nation. We call on our elected leaders to restore the funding necessary to ensure our homeland remains safe and that the Department’s critical national security functions continue without compromise.
The letter leaked to NBC mentions Trump and “Members of Congress” — but does not name the two top Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — who are trying to block Trump’s border wall.
The other four signers include Tom Ridge, who was nominated to head the new DHS by President George W. Bush.
In 2016, Ridge endorsed Hillary Clinton and opposed Donald Trump and his pro-American immigration policies. In 2013, he advocated for passage of the “Gang of Eight” cheap-labor amnesty. In 2003, Ridge supported Bush as the President pushed for a program which would allow employers to freely hire cheap foreigners instead of Americans. The goal was an “immigration policy that helps match any willing employer with any willing employee,” Bush said.
Another signer is Michael Chertoff, who ran the agency from 2005 to 2009.
Chertoff pushed the 2006 and 2007 amnesties, including the Probationary Z Visa that would have given foreigners two years to apply for a work visa — and also would have forced the DHS to 24 hours to prove the claim was invalid. Chertoff also invented the Optional Practical Training program, which each year allows hundreds of thousands of foreign graduates of American universities to take white-collar jobs in the United States. The influx of white-collar workers reduces salaries for American graduates. Chertoff now runs a consulting and advocacy group in Washington D.C. One of the “principals” at Hayden group is Never Trump advocate Michael Hayden.
Another signer is Jeh Johnson, who ran the DHS agency from 2013 to 2017.
Johnson tried to push the 213 “Gang of Eight” amnesty through the House during 2014. If it had passed, the amnesty would have shifted more wealth from ordinary Americans to investors, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO report said that “the rate of return on capital would be higher [than on labor] under the legislation than under current law throughout the next two decades.” Johnson also worked with former President Barack Obama to implement the “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” amnesty for the illegal-migrant parents of U.S-born children. The huge Oval Office amnesty was subsequently struck down the courts.
The letter was also signed by Janet Napolitano, who ran the department from 2009 to 2013.
In 2013, she also promoted the Democrats’ “Gang of Eight” cheap-labor amnesty. The 2013 amnesty would have inflicted huge economic pain on middle-class Americans because it allowed universities to provide green cards to an unlimited number of foreigners, providing they pay fees to U.S. universities and earn masters’ degree in technology fields. Napolitano is now the President of the University of California system, where she disregarded public opposition to her use of the H-1B visa program to outsource U.S. jobs to Indian guest-workers.
In November 2016, after repeated amnesty pushed by establishment leaders, American voters elected New York real estate investor Donald Trump to the White House on a pro-American, lower-immigration platform.
Nationwide, the bipartisan establishment’s economic policy of using legal migration to boost economic growth shifts wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the labor market with cheap white-collar and blue-collar foreign labor. That flood of outside labor spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor of blue-collar and white-collar employees.
The cheap labor policy widens wealth gaps, reduces high tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high tech careers, and sidelines at least five million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.
Immigration also steers investment and wealth away from towns in Heartland states because coastal investors can more easily hire and supervise the large immigrant populations who prefer to live in coastal cities. In turn, that investment flow drives up coastal real estate prices, pricing poor U.S. whites, Latinos, and blacks out of prosperous cities, such as Berkeley and Oakland.
"Inequality has reached unprecedented levels: the wealth of America’s three richest people now equals the net worth of the poorest half of the US population."
BANKSTERS AND BILLIONAIRES PREPARE FOR THE WORST.
REVOLUTION IS IN LOOMING AND WILL MARCH RIGHT DOWN WALL STREET FIRST.
"A series of recent polls in the US and Europe have shown a sharp growth of popular disgust with capitalism and support for socialism. In May of 2017, in a survey conducted by the Union of European Broadcasters of people aged 18 to 35, more than half said they would participate in a “large-scale uprising.” Nine out of 10 agreed with the statement, “Banks and money rule the world.”
"The ruling class was particularly terrified by the teachers’ walkouts earlier this year because the biggest strikes were organized by rank-and-file educators in a rebellion against the unions, reflecting the weakening grip of the pro-corporate organizations that have suppressed the class struggle for decades."
* “The yearly income of a typical US household dropped by a massive 12 percent, or $6,400, in the six years between 2007 and 2013. This is just one of the findings of the 2013 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances released Thursday, which documents a sharp decline in working class living standards and a further concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich and the super-rich.”
"The American phenomenon of record stock values fueling an ever greater concentration of wealth at the very top of society, while the economy is starved of productive investment, the social infrastructure crumbles, and working class living standards are driven down by entrenched unemployment, wage-cutting and government austerity policies, is part of a broader global process."
*"A defining expression of this crisis is the dominance of financial speculation and parasitism, to the point where a narrow international financial aristocracy plunders society’s resources in order to further enrich itself."
As global elites gather at Davos
Oxfam: 26 billionaires control as much wealth as poorest half of humanity
22 January 2019
As members of the world’s financial elite gather today in Davos, Switzerland, for the opening of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a new report by the UK-based charity Oxfam International has highlighted the vast accumulation of wealth at the heights of society, and the accelerating growth of social inequality.
The report showed that last year, the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by $900 billion, or 12 percent, while 3.8 billion people—half the world’s population—saw their wealth decline by 11 percent.
Last year, the billionaires increased their wealth by $2.5 billion every day, while a millionaire moved into their ranks every two days.
In the decade since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, governments and financial authorities have imposed its full impact on the backs of the world working class, in the form of stagnant and lower wages and austerity programs that have gutted health and other social services, to name just some of its effects. Meanwhile, wealth has become ever more concentrated. Last year, just 26 people controlled as much wealth as the 3.8 billion people who comprise half the world’s population, compared to 43 people the year before.
Oxfam noted that just 1 percent of the $112 billion fortune accumulated by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, was equivalent to the entire health budget for Ethiopia, a nation of 105 million people.
The Oxfam report found that the top tax rate for the rich in the developed countries plunged from 62 percent in 1970 to 38 percent by 2013, and pointed to the tax cut introduced by US president Trump at the end of 2017, benefiting the wealthy and corporations.
In developing countries, the top personal tax rate is just 28 percent. In the UK and Brazil, the report found that the bottom 10 percent of the population paid a higher proportion of their income in tax than the top 10 percent.
Tax avoidance is rife. The report revealed that the super-rich were hiding $7.6 trillion from tax authorities, while corporations were holding large amounts of money offshore, depriving developing countries of $170 billion per year in revenue.
As a result, only 4 percent of all tax revenue came from the taxation of wealth.
The report noted that “the rate of poverty reduction has halved since 2013, and that “Extreme poverty is actually increasing in sub-Saharan Africa.”
It added that between 1980 and 2016, the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population received only 12 cents in every dollar of global income growth, while the top 1 percent captured 27 cents of every dollar.
A decade ago, the ruling elite’s annual meeting in Davos took place in the wake of the most severe economic and financial crisis, caused by the massive fraud and criminality of the world’s largest financial institutions.
But rather than being sent to jail, the “malefactors of great wealth” were bailed out. Over the next decade, they were provided with trillions of dollars of ultra-cheap money, enabling them to continue their wealth accumulation at an exponential rate.
According to a new report by Bloomberg, the wealth of the 12 richest Davos attendees soared by a combined $175 billion, as the overall wealth of the world’s billionaires grew, in the same period, from $3.4 trillion to $8.9 trillion.
The Bloomberg report highlights the details of this extraordinary growth:
Mark Zuckerberg increased his wealth from $3 billion a decade ago to $55.6 billion, a rise of 1853 percent.
Stephen Schwarzman, the head of the hedge fund Blackstone, has seen the assets of his firm rise from $95 billion at the end of 2008 to $457 billion, while his personal wealth has shot up from $2.1 billion to $10.1 billion, an increase of 486 percent.
The media baron Rupert Murdoch has increased his wealth from $3.2 billion to $15.1 billion, a rise of 472 percent, while Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan, has enjoyed a 276 percent wealth increase, from $0.4 billion to $1.1 billion.
And the list goes on.
The strength, however, of the economic data produced by Oxfam, forms a stark contrast to its prescriptions for dealing with such extreme levels of social inequality. These centre on the development of what it calls a “human economy,” built on different principles from what it calls a “growth economy.”
The “human economy” would provide health care, education and gender equality, and create the best conditions for shared wealth. It could be financed by raising taxes on the world’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, given that just a 0.5 percent increase in taxes on the richest individuals would raise enough money to educate the 262 million children, who currently don’t receive an education, and provide health care that would save 3.3 million people from preventable deaths.
Oxfam, however, has been making such proposals for the past eight years, issuing warnings and calling for a policy switch. But to no avail. Every year the situation worsens, as Oxfam itself acknowledges, and at an accelerating rate.
The scourge of social inequality cannot be ended through futile appeals, made to the very powers that preside over the current system, to change course. They are no more capable of that, than the ancien regime in France, prior to the revolution of 1789, or the czarist autocracy in Russia, before 1917.
The only road to a genuine “human economy” is through the working class taking political power in the socialist revolution, thus ending the dictatorship of private profit and the financial markets. Only in this way can the vast resources created by the working class be utilised to meet the social needs of all.
This is the perspective that must now be advanced in the social and class struggles that are erupting around the world—from auto parts strikes in Mexico, the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, to the huge struggles of the Indian working class. It requires the building of the world party of socialist revolution, the International Committee of the Fourth International, in every country, to provide the necessary leadership.
At least 1,500 private jets are expected to descend on Davos and nearby airports in Switzerland this week as the international financial and political elite gathers to talk about global climate challenges.
That would be up from the more than 1,300 aircraft movements seen at last year’s forum, despite climate change registering as the top risk factor identified for the global economy in a survey of World Economic Forum (WEF) movers and shakers last week.
Sir David Attenborough, a lead speaker this year, has already stated that climate is the issue of our time.
The veteran broadcaster, 92, used his acceptance speech to tell business leaders and governments to come up with “practical solutions”.
Speaking at the beginning of the forum on Monday, the Blue Planet and Dynasties narrator told the crowd he is “quite literally from another age” and warned of “man-made disaster of global scale” that lies ahead.
Industry group Air Charter Service calculated the private jet flights over the week, as delegates fly in to hear the likes of Mr. Attenborough speak at an event boasting a basic entry ticket price of U.S.$60,000 – per person.
Davos is a small town in the Swiss Alps, around 92 miles south-east of Zurich.
Andy Christie, Private Jets Director at ACS, told the Guardian how the numbers are determined:
Davos doesn’t have its own airfield and, whilst we have several clients who fly into the town by helicopter, the four main airfields that private jet users attending the forum use are Zürich, Dübendorf, St. Gallen-Altenrhein and St. Moritz.
Working with WingX, we looked at private jet activity at those airports over the six days of each WEF week since 2013 – from one day before the event to one day after. Last year was the busiest year for private jets so far, showing an 11% increase on 2017, with more than 1,300 aircraft movements. If we see a similar increase this year, we could be looking at almost 1,500 aircraft movements over the six days.
Countries with the most arrivals and departures over the past five years at Davos areGermany, France, the UK, U.S., Russia, and UAE, respectively.
Demand for private jets far outstrips other events that also loom large on the private aviation calendar, such as the Super Bowl or Champions’ League final, according to Mr. Christie.
“We have had bookings from as far as our operations in Hong Kong, India and the US ?- no other event has the same global appeal,” he said in a statement
And the trend is towards even more expensive, larger private jets such as the Gulfstream GV and Bombardier’s Global Express.
“This is at least in part due to some of the long distances travelled, but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another,” Mr. Christie said.
Around 3,000 participants are expected for the 2019 edition of the WEF. They represent the worlds of business, government, international aid, academia, arts and culture, and the media, although U.S. President Donald Trump will not be among them.
Among the list of topics to be covered this week is the WEF’s Global Risk Report for 2019 which reveals environmental crises, such as failures to tackle climate change, “are among the likeliest and highest-impact risk that the world faces over the next decade.”
How much does it cost to participate?
The WEF website reveals annual membership (required if you want to buy a ticket to Davos) is upwards of U.S.$60,000, depending on the institution or company’s “level of engagement”.
At the top are the 100 “strategic partner” companies – including Accenture, Barclays, Deloitte, KPMG and Unilever – who pay around U.S.$600,000 for annual membership, which entitles them to buy an access-all-sessions pass for themselves and five colleagues, including special privileges. But they still have to purchase actual tickets to the event.
AFP contributed to this report
GENERAL MOTORS DUMPS THOUSANDS OF WORKERS AND CLOSES PLANTS-Stockholders celebrate!
"It identifies socialism with proposals for mild social reform such as “Medicare for all,” raised and increasingly abandoned by a section of the Democratic Party. It cites Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher to promote the virtues of “economic freedom,” i.e., the unrestrained operation of the capitalist market, and to denounce all social reforms, business regulations, tax increases or anything else that impinges on the oligarchy’s self-enrichment."
“The yearly income of a typical US household dropped by a massive 12 percent, or $6,400, in the six years between 2007 and 2013. This is just one of the findings of the 2013 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances released Thursday, which documentsa sharp decline in working class living standards and a further concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich and the super-rich.”
"The American phenomenon of record stock values fueling an ever greater concentration of wealth at the very top of society, while the economy is starved of productive investment, the social infrastructure crumbles, and working class living standards are driven down by entrenched unemployment, wage-cutting and government austerity policies, is part of a broader global process."
"A defining expression of this crisis is the dominance of financial speculation and parasitism, to the point where a narrow international financial aristocracy plunders society’s resources in order to further enrich itself."
Every Legal is one paycheck and One Hundred Illegals away from homelessness….a rape, murder or molestation!
NANCY PELOSI’S VISION OF AMERICA: 49 MORE MEXIFORNIAS AND A 50 STATE EXPANDED ANCHOR BABY WELFARE STATE
World Report naming California as the worst state for “quality of
life,” due to the high cost of living.
THE INVITED INVADING HORDES: IT’S ALL ABOUT KEEPING WAGES DEPRESSED!
"In the decade following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the capitalist class has delivered powerful blows to the social position of the working class. As a result, the working class in the US, the world’s “richest country,” faces levels of economic hardship not seen since the 1930s."
“By the time of Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, the Democratic Party had completely repudiated its association with the reforms of the New Deal and Great Society periods. Clinton gutted welfare programs to provide an ample supply of cheap labor for the rich (WHICH NOW MEANS OPEN BORDERS AND NO E-VERIFY!), including a growing layer of black capitalists, and passed the 1994 Federal Crime Bill, with its notorious “three strikes” provision that has helped create the largest prison population in the world.”
INCOME PLUMMETS UNDER OBAMA AND HIS WALL STREET CRONIES (THERE'S A REASON WHY GEORGE SOROS RUNS OBAMA'S BID FOR A THIRD TERM FOR LIFE).
A study by Brookings Institution economists released Friday documents a sharp increase in life span divergences between the rich and the poor in America. The report, based on an analysis of Census Bureau and Social Security Administration data, concludes that for men born in 1950, the gap in life expectancy between the top 10 percent of wage earners and the bottom 10 percent is more than double the gap for their counterparts born in 1920.
For those born in 1920, there was a six-year differential between rich and poor. For those born in 1950, that difference had reached 14 years. For women, the gap grew from 4.7 years to 13 years, almost tripling.
Overall, life expectancy for the bottom 10 percent improved by just 3 percent for men born in 1950 over those born in 1920. For the top 10 percent, it soared by about 28 percent.
Life expectancy for the bottom 10 percent of male wage earners born in 1950 rose by less than one year compared to that for male workers born 40 years earlier—to 73.6 from 72.9. But for the top 10 percent, life expectancy leapt to 87.2 from 79.1.
The United States ranks among the worst so-called rich countries when it comes to life expectancy. But its low ranking is entirely due to the poor health and high mortality of low-income Americans. According to the Social Security Administration, life expectancy for the wealthiest US men at age 60 was just below the rates for Iceland and Japan, two countries with the highest levels. Americans in the bottom quarter of the wage scale, on the other hand, ranked just above Poland and the Czech Republic.
Life-expectancy is the most basic indicator of social well-being. The minimal increase for low-income workers and the widening disparity between the poor and the rich is a stark commentary on the immense growth of social inequality and class polarization in the United States. It underscores the fact that socioeconomic class is the fundamental category of social life under capitalism—one that conditions every aspect of life, including its length.
The Brookings Institution findings shed further light on the catastrophic decline in the social position of the American working class. They follow recent reports showing a sharp rise in death rates for both young and middle-aged white workers, primarily due to drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide. Other recent reports have shown a dramatic decline in life expectancy for poorer middle-aged Americans and a reversal of decades of declining infant mortality.
It is no mystery what is behind this vast social retrogression. It is the product of the decay of American capitalism and a four-decade-long offensive by the ruling elite against the working class. From Reagan to the Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans alike have overseen a corporate-government assault on the jobs, wages, pensions and health benefits of working people. The ruling elite has dismantled the bulk of the country’s industrial infrastructure, destroying decent-paying jobs by the millions, and turned to the most parasitic and criminal forms of financial speculation as the main source of its profit and private wealth. Untold trillions have been squandered to finance perpetual war and the maniacal self-enrichment of the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent. The basic infrastructure of the country has been starved of funds and left to rot, to the point where uncounted millions of people are being poisoned with lead and other toxins from corroded water systems. Flint, Michigan is just the tip of the iceberg.
Under Obama, this social counterrevolution has been intensified. The financial meltdown of 2008 has been utilized by the same forces that precipitated the crash to carry through a reordering of social relations aimed at reversing every social gain won by the working class in the course of a century of struggle. A central target of the attack is health care for working people.
Obamacare is the spearhead of a worked-out strategy to reduce the quantity and quality of health care available to workers and reorganize the health care system directly on a class basis. Corporate and government costs are to be slashed by gutting employer-paid health care, forcing workers individually to buy expensive, bare-bones plans from the insurance monopolies, and rationing drugs, tests and medical procedures to make them inaccessible to workers.
The rise in mortality for workers and the widening of the life span gap between rich and poor are not simply the outcome of impersonal economic forces. In corporate boardrooms, think tanks and state agencies, the ruling class is working to lower working class life expectancy. In late 2013, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank with the closest ties to the Pentagon and the CIA, published two policy papers decrying the “waste” of money on health care for the elderly. The clear message was that ordinary people were living much too long and diverting resources needed by the military to wage war around the world.
The social and economic chasm in America finds a political expression in the vast disconnect between the entire political establishment and the masses of working people. Neither party nor any of their presidential candidates, the self-described “socialist” Bernie Sanders included, can seriously address the real state of social conditions or offer a serious program to address the crisis.
In his final State of the Union Address last month, Obama presented an absurd picture of a resurgent economy. “The United States of America, right now,” he declared, “has the strongest, most durable economy in the world… Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton and Sanders are seeking to outdo one another in seizing the mantle of the Obama administration and praising its supposed social and economic achievements.
They cannot address the real conditions facing the masses of working people because they defend the capitalist system, which is the source of the social disaster. The remedy must be based on an understanding of the disease. It is the building of an independent socialist and revolutionary movement uniting the entire working class, in the US and around the world.
New in GOP logic: Antipoverty programs worked so well, we must get rid of them
Demonstrators and homeless advocates rally in solidarity with those experiencing homelessness and Disneyland workers struggling with poverty wages outside the theme park in Anaheim, Calif. on July 14. (Los Angeles Times)
For many decades now the GOP has sought to undo the New Deal and the Great Society. But a report released last month from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, lost in a sea of grabbier news items, applies a new logic to the goal of shredding the safety net.
According to “Expanding work requirements in non-cash welfare programs,” comprehensive antipoverty programs are no longer necessary because 50 years of antipoverty programs — yes, those same interventions long hated, and their effectiveness belittled, by the GOP — have succeeded so spectacularly that poverty is largely a thing of the past.
The report claims that the War on Poverty led to “the success of the United States in reducing material hardship,” but “that it also came at the cost of discouraging self-sufficiency.” It proceeds to lay out a case for limiting access to benefits and setting in place work requirements in exchange for basic nutritional and medical benefits.
This is beyond disingenuous. Yes, in the years after 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty, the percentage of poor Americans did significantly decline; by some measures it was cut in half from about 22% of the population down to about 11%. But over the last 40 years it has rebounded with a vengeance.
Only a government stocked with billionaires and reveling in its lack of empathy could conceivably claim that real poverty no longer exists in the U.S.
Hunger is up again. Homelessness is up again – though the report claims erroneously that, “[f]ortunately, homelessness is rare in the United States.” The number of casual and hourly laborers one accident or sickness away from a financial disaster is up, the number of elderly Americans financially unable to retire is increasing, and the proportion of the workforce with secure salaries and guaranteed pensions is down.
Income inequality in today’s America is as extreme as it has been at any point since the Gilded Age. In an era of flamboyant affluence and dot.com billionaires, the Princeton sociologist Kathryn Edin has found that at least 1.5 million Americans live on incomes of under $2 a day.
In the downtowns of cities such as Los Angeles, tens of thousands of homeless live on the streets. Meanwhile, high-end homes in those same cities sell for tens of millions of dollars. All of this and more was pointed out in the recent United Nations report on the dangerous levels of extreme poverty and inequality in the United States.
Somewhere between one in six and one in seven Americans live below the government’s own, extremely cautious definition of the poverty line: less than $13,000 for a single person, just over $25,000 for a family of four. That’s vastly higher than in most other developed economies. Somewhere around one in five American kids live in poverty, and in many counties that number surpasses one in four.
While reporting on American poverty, I encountered people in New Mexico who lived without running water in their homes. I met grandparents in Idaho standing for hours on food bank lines so they could feed their grandchildren. I met Wal-Mart workers earning so little they qualified for food stamps. I met a man in Pennsylvania bankrupted by bills from his quadruple bypass heart surgery. I met schoolchildren in Nevada who were homeless. I met day laborers working for far below the legal minimum wage.
In Fresno and in Orange counties, I’ve seen dozens crammed into two-bedroom houses. I have talked to old men and women who have lost homes and cars to predatory payday lenders. A couple of months ago, I interviewed the director of a medical clinic in Oakland, most of whose clients were impoverished immigrants. She talked of a poor patient so terrified of medical bills that he refused to go to the hospital even after she told him that he was having a stroke right in front of her.
Only a government stocked with billionaires and reveling in its lack of empathy could conceivably claim that real poverty no longer exists in the United States.
Trump’s ghastly regime is seeking to shred the food stamp system, Medicaid and other vital benefits. It is proposing to triplethe rent for large numbers of poor families who live in public housing. It is about to unveil a new definition of “public charge” that would allow the administration to deny permanent residency to any legal immigrant who uses, or whose children use, food stamps, public health systems, low-income heating assistance or other vital programs. And it is aggressively pushing to impose onerous work requirements for benefits, not because the country is genuinely strapped for cash, but because, abetted by a far-right Congress, they have handed out hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and are now looking for a way to pay the bill.
All of this is guaranteed to exacerbate the country’s already stark income divides, and to make the quality of life for America’s least fortunate even worse.
I wonder how President Trump, Ben Carson, Steven Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, and the other architects of America’s war on the poor would cope were they to try to live on $2 a day.
Something tells me that these pampered princelings would then quickly find that poverty is indeed something all too real, all too pervasive, all too soul-destroying.
Sasha Abramsky’s most recent book is “Jumping at Shadows: The Triumph of Fear and the End of the American Dream.”