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America as two countries… literally?

Adventurous

Starshine Bro
Mar 19, 2014
4,179
1,785
Crawlorado
Timely from the UN...

"American Dream is rapidly becoming American Illusion," warns UN rights expert on poverty

WASHINGTON, D.C. / GENEVA (15 December 2017) – The United States, one of the world’s richest nations and the “land of opportunity”, is fast becoming a champion of inequality, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston.

Entrenched poverty will be made far worse by policies being proposed by the Trump Administration, warned Philip Alston in a statement after a two-week fact-finding mission to California, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., as well as Puerto Rico.

The American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion, as the United States now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries,” said the independent human rights expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to look at poverty and human rights in countries around the world.

“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.

“There is no other developed country where so many voters are disenfranchised and where so few poor voters even care to go to the polls, and where ordinary voters ultimately have so little impact on political outcomes. There are no other developed countries in which so many citizens are behind bars.”

The Special Rapporteur continued: “I have been struck by the extent to which caricatured narratives about the purported innate differences between rich and poor have been sold to the electorate by some politicians and media, and have been allowed to define the debate. The rich are industrious, entrepreneurial, patriotic and the drivers of economic success. The poor are wasters, losers and scammers.

“Despite the fact that this is contradicted by the facts, some of the politicians and political appointees with whom I spoke were completely sold on the narrative of such scammers sitting on comfortable sofas, watching colour TVs, while surfing on their smartphones, all paid for by welfare.

“I wonder how many of these politicians have ever visited poor areas, let alone spoken to those who dwell there.”

The most recent official statistics from the US Census Bureau in September 2017 indicated that more than 40 million people - more than one in eight Americans - were living in poverty. Almost half of those, 18.5 million, were living in deep poverty, with reported family income below half of the poverty threshold.

Mr. Alston said the poor were assumed to come from ethnic minority groups, but noted that in reality there were eight million more white people than African-Americans living in poverty. “The face of poverty in America is not only black or Hispanic, but also white, Asian and many other colours,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur expressed the fear that proposed changes in the direction of US tax and welfare policies could have devastating consequences for the poorest 20 percent of Americans.

“The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world,” Mr. Alston said. “It will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest one percent and the poorest 50 percent of Americans.

“The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by President Trump and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”

“Several administration officials told me that as far as welfare reform is concerned, states are, in Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ famous phrase, ‘laboratories of innovation’. Recent proposals to drug-test welfare recipients in Wisconsin and West Virginia, along with Mississippi’s recent purge of its welfare rolls, raise concerns that the administration would happily look the other way while states conducted what were in essence unethical experiments on the poor.”

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22546&LangID=E
Pfft, as if we need some tight pantsed, scarf wearing Euro-peein telling us what to do. We need their socialist opinions as much as we need all those poor people who refuse to pull themselves up by the boot straps.

I mean, we have a President who came from wealth and turned it into a fortune arguably only slightly larger than what he would have had if he did nothing. If that's not a story of success and opportunity for all I don't know what is.
 
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mykel

Turbo Monkey
Apr 19, 2013
1,967
608
sw ontario canada
I have heard of the Caste system. Is it spreading?
Naw, it is shrinking.
Historically, the caste system was basically the middle class.
People had a set of skills that were highly guarded and only passed down through family / clan or by apprenticeship.
So, you had a small Ruling class, a small middle-class (artisans and builders basically), then you had the serfs or labour.

With computers and automation, the need for large populations of middle class artisans and builders is shrinking.
There will still be a need for design / prototyping / and manufacture management, but the floor of the shop - not so much.
This has been going on now for several decades. Decent paying society building jobs going away and being replaced with contract or part time service industry - would you like fries with that jobs.

So what you see by looking around is that things are going according to the master plan.
Rich get richer.
Middle class gets heavily downsized.
Lower class swells.
Powers that be manipulate things so that the lower middle class and the working class fight amongst themselves.
ie - the 15.00 minimum wage. You get people just a bit above this level beating on the poor guy just trying to pay his rent and eat at the same time, instead, the guy making 20 or 25 should be directing his anger up. Why have his wages been flat for 40 years, why the guys at the top are using a Benjamin to light illegal Cuban cigars?
But no, that will not happen because even the "good guy Real news" outlets are controlled by the top, so if there is mention of this, it is buried on page 37 between the death notices and the garage sale ads.

Buckle up, the ride is going to get a bit more interesting...
 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
26,688
1,938
My neighborhood abuts a similarly recently developed industrial area. There's one street where the phenomenon in the article is illustrated nicely. One one side of the street are nice single family homes and townhouses. Immediately on the other side of the street is a Spin center, a liquor store, a car wash, and a children's swim school--you can imagine that it's filled with young kids and their associated parents.

100 feet further behind these businesses is the industrial area, and along that back lane is a permanent community of RVs and trailers, no doubt of the workers in said industry. It's a different life, even if it's just across some pavements as opposed to the tracks as it once was.
 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
26,688
1,938
Fuck that author. Portraying marrying up as a social ill? Demonizing being a good parent?

Most important of all, we have learned how to pass all of these advantages down to our children. In America today, the single best predictor of whether an individual will get married, stay married, pursue advanced education, live in a good neighborhood, have an extensive social network, and experience good health is the performance of his or her parents on those same metrics.
Yeah, that's because we're not being shitty parents.

Another gripe: Mentioning FICA has an income tax yet not mentioning that that's because Social Security payouts are similarly capped.

We’ve looked on with smug disdain as our labors have brought forth a population prone to resentment and ripe for manipulation.
Yeah, sending our kids to private schools and picking good professions caused all this. Right. The allusion that the "9.9%" equates to slaveholders in the early 19th century is just as abhorrent.

In our world, now, we need to understand that access to the means of sustaining good health, the opportunity to learn from the wisdom accumulated in our culture, and the expectation that one may do so in a decent home and neighborhood are not privileges to be reserved for the few who have learned to game the system. They are rights that follow from the same source as those that an earlier generation called life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Isn't the whole point of this article that people with their shit together are providing these things for their kids? What do they propose instead?

I'm generally pretty liberal. I'll vote for every school bond measure you throw at me, love Saint Bernie, etc. But in conclusion, fuck this author.
 
Fuck that author. Portraying marrying up as a social ill? Demonizing being a good parent?



Yeah, that's because we're not being shitty parents.

Another gripe: Mentioning FICA has an income tax yet not mentioning that that's because Social Security payouts are similarly capped.



Yeah, sending our kids to private schools and picking good professions caused all this. Right. The allusion that the "9.9%" equates to slaveholders in the early 19th century is just as abhorrent.



Isn't the whole point of this article that people with their shit together are providing these things for their kids? What do they propose instead?

I'm generally pretty liberal. I'll vote for every school bond measure you throw at me, love Saint Bernie, etc. But in conclusion, fuck this author.
Sending your kids to private schools removes you from working to improve the public schools.
 

Pesqueeb

bicycle in airplane hangar
Feb 2, 2007
27,531
3,801
Riding the baggage carousel.
Fuck that author. Portraying marrying up as a social ill? Demonizing being a good parent?



Yeah, that's because we're not being shitty parents.

Another gripe: Mentioning FICA has an income tax yet not mentioning that that's because Social Security payouts are similarly capped.



Yeah, sending our kids to private schools and picking good professions caused all this. Right. The allusion that the "9.9%" equates to slaveholders in the early 19th century is just as abhorrent.



Isn't the whole point of this article that people with their shit together are providing these things for their kids? What do they propose instead?

I'm generally pretty liberal. I'll vote for every school bond measure you throw at me, love Saint Bernie, etc. But in conclusion, fuck this author.
1. Take it easy Le Petite Bourgeoisie. Nobody is suggesting dusting off the guillotine because you leased another car this month. Yet. :D

2. I promise that when I posted that article, it was not my intention to take any sort of, nor did it even occur to me that anyone might take it as a personal, proverbial, shot across the bow. If I offended, I apologize. That said:

3. My thinks the lady doth protest just a bit too much. You took the time to rebut what you found personally offensive, which is fine, but I can't help but notice you didn't address any of the Macro claims the author makes. I would encourage you to go back and look at the very first post in this thread. In my ever so humble opinion, the Atlantic article addressed a great deal of the questions you posed. In retrospect, I get how a lot of what was in there might come across as a personal attack. Again, not my intention. What I wanted to discuss, and highlight, was vignettes such as this:
Every piece of the pie picked up by the 0.1 percent, in relative terms, had to come from the people below. But not everyone in the 99.9 percent gave up a slice. Only those in the bottom 90 percent did. At their peak, in the mid-1980s, people in this group held 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Three decades later that had fallen 12 points—exactly as much as the wealth of the 0.1 percent rose.
or this

Let’s suppose that you start off right in the middle of the American wealth distribution. How high would you have to jump to make it into the 9.9 percent? In financial terms, the measurement is easy and the trend is unmistakable. In 1963, you would have needed to multiply your wealth six times. By 2016, you would have needed to leap twice as high—increasing your wealth 12-fold—to scrape into our group. If you boldly aspired to reach the middle of our group rather than its lower edge, you’d have needed to multiply your wealth by a factor of 25. On this measure, the 2010s look much like the 1920s.
My great concern, and what gave me pause when I read this article, was just how often the bolded statement above, "came up." I've been saying for a while, and it gets my some sideways glances in more polite circles, but, we are possibly living at the height of the Second Gilded Age. I know it's tinfoil-y, but this whole thread is examples of it. And now "serious people" are talking about it. When the bottom drops out, and it will, the best case scenario is a second great recession. If it happens soon, you really think Steven Mnuchin and President* Manchurian Candidate are going to right the ship? Fuck no. Were all going to be fucked. Not just the unskilled and uneducated. Not just the public school parents, not just the union-less trades people. They are all ready getting fucked. That article is page after page of all the different ways those people (my people) are getting fucked. If anything I would think that someone in your position, educated and "well off", what ever that means, might take it as a warning. The Atlantic article is not the only example.

Of course you want the best you can provide for your kids and yourself. Everyone does. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. What we have to address is the fact that an unequal society, eventually becomes a violent society. History is filled with these. A violent society doesn't do anybodies kids, any good. A fair(ish) and equitable society is like the tide, it lifts all (most) boats. The trick of course is finding the happy middle ground. But sticking our heads in the sand about the problem doesn't make it go away. It is incumbent upon us to address the issue before the guillotines come out, and the mob goes forth with pitchforks and torches..

 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
26,688
1,938
I don't deny the macro trends. The author of your piece is describing Fishtown quite well. Instead of noting that people in Fishtown are doing objectively shitty things to themselves and their kids, though, he/she lays the blame on the 9.9%, the normal people trying to live well. These are not the robber barons you are looking for, and all that shit about the 9.9% being equivalent to the small-headcount slaveowners is just that: bullshit.
 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
26,688
1,938
But they are still heavily in debt, which increases their financial fragility. Even worse, the main types of debt they owe are student loans, auto loans and credit card debt.
Those kinds of debt are all reflective of choices they made to incur 'em. Make shitty financial decisions, end up with a lower net worth. Magic.

This is assuming Betsy DeVos didn't touch them in the peepee and force them to go to a for-profit school.
 

Nick

My name is Nick
Sep 21, 2001
14,868
3,265
behind you, don't wait up.
How is financing a car or an education a shity financial decision? I know very few people that pay cash for their cars. And who can afford to keep up with the price of higher education tuition without some debt? No way.
 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
26,688
1,938
How is financing a car or an education a shity financial decision? I know very few people that pay cash for their cars. And who can afford to keep up with the price of higher education tuition without some debt? No way.
True, the assumption underlying my post was that they overbought for their education and vehicles… which is probably true in my cynical opinion. Liberal arts college and un-marketable degree?
 

Adventurous

Starshine Bro
Mar 19, 2014
4,179
1,785
Crawlorado
True, the assumption underlying my post was that they overbought for their education and vehicles… which is probably true in my cynical opinion. Liberal arts college and un-marketable degree?
Debt is also only one half of the equation, though the author either ignored or was too lazy to delve into the earnings side. When you come of working age during a recession, not only is your starting salary lower, but the current trend of wage growth stagnation will have a compound impact on depressing your career earnings potential.

Combine this with workers shouldering a greater responsibility for their health care costs (also out-pacing wage growth and inflation), increased housing costs, and the majority of the economic growth while recovering from the Great Recession going to the upper echelons in conjunction with in increased debt load, it's no surprise that Millennial are markedly worse off than prior generations.

While there will always be some portion of the populace that goes to a Liberal arts college or gets an un-marketable degree and complains about their burden, this burden is shifting further and further up the economic chain. We can't all be doctors or lawyers; the country is desperately in need of teachers as well. When the math shifts to the point that becoming a teacher threatens to plunge you into a life of economic hardship, something is fucked up. It's easy to victim blame and identify moral or intellectual failings as a reason for this decline, but that's disingenuous, the Millennial generation is no different than the ones that came before it.
 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
26,688
1,938
I have sympathy, Tim, but I also lived that life. I know what it feels like to get by on little, growing up as the kid of a medical resident in NYC, in grad school and residency myself, etc. And if everyone’s poor now you sure as hell cant tell it from the phones in peoples’ hands and the late model cars they drive.
 
I have sympathy, Tim, but I also lived that life. I know what it feels like to get by on little, growing up as the kid of a medical resident in NYC, in grad school and residency myself, etc. And if everyone’s poor now you sure as hell cant tell it from the phones in peoples’ hands and the late model cars they drive.
And what we and they are willing to pay for data feeds, be it phone, internet, or whatever...