Half of America is in or Near Poverty — and It’s Getting Worse

Stephan:  Here is the latest in the breakdown of the middle class. As you read this, remember the Pew study on women, and the lower cohort in poverty. We are becoming a second world country, with a crumbling infrastructure, an uber-rich class, an oversized military, and what amounts to a growing impoverished prole class mesmerized by sports, values politics, consumerism, and American idol shows. The growing irrelevancy of the traditional structures of American governance can easily be seen in our corrupt barely functioning Congress, increasingly made up of people who see Federal politics as not a career culmination, or an act of public service but, instead, as a stepping stone to commercial success and celebrity.

The Census Bureau has reported that 15% of Americans live in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney’s famous 47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

2. It’s Even Worse 3 Years Later

Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An OECD report states that ‘inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve,’ with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have replaced formerly secure middle-income positions.

3. Based on wage figures, half of Americans are in or near poverty.

The IRS reports that the highest wage in the bottom half of earners is about $34,000. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or […]

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The World’s Richest 8% Earn Half of All Planetary Income

Stephan:  Further evidence of the massive change that is occurring, as we undergo worldwide the transition of power to the Age of the Non-geographical Corporate States. A preliminary version of the findings presented here can be downloaded, and a stunning summary video of the research can be seen. Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of Christ's Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity.

The lead research economist at the World Bank, Branko Milanovic, will be reporting soon, in the journal Global Policy, the first calculation of global income-inequality, and he has found that the top 8% of global earners are drawing 50% of all of this planet’s income. He notes: ‘Global inequality is much greater than inequality within any individual country,’ because the stark inequality between countries adds to the inequality within any one of them, and because most people live in extremely poor countries, largely the nations within three thousand miles of the Equator, where it’s already too hot, even without the global warming that scientists say will heat the world much more from now on.

For example, the World Bank’s list of ‘GDP per capita (current US$)’ shows that in 2011 this annual-income figure ranged from $231 in Democratic Republic of Congo at the Equator, to $171,465 in Monaco within Europe. The second-poorest and second-richest countries respectively were $271 in Burundi at the Equator, and $114,232 in Luxembourg within Europe. For comparisons, the U.S. was $48,112, and China was $5,445. Those few examples indicate how widely per-capita income ranges between nations, and how more heat means more poverty.

Wealth-inequality is always far higher […]

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More U.S. Small Businesses Letting Workers Go Than Hiring

Stephan:  There is a great deal of blather from politicians and the punditocracy about how they care so much about small businesses. Here's the truth. Click through to see the excellent charts and graphs that accompany this study.

PRINCETON, NJ — More U.S. small-business owners report letting employees go than hiring them on average over the past year, for a net hiring index of -12 in April, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey. This is on par with -10 in January and -9 in April 2012.

Trend: Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index: Net Hiring, Past 12 Months

These results are from the quarterly Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business survey, conducted April 1-5, 2013, with a random sample of 603 small-business owners.

Small-business owners’ self-reported net hiring has remained at a similar level since January 2011, but is up from the low of -27 recorded in January 2010.

The 11% of small-business owners who reported a net jobs increase at their companies over the past 12 months is similar to the percentage who reported this in January and last April; the same is true for the 23% reporting a decrease in the number of job positions.

Trend: Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index: Hiring, Past 12 Months

Owners’ Hiring Intentions Flat in April

U.S. small-business owners’ net hiring intentions were at +6 in April, as the percentage of owners who expect to add net new jobs is slightly more than the percentage who plan to […]

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Breadwinner Moms

Stephan:  I have read all kinds of nonsense being written and said about this study. I always find it useful to go to the actual research report. There is a great deal of information in this study, and I encourage you to read it carefully, and to click through and see the many charts that accompany the text. For me, the main take away is that American society is undergoing long term and profound change. The country of the American myth is disappearing.

SDT-2013-05-breadwinner-moms-1-1A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.

These ‘breadwinner moms

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Republicans Get Three Times More ‘False’ Ratings from PolitiFact than Democrats

Stephan:  I see this story as both a commentary on the Theocratic Right's uninterest in facts but, also, and more importantly, as an alarm ringing to tell us that our Congress is increasingly defined by spin and not substance. It is the sign of a failing institution.

An analysis of PolitiFact ratings suggests Republicans are significantly less credible than Democrats.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University found Republican’s had made three times as many false statements as Democrats this year.

PolitiFact examines a variety of political statements and assigns a ‘Truth-O-Meter

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