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Unnatural disaster by @BloggersRUs

Unnatural disaster

by Tom Sullivan

Call them the “working homeless,” a term now a thing in this "low-wage/high-rent society." Matthew Desmond profiles the struggles of the working poor in a major report for the New York Times. Lack of jobs is not the problem, but lack of jobs that pay enough to live on.

Productivity has increased 77 percent since 1973. And hourly pay? Twelve percent. If the federal minimum wage had kept pace, it would be over $20 an hour. Instead, it sits at $7.25, poverty level:

American workers are being shut out of the profits they are helping to generate. The decline of unions is a big reason. During the 20th century, inequality in America decreased when unionization increased, but economic transformations and political attacks have crippled organized labor, emboldening corporate interests and disempowering the rank and file. This imbalanced economy explains why America’s poverty rate has remained consistent over the past several decades, even as per capita welfare spending has increased. It’s not that safety-net programs don’t help; on the contrary, they lift millions of families above the poverty line each year. But one of the most effective antipoverty solutions is a decent-paying job, and those have become scarce for people like Vanessa. Today, 41.7 million laborers — nearly a third of the American work force — earn less than $12 an hour, and almost none of their employers offer health insurance.
A popular narrative for explaining the lack of social mobility is belief that the poor deserve their lot. They are lazy. They lack ambition. The attitude is social Darwinism from people who loathe Darwin. The poor lack the gene for entrepreneurship. If they are unwilling to work and take risks, let nature take its course.

But most of the poor do work. They just cannot live on what it pays:

Americans often assume that the poor do not work. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, nearly two-thirds of respondents did not think most poor people held a steady job; in reality, that year a majority of nondisabled working-age adults were part of the labor force. Slightly over one-third of respondents in the survey believed that most welfare recipients would prefer to stay on welfare rather than earn a living. These sorts of assumptions about the poor are an American phenomenon. A 2013 study by the sociologist Ofer Sharone found that unemployed workers in the United States blame themselves, while unemployed workers in Israel blame the hiring system. When Americans see a homeless man cocooned in blankets, we often wonder how he failed. When the French see the same man, they wonder how the state failed him.

If you believe that people are poor because they are not working, then the solution is not to make work pay but to make the poor work — to force them to clock in somewhere, anywhere, and log as many hours as they can. But consider Vanessa. Her story is emblematic of a larger problem: the fact that millions of Americans work with little hope of finding security and comfort. In recent decades, America has witnessed the rise of bad jobs offering low pay, no benefits and little certainty. When it comes to poverty, a willingness to work is not the problem, and work itself is no longer the solution.

This is not "just the way things are." People make choices, and not just the poor. The economic system we created — invented, honed, and nurtured — was designed by and for the people who use money to make money. It is working very well for them, and they have no interest in helping those lower on the economic ladder climb it. Matt Taibbi wrote of two Americas in "Griftopia,"one for the grifter class and one for everybody else. In everybody-else land ... the government is something to be avoided." For the grifter class, government is "a tool for making money.” Exhibit A: our Grifter-in-Chief.

Perhaps the two biggest obstacles to reducing the shameful rate of poverty in this "greatest country on earth" is a warped mindset that says the poor are responsible for their poverty, and an economy designed and run to benefit the sharks who ensure they stay there. This is not a boat accident. "Anything we can create we can reinvent," says Gabriella Lemus, president of Progressive Caucus.

The problem is getting there from here. Time to re-post this video from 2015.

Make that three obstacles. Problems identified. Solutions proposed. But the issue with videos progressives produce to promote change, Anat Shenker-Osorio (@anatosaurus) wrote in a Facebook post yesterday is failure to communicate:

Fed Ex is in the business of wage slavery and sells us beautiful tomorrows. Elizabeth Warren is in the business of beautiful tomorrows and sells us algebra homework. Aka “boy have I got a problem for you.” One of these sells the brownie. The other sells the recipe at the back of the cardboard box.
Here's the message from Fed-Ex Shenker-Osorio cited:

We're too busy showing off how smart we are to communicate effectively. We're fighting for change with our creativity tied behind our backs. People suffer for it.

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