Tag Archives: Red States

Why the Poor Stay Poor in America

In summary – America is Failing

At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.

Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

Where you are born counts… What you should notice is that the Red State South still serves as the boat anchor holding the rest of the country back. That is in huge reason today due to failed Republican Tax CUt policies necessitating a reduction in every service from social services to education. You get what you pay for, and in the case of conservative tax cut and slash policy – what you get is stagnant economic mobility. Ergo the poor stay poor.

In America, the Poorer You Are, the Poorer Your Children Will Be

This country’s terrible social safety net is making it impossible for working-class parents to keep up with their wealthier peers.

When people talk about “balancing work and family,” they’re usually talking more about the workplace than what’s going on at home. Now we’re starting to get data on what the workaday life looks like from a kid’s eye view, and it doesn’t look good.

When debating the issue of work-life balance, arguments over unlimited vacation and employment discrimination center around women’s barriers to opportunity—the perennial glass ceiling that Anne Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg rage at when lamenting not “having it all.” For working-class folks crushed by on-call schedules or poverty wages, it’s often hard to find any life outside work, let alone to balance work and family lives. But centering the conversation not on career ambition but the life course of a family helps put the false dichotomy of work vs. life in perspective.

In their new book “Too Many Children Left Behind,”Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, and Elizabeth Washbrook help illuminate these gaps by comparing the impacts of inequality across four wealthy countries—the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They found that poor children in the US are “doubly disadvantaged relative to their peers in the other three countries” because the government’s “social safety net and supports for working families do the least among the four countries to combat inequality”—particularly our national lack of guaranteed paid time off and vacation.

That’s old news, but the center of the researchers’ narrative is not necessarily workers’ lives but their children’s. Poverty limits access to basic resources like nutrition and decent childcare. But a geometrically expanding class divide looms over all income brackets, as wealthier parents zealously splurge on “enrichment expenditures”:

spending on books, computers, high-quality child care, summer camps, private schooling, and other resources that offer a motivating and nurturing environment for children. A generation or more ago, during the early 1970s, a typical family in the top fifth of the income distribution spent about $3,850 per year on resources like these, four times as much as the typical family at the bottom of the income distribution, which spent about $925…. by 2005 it had grown tremendously, to $9,800 versus $1,400.

So poor parents struggling just to cover basic food and shelter face both massive income inequality in their day-to-day lives, plus a seven-fold gap in the amount they can “invest” to help their children thrive in the future. Given that social mobility is already suppressed at all income levels—with children’s future earnings highly correlated with the earnings of their parents—the Herculean amount of “catch up” poor parents must undertake just to get on the same footing as their higher-earning peers makes the great American wealth gap seem even more devastating, for both today’s working households and generations to come.

Moreover, the gender gap straddles the class divide: the “earnings advantage” provided by parents’ wealth, or lack thereof, is skewed against women. A child is likely to inherit a greater share of his dad’s wealth than mom’s. Beyond the perennial “equal pay” debate and the simplistic notion of “78 cents on the dollar,” how does that reality of gender inequality play out in family dynamics, in those difficult late-night conversations on who should stay home with a newborn, or stay late at the office?

But the most enduring impact of these deficits may be impossible to quantify. Economic disadvantage intertwined with structural inequality has a savage effect on a child’s long-term educational prospects—including basic preschool-level skills, like language aptitude and sociability, and failing primary-school grades. And the “achievement gap” (which is itself a notion often politicized with complex racial biases) has folded into a deepening black-white education divide over the last three decades.

Other research has revealed that economic status is a growing factor in academic outcomes, as “the relationship between income and achievement has grown sharply” over the last 50 years. So wealth trumps intellect on many levels.

Closing the gap takes more systemic solutions than just “leaning in.” Class lines reflect a deficit of democracy, created by neglect of government institutions. Research suggests much of the education gap is perpetuated or aggravated while children are wending through the highly segregated school system.

Co-author Jane Waldfogel says via e-mail that in addition to better workplace benefits, policy solutions might come through richer, more accessible early education and childcare: “Universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds would help level the playing field by ensuring that all preschoolers receive educationally oriented early education (rather than the case now, where more affluent families can buy preschool, while lower income families have to make do with lower quality care).”

Federal programs like Head Start and childcare subsidies have for years suffered massive funding gaps, leaving tens of thousands of kids underserved. But some states are directing resources into expanding preschool—with pioneering programs in New York City—though it remains to be seen whether lawmakers who have failed to adequately fund K-12 are really willing to invest enough public dollars in the long-term to create a sustainable universal pre-K system.

Waldfogel’s research reveals a need for not just income supports but simply less need to work all the time. For young children of parents who are either out working around the clock, or constantly stressed at home, overwork translates into a materially and emotionally impoverished home environment. During the developmental years, research shows “inequalities in income and family resources are in turn linked with disparities in more proximal factors such as books in the home, lessons and activities outside the home, and parents’ spanking.”

Although many factors shape a household’s social climate, the connection between a parents’ economic frustrations and a pattern of a lack of nurture, even cruelty at home, suggests a troubling through-line in this inheritance of inequity: Wealth doesn’t trickle down, yet economic violence does.…More…


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Revenge of the Rust Belt

So now that US Industries have woken up – and finally started realizing that producing many products is cheaper in America…

Where are the new factories going?

Turns out, a majority of them are moving right back where they came from…

The Rust Belt.

During the 80’s and 90’s a lot of American business followed the cattle herd mentality in migrating manufacturing to China – or the next “best” onshore location – the American South. Now I don’t know if it was because at the time, Wall Street was sucking up all the smart MBAs with promises of making millions – or a failure in groupthink…

But a whole bunch of somebodies forgot to put the ancillary costs of offshoring into the equation. From lead laced toys damaging babies, to diaphanous intellectual property protections, to drywall which killed people because of the use of cheaper – poisonous chemicals… The real cost of manufacturing in China is much higher than the wage level would indicate. Thank goodness some folks finally got a clue.

The issue in the South is productivity. American productivity far surpasses that of any other country – and is significantly higher than Chinas. So while the payroll part of manufacturing in China is cheaper – the cost per completed piece is actually higher. Same issue in the South. When you start looking at where your educated workforce is…

It isn’t by and large …There. Meaning productivity is again higher in those old tried and true rust belt states. Further is the cost of conservatives. That is – as long as southern conservatives are dedicated to fighting the Civil War – the number of discrimination lawsuits, and level of employee friction is going to be through the roof, hampering full productivity. Lastly – as recent laws introduced and passed by conservative red state legislatures – such as the anti-immigrant legislation in Georgia where the state’s agricultural workforce was decimated…

You don’t know what stupid, business killing thing they are going to come up with next. Like declaring war on your largest foreign customer.

It’s early – but the “Rust Belt” right about now is looking pretty damn good.

The Revenge of the Rust Belt: How the Midwest Got Its Groove Back

We’re not used to thinking of the old industrial Midwest as a beacon of good news. Just the opposite. It’s Exhibit A in the story of America’s economic decline — a land of hollowed-out factory towns and shrinking cities. There’s an entire genre of photography dedicated to Detroit’s decaying cityscape alone.

Yet, it may be time to rethink that view. Because there are signs that the heart of the rust belt may be finally shaking off its rust.

For the past thirty years or so, there have been two great running narratives about American manufacturing, both of which have been disastrous for the Midwest’s economy. The first has been about the disappearing factory worker — how by shipping some jobs abroad and replacing others with machines, companies have figured out ways to produce more goods with millions of fewer employees on their assembly lines. The second narrative has been about migration — the decision by companies to move production away from once-booming industrial centers of the north, to southern states with weaker unions and lower wages.

Both of those trends, it appears, may have drawn to an end.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in News


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Red State Sale? Bankrupt Greece Selling Islands

Geez – I always wanted my own Island!

With conservative s massive whining about the budget deficit – I think Greece has hit upon a solution! Considering the Red States that so many conservatives run are net welfare whores in terms of Federal Dollars being given to them far in excess of what they pay in…

Let’s sell them!

For SALE – Former Southern State, beautiful (somewhat) pristine beaches, (usually) mild weather, complete with political leadership which stays bought. CHEAP! Complete with Riviera, slightly leaky oil wells, an inexpensive (now unemployed) workforce, and blue(ish) water. A real fixer-upper deal!

Bankrupt Greece Selling Islands

What’s a country with no money and thousands of islands to do? Greece is trying to pay off some of its massive debt by selling or offering long-term leases on some of its 6,000 islands, only 227 of which are inhabited, the Guardian reports. The country, which received a $135 billion bailout from the European Union last month, has also put its rail and water systems up for sale.

“I am sad—selling off your islands or areas that belong to the people of Greece should be used as the last resort,” said the director of one property agency. “But the first thing is to develop the economy and attract foreign domestic investment to create the necessary infrastructure. The point is to get money.”


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