Monday, February 26, 2007

Rant of the Cancan Dresses

RawStory gives reader this partial article on a poverty study:

"Based on the latest available US census data from 2005, the McClatchy Newspapers analysis found that almost 16 million Americans live in "deep or severe poverty" defined as a family of four with two children earning less than 9,903 dollars -- one half the federal poverty line figure.

Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries," the study found.

That helps explain why the median household income for working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty -- the highest rate since at least 1975. The share of poor Americans in deep poverty has climbed slowly but steadily over the last three decades, the report said."

What RawStory doesn't give is a link to McClatchy Newspaper of the entire article. The article also states:

"About one in three severely poor people are under age 17, and nearly two out of three are female. Female-headed families with children account for a large share of the severely poor."

---And according to their census data, nearly two out of three people in severe poverty are white at 10.3 million, severely poor blacks 4.3 million, and extremely poor Hispanics 3.7 million.

Of course there shouldn't be poverty in America. There are a lot of "shouldn't be's" in the world, in life. But the above type of article is nothing more than fodder for "liberals" who will juggle the same numbers differently after they take office in 2008.

As a child of older parents and rural poverty I remember the 1950s when hoboes were a regular thing at our backdoor. Mom would always give a meal, often when we had little ourselves for dinner. If crops were good she gave jars of canned peaches or tomatoes and loaves of bread. We lived in a 4 room shotgun shack with no running water. The outhouse was out back. Heat was a coal stove, summer cooling was skinny dipping in the pond. An uncle who had moved to Michigan and made good gave us our first 12 inch B&W television.

I have always hated those rags to riches stories where the person says "… we were poor but never knew we were poor." Such bull. If you didn't know you were poor you weren't poor enough.

I knew we were poor because at the rural grocery store and in town I saw the little blonde white girls in their poofy pretty cancan dresses, the rage in the '50s, and I wanted one so bad my heart ached. I saw their Barbie dolls and accessories and went home to draw paper dolls on brown paper bags.

I knew we were poor when some winters there was no coal and the water bucket in the kitchen froze overnight. I knew we were poor because sometimes I did homework by kerosene lamp to save on electric. I knew we were poor materially but I did know mom and dad were committed to me. Dad would walk 20 miles in the night rain to find medicine when I had pneumonia and still rise at sunset to work until sundown for $5 a day.

They would eat less themselves and buy books from a traveling book salesman. I enjoyed books but why couldn't I have a cancan dress. When I was 12 they took a loan to buy my first Smith-Corona typewriter, I felt rich, and I have ranted ever since. I lost my parents in my teens and years later I figured they must have known that knowledge was my only way out or up.

Census shows that in 1955 there were 21 million Americans living in poverty; my family would have been in that 21 million (and me without a cancan dress). The population at the time was 164 million; that's a rate of about 12.7 percent living in poverty. Today with a population of 301 million and 37 million in poverty that's approximately 12.5 percent.

Poverty has not changed much, other than some of the middle class cannot live as well as they did previously, or at least not unless they sweat more to do so. Going from middle class to "extreme poverty" is rare, although going from homeowner to renter, from 2 cars and a boat to 1 car, etc. may feel like poverty.

Most of today's poverty is single female head of households, and virtually all of the growth of single-parent families in recent decades has been driven by an increase in births outside marriage. Connect the dots. Most of these women are single by choice, not widowed or abandoned.

Granted, corporate hogdom is everywhere, but even I cannot hold corporations and CEOs responsible for female-headed households of unwed mothers having babies with whatever sperm comes along. For 3 decades it's been socially acceptable to procreate … just because … because … because we can … and "social programs" will pay for it.

I have watched Black men dumb down enough to risk spending years in the pen for selling rock and weed to buy rims on a ride, playing big man on the corner. Callous to the point that a trail of abandoned children seldom crosses his consciousness, or he feels big because he gives a few court ordered dollars to the mother of the children he seldom sees and doesn't parent, and eventually blames his life on "the man." Not smart enough to see he's admitting he couldn't outsmart "the man."

The opposition laments and points to every "study" on poverty as proof that the ruling party is bad. Both parties apparently unaware many of these poster children of poverty are tomorrow's inmates because both parties are also "tough on crime." And few have the courage to say social programs are structured to foster laziness, ignorance, dependence.

We have created a culture where there is little or no community of helping one another, more often it's to get over on one another; a culture with no respect for living honestly but for living larger - by any means necessary. Encouraged to piss away today and government will take care of tomorrow. If you haven't figured out that a bloated corrupt government will do nothing in your best interest then you may never figure it out.

In America not all poverty is self-fostered with government collusion, there are exceptions, the era/time, circumstances, and misfortune - but there are not 37 million exceptions. The public is given a success story on occasion with a former single welfare mom who made good using social programs, becomes educated, well-employed, movin' on up. More funding please, the public and federal fat cat administrators beg, the welfare system works!

While I generally practice a live and let live philosophy, I hold liberal America partly responsible for making irresponsibility a "lifestyle" worthy of choosing. For decades I have watched the 'hood go from working family parenting households to Shamika with 5 babies from 5 daddies, who will sell half her foodstamp allowance to Linda Sue who needs to feed her 4 pasty pale children, although Linda Sue is married her old man is either a meth head or too lazy to work, but he's in the home.

Shamika will spend most of her paycheck from a dead-end job, if she has one, on getting her hair and nails done for clubbing Saturday night, looking for the next Mr. Slick. Linda Sue's hubby has a disability check that barely covers the payment on his pickup truck and they're all making lifetime payments to Rent One on a big screen TV and/or furniture their undisciplined and unbearable children will trash in a year.

Technically by income they may qualify for the poverty list – but they, like millions of Americans, are destitute only in character.

There's a big difference between giving a hand up and a handout. One is done from loving - the other for control. I know because the only thing my parents had to give was a hand up.


abi said...

When I read the McClatchy article, I was surprised it didn't have anything to say about Clinton's welfare "reform," either for or against. Did it help women get off welfare AND get out of poverty, or did it just throw more women (and their children) into deeper poverty?

My guess is the latter. I also have to think that for every "Shamika," there are many decent women who, for a variety of reasons, can't get out from under without help.

I don't have stats for thinking that. I don't know if there are stats that could reliably settle the matter, one way or the other.

But the bottom line for me is the stat that 1 in 3 severely poor people are children under 17. For a wealthy nation like ours to abandon these kids is a crime - even (or especially) if they happen to be Shamika's kids.

Still, I always enjoy reading your posts, even when we disagree.

Kate-A said...

It's a hot topic. Those women who need assistance for a short time, use welfare for a short time, but too many have been lifetime and/or generational.

Clinton's reform succeeded in forcing women into cheap labor. I see too many though who abuse welfare, with malnourished and unparented children. The saddest part is they're not learning. I am appalled at the illiteracy among Blacks.

The one and only time I reported anyone, I was told, in my State, a bag of chips and RC cola is considered okay as a meal. Brain food for the future.

Welfare has not helped, but hampered. Welfare and the prison system have enslaved too many Blacks - and it doesn't have to be that way. We enable our own cultural demise. Instead of self-made economic strategies we've entered into corrupting social programs.

While I don't like Bill Cosby's comedy, and feel some of his points are puny, he is correct in his rants about parenting and education, or lack of, in the Black community today. I take issue with the fact that for decades he was too busy in the entertainment industry and too PC to offer constructive criticism sooner.

I was thinking last night how we look up and point fingers and yell about the corrupt scum running the world - but maybe if we worked on the roots (we the people) the PTB would be unable to do the things they do. If the roots stopped accepting the sleeze entertainment, the fake education, pharmaceutical cure-alls for the mind, enabling welfare system, pointless consumerism, etc....

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