People listening to the news two years ago would’ve thought everything was going to be rosy in short order. The idea of long-term unemployment wasn’t even considered in 2008 when every show on the news paraded specialists, financial analysts and economists across the screen to opinionate about whether we might be in a Recession or not. And, if they used the word at all early in the Spring of ’08, it was as if to say it would cause it and so none of them wanted to use the word.
But, by doing that – people could not have possibly been prepared for long-term underemployment and unemployment. They maxed out their credit cards – “making do” for a short term downturn. They bought vacations as usual instead of doubling up on house payments or stocking the money for it to hold over through a longer period of time. And, in the process many more families and individuals slid into Third World America. It is hard to fight against experts well paid to tell whatever serves their agenda, their company’s agenda or their political friends’ agendas. And, it is even harder to fix things that not one person will admit is a serious and pervasive problem.
Here are the statistics that bear out the depth and degree of the problems in America –
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The nation’s poverty rate jumped to 14.3% in 2009, its highest level since 1994, and the 43.6 million Americans in need is the highest number in 51 years of record-keeping, the government said Thursday.
(On Situation Room, (CNN) – they said that figure represents 1 in 7 Americans living in poverty including millions of children and families).
On the CNN broadcast a little bit ago, they mentioned the foreclosure figures for August – which, I think was – 95,000 homes foreclosed in August (2010) and how many months have the foreclosure rates been in that stratosphere – has it been profitable to banks and mortgagors, finance companies and investors holding mortgage-backed securities to do it that way while families were put out into the streets? Of course.
And, there is the destruction of our communities. For every home foreclosed, at the very least – 3 people are affected. At the very least, scout troops, local businesses, churches and other community organizations are affected by the families whose homes have been foreclosed. And, ultimately the revenues from those property taxes paid by homeowners, along with the sales taxes they would’ve paid, the financial support of the utilities, local companies, local charities and churches, restaurants, grocers, strip shopping malls in the area, drug stores and malls, gas stations, auto service companies and others – are also lost.
The other thing that has been obvious, is that there was a game going on with mortgages and homeownership which was that people who were sold these homes with adjustable rate mortgages were supposed to sell them after having them for two years – or at least, by three years from the point of purchase of their home using one of those kinds of mortgages. The sale of the home was made to these families without telling them that and in many cases, it looks like they were sold homeownership in a traditional sense of putting down roots into the community and keeping the home over a long period of time – maybe in the minds of the buyers, as a place to live for many, many years. The game only worked if the home was sold before the rates adjusted by double which was two years after the sale. That means, to live in the house for about 18 months and then put a for sale sign on the loan and get a real estate broker to sell it. And, then buy another one and do the same thing. And 18 months later, to do it again. There is nothing in that game which works over a long period of time to raise a family, stay in the community, build relationships in the community and have a home for the next thirty years or more.
Greenspan’s mortgage wasn’t like that. Realtors’ mortgages weren’t like that. Senator’s and Governor’s mortgages weren’t like that. They didn’t get those kinds of mortgages. And, when it came time to work out the loans for these adjustable rate mortgages that had been sold into mortgage-backed securities in order to play that part of the money-making game for investors and stock market plays and hedge funds and banks, they were not about to take any losses on any of it. In foreclosure, they don’t lose any money on it because credit default swaps and insurance takes over to cover what those losses might have been. If the homeowners had bought into those mortgage-backed securities, they would’ve come out better and maybe been able to afford to re-purchase their own home after it went into foreclosure but how many homeowners even knew about that part of the game?
Yesterday, I took the day off rather than writing online, working on the website for the America the Beautiful Show or anything else on the computer. My mind is plagued by the multitude of times that I’ve tried to start a business or sell my art and I failed or I succeeded without making enough money to break even or I managed to invite rivalry, cruelty and back-stabbing without getting anything successful or profitable done at all.
On the website, I described the time I tried being a roofer. That was a thing for sure and taught me some good lessons about working in the sun during a heat wave of 104 and 105 degrees in Atlanta, among other things. It is on the website now, if anyone wants to read it. But there have been so many other times, with great ideas, following the business how-to and marketing how-to books, doing things timely and needed as the business idea, doing the search and contact with customers through many different avenues, getting information from many different sources and people about how to do it right or better or in ways that could work – and on review, it clouds my mind with failures, nothing but failures.
And, I’ve looked at what my country has been for the last thirty years of my adult life, and I see the screwiest ways of making money at the expense of others that is nothing showering the human race except abominations. From the home mortgages game that bought people a lot of money in the finance end of it and cost people their homes, their equity, their dreams, their communities and no telling what else – to the making of revenues for local counties and states by putting everyone through hell pursuing every misdemeanor charge of loitering, shoe-tying, mis-parking, walking at night, jay-walking, saying “why” to a police officer, not having an ID with the same married or maiden name that appears on a database somewhere or on the social security card or whatfuckingever. At about $5,000 per person charged once the DA’s office expands the charges to include every possible infraction that might relate to the original, it has gotten to be quite the little revenue generator. Prisons and jails have become businesses in America with every reason to make a profit for themselves and the county as they treat people with the contempt due a battlefield enemy rather than a fellow citizen.
Feeling despondent over losing a job, with no chance of getting a job anytime soon, house in foreclosure, family at each others’ throats, finding out that friends on the job don’t continue as friends after leaving, being laid off through no fault of your own but discovering that the community and new potential employers look at you like there is something wrong that you did – has now become big business too, treated as a business by doctors, psychiatrists, mental health services and pharmaceutical companies. They won’t actually fix any of it, but they can make sure you don’t give a damn with the right drug cocktail that will heighten the profits they are serving, including the share prices in their portfolios and their personal business fortunes. It is insane.
People are finding out that wrapping up personal worth and identity with how much money a person has or makes or generates or can create for a company – fails to serve any good person’s survival in the real world beyond that and fails miserably to prepare the character to survive not having money or a job. in fact, it just makes things worse and much more difficult to generate possible solutions and enact them successfully.
I watched on FoxNews earlier in this economic “Decession,” Depression or Recession – whatever it is, when several college educated people with jobs in the over $150,000 a year neighborhood, were telling a lady who had become homeless and was living in her car – what to do and how to do it. The moments when I was watching it broadcast, it was pretty obvious that people who could go to the bank and punch out money to pay for a $5000 dinner somewhere were totally clueless in what they were saying to her. They told her to drive her car around town and put in applications for jobs despite the fact that she had no money to put gasoline in the car or pay for insurance or tags for it or to put into a parking meter or to pay for bus fare or to buy anything for lunch nor to buy water to drink. They couldn’t understand why she had her car and wasn’t driving it all over town putting in applications everywhere. My guess is that she had already done that to some extent and discovered that without an address or a telephone, people aren’t going to hire her.
It was nuts – kinda like the time President Bush tried pumping gas into a car for a press story and couldn’t figure out how it worked because he had never done it before in his entire life. Now, that is the status of the decision-makers we have running everything in America, in communities, on news shows at times, and as experts making decisions for us and the kinds of people telling any of us how to do it when they have no idea how to do it unless their assistant is called to come take care of it for them.
Okay, so what good thing can I say today. Now there is a thing or two that I’ve learned from all this –
1. Is that with all the money spent on homelessness and poverty, if it simply went to the people directly that are homeless and impoverished, they wouldn’t be that way any longer.
2. Is that maybe a lot of other people have encountered the same things trying to start their own businesses or to create their own employment opportunities that I have over the last thirty years.
THE OTHER THING –
Are those poverty numbers saying that every 6 out of 7 Americans are doing fine financially? That is not what I see everywhere I look both on the news across the country, online, in the community where I live and across the local news anywhere I look at any locale in the US across the nation. In these stories and in news stories about the US in places around the world – there is every evidence that 6 out of 7 Americans aren’t doing okay financially in any estimation of it. Maybe 1 in 7 is living in an impoverished Third World America lifestyle, but every 6 out of the 7 aren’t doing okay either. I would guesstimate that 1 in 7 is a millionaire or billionaire and the rest of us are living in what could only be called, an economic wasteland.
Poverty in the United States is cyclical in nature with roughly 13 to 17% of Americans living below the federal poverty line at any given point in time, …
How does the United States measure poverty?
The United States determines the official poverty rate using poverty thresholds that are issued each year by the Census Bureau. The thresholds represent the annual amount of cash income minimally required to support families of various sizes.
The methodology for calculating the thresholds was established in the mid-1960s and has not changed in the intervening years. The thresholds are updated annually to account for inflation.
(from National Poverty Center)
2009 Poverty Thresholds, Selected Family Types
|Single Individual||Under 65 years||$ 11,161|
|65 years & older||$ 10,289|
|Single Parent||One child||$ 14,787|
|Two children||$ 17,285|
|Two Adults||No children||$ 14,366|
|One child||$ 17,268|
|Two children||$ 21,756|
|Three children||$ 25,603|
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, Report P60, n. 238, p. 55.
Poverty guidelines are a simplified version of poverty thresholds and are issued by the Department of Health and Human Services to determine financial eligibility for certain federal programs. For more information on these guidelines, see the 2010 Federal Poverty Guidelines.
My Note –
But, looking at the numbers above – for a basic apartment nearly anywhere, it costs $700.00 a month or more. The chart says that the poverty level for a single person is $11,161 – but to rent an apartment for a year at $700.00 a month would cost $8400 for the entire year. What is the person expected to be using to pay for lights, water, gas, food, transportation and health -related things, or anything else like shoes or a shirt to wear? It leaves $2,761 for an entire year to pay for food and everything else besides any very basic place to live. It looks like the numbers vastly underplay the amount of money it would actually cost to live in America anywhere. Why would they do that?
With childcare included, there is no way a family could survive on the $14,000 – $17,000 a year numbers or even at levels quite a bit above that.
I’ve also noticed a practice of excluding the numbers that people don’t like – whether it is some finance geek talking about it on bloomberg, or fox, or cnbc or CNN or anywhere else – or a government agency official describing the numbers for Congress or the press – They say things like, “well, without including gasoline, utilities, bread, sugar, coffee, bacon, or red meat or cereal – then there isn’t any real inflation . . . /.”
Well, if I didn’t include wanting to eat and buy a shirt occasionally, it wouldn’t look like there is any inflation in prices either. Although it could be noted that I don’t own a car, don’t have to buy tires for it and can’t afford gas for it anyway. I also don’t take the bus very often either because I can’t afford it. But, then those prices are going up anyway and that isn’t included in the ideas of what the economy is doing either.
And, I still don’t get why the stock brokerages that are now banks were having to borrow in order to pay their operating costs and have been doing that on a regular basis even though they are making a ton of money every minute, why big businesses have been borrowing to cover their operating costs for years even when profits were rolling in the front door every month, and why states and local governments were allowed to put our tax money into the stock market plays and credit default swaps and other exotic financial instruments and then when they lost the money – we had to make it up for them and suffer the cuts to every single thing, except their salaries that the tax money was supposed to do in the first place.
I don’t understand why the stock brokers, business leaders and their government friends, high-winded and high-powered friends in political arenas and bank executives thought it was okay to blame the current economic crisis on poor people, families who took out mortgages that were sold to them for the dream of homeownership and belonging to their community, on middle class Americans and in fact, on just about everybody else except for themselves. And, then they say now that they don’t like being blamed for the mess where they were the decision-makers at every stage of it who also profited from it . . .
Who the hell are these people?
Who was it that drove the home prices up to a point at which no one could afford them or the mortgages for them at any rate of income normal in America?
Who was it that drove the wages down to the point that no one could live on that income and have a home and food and basic necessities of living?
Who was it that decided that rather than putting money into the education of American citizens being qualified to have our white collar jobs so they could afford those homes, that it was better to import white collar workers from other nations to the US for those jobs?
Who was it that decided to take our factories and businesses overseas for their labor force rather than in the US after making their profits from our money and sales made in the US?
Who was it that decided to make America into a consumer based economy without manufacturing jobs, without small businesses, without job opportunities or employment and without the opportunities to succeed in any business venture created in the United States? Who did that?
Who was it who decided that to make it increasingly harder for small and medium sized businesses to get into the marketplace or to succeed once they got there was a good way to keep the competition down? Did it not occur to them what that would mean in the long run as far as drawing more money and opportunities for a consumer base to be available?
And, who was it that decided to keep the commercial real estate properties on the books for the same value as they would’ve had two or three or five years ago – when now they are decrepit, ruined, un-trafficked and unsellable?
Who was it that decided having only petroleum based fuels was the best thing for the United States as an “energy” policy?
What moron came up with that plan?
And which of those same jackasses came up with the plan to float junk bonds and raid companies of every asset they had available including pension plans, future earnings, real estate, facilities, patents, trade secrets and business advantages, data, customer databases, copyrights and every other thing that was earned in an honest, legal manner by these companies?
Whose idea was that? And, whose idea was it to let them get away with it?
Who did that stuff? Who decided it? And, who decided to let companies raid their pension plans, to raid future earnings by leveraging them to pay bonuses and salary upgrades to executive staff members, and to lay off their American workers to outsource those same jobs? Who did that?
Who decided to play both sides of the market and manipulate the prices of the market shares up or down to suit themselves, including in gasoline futures which in the summer of 2008 put multitudes of businesses, truckers, shippers and other companies out of business?
Who put together these shadow banking systems of credit default swaps, mortgage backed securities, CDOs and commercial paper / bond goodies that are swamping our currency and virtually created the economic disaster? Whose thinking was that?
You know, the problem with all this is that if the financial products were included in the GDP, the prostitution and illegal drug sales were included in the GDP and the revenues coming from all of them were taxed accordingly at 33% or more – like income taxes are assessed against the poorest of our nation – we wouldn’t have a problem in the economy.