Sunday, January 05, 2014

What's That Sound I Hear? Tumbrels Drawing Near?

One of my (ex)-friends posted this link on FB this morning, "Five Economic Reforms."  He was outraged to discover that Rolling Stones magazine was "calling for communism!"  (He followed it up with pledge to stock more ammo, in case you were confused about his solution.)

Meanwhile, a third of our working adults -- that's people who have jobs, people who are working -- make less than poverty level wages.  (People without jobs are, obviously, usually doing worse.)

Half of our population lives in poverty. They survive with the help of such programs as HUD and SNAP -- and the GOP's solution to this has been, as we all know, to cut food stamp funding.

Meanwhile, even when jobs exist, the wages they pay are not enough to lift workers out of poverty.

Meanwhile, the route that used to get people out of the minimum wage life and into middle-class pastures -- education -- is being made rapidly inaccessible to all but the very wealthy.

That is, I worked when I was young at a series of depressing and occasionally awful jobs, most of them paying minimum wage, ranging from leaflet distributing to painting houses to night shift at McDonalds; but I was able to climb up out of these jobs because the state university was available to me.  Tuition was cheap then, and books weren't much more.  And tuition was cheap because the state and the federal government paid most of the cost of educating me.

Now the cost has been shifted to the backs of the students and their families, with a stop along the way to enrich bankers (via student loans), not to mention leg-breaking debt collectors.

I am not seriously calling for a Revolution -- who would, who had any sense of history?  I doubt Jesse Myerson was, either, actually.

But when we look at this situation, with most Americans not able to find a job that will let them buy both food and medical care for their kids, while 1% of America is stockpiling obscene amounts of wealth -- well, something has to change.  And the suggestions Myerson puts forth, which frankly aren't that radical (guaranteed basic income, public banks, jobs for all)  -- they sound less and less radical with every hungry student who turns up crying in my office.

The situation as it exists now isn't tenable, that's a straight fact.

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