Thursday, October 7, 2010

Food Stamps

The poverty and hunger in the US is up dramatically:
  • 19.4 million Americans receive food stamps.

  • That is an increase of 20% over one year ago.
From the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA:

Click to Enlarge

The US Census Bureau has some horrifying statistics on poverty in the US, e.g.:
  • In 2009, 43.6 million people were in poverty, up from 39.8 million in 2008 — the third consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.

  • The number of people in poverty in 2009 (43.6 million) is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
Meanwhile, all strata of US society fail to understand how badly distorted the US economy is. Here is a picture of the actual distribution of wealth, versus what different group estimate that the real distribution is, and versus what they think the 'ideal' distribution is (graph from here, but the original research was done by Dan Ariely and Mike Norton, see his blog post here):

Click to Enlarge

The good news is that there isn't that much disagreement about what the ideal situation would be. But politically, those who have are completely unwilling to recognize how badly distorted their greed has made the situation and they have used their great wealth to block any progressive politics which would attempt to restore a 'fair playing field' so that all social groups can succeed economically and achieve a 'fair' share of the wealth. The rich don't disagree with the poor about what a fair distribution would be. The rich simply refuse to recognize how bad things are and put all their effort into preventing any amelioration.

Politicians in the US are so busy fighting "politics" that they haven't noticed there is a Great Recession, that poverty is growing, and that effort and reward are out of wonk (wealth is badly distributed).
  • The Republicans want to destroy government to achieve their ideological goal of "small government, preferably no government" (aka 'the party of NO').

  • The Democrats are terrified of governing because they are afraid that they might be accused of pushing 'big government'. So they busy themselves with low profile fiddling around the edges (amelioration) and ignore the horrors of dysfunctional government all around them (the Great Recession).
Nobody wants to lead in the US.

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