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As Bob Dylan famously wrote “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Especially when the wind is right in your face, howling at gale force.
While Washington fiddles with the knobs and levers of budget reduction, America’s great working class is being blown down by harsh economic winds. Yet, our country’s political and financial elites, sitting in the comfort of their power centers, don’t seem to see, hear, or care. If the elites just looked around, here’s some of what they find:
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• In Central Texas, a surge in poverty is now severely straining the area food bank, which is struggling with more than a 50 percent increase in demand in the past three years.
• Arizona, which has added only 4,000 jobs in the past year, has 10 unemployed job seekers for every opening – and 45,000 Arizonans are set to lose their jobless benefits in the next few months.
• By the end of the Great Recession in 2009, the median white household in America had lost $36,000 in net worth. Worse, the median African-American household had lost 83 percent of its net worth, which is now down to the financially perilous level of less than $2,200.
• While CEOS of major corporations have jacked up their pay by a fourth since the recession technically ended in 2009, average wages for workers have stagnated. Meanwhile, the price of such basics as food and gasoline have risen relentlessly. Real wages today are 1.6 percent lower than a year ago.
So, who is Washington working to help? Not the hard-hit workaday majority – but the $9 million-a-year CEOs and billionaire Wall Street barons who’re demanding drastic budget cuts on programs that help working families, while also insisting that their own lavish fortunes be spared from even the slightest dings. What a shameful time in our history! Can’t America do better than this?
“The GOP Plays with Fire, We All Get Burned,” www.thinkprogress.org, July 8, 201.
“Food bank’s new building to double capacity,” Austin American Statesman, July9, 2011.
“Economy Faces a Jolt as Benefit Checks Run Out,” The New York Times, July 11, 2011.
“Recession knocks some blacks into poverty,” Austin American Statesman, July 10, 2011.
“Recovery weak, lopsided toward wealthy,” www.timeswv.com, July 2, 2011.