Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What's the Matter With Kids Today?

Despite the alleged economic recovery, American children are just not getting with the feel-good public relations program. In the five years since the financial meltdown solidified the permanent wealth of the plutocrats, the child poverty rate in the One Indispensable Nation has been steadily creeping up. Twenty-three percent of all American citizens below the age of 18 now live in poverty. Unsurprisingly, it's worse for black children, nearly one-third of whom are now deemed to be officially poor.

Between 2008 and 2013, the actual number of poor children in the US increased from 13.2 million to 16.1 million, an increase of four full percentage points. The Annie P. Casey Foundation, which just released its Kids Count report, notes that one especially disturbing finding is that urban childhood poverty is now at the highest level since 1990. Statistically speaking, poor children from cities are more likely to drop out of school and develop behavior and emotional problems.

The authors found that although the employment rate for parents of poor children has improved somewhat, wages have not. Nor are parents who have dropped out of the workforce and stopped looking for jobs even counted in the statistics. The shift toward more low-wage, part-time and precarious employment has, in fact, been detrimental to children. They were better off when their parents were collecting the now-defunct  unemployment benefits than they are with parents working two or three part-time jobs, or driving for Uber with cars bought on high-interest credit.

Moreover, the child poverty stats in the report cover only the most desperate families of the USA. Taking into account that families need an income of at least twice the official federal poverty level in order to live comfortably, 45% of all American children can be said to be enduring a precarious existence.

An earlier report noted that even Greece, with its official Great Depression-worthy unemployment rate of 25%, is actually better off than the cities of Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Fresno, Memphis and Miami.

And the bipartisan slashing of the social safety net goes on and on with a vengeance. In just the past two years alone, Congress has cut the food stamp program by $13.7 billion. Long-term unemployment benefits for jobless parents are a thing of the past. As multimillionaire Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi so charmingly put it as she joined the War Against the Poor right before Christmas in 2013: "Embrace the suck."

At least Marie Antoinette is said to have told the peasants to just eat some cake and get on with their lives. All the American political aristocracy has to offer is more hot air and endless campaigning and a vague promise of help to only the "hard workers" out there. They mouth platitudes about "investing in" children so as to improve the lot of future generations. They say nothing about feeding them, and giving their parents a living wage and a decent job right now, this very minute.

As the late Eduardo Galeano wrote in Upside Down, "Day after day, children are denied the right to be children. The world treats rich kids as if they were money, teaching them to act the way money acts. The world treats poor kids as if they were garbage, to turn them into garbage. And those in the middle, neither rich nor poor, are chained to televisions and trained to live the life of prisoners."

And that is just the way the ruling class racketeers like it. If they ever read Dickens, they probably look upon Mr. Murdstone as a role model.

"We've fixed the place up special, even polished off your chains!"

1 comment:

Ghost of Tom Joad said...

Yes, "investing in" children who are going to make it to adulthood and be somebody. The rest? Fuck-em. America is returning to its Darwin roots. Why invest in kids who are gonna mouth-off to a cop and get killed? Or mouth-off to another kid and get killed? Scarce dollars are needed to pay Social Security to oldsters. No more helicopter kids please. Little Johnny might get run over chasing a ball, too bad for him. But the other five kids who witnessed the slaughter are gonna be more careful, don't ya think?

Okay now, time to load-up the old truck, moving to California, gonna get one of those jobs at google or apple, or facebook. Pickin fruit is for loosers.

The Ghost of Tom Joad