From the News and Observer
With unemployment high, interest rates low and inflation nearly non-existent, employers face no pressure to raise wages. Meanwhile, they absorb the productivity gains that flow from people working longer for less and advances in technology that let fewer workers do more. Five years after the financial crisis and the trauma of the Great Recession, the United States has settled into an increasingly unequally divided state, yet the issue gets virtually no attention from a party supposedly committed to a strong economy.
Republicans in Washington and Raleigh, of course, deny any design to profit from hardship. They say they are alarmed not by growing poverty, but by growing dependency on government aid. They are not out to cut people off, they say, they are out to set them free. In the spirit of liberation, they propose cutting food stamps, reducing payments to the unemployed and – most of all – preventing the law they call Obamacare from becoming another vast source of dependency alongside Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
At the same time, Republican-backed austerity measures are holding back the best anti-poverty program: more jobs. The sequestration and state budget cuts are weakening the economy, dampening demand and slowing job growth. The White House reported last week that the 16-day partial government shutdown may have cost the United States 120,000 new private sector jobs.
Poverty is not caused by assistance. It is reduced by it. The census report said food stamps lifted 5 million people out of poverty. If the program weren’t there, the poverty rate would increase from 16 percent to 17.6 percent. Without refundable tax credits such as the earned-income tax credit – the state version of which was just repealed in North Carolina – child poverty would climb from 18 percent to 24.7 percent. And if FDR’s opponents had won the day and there were no Social Security, the poverty rate for people 65 and older would be 54.7 percent and 24.5 percent for all age groups.
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The Right claims that assistance programs hold people back, making them dependent and lazy and unwilling to work, unable to attain complete self sufficiency and possibly riches beyond their dreams of avarice. The Right then cuts off aid and says this will force people to work (forcing people to work is a big part of slavery btw), compel people to live and prosper in the American Dream.
What the Right then lobbies for are lower wages, fewer regulations of labor (which will spur capitalists to hire more people so the story goes, evidently whether there is more demand for their goods and services or not), and the “freedom” of people with no choice to take these “newly created” jobs. Since these newly created jobs don’t pay enough to support the workers, workers then are forced to seek and fight over dwindling public resources and/or go into debt in order to make ends meet. Debt that is sometimes owed to subsidiaries or partners of the corporations for which the workers work (this would “the company store.”)
Welcome to the new plantation, Mr. John. Hope you like it here. You won’t be leaving anytime soon.