A few statistics:
(From Juan Cole)
Of all the income growth of the entire country of the United States in the Bush years, the richest 1 percent of the working population, about 1.3 million persons, grabbed up over two-thirds of it.
From 1999 to 2009 health insurance premiums increased 132 percent for the companies paying most of the costs of coverage to their employees.
Average private health insurance premiums for a family of four in 1999 were US$5,485 per annum or 7.2 percent of household disposable income. 2008 premiums were estimated at US$12,973 per annum or 14.8 percent of average household disposable income.
By Bush’s last year in office, food insecurity among American families was at a 14-year high. About 49 million Americans, one in six of us, worried about having enough food to eat at some points in that year, and resorted to soup lines, food stamps, or dietary shortcuts. Some 16 million, according to the NYT, suffered from ‘"very low food security," meaning lack of money forced members to skip meals, cut portions or otherwise forgo food at some point in the year.’
(From Eric Eckholm in the New York Times)
In the recession, the nation’s poverty rate climbed to 13.2 percent last year, up from 12.5 percent in 2007, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Census Bureau. The report also documented a decline in employer-provided health insurance and in coverage for adults.
The bureau said 39.8 million residents last year lived below the poverty line, defined as an income of $22,025 for a family of four. In another sign of both the recession and the long-term stagnation of middle-class wages, median family incomes in 2008 fell to $50,300, compared with $52,200 the year before. This wiped out the income gains of the previous three years, the report said. Adjusted for inflation, in fact, median family incomes were lower in 2008 than a decade earlier
Continuing an eight-year trend, the number of people with private or employer-sponsored insurance declined, while the number of people relying on government insurance programs including Medicare, Medicaid, the children’s insurance program and military insurance rose.
Now read this story:
But many of the nearly 1,200 workers who process some 1.4 billion gallons of New York City sewage every day say they can handle those indignities. What disgusts them, what has tested sobriety, credit ratings and marriages more than any stubborn stench, is the fact that their salaries have not budged, in some cases for as long as 15 years… Sewage-treatment workers earn an average of about $42,000 a year, a figure unchanged since 2001. Los Angeles pays a starting salary of $71,000 for similar work.
This is a pretty easy thing to joke about, but it’s really not funny. We live in a society whose distributive priorities are just plain impossible to defend. And a big part of the reason for the crazy noise you hear coming out of Fox and talk radio is to avoid addressing that fact.