Having A Job May Not Be Enough To Make Ends Meet

From Consumer Affairs:  http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2011/04/having-a-job-may-not-be-enough-to-make-ends-meet.html

Millions ‘underemployed,’ group claims

Mark Huffman | ConsumerAffairs.com
04/01/2011

The nation’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in March to 8.8 percent, as the economy added more than 200,000 jobs during the month.

But despite the improvement, a new report says millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet, and we’re talking about people who have jobs.

A group called Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) has developed a formula that suggests the average single worker needs to earn $30,012 a year – nearly twice the federal minimum wage – to cover basic expenses. Single parents require nearly twice the income ($57,756) to support two children, while dual-income households with children require $67,920.

The poverty line

A family of four earning $22,050 a year is living below the federal poverty line. And many, in fact, are. Data from the U.S. Census bureau found 14.3 percent of Americans in that category in 2009.

“Too few American families are living in economically secure households, with most workers unable to stretch their incomes over basic expenses and savings,” said Joan Kuriansky, WOW’s Executive Director. “The American Dream of working hard to support your family is being re-written by the growth of low-paying industries and rising expenses.”

Inflation and deflation

In other words, the U.S. is struggling against both inflation and deflation at the same time. Prices of commodities like gasoline and food are rising rapidly. Salaries – at least those outside certain industries like financial services and health care – are going down.

WOW’s Basic Economic Security Tables for the United States report includes the comprehensive BEST Index that calculates the monthly income necessary for families to cover their basic expenses, including childcare, housing, health care, transportation, savings and retirement.

The report suggests things won’t change anytime soon. The report finds that jobs created in the coming years will not provide economic security wages to the majority of workers who do not have four-year college degrees.

Continue reading at:  http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2011/04/having-a-job-may-not-be-enough-to-make-ends-meet.html

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/business/economy/01jobs.html?scp=3&sq=motoko%20rich&st=cse

Many Low-Wage Jobs Seen as Failing to Meet Basic Needs

By MOTOKO RICH
Published: March 31, 2011

Hard as it can be to land a job these days, getting one may not be nearly enough for basic economic security.

The Labor Department will release its monthly snapshot of the job market on Friday, and economists expect it to show that the nation’s employers added about 190,000 jobs in March. With an unemployment rate that has been stubbornly stuck near 9 percent, those workers could be considered lucky.

But many of the jobs being added in retail, hospitality and home health care, to name a few categories, are unlikely to pay enough for workers to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care.

A separate report being released Friday tries to go beyond traditional measurements like the poverty line and minimum wage to show what people need to earn to achieve a basic standard of living.

The study, commissioned by Wider Opportunities for Women, a nonprofit group, builds on an analysis the group and some state and local partners have been conducting since 1995 on how much income it takes to meet basic needs without relying on public subsidies. The new study aims to set thresholds for economic stability rather than mere survival, and takes into account saving for retirement and emergencies.

“We wanted to recognize that there was a cumulative impact that would affect one’s lifelong economic security,” said Joan A. Kuriansky, executive director of Wider Opportunities, whose report is called “The Basic Economic Security Tables for the United States.” “And we’ve all seen how often we have emergencies that we are unprepared for,” she said, especially during the recession. Layoffs or other health crises “can definitely begin to draw us into poverty.”

According to the report, a single worker needs an income of $30,012 a year — or just above $14 an hour — to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies. That is close to three times the 2010 national poverty level of $10,830 for a single person, and nearly twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/business/economy/01jobs.html?scp=3&sq=motoko%20rich&st=cse

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Will the Obama Administration Appeal This F@#&ing Case?

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/obama-appeal-fcc-indecency-case

Conservative activists say Obama doesn’t give a $&*# about broadcast indecency. And they might be right.

— By Stephanie Mencimer
April 1, 2011

One downside of becoming president after eight years of White House control by the other party is that you get stuck having to defend an awful lot of “shit” left behind by your predecessor. Pardon our language, but in President Barack Obama’s case, this applies rather literally to a move by the Bush administration years ago to crack down on profanity on broadcast TV. Now, the Obama administration faces the decision of continuing the Bush team’s indecency crusade—or saying, well, screw it. And social conservative groups are ramping up a campaign declaring that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder don’t care about F-bombing the nation’s children.

Most Americans have long recovered from their inadvertent exposure to Nicole Richie’s utterance of the word “shit” during the Billboard Music awards in 2003 and Cher’s 2002 diss of her many critics on the same show, “So fuck ’em. I still have a job and they don’t.” The Federal Communications Commission is not so lucky.

In 2003, after Bono accepted an award at the Golden Globes, saying on live TV that “this is really, really fucking brilliant,” the Parents Television Council, a religious-right watchdog group, demanded that the FCC clean up the broadcast airwaves. In what became known as the “Golden Globes order,” the FCC ruled that a single utterance of the “F” or “S” word could violate the law prohibiting the broadcasting of obscenity. The FCC went ahead and fined major broadcasters $8 million for various indecency infractions, ranging from indiscriminate F-bombs to Janet Jackson’s nip slip during that infamous Super Bowl halftime show.

Naturally, the broadcasters thought, “WTF?” They decided to fight back, appealing the fines and challenging the FCC’s obscenity rules in court. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 2009 said it might be OK to ban that stuff, but noted that the 2nd Circuit court of appeals still hadn’t addressed the broadcasters constitutional concerns about the free speech issues at stake in the FCC’s new policy. So the case went back to the Second Circuit, where last summer a three-judge panel found the policy “unconstitutionally vague” and guilty of creating a “chilling effect” on speech. This owed largely to the fact that the policy didn’t really define the meaning of offensive speech.

Continue reading at:  http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/obama-appeal-fcc-indecency-case

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Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolution

From Market Watch: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tax-the-super-rich-now-or-face-a-revolution-2011-03-29?pagenumber=1

Commentary: A ‘Super-Rich Delusion’ is leading us to ruin

Paul B. Farrell
March 29, 2011

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Yes, tax the Super Rich. Tax them now. Before the other 99% rise up, trigger a new American Revolution, a meltdown and the Great Depression 2.

Revolutions build over long periods — to critical mass, a flash point. Then they ignite suddenly, unpredictably. Like Egypt, started on a young Google executive’s Facebook page. Then it goes viral, raging uncontrollably. Can’t be stopped. Here in America the set-up is our nation’s pervasive “Super-Rich Delusion.”

We know the Super Rich don’t care. Not about you. Nor the American public. They can’t see. Can’t hear. Stay trapped in their Forbes-400 bubble. An echo chamber that isolates them. They see the public as faceless workers, customers, taxpayers. See GOP power on the ascent. Reaganomics is back. Unions on the run. Clueless masses are easily manipulated.

Even Obama is secretly working with the GOP, will never touch his Super Rich donors. Yes, the Super-Rich Delusion is that powerful, infecting all America.

Here’s how one savvy insider who knows described this Super-Rich Delusion: “The top 1% live privileged lives, aren’t worried about much. Families vacation at the best resorts. Their big concerns are finding the best Pilates teacher, best masseuse, best surgeons, best private schools. They aren’t concerned with the underlying deterioration of America or the world, except in the abstract, because they aren’t directly affected by it. That’s not to say they aren’t sympathetic, aware, or don’t talk about the issues you bring up. They are largely concerned with protecting and enhancing their socio-economic positions, ensuring their families live well. And nothing you write about will change things.”

Warning, in 2011 that attitude is delusional, deadly, yet pervasive in America.

Continue reading at:  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tax-the-super-rich-now-or-face-a-revolution-2011-03-29?pagenumber=1

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The American right is trapped in a hyperbolic and dysfunctional world

From Reader Supported News: http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/5441-the-hyperbolic-and-dysfunctional-american-right

Originally posted in The Guardian UK:

By  Gary Younge
Guardian UK
Sunday March 30, 2011

Polls suggest there are between one in three and one in four Americans who would believe anything. More than a third thought President George Bush did a good job during Hurricane Katrina; half of those thought he was excellent.

Throughout most of 2008, as the economy careered into depression, just over one in four believed Bush was handling the economy well. As Bush prepared to leave office in January 2009, bequeathing bank bailouts, rampant unemployment, and Iraq and Afghanistan in tatters, a quarter of the country approved of his presidency.

These are national polls that span the political spectrum. So you can imagine how concentrated the distortions become when filtered through the tainted lens of the right. A poll earlier this month revealed that a quarter of Republicans believe a community rights organisation called Acorn will try to steal the election for Barack Obama next year, while 31% aren’t sure whether it will or not. It won’t. Because Acorn does not exist. It was defunded and disbanded after a successful sting operation by conservatives a couple of years ago.

Meanwhile, a poll last month showed that a majority of Republicans likely to vote in the primaries still believe Obama was not born in the United States. He was. But no number of verified birth certificates will convince them.

Such is the nature of the electorate that will select Obama’s principal opponent for the 2012 election. And such is the reason why a viable Republican contender has yet to emerge despite trough-loads of money and the Republican successes of the mid-terms. Among Republicans the latest polls suggest a crowded, splintered field of possibles with Mike Huckabee leading on 19%, followed by Mitt Romney on 15%, Sarah Palin on 12% and Newt Gingrich on 10%.

And if Republicans are unconvinced, Democrats are untroubled. When Obama is pitted against any of them in six states he took from Republicans in 2008, polls suggest he would win all but one – he would lose to Huckabee in North Carolina by 1%. He fares best against Palin, trouncing her by double figures everywhere but Ohio. Despite his favourability ratings suggesting the nation is evenly divided on his job performance, a national Pew poll suggests 47% would back Obama’s re-election against 37% who would prefer a Republican and 16% who did not know.

Continue reading at:  http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/5441-the-hyperbolic-and-dysfunctional-american-right

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The Macho Men Are Wrong on Social Security

Remember what I said about the new standard of macho and tough being about inflicting pain on others rather than enduring pain.

From Counter-Punch: http://www.counterpunch.org/baker04012011.html

Policy without Purpose

By DEAN BAKER

April 1-3, 2011

The accepted wisdom in Washington policy circles is that we have to cut Social Security if we are serious about dealing with the deficit. Before anyone rushes to shave the benefits of retirees it might be worth asking why.
By now, just about everyone has seen the charts touted by the deficit hawks showing that the cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is projected to go through the roof in the decades ahead, while the cost of everything else is more or less under control. This looks very ominous. The neat trick is that if Social Security is pulled out from the category with Medicare and Medicaid, and instead placed in the category with everything else, the chart looks almost exactly the same.

The real story is that the cost of Medicare and Medicaid are projected to go through the roof because the cost of health care is projected to go through the roof. We can put in any program – veterans benefits, Head Start, foreign aid – together with Medicare and Medicaid and show the cost of these three programs together going through the roof.

Lumping in Social Security with Medicare and Medicaid conceals the reality that the real long-term budget problem is a health care cost problem. The United States already pays more than twice as much per person for its health care as other wealthy countries. It gets little obvious benefit for this additional expense. Per person health care costs in the United States are projected to rise even further relative to both GDP and costs in other countries.

If these cost projections prove accurate, then it will have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy. Part of this story will be the huge deficits touted by the budget hawks since more than half of national health care spending is paid through the public sector. However this trajectory for health care costs will also have a devastating impact on the private sector as well. The cost of health care for workers was one of the big factors in the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler two years ago. If health care costs continue to soar, then the burden it imposes on employers and workers will rise correspondingly.

No one disputes these facts. The basic arithmetic would seem to demand an all out effort to control health care costs; why does Social Security get dragged into the picture?

It’s hard to argue that Social Security benefits are too generous, or that retirees enjoy extravagant lifestyles. The average Social Security benefit is just over $1,100 a month. The median income for a household headed by someone over the age of 65 in 2009 was $31,400. And the vast majority of Social Security benefits go to those who need them most. More than 75 percent of benefits go to individuals with non-Social Security income of less than $20,000 a year and more than 90 percent of benefits go to individuals with non-Social Security income of less than $40,000 a year.

Continue reading:  http://www.counterpunch.org/baker04012011.html

From Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/02/962431/-GOP-to-propose-$1-trillion-in-Medicaid-cuts

GOP to propose $1 trillion in Medicaid cuts

Joan McCarter for Daily Kos
April 2, 2011

The GOP isn’t just indifferent to poor, elderly, and disabled Americans, they actively want them to suffer. What else is there to conclude?

The assault on Medicaid is about to begin. GOP sources have told Politico’s Jonathan Allen that House Republicans will propose $1 trillion in cuts from the program. Exactly what form those cuts will take is not entirely clear. But a trillion dollars over ten years is serious money and Capitol Hill sources are saying it will likely come from two dramatic changes: Eliminating the Medicaid expansion that takes place under the Affordable Care Act and then converting the entire program into a system of block grants….[R]olling back the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion would mean taking health insurance away from about 15 million people. That’s the official, Congressional Budget Office projection of how many people will get coverage under Medicaid once the Act is fully in place.

As for turning Medicaid into a block grant, here’s a quick refresher on what that entails. Right now, Medicaid is an entitlement program. That means the federal government, in partnership with the states, must enroll everybody who meets the program’s guidelines. In other words, if millions of additional people become eligible because, say, they lost their job-based insurance in the recession, than the feds and the states have to provide them with coverage and find some way to pay for it. And it can’t be spotty coverage, either. By law, Medicaid coverage must be comprehensive.

At least, that’s the way it works now. If the law changes and Medicaid becomes a block grant, then every year the federal government would simply give the states a lump sum, set by a fixed formula, and let the states make the most of it.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/02/962431/-GOP-to-propose-$1-trillion-in-Medicaid-cuts

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/health/01dialysis.html?_r=1

When Ailments Pile Up, Asking Patients to Rethink Free Dialysis

By GINA KOLATA
Published: March 31, 2011

Of all the terrible chronic diseases, only one —end-stage kidney disease — gets special treatment by the federal government. A law passed by Congress 39 years ago provides nearly free care to almost all patients whose kidneys have failed, regardless of their age or ability to pay.

But the law has had unintended consequences, kidney experts say. It was meant to keep young and middle-aged people alive and productive. Instead, many of the patients who take advantage of the law are old and have other medical problems, often suffering through dialysis as a replacement for their failed kidneys but not living long because the other chronic diseases kill them.

Kidney specialists are pushing doctors to be more forthright with elderly people who have other serious medical conditions, to tell the patients that even though they are entitled to dialysis, they may want to decline such treatment and enter a hospice instead. In the end, it is always the patient’s choice.

One idea, promoted by leading specialists, is to change the way doctors refer to the decision to forgo dialysis. Instead of saying that a patient is withdrawing from dialysis or agreeing not to start it, these specialists say the patient has chosen “medical management without dialysis.”

“That is the preferred term,” said Nancy Armistead, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition, a Medicare contractor that collects data and patient grievances.

The phrase, she says, “acknowledges that death is imminent,” but it also sends an important message: “We are not just sending people home to die. We are offering palliative care.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/health/01dialysis.html?_r=1

So basically, whether you get treatment that prolongs your life or do not get that treatment depends upon the results of that fabled medical test, The wallet biopsy.

Or as the old folk song goes. “If living were a thing that money could buy, the rich would live and the poor would die.” has become a matter of Corporate government policy.  Of course the opposite is true.  they will keep you alive and attached to a machine as long as they can bleed any money from you or the insurance companies including Medicare/Medicaid.

Damn Capitalism totally sucks…

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An assault on women’s right to choose

From The Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-abortion-20110401,0,6503089.story

Editorial
More than 370 bills are in the works in state capitals seeking to restrict women’s constitutional right to an abortion. These unprecedented attacks are backed by many who claim to fear government intrusion into private affairs.

Imagine you decided to have a medical procedure but state law said that, even though your doctor supported your decision, you had to be screened to see if you were mentally fit for it, and then had to go to a clinic that directly opposes doing the procedure and listen to its spiel before you could go ahead. Most of us would call that unconscionable interference in our ability to make decisions about our own health.

Now imagine you’re a pregnant woman in South Dakota.

Under a law signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard last week, women who seek an abortion will have to wait 72 hours, undergo two visits to physicians to be checked for unspecified physical and mental risk factors, and be proselytized by an antiabortion counseling center before they can have the procedure. This in a state with just one center that offers abortions, which are performed by an out-of-state doctor who flies in a couple of times a month. In other words, a few days of waiting could add up to a lot more.

The South Dakota law is among 371 pieces of legislation that have been making headway in state capitals during the last few months — none of them in California — seeking to restrict and in some cases all but remove women’s access to abortions, according to the National Abortion Rights Action League. Not only is that more than twice as many antiabortion bills as last year, but, like the South Dakota law, many of the appalling bills are making swifter and surer progress toward passage.

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-abortion-20110401,0,6503089.story

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Barbara Ehrenreich – Smile or Die

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