According to the New York Times, poverty statisticians at the Census Bureau, which compiled the figures at the request of the Times, were surprised at the finding of “51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line.” This is in addition to the 46 million Americans living in poverty (that’s the 2010 figure, the newest I could find).
Anyone who is old and not wealthy, or any non-wealthy parents of young children, could have told them this: all of us know one or more people or entire families in this situation. But if the stats were a surprise, I hope their publication is widely acknowledged. I do not expect that, but hope springs eternal.
The NYT made sure it included lots of dismissive comments from a variety of right-wing organizations, which were especially critical of the use of the intuitive term “near poor.” But anyone who has ever been near poverty knows what it feels like. And in a society that loudly proclaims and projects the good life for everyone, as the US has done for decades, if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, even if you’re just barely making it, it feels terrifying.
Mitt the Shit has made it clear that he intends to fund yet another tax cut by shredding the safety net… Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, raising the retirement age, etc. To those who are contemplating voting for Romney, I ask this: are you middle-class? are you doing OK, more or less? are you employed? are you medically insured? is your house paid for? are the kids all graduated from college? Yes to all of that? One final matter: “… you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”