We can play these “recovery” games in the media all we want, but the truth is starkly different from what our benevolent leadership would have us believe.
If the abhorrent unemployment numbers, the nearly 50 million on government food assistance, dwindling savings accounts, collapsing real estate values, and negative economic growth (when adjusted for inflation) are not enough to convince you that we are in a long-term depressionary cycle, then maybe these latest statistics of “near poor” Americans will:
Down but not quite out, these Americans form a diverse group sometimes called “near poor” and sometimes simply overlooked — and a new count suggests they are far more numerous than previously understood.
When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.
After a lost decade of flat wages and the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the findings can be thought of as putting numbers to the bleak national mood — quantifying the expressions of unease erupting in protests and political swings. They convey levels of economic stress sharply felt but until now hard to measure.
“These numbers are higher than we anticipated,” said Trudi J. Renwick, the bureau’s chief poverty statistician. “There are more people struggling than the official numbers show.”
One in three Americans are either below, or right at, the poverty line.
The scary thing is: We’re just getting started.
Things are not going to get better any time soon. This is a sustained downward depressionary environment and all of the key indicators for economic well-being suggest it’s only going to get worse.
One hundred million people are barely able to keep themselves fed, sheltered and clothed. Tens of millions more will join the ranks of the near poor over coming months and years.
As more people become part of the near poor, more debt will need to be issued. Coupled with rising prices in essential goods like food and energy, which are outpacing emergency assistance payments, there is simply no way to support everyone who needs help.
Government safety nets can only handle a finite amount of stress and weight before they experience complete failure.
As the nets unravel and fail we’ll be looking at catastrophic consequences for our social and economic systems as we know them today. The worst case hypothetical scenarios of debt driven currency collapse, food riots, and the degradation of law and order are very much becoming reality.