?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

I'd be really interested to hear opinions about this. I found some of the statistics in it close to unbelievable, but I trust the writer.

It's about poverty in Ohio.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1076608,00.html

Tags:

Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
laurakaye
Nov. 3rd, 2003 08:28 am (UTC)
I can't verify the numbers, but it doesn't seem hard to believe at all to me.

I'm sure the health-care situation is much worse.

And unemployment statistics don't even reflect the people who have to take two or three no-benefit jobs just to make ends meet. And still can't afford to go to the doctor.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 05:57 am (UTC)
I knew about the health situation because we get to hear about that, but I didn't know about the severity of the poverty experienced in some areas.
timesink
Nov. 3rd, 2003 08:29 am (UTC)
and my city was gone
Logan, Ohio, is in the very pretty but very economically godforsaken southeastern part of the state.

That said ... unfortunately, there is not one statistical exaggeration in that story.

Some hunger stats: http://www.hungerinamerica.org/site_content.asp?s=59

Some poverty stats:
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2003/cb03-153.html

Read 'em and weep.

And I'll vouch in advance for every stat in the uninsured story promo'ed at the end of the story. (The writer will probably note that most of America's uninsured have jobs. If he doesn't, he should.)

infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 05:59 am (UTC)
Re: and my city was gone
Re: the stats -- good lord. But it's a pattern repeating across the west: rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, some pockets of the country almost totally left behind.
sorlklewis
Nov. 3rd, 2003 08:29 am (UTC)
From my own experience, I'd say that's fairly accurate. There's something really fekkin' wrong about the entire thing, isn't there?
jeviltwin
Nov. 3rd, 2003 08:31 am (UTC)
I wish I found anything in the article surprising, but I honestly don't. Just speaking from my own experience, food is the expendable expense. Viva ramen noodles!

On very bad days (say, last Autumn), I tried to look at the big picture: if I let my parents sell the house, that would pay off my debt (if they were being that kindly), but the leftovers (ha) wouldn't be enough to pay for another house; I don't have a car or any fancy jewelry, and I could sell things like TVs or stereos, but I'd get nowhere near what they're worth; all of which is to say, falling into further destitution doesn't appeal to me either. I have health insurance, but at a steeper-than-I'd-like cost.

I know, logically, two things: my parents would not let me starve. And I could take another job or two -- low wages, no benefits. (And I may as well, since I'm not in the mood to go back to college.) But at some point, what am I working for again? A place to sleep? And at some point, my parents won't be around. Thus the debt management plan. Thus the putting off of certain doctor's visits and the $20-max. trips to the grocery.

I remember us being on food stamps. I remember my aunt saying to my mother, "We won't let you lose the house." So...the article doesn't surprise me. It makes me actually somewhat glad that my life is as stable as it is (I'd just as soon not find out how stable it actually isn't, thankyouverymuch), even if I have to budget to buy milk.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 06:03 am (UTC)
You're right. Working two jobs is soul-destroying, in the long-term because there's no space to breathe.

I think that I had not quite realised how pervasive the poverty was in more rural areas until I read that article
cofax7
Nov. 3rd, 2003 08:53 am (UTC)
Yup, yup, yup.

Two years ago the high tech firms were petitioning Congress to loosen up immigration rules so they could bring more workers into the US -- they were desperate for qualified staff. Now every week there's another article about tech work being outsourced to India. And that's just the Bay Area, which was better off to start with.

Manufacturing jobs are going away, and we're ending up with a society that's feeding on itself. You can't support a nation on a services economy. ::sigh::
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 06:04 am (UTC)
Manufacturing jobs are going away, and we're ending up with a society that's feeding on itself. You can't support a nation on a services economy. ::sigh::

Our government appears to be trying to. Well, that and construction.
lenadances
Nov. 3rd, 2003 09:05 am (UTC)
Well, that's just reminded me to get off the stick and donate.

http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/index.htm
leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 10:04 am (UTC)
It's not the stats, it's the spin.

Check where they're mixing real numbers - 'more people living in poverty' and percentages - they don't mention that while the real numbers are rising, the percentages per capita are falling.

Also - it would be interesting to compare the 'material goods' of American poor vs poor in other parts of the world.

Yeah, we got poor people here. Yeap, when the economy sours, the unskilled and low-productive workers 1)lose their jobs first and 2) can't find new jobs.

(What, the high-producing, in high demand, highly skilled workers are supposed to be fired first?)

And when you're poor - you can't afford stuff.

(So the solution is to use a highly expensive labor force to make goods (like in the US) instead of a cheap one (like most places overseas)?)

The article glosses over the fact that the highest percentage of jobs lost in the recent down turn were fairly high paying middle management jobs. Not the working poor or working class jobs.

FDR's jobs and welfare programs took an ecomony that was starting to turn around and drove the Great Depression even deeper.

Easy answers are not there.

- hossgal
coffeeandink
Nov. 3rd, 2003 10:20 am (UTC)
(What, the high-producing, in high demand, highly skilled workers
are supposed to be fired first?)


How does that accord with

The article glosses over the fact that the highest percentage of jobs lost in the recent down turn were fairly high paying middle management jobs. Not the working poor or working class jobs.?

The high-paying, by industry definition highly-skilled jobs went--which meant that the unskilled ones went first.

The increase in middle-class unemployment doesn't do anything to decrease the working-class/working-poor unemployment -- it means that more people shift from one category to another, and there's an increase in people who are no longer making enough to pay for food or for health insurance.

FDR's jobs and welfare programs took an ecomony that was starting to turn around and drove the Great Depression even deeper.

I'd really like to see what you're using to support that statement.

In re: what people can't afford: I think the article is pretty clear that what they can't afford is food.

leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 02:15 pm (UTC)
Well, infinitemonkeys said she wanted opinions.


How does "What, the high-producing, in high demand, highly skilled workers are supposed to be fired first?"
accord with:
"The article glosses over the fact that the highest percentage of jobs lost in the recent down turn were fairly high paying middle management jobs. Not the working poor or working class jobs."?


1)Nationwide - and, as I said below, one of the article's weaknesses is that it uses both local and national numbers (as well as percents and absolutes) as suits it's purpose - more jobs were lost in middle management. That's what's made this an easier downturn than it could be - educated skilled more flexible workers were out of jobs, rather than those already living hand to mouth.

2) And, yes, I was mocking the article's concern over lower skilled workers getting fired first. No matter the wage or skill range - and barring such hampering rules as senority - the less productive worker goes first. Or - rather - the worker who's producing the least per wage paid goes first. If your counter clerk is producing more per dollar of pay than your machinist, and you have extra machinists and clerks, you get rid of the extra machinists.

The high-paying, by industry definition highly-skilled jobs went--

But no longer in demand jobs. Too many people with the same high skills.

The increase in middle-class unemployment doesn't do anything to decrease the working-class/working-poor unemployment -- it means that more people shift from one category to another,

No. It's a shift in percentages - more of the unemployed are middle-class, means that fewer of the unemployed are working class. We're talking income levels before unemployment.

It's not correct to assume that everyone unemployed is now poor.

and there's an increase in people who are no longer making enough to pay for food or for health insurance.

That's different than an increase in unemployment - at least, in the US (as a whole). 90% of our unemployed get a job within a year. (In France, it's 5%, I think.)

What you're talking there is a increase in poor people- and here the article does it's percentage/whole numbers switch again.

FDR's jobs and welfare programs took an ecomony that was starting to turn around and drove the Great Depression even deeper.

I'd really like to see what you're using to support that statement.In re: what people can't afford: I think the article is pretty clear that what they can't afford is food.


I'm so tempted to go on a tear about how really, basicly, fundamentaly frelled up that conclusion is. But I'll leave it as - US food is cheaper than any other country in the world. And US government stats on how much food should cost per person per week are so grossly inflated as to be nearly unuseable.

And I'll get you stats on that, too.

- hossgal
leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 03:11 pm (UTC)
For the effects of FDR on the Great Depression, try starting with this:

http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/20031011-113010-6227r.htm

- hg
coffeeandink
Nov. 3rd, 2003 04:17 pm (UTC)
And two minutes' Googling gets me this criticism of one of Powell's major sources, as well as discussion of whether the New Deal's success should be measured in terms of overall unemployment or numbers of people going hungry.
qowf
Nov. 3rd, 2003 10:42 am (UTC)
Dude. Where ever you live, you don't live in Southern Ohio otherwise you'd try not to debunk this.

These statistics are accurate. My family is from Southern Ohio. They and their friends have varying degress of education. Most members are not middle management. There have been so many layoffs; they live in fear for their jobs because jobs in Southern Ohio are hard to come by and harder to keep.

Southern Ohio has been experiencing a depression since the early eighties due to the fact that so many of the jobs in the region, in fact, the region's prosperity was built in manufacturing. Computer technology, the shipping of jobs overseas to cheaper labor and automation of jobs that it took people to do before have stripped the work places of jobs. Machining is not a big focus anymore which means the job market is not booming in Southern Ohio. In the jobs that are there, many people have been forced to take pay cuts to *keep* their jobs. Unemployment has sucked in that region of the country for a long, long time.

The only thing that is there is govermental contract work and that's hard to get. My husband and I have considered moving back there because one thing the area has is excellent schools and a low standard of living. However the only way we'd consider that is if I could land a job on Base because *that's* the only job with security in the area.

This is the wrong section of the country to pull out spin statistics. I'm sure in others it would suffice, however, not in Southern Ohio.
timesink
Nov. 3rd, 2003 11:29 am (UTC)
the region's prosperity was built in manufacturing

And coal, right? High-sulfur coal, the kind that causes acid rain. The kind that costs companies a lot in scrubbers and other environmentally-friendly whatnot, so why not buy low-sulfur coal instead?

leadensky, I recognize your name from other political discussions, and generally you and I share a worldview. But this article is dead on. Rural America is taking the brunt of the paradigm shift to a service-driven economy, and there's little that's been done about it -- unless you count government cheese.

qowf
Nov. 3rd, 2003 12:33 pm (UTC)
>>And coal, right? High-sulfur coal<<

Yep, said the woman who's grandfather and uncle worked at the steel mills in the area, whose aforementioned uncle still walks the coke pits on holidays for quadruple pay. It's the only way he and his family can afford Christmas.
leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 01:48 pm (UTC)
Rural America is taking the brunt of the paradigm shift to a service-driven economy, and there's little that's been done about it -- unless you count government cheese.

As a person whose family has traditionally been farmers on both sides for several generations, I am well aware of this. The problem is that there is, actually, fuckall that can be done.

Farming, logging and mining jobs are going away. The people involved in those will have to re-train, and, in most cases, re-locate. Most people are resistent to that. In addition, the people most able to do so, have already done so, before the situation got desperate.

Wages are linked to the value of product produced. Jobs are linked to the number of manhours required to produce the product.

Automation lowers the cost of the product by decreasing the manhours required. Iron, coal, wheat and lumber are commodities that face pressure from overseas producers who can pay top wages for their products in that area and still undercut American wages by 50 to 90%.

There is not a government program on the planet that can make companies employ people at a loss to that company. And there's very little one can say to make me pay more taxes to support people who aren't working.

(Charity I do. Charity I do a lot. But I won't pay the government waste monster in the middle.)

And with dairy price supports declining, there's not even much cheese to go around.

- hg
leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 01:55 pm (UTC)
NATIONWIDE a greater percentage of jobs have been lost in middle management. The article uses both national and local stats, as benifits it's message.

I am aware there are pockets of the country where automation and industry decline has decreased the number of jobs required.

Southern Ohio has been experiencing a depression since the early eighties due to the fact that so many of the jobs in the region, in fact, the region's prosperity was built in manufacturing. Computer technology, the shipping of jobs overseas to cheaper labor and automation of jobs that it took people to do before have stripped the work places of jobs. Machining is not a big focus anymore which means the job market is not booming in Southern Ohio.

Right. I don't argue this. But what's the solution? What sort of companies can employ these people? What sort of jobs can they do?

And what sort of hurdles (environmental and otherwise) do new companies face starting up in the region?

The situation there sucks for a lot of people - okay, I get that. So now what?

- hossgal
lenadances
Nov. 3rd, 2003 10:48 am (UTC)
So the solution is to use a highly expensive labor force to make goods (like in the US) instead of a cheap one (like most places overseas)?

No good solution there. The traditional closed ecosystem of employed people buying things which keeps other people employed which means they can buy other services which keep other people employed... well, it doesn't work anymore because we have to think on a global scale, not an enclosed national one. Now, on the national scale, we have this: "No jobs for you, but please buy our stuff so that we can employ people elsewhere." I can't help but wonder how long a demand for goods can stay up if people can't buy it. I guess we'll find out.

And incidentally, both sides of the coin have "easy answers" which are complete bullshit.
leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 01:39 pm (UTC)
Stats I've heard is that for every work dollar we lose over seas we gain back $1.86 in cheaper goods.

And poor people buy more cheap goods than they do expensive ones, making poor people especially harder hit when prices rise. Or, in this case, don't fall.

The problem is that we are becoming a world economy, and we live in a nation with a very expensive labor pool. Not as expensive as Europe, but still, far above that of the rest of the world. How can we keep our labor in demand?

Well, we can't compete strictly pricewise - we'll have to compete value wise. Which means having more skilled labor. (I think, I'm not entirely sure on this.)

And incidentally, both sides of the coin have "easy answers" which are complete bullshit.

Oh, yeah. The hard part is that economy is something the government can't help, can hurt, gets blamed for but cannot take the credit for.

And nobody really wants to hear the hard answers - which are: "You live in a country with a high standard of living, in a world that has a low standard of living, and things are starting to even out."

- hg
se_parsons
Nov. 3rd, 2003 02:51 pm (UTC)
And nobody really wants to hear the hard answers - which are: "You live in a country with a high standard of living, in a world that has a low standard of living, and things are starting to even out."

Actually, the thing that's really saved the US prior to this is innovation. We tend to invent things at a much greater rate than any other nation. However, in the past 20 or so years investment in basic research outside of the lucrative healthcare industry has been on the decline. So we aren't creating new industries to employ our workers (or anybody else's workers).

We DO have to move away from unskilled labor to skilled labor, but with countries like India, Taiwan and China competing with highly skilled low-cost workers, it's getting really hard to compete.

However, neither the Clinton Administration (though they, being Democrats, did more for retraining) nor the Bush Administration has done much of anything about this problem. And the market isn't equipped to solve this issue because it is designed to create things cheaply and sell them dear and that's it. They won't invest in RESEACH to create new products, let alone workers fi the stockholders demand profit and profit alone. If it is just left alone, it WILL get worse.

It requires investment that can't be shown to have an immediate profit, actually. It requires visionary leadership willing to put money into something that doesn't exist yet. Entreprenurial spirit and venture capital and those things are hard to come by right now when we have a robber baron spirit prevailing from the top down.

What we need to do is create a product or service that ONLY WE with our skilled labor pool can provide. And we need to keep on doing that every ten years or so. We've pretty much done it in the past, but we're investing less in the creative process. That's where we're screwing up. Or, its at least part of it.

And none of this has touched the problem of urban and rural unskilled labor poverty. The only thing that can do that is education, and again, it's something our country is NOT willing to invest in.
jonquil
Nov. 7th, 2003 02:49 pm (UTC)
I work in the software industry. That labor is moving overseas as well. Not because it's unskilled, but because the standard of living in India is a lot lower and their workers speak English.

I work on a product that is sophisticated, up-to-date, from a market-leading multinational corporation. We're greatly expanding our India software development; my manager gave a speech to 100 employees saying "India is a reality and it's not going away." For the first time, New development on our project is being done in India; before it was only maintenance and testing.

I comforted myself over the last ten years by saying "Well, that's unskilled labor, it's not the sort of work I do, that's what globalization gets you." To be ethically consistent, I have to tell myself what I told all those North Carolinian furniture workers. "If somebody will do your job for half the salary, you're screwed."

I have no idea what job is sophisticated and skilled enough that it makes economic sense to do it in the U.S. instead of Ireland or Russia or India. Certainly not mine.
se_parsons
Nov. 7th, 2003 04:25 pm (UTC)
This is the rub, really. We're going to have to reinvent constantly to find jobs that ONLY WE can do. Because other people are as good as we are at things and are as educated as we are.

I think our future really IS in R&D. And right now Japan is kicking our butt a lot of the time because we won't invest in it.

Or else we enter into the world of protectionism and tariffs and that gets scary and ugly.

But I do like what some folks have been saying about not having "free trade" agreements with countries that don't give up child labor, have living wages for workers and other standards. It's unfair to as people in the US to compete against that kind of exploitation.

That doesn't get around Ireland, India and other highly skilled places, though.

We just outsourced our customer service to Canada, so I know what you mean.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 06:26 am (UTC)
And nobody really wants to hear the hard answers - which are: "You live in a country with a high standard of living, in a world that has a low standard of living, and things are starting to even out."

And that hits the nail on the head, *exactly*. The question then becomes "how do we tackle that?"

I favour the use of taxes to provide healthcare and food payments to even it out but those fall disproportionately on middle income families (and me, dammit) and are hard to sell electorally. Given that the better-off vote more often than the very poor, that's a very hard sell indeed.

However, I think you go too easy on the government with regard to the economy. It's true that they cannot do anything about the large-scale cycles of the world economy, but they have huge latitude to effect changes within those cycles, using taxes, regulation, money supply and interest rates to name but a few. Blunt weapons to be sure, but weapons none the less.

The government *does* take the credit for economic improvements and you can bet that President Bush is going to be trumpeting the 7.2% growth rate in the US economy in the last quarter.

se_parsons
Nov. 3rd, 2003 01:46 pm (UTC)
My best friend and her husband went to Ohio University for grad school. Ohio University is in Athens, OH, which is Appalachia. College educated people were bussing tables there for minimum wage IF they were so fortunate as to have a job at all. During the Clinton boom years unemployment in that region was above 30%. Same thing in Ironwood, MI, where my family is from. My home town in Jackson averages 20% unemployment in boom years. This because all these places had economies dependent on heavy manufacturing which is moving out of this country.

All of them are rural. All of them are filled with people who routinely line up hundreds deep for one single decent job with benefits. These aren't lazy ass spongers who are looking for a handout, but they ARE people who know that working three minimum wage no-benefit jobs won't feed their families. (Both parents can't work because of daycare costs.)

You are talking out your ass about the New Deal. I can recommend you a number of excellent books that prove the exact opposite of what you've written. I had a class on this in college and did a major survey of New Deal improvements in my own home town, including flood reduction, the Post Office and paved streets.

Did the New Deal end the Depression? No, the War did that. But it certainly did NOT worsen it. It also created vast amounts of needed modern infrastructure for this nation and alleviated the starvation of millions, including the members of MY family that weren't surviving by poaching deer and illegal trapping. Not to mention creating great art, modern historical record-keeping, rural electrification, highways, dams, I mean seriously, where are you getting your information?

Rural poverty is as serious a problem as urban poverty. And there's a TON of it. And not because people are unwilling to work or aren't trying. There simply is nowhere to get a job.

In my home town I was offered a full-time no-benefits college teaching position for $12,000 a year, with a Master's Degree. That was considered the going rate because the area is so depressed and jobs are so few. Somebody took that job because they had a husband who was probably making about the same amount and so could squeeze by. I couldn't, becuase I couldn't live on that. I had interviewed all over the state. There were about 10 jobs that I was qualified for offered per year. And hundreds and hundreds of applicants for each one. Now quadruple that figure for unskilled people and you might be in the ballpark.
leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 02:48 pm (UTC)
You are talking out your ass about the New Deal.

Bullshit.

I can recommend you a number of excellent books that prove the exact opposite of what you've written.

Do it. Provide me one reference by an economist that shows the US economy improving under the work programs or welfare that FDR implemented.

The stockmarket crashed, started to recover, and then did a nose-dive again when FDR started screwing with things.

CCC and the rest did a lot for the country - greatuncles on both sides help build Boulder - but it fucked businesses and prevented the regrowth that was occurring prior to the implementation of those programs.

It's like saying that the price limits on gas during the seventies helped people.

You can't take money from people, channel it through the government, and give it to other people, and expect more money to come out than went in.

- hossgal
se_parsons
Nov. 3rd, 2003 07:06 pm (UTC)
This is all going to make no difference if we argue it.

I will pull up a bunch of Keynesians and you will pull up a bunch of Supply-siders and seeing the debate is STILL going on, neither of us win.

I think Supply Side doesn't work and I'm sure you'd agree about the Keynesian viewpoint. Lately, the Supply siders have had a concerted attack on the New Deal in order to further their current political agenda and economic strategy. This same debate was going on when I was in college and still rages on.

If economists can't agree on it (and they can't) then we won't either. Two schools of thought, two answers.

We can argue about the validity of each until the cows come home and we won't agree.

I get a lot of my information about it from Thomas K. McCraw and his essay "The New Deal and the MIxed Economy" from "Fifty Years Later, the New Deal Evaluated." HE's from the Harvard School of Business, or at least was at the time.

Another good resource is "The Great Depression" by Robert S. McElvaine, though he's an historian and not an economist. He just rounds up economic thought and works it into the bigger picture. And brings it at least into the Reagan era recession. I think he's dead on for any time.

"Part of our difficulties today are the result of the failure of both conservatives and liberals to look at the full economic picture. Most conservatives have ignored the problem of maldistribution and have depended on a growing economy to solve all problems. For their part, liberals from the 1960s through the early 1980s concentrated ONLY on the division of the pie, not on its size. Questions of distribution are fundamental, but so are those of productivity. We need a more equitable distribution of wealth, not of poverty. IF we are to succeed economically and morally, we must concern ourselves BOTH with the size of the pie AND with how it is sliced."

But both of these guys are Keynesians.
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 06:12 am (UTC)
Where would I find the per capita statistics? Because it strikes me that these would be an average, which might disguise the fact that while some people are very rich indeed, some others are getting poorer and poorer in comparison and that's the part that worries me. How do you resolve that tension, given that comparative poverty leads to crime?

This is the thing upon which I think we part company, the role of the government in all this. I realise that you are pretty much on the Nozickian end of the scale when it comes to government intervention but I see it as the job of the government to provide for all, not just to provide opportunity for all. If that means carrying along a few lazy wasters for a free benefits ride, then so be it. I'll pay those taxes, if it means universal healthcare and a free, good education for all.
leadensky
Nov. 3rd, 2003 10:09 am (UTC)
And the other thing that I forgot to mention - 'food stamps' are now in the form of electronic debit cards. This has greatly decreased the market for food stamps, where people receiving food stamps would routinely sell them for fifty cents on the dollar.

Because food stamps had to be used for food - not beer or cigarettes.

This change has led to a great deal of resentment, to judge by the stories my mother and sister bring home from working the grocery cash register.

- hossgal
lenadances
Nov. 3rd, 2003 10:55 am (UTC)
I imagine it has indeed led to a great deal of resentment. Rich or poor, people hate it when you try to make them abide by the rules because they've never had to do it before and/or someone else is still getting by with rulebreaking. Which is probably why Bush's lovely idea of having every industry regulate itself is doomed to failure: people universally suck.
revely
Nov. 3rd, 2003 04:12 pm (UTC)
I'll avoid debating the economics and just say that as a person born and raised in Chesapeake, Ohio (right where it hits the shoulder of West Virginia and Kentucky) this gets a big thumbs up from me. Sometimes I drive through the area and think "this is where I'm from??"
infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 06:13 am (UTC)
I get much the same reaction when I go into the city where I was born, which is post-industrial and poor.
2manytomatoes
Nov. 3rd, 2003 05:39 pm (UTC)
Well, USA Today did a story last week about a US Department of Agriculture study showing that the number of hungry families has increased for the third straight year:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-10-31-hungry_x.htm

infinitemonkeys
Nov. 4th, 2003 06:14 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I find that story more than alarming.
(Deleted comment)
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

January 2017
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow