It’s Still the Poverty Stupid!

By: Daniel Nardini

No matter what may happen in the rest of the world, and no matter what the headlines may be right now, the four issues that will really occupy most Americans’ minds are jobs, unemployment, declining incomes, and poverty. The last one has been coming into the minds of Americans in particular lately. With unemployment officially at 8.2 percent nationally (more like 15 to 16 percent in real terms), those people who have been slipping into poverty and destitution has gotten worse even from two years ago. Poverty is now the highest it has been when records on poverty were kept since 1959. The official percentage of Americans now in poverty is 15.7 percent—up from 15.1 percent in 2010. Because the unemployment and decline in annual income has left many Americans shaken, poverty is now at levels not seen since the early 1960’s just before then U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson launched his War on Poverty campaign.

The three worst hit groups from the rise in poverty are African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. Even though we have an African American president, poverty for African Americans has soared to 27.1 percent. Latinos are not far behind at 26.7 percent (according to the Pew Hispanic Center). The Native American poverty rate overall is 25.1 percent, but there are areas, especially on the reservations, where it is much higher. But any way you cut it, the poverty rate is consistent with the high unemployment rate and the fact this country’s national debt has sadly taken badly needed money out of the economy that might make this country work, help business grow again, and help Americans find jobs and make a living. The poverty rate is tied up with all of this, and the one sitting in the White House right now is especially vulnerable to losing his job because of the growth in the poverty rate.

One thing I can guarantee, most Americans will vote with their pocketbooks. Whatever helps them financially, even if only a slim hope, they will want. This election looks pretty dim indeed. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not inspiring too many people even in his own party, and current U.S. President Barack Obama is not looking too good no matter how much he may be boasting that he helped save America’s auto industry (that part is true, but he has done nothing for the rest of America’s industrial sector), and having gotten Osama bin Laden. Normally, elections in this country favor the incumbent, but with unemployment so high and poverty so bad the whole thing is up in the air.

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