Homeless man in new york, december 2008. Photo: jmsuarez; license: cc by 2.0
Poverty and minimum wage discussion in the usa: how poor is a household with a car, tv set and computer??
Poverty in the u.S. Is unseen; for years, travelers to america have reported the same amazement at how many poor people they have seen in cities across the country. Paul ryan, republican party hopeful, does not deny this; he cares about the poor, ryan touts. Since his 2012 campaign as a vice presidential candidate, he has shown up to visit city agencies to fight poverty. He wants to revive the idea of the "compassionate conservatism" revive. However, the budget plan presented by the chairman of the house of representatives budget committee speaks a different language. As does his exportation of the culture of the poor in inner cities.
What kind of compassion speaks from someone who accuses the poor of having a culture of refusing to work?
We are confronted with a downward spiral, triggered, especially in our inner cities, by a culture of men who don’t work, by generations of men who don’t even think about working and don’t even think about wanting to know the value and culture of work. There’s a real culture problem here that we have to deal with.
The cleanup ryan made on a conservative radio show led to a predictable debate in the u.S. About ryan’s racism, since the poverty problem in urban areas particularly affects black communities. Since then, critics present ryan’s earlier statements as confirming ryan’s racist component, while sympathizers point out that ryan’s statements sometimes "awkwardly" but that he is not subject to a racist perceptual bias.
But from this side, they also argue that ryan suffers from another reality problem: his fiscal ideas don’t jibe with what he promotes, which "war on poverty". Ryan’s speculation about the "culture of work" are part of a larger debate that is currently being re-fought between republicans and democrats. At the same time, the republicans are serving up old positions in new questions.
How poor are the poor?
For example: "is a family that has a car, a flat-screen tv set and a computer poor?" the question is at the beginning of an article in the new york times. The starting point is the american debate on minimum wages, which republicans oppose.
As usual, the debate centers on the role of the state, which republicans believe should refrain from regulating the market. The fact that government intervention does not bring about real progress is basically demonstrated by the fight against poverty. The basic position of the republicans or. The basic position of the republicans and their supporters among think-tank experts is, in essence, that the poor are much better off today than they were in the past, that they have a higher level of material prosperity in the u.S. Than low-income earners had in the past.
At the same time, however, the poverty problem as such is not denied; what is questioned is the previous policy of fighting poverty as favored by the democrats: financial support via state benefits. This has not brought any progress in the fight against poverty, in the sense that the poorer have been given incentives to get out of their situation by their own efforts.
Hundreds of billions of dollars of government spending a year may have made poverty easier or more comfortable but has done little to significantly limit its reach.
The proposed change of course, like the diagnosis ("phlegmatic victims of an overly solicitous state") classics of the republican program: cuts in government benefits, tax cuts for high earners – the umpteenth variation of trickle-down rhetoric.
Expensive schools, expensive health insurance – cutting benefits to make it better?
Politically implemented, these ideas look like this: on 10. April, paul ryan presented the budget plan he had drafted to the house of representatives. The heart of the matter is savings – more than 5 trillion dollars over the next ten years. With the sharpest cuts "in health care for the poor and uninsured, food stamps, education programs, and community loans".
According to the above mentioned new york times article the "better material equipment for the low-income earners" this can be explained by the fact that prices for certain goods, such as tv sets and computers, have fallen disproportionately in recent years. In contrast, the cost of health care and, above all, education (college, daycare centers) has risen sharply.
For families struggling to meet fixed costs each month, sometimes with several jobs, cuts in food subsidies or cancelled health care benefits are fatal, they say. And how can there be an improvement in status, a way out of poor conditions, if access to better education means going into debt??
According to a recent report from the u.S. Department of agriculture, 49 million americans live in households that struggle to have enough to eat.