Skewed priorities, inequality

Jun 2011
In a better place than u
"According to the new Census numbers, the country’s poverty rate rose to 15 percent in 2010 – the highest level since 1993. Over 46 million Americans are now living in poverty. That’s one in six. Blacks and Latinos are twice as likely as whites to be poor. American Indians are rarely, if ever, included in studies like these. For Indians, the rates are even higher.

The total number of people living below the poverty line is now at the highest level in the 52 years the statistic has been collected.

The official poverty line for a family of four is $22,314. For a single person, it’s $11,139. Those numbers need updating because they don’t include differences in living expenses across the country or account for things like transportation, health care, and housing.

Because the Census Bureau rarely mentions women in its reports, the National Women’s Law Center had to crunch the numbers. More than 17 million women lived in poverty in 2010, including over 7.5 million living in extreme poverty, the highest number in 17 years. What is extreme poverty? For a single woman, it’s less than $6,000 a year.

And then there’s health insurance. Nineteen million women were uninsured in 2010 or nearly one in five. Planned Parenthood says older women are returning to the clinic because so many have lost their health insurance.

What about the bleak unemployment numbers? Fourteen million people are unemployed in the US. Another eight million are working part-time, but want full-time work. The unemployment rate is far higher for women and communities of color.

The Pentagon’s budget increased from $302 billion in 2000 to $545 billion this year. As much as $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, according to the Commission on Wartime Contracting.

The National Priorities Project’s Chris Hellman says that when you factor in veterans benefits, and interest payments on war-related borrowing, military and so-called national security spending since 2001 has reached $11 trillion.

And then there are record corporate profits and executive pay. Last year, the country’s top 25 hedge fund managers made an average of $1 billion each.

The median pay for CEOs at 200 large US companies last year averaged almost $11 million, an increase of 23 percent from 2009. The typical worker took home $725 per week. Women took home even less. Over 7.5 women live on $500 a month.

What kind of country are we creating? What kind of society do we want to live in? These are the questions we need to continue asking. Lockheed Martin receives a $791 million contract with very little media coverage and children are going to bed hungry?"...

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