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The ranks of the working poor are growing in America

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According to a new study out of Harvard University, a record 20.2 million Americans were forced to spend more than half of their incomes in 2010, just on housing. According to most financial experts, any household that spends more than 30% of its income on housing is considered to be in trouble. But the number of Americans who are spending 50% or more on housing grew by 2.3 million since the Bush Recession began in 2007.

When half of someone’s income is going to housing, that means there’s barely any money left over for people to afford health insurance, gas, education, food, clothes, and other basic essentials. Americans like to think they live in a free nation, but as Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “Necessitous men are not free men.” If you’re hungry and you can’t afford food – you’re not free. If you’re sick and can’t get health insurance – you’re not free. If you’re cold – and can’t afford heat in the winter – you’re not free.

Freedom depends on economic security – and it’s time we start giving working people more freedom through a strong social safety net, rather than giving transnational corporations more freedom to pollute, outsource jobs, and defraud our markets.

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Thom Hartmann A...
Dec. 29, 2009 10:59 am


Are housing prices too high or are wages too low?

May. 8, 2012 12:06 pm

Both. I don't think "capitalism" based in housing values of speculative real estate is a great model for conservatives to defend. There is also no question in strict economic terms that higher wages would be a great consume stimulation to the market as well as providing a better market for allocations of resources by demand. Demand without finance does not register well in "the market," so for that mechanism to work, cash and demand have to be in a positive relationship.

"Demand" is not about wanting more than one can afford. The idea that one who works hard and plays by the rules ought to expect a decent slice of American Dream Pie is not wrong if we take cons at their moral rhetoric. That is not laziness or "entitlement" by sloth. Homelessness is almost entirely about basic demand without the money to meet it. It is not about "movin' on up" or being reckless with debt. From the standpoint of "the economy," it is about a lot of wasted economic resource of the human sort which ought to be a soul alert as well as a profit motive.

So, yes. Higher wages and affordable housing would both be an economic boon as well as good for the society.

Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

No More Presidential Immunity!

Thom plus logo When Richard Nixon committed multiple Felonies, including accepting bribes in cash in the White House, Jerry Ford chose to pardon him.

When Ronald Reagan committed treason in 1980 to get elected, Attorney General Bill Barr shut down the investigation in 1992 with five pardons.
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