The Reality of Poverty in America

I don’t watch any TV, but I’ve heard that mainstream medias have been reporting on “The Economic Rebound” or some such nonsense all year.  Stock markets are at an all time high, corporate profits are up. Are we rebounding? Should we stop prepping for an economic collapse?

I would argue no to both.

Who is rebounding? The top 10% maybe. Not the rest of us. Over the past decade the real net worth of the bottom 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth.

At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.  That puts that wage earner’s family well below the poverty line. And don’t kid yourself that entry level employees are high schoolers. That’s no longer true.

Only 16 percent of fast food industry jobs now go to teens, down from 25 percent a decade ago.

And many of the older workers are educated. More than 42 percent of restaurant and fast-food employees over the age of 25 have at least some college education, including 753,000 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An all-time record 47.79 million Americans are now on food stamps. One out of every four children depend on food stamps.  Worse than that, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year. That’s a lot of kids, living in garages, and parking ramps and cars and sewer tunnels and tent cities. That’s a lot of kids going hungry at the end of the month.

I prep for a lot of different reasons, but economic hardship is one of the largest and most immediate of those.  I may never see a TEOTWAWKI event. But I have skated pretty close to the edge of broke and homeless. I have a sister who’s usually more homeless than not.  Every can of corn in the basement is one more meal I can feed my kids in a worst case scenario. Every inch of garden is another bit of insurance against me having to chose who gets dinner. Every week we get a paycheck is another week I can save up some cash to see us through the next period with no paycheck.

Believe the media hype if you want, but I’m just not seeing it.  How does it look where you are?

-Calamity Jane

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/DhTUWbpEACA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhTUWbpEACA

85 comments… add one
  • irishdutchuncle April 16, 2013, 7:20 am

    no, you’re wrong. if only we had more gun control everything would be perfect…

    Reply
    • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 7:49 am

      communist.

      Reply
      • Anonymous April 16, 2013, 8:01 am

        Maoist.

        as Chairman Mao said: all political power comes from the barrel of a gun.

        Reply
        • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 9:25 am

          Precisely my point.

          But why would a Maoist use the term communist pejoratively?

          Reply
          • irishdutchuncle April 16, 2013, 9:47 am

            whether today they are Trotskyites, or Stalinists, they all carried Mao’s book of quotations around with them at some time or another.

          • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 10:39 am

            Both Trotsky and Stalin were long dead before Mao’s little red book was in circulation.

            Wait, who’s They?

        • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 9:31 am

          And politics is the continuation of shooting at people by other means.

          I think is was Carl von Clausewitz who said that.

          Reply
        • Robert April 16, 2013, 9:33 am

          Mao was correct, political power grows from the barrel of a gun. It’s no wonder they are trying to take them away.

          I’m new ro prepping beyond a 72 hour kit and first aid. I grew up in California (San Jose) so being prepared for an earthquake was a given. Know where the gas line is, how to shut it off, etc. My wife’s long term unemployment has forced me to think about food security, which got me thinking about the quality of our food, which got me into gardening (barely, just getting started).

          Yesterday’s events lead me to realize I need to be prepared to treat a major trauma while out and about, so the next items on the list will be for that. And to teach my wife how to apply a tourniquet. Did anyone but me see all the materials that could have been used to improvise one on the scene in Boston?

          To answer the original question CJ, no, things are not getting better here, not for most of us. Housing prices are up, but only because speculators are flooding in looking for a quick buck/flip and/or rental income. Real unemployment, not the fabricated government number, is still very high. 20-25% if we count everyone who would be working if there was a job. Had to make my wife stop looking, as it was frustrating her to no end.

          Reply
          • Jason April 16, 2013, 9:50 am

            Robert, remember the housing market is up maybe 10% max after dropping 60% in the previous 6 years & inventory is at an all time low. Also, the interest rates are lower than they have ever been in history at 2-3%. It is a false indicator & you are right that other sectors show the real state of the economy.

      • Ratcliff April 16, 2013, 7:24 pm

        Commodist!

        Reply
  • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 7:47 am

    I’ve been watching businesses get boarded up and abandoned one by one over the past several years where I live.

    On my way to work last week I saw four Help Wanted signs from the road, and that caught my attention because nobody was hiring for anything in recent memory. That’s far from substantial evidence of improvement, but it is something.

    Structural inequality is another matter. The gap between rich and poor has been steadily expanding since the U.S. started seriously implementing neoliberal economic strategies in the 1980’s. That’s an observed fact, not an opinion. People keep track of these things.

    Everyone loves free markets, but in a totally free market any reasonable corporation will pay employees just enough to keep them from rioting.

    Rich folks always seem to get by.

    Reply
    • Jason April 16, 2013, 10:27 am

      I agree but you have to define the middle class. The current income tax structure is the reason for the gulf between the rich & the poor. What may surprise you is the levels of income for the poor. I live in Southern California (San Diego County) & many people live paycheck to paycheck on 60-70K per year & not in any measure of opulence.

      If you make $250K or more you are subject to 50% tax & it gets a little disheartening when one is self employed to push past that depressing barrier.

      The real & scary issue is that growing sector of the underemployed. I put out an ad to hire a part time assistant with a starting pay 0f $15 per hour & I got over 100 resumes with nearly 60% from people with excellent college degrees & some with Masters degrees. Things aren’t what they seem.

      Reply
      • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 10:43 am

        You have clearly never been poor.

        Reply
        • Jason April 16, 2013, 12:15 pm

          Really?

          I was once homeless, on food stamps, welfare & Medical. I lived out of a 1962 Ford Falcon & was THE only paleface in the Welfare office back in the early 70’s due to a severe accident & no health insurance.

          I bought food with food stamps (coupons) & still have a one dollar note, that I framed & sits on my desk as a reminder of where I was once. I’ll email a picture of it to Jarhead if you want proof, they do not make the food coupons any more.

          I literally worked from ground zero & became a net multimillionaire & lost it all, due to a partner who embezzled & left me flat. I used all of my money to honor as much of the debt as I could that my companies incurred & was left with $500 to my name & an old car my dad gave me & 3 kids to support.

          I did not quit or lose hope, I dusted off & went back at it because at the end of the day I need to look in the mirror & bitch only at the reflection for my condition.

          My daughter is in a great university as a freshman & got their on her own effort, my 20 year old son achieved a high management position with his company in 3 short years starting as a floor sweeper & he goes to college. My 7 year old whom I have 80% custody is still a child but reads well, opens doors for women & is well thought of at his school.

          What so many do not realize is the opportunities we have in this great country to well – even in this economy. Instead people want to find fault & whine about their lot in life as if people should really care or make that the focal point. Patronizing those types of people only makes them weaker.

          So kindly kiss my ass with your pathetic, downtrodden points of view.

          Reply
          • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 1:21 pm

            No wonder you’re so pissed off all the time.

            Who said I was downtrodden? Life’s good, and I’ve never so much as hustled a dime from the state.

            You’re the one whingeing all the time about poor people not pulling their weight, but you went on the dole yourself when things got rough. At that time some guy breaking $250k in a leisure suit was blaming you for his taxes.

            Let’s don’t be hypocritical.

          • Jason April 16, 2013, 3:00 pm

            Hypocritical? Don’t make me laugh. PS your term “let’s don’t be hypocritical” is an inclusive term which, funny enough, included you.

            First, know the difference between being pissed off & being direct. I accept & accepted my responsibility in whatever condition I had. I freely admitted that I used the government support but used it to bridge a gap for a short time & made something of myself. I never complained & blamed anybody for my lot in life & do not bandy around with little pc words or thoughts, I just call things as I see them as clearly as possible.

            If someone making a lot of money had a problem with me living on the dole, that’s fine & they have the right to their opinion. At the peak of my career I paid $100k in income taxes in one year alone & never bitched about those who were bleeding the system. I lost everything once a long time ago & did not blame anybody but myself for my poor choice.

            What I “winge” about is people who cannot see the forest from the trees. I know people from Vietnam, China, Iran & Mexico who legally came literally with zero, worked their backside off against the odds (language & cultural barrier) & make it, sometimes big. They have the same exact opportunity as any other American but they do not complain. What is really embarrassing to me is the idiots who level complaints again those foreigners for taking what that lazy American was complaining about.

            What you fail to see & are proving is the laziness that has permeated our culture. How you could conclude that I “winge” about people who won’t even give a half effort & sit around on their obvious blubbery backside & shake their fat fist at all that is wrong with America.

            If your life was so good & as exciting as you claim you wouldn’t respond with such myopic stupidity by trying to put it back on me.

            So if you would be so kind, kiss my gluteus maximus.

          • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 3:08 pm

            Are you high?

          • Jason April 16, 2013, 3:22 pm

            What an utterly childish response.

            Why do you insist upon perpetuating that lovely but useless Internet America retaliation method? It is astonishes me how some people trade critical thinking skills for anonymous drive by insults.

            Try using your head for something besides a hat rack.

          • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 3:31 pm

            That was an honest question.

          • Jason April 16, 2013, 3:41 pm

            Actually your question was dishonest but you can draw your own conclusions as to my sobriety.

            You have no idea that you are sinking in quicksand while trying to use a shovel to escape. Best of luck.

            Actually your question was dishonest but you can draw your own conclusions as to my sobriety.

          • Jason April 16, 2013, 3:42 pm

            Damn, I forgot to delete that sentence – I must be high.

          • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 4:07 pm

            Yeah, I’m guessing Vicodin or something.

          • Jason April 16, 2013, 4:32 pm

            I am one of the four people who has recently read your blog & seeing your rather poor sentence structure & disjointed way you express your thoughts, I’d suspect quaaludes & pot is your preferred medium.

          • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 5:01 pm

            Right on, man.

          • Jason April 16, 2013, 6:28 pm

            Sure thing, dude.

          • Spud April 17, 2013, 7:35 am

            Are you always an asshole Jason ?
            Are you always the only person in the room with the right answer ?
            Just wondering…

          • Jason April 17, 2013, 10:01 am

            Spud

            1. If you followed the thread from the beginning, I added a simple, harmless comment to Selkirk about identifying the middle class. He decided to give me crap, rather arrogantly I might add, about me in 2 places – immediately after my comment & below with Leslie Ann.

            I decided to correct him with a direct answer to give perspective that yea, I do know what it’s like to be broke. He then further attacks by inferring that I lived on the dole like some lazy slob & let’s me know how he never “hustled” a dime from the state. Use your head – that was meant as a dig from someone who has no clue.

            I again decide to level, in the absolute clearest terms, my position & point out the error of his thoughtless argument. Then he goes for another insult to which I call it for what it is.

            2. I don’t mind debates or a give & take but I don’t take unfounded crap from anybody.

            3. What annoys me probably more than anything & articulated in this thread is how people in our country have become such lazy thinkers & traded backbone for cheap insults. People like Selkirk & ? surface react & respond without giving credence to or considering other information.

            It seems more of the normal in Internet America to play hit & run while cloaked with invisibility with an anonymous type identity. The perpetuation of that cheap, mindless & childlike play has far more reaching & negative effects than anything else in our culture. This adds nothing – zero – to any kind of progress, in fact I say it retards progress.

            What the vast majority seem to miss is the tone the “tit for tat” interchanges sets into motion & the enormous distraction it creates in the aggregate.

            We have Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Youtube etc forums which have become a complete fee for where people now have the green light to communicate or spew many forms of hatred, abuse & stupidity with absolutely no accountability. That my friend makes a society & a culture weak & for you to label me as an asshole, then qualify it with ‘just wondering’ completes my illustration, but at least you woke up for a moment.

          • Jason April 17, 2013, 10:05 am

            The last paragraph was supposed to say “a complete free for all”

          • Calamity Jane April 17, 2013, 11:42 am

            Jason, I 100% agree with your rant about the state of internet commenting.
            Most places I go online, I intentionally avoid the comment section. I’ve thought about bringing up some commenting rules for our space here at SHTFblog. Comments consisting entirely of insults directed at other commentors seem like something that would be best if they just got deleted.
            I may not agree with everything you say, but at least I can count on you to have a rational argument and a polite pitch.
            Anonymity and digital connections seem to bring out the worst in most people.

          • Jason April 17, 2013, 1:40 pm

            Beautifully said Jane – “Anonymity and digital connections seem to bring out the worst in most people.”

            “Comments consisting entirely of insults directed at other commentors seem like something that would be best if they just got deleted.” No please, all of my fun would disappear!

            Jane, you are a hopeless & worthless atheist but I still love you!

            (For those who may be offended with that little crack, it was humor & Jane knows I totally respect her …. I think :-)

          • Leslie Anne April 17, 2013, 6:17 pm

            Congratulations on being a phoenix. A person cannot move forward to improve their life situation unless they’re willing to keep on rising up as many times as it takes, brushing off, and starting over again.

            There are so many opportunities and so many whiners.

            I’ve suggested to “poor” people (or people who aren’t technically poor, but find themselves feeling poor due to bad money management) to sell blood plasma, clean garages, cut lawns, deliver papers, babysit, bartend, pick up doggie poo, work at the nursing home, eat just beans-n-rice for awhile, etc. to earn the “seed money” to start improving their lives….whether that be an emergency fund, setting up food storage, taking useful classes to learn needed skills, etc.–and from their reaction, you’d think I suggested they sell their children to Satan.

        • Ratcliff April 16, 2013, 7:26 pm

          You are clearly insane!

          Reply
          • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 9:01 pm

            lol.

          • Jason April 16, 2013, 9:44 pm

            Ah yes, the calvary comes to rescue poor little Selkirk with yet another awesome, well thought out retort. Coupled with the lol endorsement, makes it truly a work of art.

          • irishdutchuncle April 17, 2013, 9:52 am

            can’t we all just get along? please?

          • Jason April 17, 2013, 10:07 am

            Yea, what Irish said.

            Gotta love you Irish!

    • Spud April 17, 2013, 1:11 pm

      CJ, all I was saying is that Jason is just as guilty of rudeness.
      My question was only asking why, one can answer without be derogatory about another opinion from theirs.
      If we all agree then why bother debating ?

      And yes Jason , I had been following the thread. Seems that Selkirk only asked if you had ever been poor. Simple answer would have sufficed . We all have different opinion on various things, which is good. Else how does one learn. Never met that person whom was 100% correct at all times.
      BTW when you use the & , it comes out with an added amp which makes for very distracting reading.

      Reply
      • Jason April 17, 2013, 1:33 pm

        Spud – be clear as to the tone of what he said – “clearly you have never been poor” then he commented immediately below with Leslie who was talking about living below your means with “you should definitely have a talk with Jason”. Maybe something like “do you know what’s it like to be poor?” is a more responsible way to ask in my opinion.

        I apologize but I have had it with people who like to snicker as they do drive by comments. I am sick of people who think it is ok to be Internet bullies and spew, denigrating and anonymous trash – it serves no purpose.

        Thanks for the tip, the “and” symbol is a lazy writing habit that I must now break ….. damn it!

        Reply
        • Spud April 17, 2013, 2:33 pm

          Actually I must confess to a bit of laziness myself…That error with the &amp only shows on my email account “weird” it doesn’t show up on the blog page…So carry on and don’t worry bout it. I just need to go back to the blog in order to read it.
          Funny our lives seem to parallel somewhat. I too was screwed by a former partner with a business venture which was worth over a million bucks. Simply lived and learned by it. I earned my ME Masters at UCSD in La Jolla , graduating in 1980. Had a house in Poway which we sold back then for $70 K, dumb move ! Thought we were making a killing…hah…if we’d only known !
          No regrets tho, moved to Idaho and raised our children there ( much better environment for families)
          Small world

          Reply
          • Jason April 17, 2013, 3:10 pm

            Holy cow – UCSD??? What a great school – I bow down to you sir!

            You were so blessed to be in such a beautiful area (La Jolla) during that era! That’s when San Diego was such a small community and a lazy way of life – super easy going.

            I looked into Idaho as a matter fact back in the early 90’s and it was and bet still is a beautiful area. I love San Diego (I live in North County in the climatic wonderland – hint) for the weather and beaches but it is starting to get a bit old because of the crowds – with crowds comes less tolerance by most people.

            You may not believe this and my style of writing certainly does not suggest it but I am super easy going, water rolls off my back quite easily and can tolerate the crowds so far but …. the people are closing in like rats in a cage.

            My vocation works for me in that I am highly social and highly analytical and the consulting I do now is geographically specific and I am able to use both of those traits, so I may be stuck here for a few more years or until North Korea launches a missile at the San Onofre nuclear power station!

            I am officially jealous of you Spud!

          • Spud April 17, 2013, 3:18 pm

            Yup , got out of that Rathole back in the early 80’s. Too crowded for this boy even way back then.
            Now we’re in Floriduh ha ha…right back to the same.
            Tho we came here to go sailing and spent the first 7 yrs. cruising the islands. No crowds out there !

          • Jason April 17, 2013, 3:43 pm

            I’ve moved beyond to jealousy to hatred towards you. I grew up surfing from age 8 to 45 and I LOVE the ocean, especially the seclusion that you describe. Damn you, you just opened up memory lane for me! What a great place to sail ….

            I had a very good, long time friend who begged my to go to work for him a couple of centuries ago in Naples. He was the Food and Beverage Director for the Ritz Carlton that they built there and when it was new he was going to fix me up with a job. He lasted a year because he was a good ‘ol boy from South Carolina and dealing with the high brows drove him crazy.

            Florida is pretty nice except is so darn flat!

          • Jason April 17, 2013, 3:46 pm

            PS

            To answer your question – I am not always an asshole besides, it’s relative to someone’s point of view!

            I was laughing out loud when I reread that just now.

  • rush2112 April 16, 2013, 8:00 am

    here in south Florida I really haven’t seen things improving in the employment sector – both my wife and I are currently working, but making less than we did 10 years ago. wages are stagnant at best, but with inflation running about 10% (my estimate), each year we actually make less.

    I agree with your slant on this in relation to prepping too. During periods of unemployment those preps have come in very very handy. Really didn’t have to buy anything at the store except for milk and eggs.

    Reply
    • Jason April 16, 2013, 9:54 am

      You & your wife are part of the growing belt of the underemployed that the Obama administration wants to call Americans are back at work. It is a lie.

      Reply
      • Spud April 17, 2013, 2:43 pm

        Yes it is a lie.
        I can attest to what Rush 2112, says about it here, as we now live on the “Space Coast” here in Floriduh.
        Considering that the economy here is mostly tourism, that and construction related. We all know how both of those are doing now days.
        Locally it is very depressed here in Brevard county, after the Shuttle program has shut down. Now many of the Defense contractors are also scaling back. These two industries are pretty much all that the Space Coast has to offer.
        I’d say real unemployment is more like 25-30%. Soon to be much higher…

        Reply
        • Newg April 30, 2013, 3:00 pm

          I am on the Space Coast also. The sequester layoffs have already started with the military contractors. Looks like Brevard County is in a heap of s&*%.

          Reply
          • Spud April 30, 2013, 3:37 pm

            That we are Newg…
            I’m on APN under the moniker of Bob Crash, if ya’ll do the American Prepper Network.

  • Leslie Anne April 16, 2013, 8:17 am

    I have a completely different take on this. While some folks may be struggling, the majority set themselves up for failure (or future failure) by living above their means.

    There are all sorts of ways to live above one’s means–making the choice to live somewhere which requires you to have a car, choosing to buy foods (usually prepared and/or convenience foods) higher than your income warrants, dishwasher, microwave, television, clothesdryer, restaurant meals, cell phones, too much square footage, an abundance of “stuff”, not sharing living space with others…the list is endless.

    Basically, anyone earning less than $10 an hour should be sharing housing, line drying clothes, eating lots of dried beans/peas/lentils, living/working where they can use public transportation (or better yet, walk), etc. and should be thankful they’re not living old-school poverty (which in the not too distant past meant no electricity, an outhouse, and lugging water).

    Reply
    • Leslie Anne April 16, 2013, 8:23 am

      For those who are still doing alright with their finances…if you’re “living within your means” you’re setting yourself up for failure.

      Live BELOW your means so you’re ready if/when bad times come.

      Reply
    • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 10:47 am

      You should definitely have a talk with Jason.

      Reply
    • Lumberjok April 16, 2013, 7:26 pm

      ” no electricity, an outhouse and lugging water “.

      You sure brought back memories….believe it or not about 20 of us alledgedly sane folks would leave or houses with electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heat to go help a farmer 50 miles away harvest his potato crop. The guy had an old 2 room schoolhouse….bunkroom on the left….cook house on the right….known locally as a pickers’ shack. Work hours were 6 AM to 5:30 PM…after a hearty dinner we would gather in the bunkroom…there was always someone off in a corner strumming a guitar or a banjo …..and of course the mandatory poker game. By the light of oil lamps my grandfather ( a 50 year veteran of lumber camps ) taught me how to cheat at poker. A certain facial tic ..pinkie finger to the bottom of the left ear lobe… holding your cards with four fingers showing instead of 3……there were about 50 such signals. So at the ripe old age of 13….I was making as much money from poker as I was from picking….and the bets were all made with coins that were real silver.

      Oil lamps, out houses and lugging water…would I do it again…YES.

      Reply
      • Leslie Anne April 17, 2013, 6:47 pm

        I’m familiar with old lamps (and candlelight). That’s all I used while renting when I was saving money to buy a home. (Those in a sunny climate can buy those cheap $2 each solar yard lights that people put along the sidewalk or in with the flowers—and then bring them inside for light at night, just prop them up inside a 1-quart canning jar—works great if you have kids or pets and don’t like having a flame going).

        I also didn’t have a television at the time and used a wind-up/solar radio for entertainment. I bought a house last year and now I do use electricity (although not very much since I’ve grown accustomed to not having it over the years).

        People do not realize how much money can be saved using oil lamps and skipping the use of other electrical items. Electricity isn’t just the price per kWh, the total kWh’s are then used to tally up taxes, transmission fees, etc. and it all adds up quickly.

        Even saving $50 a month = $600 a year.

        Reply
        • Leslie Anne April 17, 2013, 6:51 pm

          I will admit flipping a lightswitch is nice…and not spending my weekends with newspaper and vinegar cleaning glass chimneys…all the more appreciated since I did all those years without. A person needs to do without to truly appreciate and realize just how nice some things are.

          (I put the dozen oil lamps up in my attic and bring them down when there’s a power outage.)

          Reply
        • Lumberjok April 17, 2013, 11:06 pm

          Yo Leslie….howdy.

          The bunkhouse had a boxwood heater….it had 2 speeds….off and inferno. This school house had a basketball court in a much too small left side of the building… a fairly high ceiling.

          As to television……16 years ago I took mine to the pit and blew it up with various pistols. Very gratifying. Since I don’t have a need for unadulterated bullshit….or 18 minutes an hour of commercials….I remain quite happy reading in the evening.

          Thoughts on NPR….this is a hugely government funded project…..National Propaganda Radio.

          Reply
          • Leslie Anne April 18, 2013, 8:30 am

            I’m anti-NPR and the liberal social-engineering drivel they spew.

            I didn’t have a television for over 20 years (and went quite awhile without a phone or refrigerator either).

            One day, I just decided I wanted a television again. I turn it on, watch something, then turn it off again. The reception is awful though. Now that I’m getting home internet and can get cable in there as a package deal, I’m looking forward to stuff like the History Channel, animal/nature and home repair shows…and, of course, Fox News. I heard there’s some prepper show on, too. I might like that.

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. April 16, 2013, 8:44 am

    Its much the same here, though our ‘official’ unemployment numbers is 10%, plus or minus. Many older folks are working just to keep the employer payed insurance.

    Teachers who formerly retired immediately stay on for this reason. Administrators stay on to ‘double dip’ (get retirement pay AND a pay check).

    I agree with Leslie Anne above, live well below your paycheck, put back at least 5% (10% would be much better) of your pay in savings or preps. What was that Hemingway book line – “How did you go bankrupt ? Slowly, then suddenly.”

    Reply
  • riverrider April 16, 2013, 9:53 am

    i was medically retired from the military 3 years ago. still can’t find a decent job. my last assignment was ncoic of national guardsmen coming back from the sandbox to no job. uncle sugar kept them on the payroll as long as we could. then they were on their own. so was i. as much as 70% of some units came home to a furlow notice. what a smack in the face, all the while talk of a recovery. maybe in d.c., but not here in the real world. wall street is just rich getting richer. meanwhile real inflation is running 15% or more. which means my retirement check lost 45% of its buying power. i say we cut the regimes’ pay by 45% and see how long before they scream.

    Reply
  • Jason April 16, 2013, 10:12 am

    Great article & reality check Jane.

    Isn’t it kind of strange that we have this major push on “assault weapons” that is clearly responsible for less than .1% of ALL gun related issues but gets 100% of the Obama administration’s focus? If the goal is as they purport to save the lives of (20) children because of one isolated event, why not put the full court press into curing areas like you exposed? These have been going on for a long time & create far more lasting damage than this proposed weapons ban.

    Maybe I am crazy but there seems to be a weird parallel between Obama driving the economy down, singlehandedly skyrocketing debt in such short order, separating the politicians from its people with blatant disregard & now the unrelenting push for an all out “assault weapons” ban.

    Reply
  • Ray April 16, 2013, 11:33 am

    No if the “Recovery” Is here then it so small none of us can see it. We have homes that are worth half or less of the 1990s sale price, some that never sold in the last 8 years(3 of ’em a block over) . My little bedroom community is fighting just to survive. Most of us couldn’t sell our houses if we had too, even at a loss. (four families have tried over the last two years) The feds took over the vacant house across the street , then sold it at a 90.000$ mark down , screwing the rest of us. AND WE HAVE IT GOOD. The state keeps poring money down a black hole in Louisville, almost 30 BILLION at last count. All for “community redevelopment” that drains the state coffers and gives back nothing. We have brand new stadiums that lose 11 million dollars a month, 10 billion spent on bridges that have never been built(and may never be), and uncounted billions stolen by “elected” office holders that do more harm to the commonwealth than the Talaban ever could. Oh!! did I need to tell Y’all that Louisville is the stronghold for the Demorats. No Jane it’s not getting better here, If it has done anything since 2008 ,it has gotten worse.

    Reply
    • Jason April 16, 2013, 11:51 am

      Oh come on – you have a new stadium, that’s improvement! Hahahaha!

      Reply
      • Ray April 17, 2013, 3:23 am

        Thank GOD we don’t live in Jefferson Co. (Louisville). We live about 40 miles from DA’ VILL.(land of welfare baby moma’s and dayly gunfights) and I wish we were in eastern Ky.

        Reply
        • Jason April 17, 2013, 10:14 am

          I’m with you regarding the wasteful spending – especially with the latest & greatest gladiator domes for the pro sports, it sickens me.

          Daily gunfights & welfare baby mamas has got to be plenty of entertainment!

          Reply
  • okfarmwife April 16, 2013, 12:12 pm

    In east central Oklahoma, the economy is in the toilet……oh, to listen to the “powers that be” things are on the upswing…
    However, the real world of the middle class working family things are really tough!!!
    My husband works for the Department of Corrections. When he hired on, he got a yearly, albeit small wage increase. As of this year, it has been 7, yes, SEVEN years since even a cost of living raise.
    Everything else is a lot more expensive than it was seven years ago….
    The cost of our part of our health insurance increased to almost double what we paid last year and there are fewer and fewer doctors who will accept the state offered coverage because of limitations on coverage and the company’s failure to pay legitimate claims.

    Properties in our area stand vacant, with rural properties coming available almost daily as people move into town because the commute to a job is so costly….Schools are closing despite higher than ever enrollment. Teachers in Oklahoma are among the lowest paid in the nation.
    Property taxes increased greatly this year, we just got notice that our property is now valued at $22k more than last year and we haven’t changed a thing.

    It’s amazing to watch the news media and politicians who keep proclaiming so loudly and long that things are getting better…….do they live in a “real” world? Do they ever drive through rural America? Or visit the local food banks to see how many people are there?
    OR the number of children who are on the free breakfast and free lunch programs at the schools?

    Things here are tough! When we have to juggle things around to make sure the necessary bills are paid and let the less important things slide a bit till something comes in from the sale of a lamb or some item we can do without……

    The America of our grandparents and our parents is gone forever! The Land of Oppurtunity…..not any more!
    Then to watch things spiraling ever downward, I truly believe that we are on the verge of total collapse of our economy! Things are too “top-heavy” with high paid executives and upper level management and fewer and fewer of the truly productive WORK FORCE individuals!

    Here’s wishing times really were getting better, but they are still going downhill in our world!

    Reply
  • sirlancelot April 16, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Can remember a time when you could get a good job working for one of the utilities ( phone, gas or electric ) , factory work, shipyard, trucking outfit, etc

    All were union, good pay and benefits. Today ? All Gone !Whether you were coming out of high school or coming home from the military and not collage bound you could still get a good job to support a family.

    Greedy corporate hacks have stripped the American worker of a decent living. The divide between rich and poor keeps growing.

    Rich people have their name on the front of the building

    Middle class have their name on the front of their desk

    Poor people have their name on the front of their shirt

    It’s not getting better and you can best believe this government doesn’t want guns on the streets because people might remember why our Forefathers put the 2nd amendment in the Constitution for in the first place !

    Reply
    • Jason April 16, 2013, 3:44 pm

      Loved your description of the classes – better throw away my bowling shirt! You made me laugh out loud!

      Reply
      • sirlancelot April 16, 2013, 8:01 pm

        wish i could take credit for it.

        Reply
    • T.R. April 16, 2013, 8:46 pm

      ” when tyranny becomes law , resistance becomes duty “

      Reply
  • T.R. April 16, 2013, 4:07 pm

    The goals Communism must accomplish in order to take controle of any nation :
    #1 . Destroy the middle class
    #2. disarm the people
    # 3 . Destroy religion .

    Dont think it isn’t happening here .

    Reply
    • Jason April 16, 2013, 4:41 pm

      Let’s see …

      #1 – Check
      #2 – on its way
      #3 – the dilution is taking place.

      T.R. – you are so influenced by your Russian girlfriend – does she have any friends? I’ll move to Az!! Haha funny me.

      Reply
      • T.R. April 16, 2013, 8:21 pm

        She does , only thing is that does not transfer over culturally is the fact that she does not understand the concept of , and need to fight for freedom . Given the fact that I had several relatives that fought in the revolution , and then 24 that fought for the Confederate army ……………..either its in your blood to fight tyranny or its not . Its not like its a big issue ………..but I dont know if she would understand the day when I head out the door with full load out , weapon in hand , to join Johnny Reb to restore our Constitution when TSHTF . Just sayin

        Reply
  • Francesca April 16, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Great post. From my own perspective, the pressure in the housing market has stifled the mobility that most Americans could count on to find better jobs to support their families. The systematic dismantling of the family farm for big agra and soon, the family unit for local government, is forcing us to becoming more and more “locked” into our habitrails. Further from extended family ties and closer to big brother as the new patriarch. This is where I see it going.

    Reply
    • T.R. April 16, 2013, 8:10 pm

      Its called Communism .

      Reply
    • Calamity Jane April 17, 2013, 11:33 am

      Francesca, you’ve hit a nail right on the head here I think.
      The whole American Dream was based on small immediate family unit + car-based mobility. My father moved us half a country away from OK/TX where all our family is. We’re financially better off than we would have been if we’d stayed in OK, but I sure do miss the family. It would be nice to have someone closer than 12 hours away who could watch the kids if hubby or me wanted to pick up a few hours of work sometime. Or someone around to help when both babies are sick. This fracturing of the extended family network puts extra strain on a section of the population that’s already under strain. I can’t see the experiment working out real well as car-based mobility continues to contract.

      Reply
  • Marc April 16, 2013, 10:53 pm

    I’m glad your guy BHO got re elected CJ. My taxes haven’t gone up a bit and food prices are way down in the last five years. My college age kids have a bright future looking for a decent job that doesn’t exist.

    Reply
  • ORRN on LI April 16, 2013, 11:03 pm

    Here in NY I just have to shake my head and wonder how they make up their numbers and do they really think we aren’t capable of the math? I am in the health field, what should be a stable reliable field right? Well we just got the news from my employer (a hospital) that our pension plan is no longer, what ever you are vested in at this point is what you got, I’ve only been there 12 years, they say I have to work till 2031 to collect my pension that is still in its infancy. To boot, we will all get a whopping 2% ‘bonus’ this year that replaces any cost of living increases or raises. I think inflation is way more than 2% right?
    Many people can’t actually retire from this hospital because there are no health benefits after retirement, they all come back per diem to pay
    for it! My husband & I haven’t had a vacation since the honeymoon 20 years ago, the bills get paid but no extra $ to put away. I would say things are pretty damn crappy here in NY, at this point we are ‘made to feel like we should just be glad we have jobs.’ So, my point is even the once stable reliable health field is not even that anymore, not by a long shot. This country is going down the crapper and The politicians can’t spare a square for anyone who isn’t in their corrupt pockets.

    Reply
  • SingleMom April 17, 2013, 5:58 am

    I think we’ve hit the lull before the storm. Too many people are buying into the idea that everything’s fine now and the economy is on the upswing, but the reality is that we’re barely scraping by.

    And here’s where I second what Leslie Anne said. With 30 years total at only 2 full-time jobs, my family lives a hair’s-breadth above poverty level. It’s frustrating at times, but we live quite comfortably! Our home isn’t my ideal, but it’s affordable and is our only debt. Meat is used for flavoring and texture, not as the focus for meals. We don’t have cell phones or cable, and our evenings are spent reading or playing board games. Christmas shopping starts in March. Our 2 cars are used, and so is much of our clothing. We don’t rent movies, restaurant meals are few and far between, and I’ve taken two 3-day vacations in the last 20 years.

    I’m lousy at saving money, and we spend too much on non-essentials, but we’re satisfied with what we have and don’t feel the need to keep up with the Jones’s. It irritates me to hear sob stories from people with much larger incomes or those who are living on Welfare, because they’re throwing their money away on things that society has told them they need. I sympathize with those who are long-term unemployed or have unexpected health conditions, but too many people are using “I’m poor” as an excuse to dig themselves even deeper.

    Reply
    • Leslie Anne April 17, 2013, 12:56 pm

      I’ve lived a below poverty-level lifestyle by choice…so I can get ahead in life and help my daughters get ahead. What irritates me is when the “poor” who live a higher lifestyle than I do, whine about their predicament–yet when you give helpful advice on how they can change their situation (by studying, baking bread, doing without, etc.–all things I’m willing to do and have done), they shoot it down.

      I’m just now getting cable tv and internet (this upcoming Saturday). I’ll be borrowing a computer. I’ve been using the free Library and computer cafe at work for many years. It was just a couple years ago I got a free washing machine (I used a washboard prior to that). I do not own a microwave, clothesdryer, etc. Just got a television last fall–I bought a 19-inch for $109. I grind my own wheat to bake bread, eat dried cooked beans, powdered milk, etc.

      I’m not poor at all anymore, I just know I need to live well-below my means to springboard me and my daughters ahead in life. Last year, I bought a fixer-upper home with a 10-year mortgage–which will be paid off in just in 2 more years due to plowing extra money onto the principal.

      My eldest daughter moved back home to live in my basement (which leaks like crazy any time it rains) to save up to pay cash for a home.

      So, me and her were willing to cram ourselves into a 651 sq. ft. home with a leaky basement to set ourselves up in life. We’ve got over $100,000 a year income between the two of us, and the house I bought was $29,900. Not a typo…$29,900. Majorly below-our/my-means.

      Of course, when we both have paid off homes the “poor” and others will consider us “lucky”. Granted, our current income allows us to set ourselves up more easily/quickly than other folks, but still, we’ve paying our dues now to have a comfortable life down the line.

      Oh, and we weren’t always doing so well financially. If you go back 10 years ago…I was living in my van and working three jobs to save up money (bartending, cleaning houses and bar bathrooms, and temp work) and the older daughter was part-time waitressing for next to nothing. We made a decision we weren’t going to be “poor” anymore, studied, sacrificed, worked jobs we hated and clawed our way up the ladder.

      Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

      Reply
      • Leslie Anne April 17, 2013, 1:06 pm

        Oh, I also just got new appliances to replace my 1947/1948 refrigerator and 1950 stove. The appliance guys mocked my old appliances as they took them out of the house.

        That kinda peeved me so I put on my “downtrodden face” and told them “Well, that’s all I could afford”…and then they got apologetic and felt like heels…hahaha

        I know, it was a white lie, but still…how many people are mocked into buying stuff they really can’t afford? I consider it a public service because maybe next time they’ll think twice before they cut down other people’s possessions.

        Reply
        • Jason April 17, 2013, 2:22 pm

          You know something Leslie, my mom and dad had a Maytag washer and dryer for 35 years and gave them to me 20 years ago. I used them until 5 years ago when they finally wheezed their last breath.

          There is a lot to be said for real quality of the older appliances and sometimes wonder if the more energy efficiency and less quality today is worth the trade off.

          You should have kept the old refrigerator as a bunker or bomb shelter! Hahahaha!

          Reply
      • Jason April 17, 2013, 2:41 pm

        About your first comment – that was incredibly wise of you to establish those spending habits and lifestyle. At one point I lived a very lavish lifestyle & it was THE stupidest thing I ever did – bar none. Jumping out of an airplane without a parachute would have been wiser by comparison! Hahaha.

        I look back and cringe how much money I wasted on idiotic things that meant nothing to the quality of life – zero, nada, zilch.

        Today I live well below my means and save and (try) to model something for my kids. Quite frankly, I enjoy the challenge of saving money, shopping smart and investing wiser.

        What is funny, is that is exactly what my parents did and they are comfortably retired. When I started making serious money (I happened to have a ‘gift’ for what I did for a living and was very well paid), I fell hook, line and sinker for that great American illusion – beat the Joneses.

        Live, learn and teach the kids.

        A hearty congratulations to you.

        Reply
        • Leslie Anne April 17, 2013, 3:11 pm

          Thank you :)

          The next step is going to even more school (for useful stuff I can fall back on for just-in-case income). After my house is paid off and my older daughter buys her home, I will then refocus on my younger daughter getting a home–I made her the offer to come back home to save money for a house, too, but she said she’s not ready to be a homeowner yet. I’m thinking the time will eventually come and then we’ll work on getting her set up, too. Right now she’s focusing on college and full-time work. I want them both to have paid off homes and no mortgage.

          Reply
  • Preacher April 17, 2013, 10:37 pm

    In the Army we have a saying, “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear until it happens…”
    They are saying recovery. But, what do you see. What is the reality..?
    Right.

    Reply
  • Pineslayer April 18, 2013, 1:09 pm

    This post is not what most Americans are willing to read, unfortunately. It may make them think and look around them, really look. I have friends that are unwilling to see reality. Things in my neck of the woods are not very pretty. Many are one month away from total ” calamity”. Had to put that in. My friends that are going to be fine if things get really bad are not wealthy, they have skills and a mindset that will see them through. We are a small group and we struggle with the same question over and over, “What will we do when the hopeless/unprepared/unskilled come knocking. That post has been done to death, I know, but that is what it comes down to. I have lived hand to mouth for many years in the past, grew up that way. I decided that I wanted better and I worked my butt off, kinda enjoy it. Call me crazy, but hard work makes you appreciate the rewards. That being said, the opportunities today for younger folk are getting harder to come by. I grew up in a world of manufacturing jobs that gave you the chance to move up and prove yourself. There is always a way to improve your life though if you are wiling to get out of your comfort zone, or off the couch. I have family and friends that have resigned themselves to being poor and downtrodden, they will never change and we can’t change them. Yes there are obstacles and sometimes the job is to destroy those obstacles, at least it gives you something to do. Thanks CJ for getting me all fired up, time to go move some snow.

    Reply
  • Jason April 18, 2013, 9:52 pm

    Jane,

    I watched the Youtube link you attached and it was pretty sobering. Many years ago I did a report in grade school about Hoverville, the Great Depression’s version of Tent Cities and this Youtube was quite a reminder.

    People losing everything and having a good education or banked their livelihood on what was once a proven industry, are not immune anymore and it is sad.

    Like the line from the Joni Mitchell song “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

    Reply

Leave a Comment