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How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?

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« on: September 30, 2010, 02:33:42 pm »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21235

Social Inequality in America: 2009 income gap in the US highest on record

by David Walsh



Global Research
September 29, 2010

Figures released Tuesday by the US Census Bureau reveal sharply worsening conditions for tens of millions of Americans under the impact of the economic crisis and the accumulation of vast wealth by a relative handful.

Some of the figures, for particular states and regions, are simply staggering. Michigan residents experienced a 6.2 percent decrease in median income in the course of one year, from 2008 to 2009, while Illinois has suffered a 24 percent increase in poverty in the past decade. More than 36 percent of Detroit’s population officially lives in poverty.

Overall, the 2009 American Community Survey reveals that median household income fell in the US nearly 3 percent between 2008 and 2009, from $51,726 to $50,221. This was the second consecutive year in which household incomes dropped. Median income declined in 34 states, and increased only in sparsely populated North Dakota.

“Thirty-one states saw increases in both the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2008 and 2009,” reported the Census Bureau in a press release. “No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number in poverty or the poverty rate.”

National median income is down 4 percent from its peak when the recession officially began in December 2007. Last year alone, noted the Washington Post, accounted for $1,500 of that average loss.

The Associated Press, based on an analysis of the Census Bureau numbers, reports that the income gap between the rich and the poor “grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.” The US also has the greatest income disparity among the advanced capitalist countries.

The proportion of Americans living in extreme poverty, defined as half the derisory official poverty line, or $10,977 for a family of four, rose from 5.7 percent in 2008 to 6.3 percent last year, an 11 percent increase in the number of people living in dire circumstances in one year. The 2009 figure was the highest level since the US government began tracking the very poor in 1975. To the everlasting shame of the American political establishment, the District of Columbia, home to the US government, has the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty of any state or district, 10.7 percent.

The top 20 percent of the population, those making more than $100,000 a year, took in nearly 50 percent of all income generated in the US in 2009, while the 44 million people living below the poverty line received only 3.4 percent. “That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968” (AP).

The top 5 percent of the US population in terms of income, those making $180,000 or more, added slightly to their annual incomes last year.

The most revealing statistics, however, relate to the wealthiest 1 percent, 1/10 of 1 percent and 1/100 of 1 percent of the population—no news about their gains in 2009 has been reported yet.

New York, Connecticut, Texas and the District of Columbia, along with the territory of Puerto Rico, had the largest gaps between rich and poor. Similar income gaps, reported AP, existed in major cities such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta. Some 22 percent of Mississippians live in poverty, the highest proportion of any state’s population, and only five states (Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire and New Jersey) had fewer than one in 10 residents living in poverty in 2009.

Other social phenomena reported by the Census Bureau are associated with job losses and declining incomes:

[Continued...]
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