Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Disappear

I was intriged by these articles from Barbara Ehrenreich, exploring different aspects of the economic implosion:

Rich Get Poorer, Poor Disappear
Alright, I’m a journalist and I understand how the media work. When a millionaire cuts back on his crème fraiche and caviar consumption, you have a touching human interest story. But pitch a story about a laid-off roofer who loses his trailer home and you’re likely to get a big editorial yawn. “Poor Get Poorer” is just not an eye-grabbing headline, even when the evidence is overwhelming. Food stamp applications, for example, are rising toward a historic record; calls to one DC-area hunger hotline have jumped 248 percent in the last six months, most of them from people who have never needed food aid before. And for the first time since 1996, there’s been a marked upswing in the number of people seeking cash assistance from TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families), the exsanguinated version of welfare left by welfare “reform.” Too bad for them that TANF is essentially a wage-supplement program based on the assumption that the poor would always be able to find jobs, and that it pays, at most, less than half the federal poverty level.

This first article looks at how poor and middle class people are struggling for survival in a country that largely doesn't care if they fail and die. It had better care, because that's the majority of the population circling the drain, and the economy will not get fixed until they are able to make a living.

How Positive Thinking Wrecked the Economy
Greed – and its crafty sibling, speculation – are the designated culprits for the ongoing financial crisis, but another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking. As promoted by Oprah, scores of megachurch pastors, and an endless flow of self-help bestsellers, the idea is to firmly belief that you will get what you want, not only because it will make you feel better to do so, but because thinking things, “visualizing” them  – ardently and with concentration – actually makes them happen. You will be able to pay that adjustable rate mortgage or, at the other end of the transaction, turn thousands of bad mortgages into giga-profits, the reasoning goes, if only you truly believe that you can.

Delusional thinking, whether too positive or too negative, is a bad thing. It blinds you to what is really going on around you. Hmm ... I wonder if this is aided by the last couple decades' worth of pushing prescription happy-pills on everyone who expresses anxiety or unhappiness? People need to keep at least one foot in concensus reality, because sometimes it throws challenges at you.
Tags: economics
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