Friday, June 29, 2012

Affordable Health Care and the poor

This is a good indication, provided by Andrew Sullivan, of how the very poor (and I mean very poor) are doing in the United States. It is a reason why Affordable Health Care - that nearly everyone can get some kind of health coverage, that one is not disqualified for breathing (a preexisting condition) is an enormous victory.

Ironically, Chief Justice Roberts voted for the Heritage Foundation health care proposal - the most rightwing though decent health care proposal - and that this was unlikely. He seems to have made a decision that after Citizens United (and Bush v. Gore), the politicization of the Supreme Court is too obvious. The role of money in American politics is very disturbing - Scrooges like Adelman can buy candidates personally...- and likely to make it increasingly hard for decent candidates to get elected anywhere. Roberts opted, in other words, to preserve the facade of the institution rather than making it even more unspeakable politically.

To see why Occupy is the future, one needs but to meditate on these statistics and what they mean:

"The Poorest Of The Poor

Are getting poorer:

Consider this: in 2010, 6.7 percent of Americans were among the extreme poor, as compared to 5.2 percent in 2007 and 4.5 percent in 2000. That's a 50 percent increase in the fraction of extremely poor individuals -- the greatest increase, by far, of any income group relative to the poverty threshold. The unambiguous statistical trend since 2000 has been large increases in the fraction of Americans at the extreme end of poverty, with little to no change in the fraction of Americans considered "near poor." The poor, in other words, are getting poorer -- or more precisely, poverty in America is becoming an increasingly extreme and unequal phenomenon.

In a follow-up post, Evan Soltas adds:

The mean real income of Americans below the federal poverty threshold is at a historical low, $5957 in 2010, after stagnating since the 1980s. It is important to explain here that the Census determines the threshold by calculating the minimum income needed for a minimally adequate standard of living, not in comparison to the income distribution -- poverty here is absolute, not relative -- and so the drop in incomes of the poor means that they can provide a lesser and lesser fraction of the goods and services seen as necessary for themselves and/or their families. The current level represents a 4.1 percent drop since 2000. More disturbingly, the mean individual below the federal poverty threshold makes 13.3 percent less in real terms than what he or she did in 1976. The poor haven't felt any sort of rising tide lifting all boats, so to speak. Instead, they are the worst off they've been in decades."

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