Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Real State of the Empire, or The People In It

Here's a couple of stories that point to what is really going on in this most prosperous of nations. The first is not really news but is a nice reminder that most people here live "on the edge." Any sort of misfortune or downturn in an individual's personal situation will result in disaster, simply because there are no emergency funds set aside. Too many cell phones, too many tv channels, too many widescreen computer monitors, too many SUVs, not enough savings, Chaos guesses. The second article discusses just how many people here live in severe poverty (hint: there are many, and their numbers are growing steadily). A more interesting aside in the middle of the piece reveals that

"Over the last two decades, America has had the highest or near-highest poverty rates for children, individual adults and families among 31 developed countries, according to the Luxembourg Income Study, a 23-year project that compares poverty and income data from 31 industrial nations.

"It's shameful," said Timothy Smeeding, the former director of the study and the current head of the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University. "We've been the worst performer every year since we've been doing this study."

With the exception of Mexico and Russia, the U.S. devotes the smallest portion of its gross domestic product to federal anti-poverty programs, and those programs are among the least effective at reducing poverty, the study found. Again, only Russia and Mexico do worse jobs."

Fascinating international perspective, no?

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