Is Poverty The Future Of America’s Middle Class?

America’s middle class has been under attack for about 30 years. One of the main goal of Reagan, the Republicans and the pro-corporate Democrats was to dismantle the few critical social programs and safety nets put together by FDR and later Lyndon Johnson. Bush Sr. kept pushing for the same social Darwinist policies of deconstruction of the New Deal, so did ultra corporate Democrat Bill Clinton, and of course Bush Jr. So far, President Obama has failed to reverse the disastrous policies of what could be called America’s Jungle Capitalism.

The great divide between the haves and have-not has dramatically increased since the 2008 financial crash. The United States has seen a record number of its citizens living on food stamps while the number of millionaires has also reached a record high. It makes America as polarized in term of wealth possession today as in 1928.

Recent statistics show that 40.8 million Americans currently rely on food stamps to meagerly survive. It means that one out of eight Americans can not make it without government provided food stamps to feed themselves. This figure is projected to rise to 43.3 million by 2011.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the number of recipients of supplemental nutrition assistance program subsidies jumped by 19 percent from a year earlier. In California alone, between March 2007 and March 2010, the number of people receiving food stamps rose from 2.1 million to 3.27 million.

While the number of Americans relying on food stamps or who have become homeless has skyrocketed since the on set of the recession in December 2007, the number of millionaires has also risen to peak level. According to a study released recently by the consulting firm Capgemini, the population of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) within the top ten US metropolitan areas increased by 17.5 percent in 2009, which is the highest growth rate in the last four years.

The Capgemini study provides further indication that the rich in the United States have already recovered from the recession. In the 10 cities in the survey, while the number of millionaires grew by 17.5 percent in 2009, the national unemployment rate jumped from 5.8 percent to 9.3 percent. Most of the gains for the rich can be attributed to the gains made by the stock market.

According to the study, New-York city had 650,000 high-net worth individuals, or people with one million dollars or more investable  assets in 2009. That is 18.7 percent higher than in 2008. The US taxpayers’ bank bailouts certainly helped those on Wall Street, which of course explains why New-York has more millionaires than any other metropolitan cities.

It confirms that the bank bailout was a giant swindle plundering the public treasury to end up in the bank accounts of millionaires. This can, and should be called socialism in reverse; because it is a transfer of wealth from the public to the private sector.

Today is Labor Day, but workers in the United States have absolutely nothing they can celebrate about. For the past 30 years, the Barons of America’s jungle capitalism have waged a war on the poor and the middle class. It is not a question of if, but more of when, a breaking point will be reached and a middle class, with nothing left to loose, will not submit to a system where 99 percent of the people get the very short end of the stick. When the poor and the middle class will get tired of  just getting the few crumbs falling down the profit chain, they will likely decide to grab a knife and take a fair share of America’s wealth-pie themselves.

Editor’s Note: Photographs by Gilbert Mercier. This is the report from Capgemini.


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