Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sixteen Million

Fred Clark, on the recent news that 16 million Americans live in severe poverty:

Try to imagine how you might make ends meet on $5,080 a year. That's $424 a month for rent, food, health care, clothing, utilities, transportation. On $424 a month, the ends cannot be made to meet. Try to imagine how you might make ends meet raising two children on $9,903 a year. That's about $825 a month. The ends cannot be made to meet.

There are 16 million Americans living like this.

That's the combined population of Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, New Hampshire and Vermont.

[Bradford] Plumer points to the Bush administration's most notable response to this situation: eliminating the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation. Ignoring these 16 million Americans is, for Bush, a matter of official policy.

I can't imagine that. Can you? Can you imagine that millions live this way, and that the number is only growing? And that this growth is the direct result of an administration that cares more about alleviating the tax burdens of the wealthy and influential, and cares not at all about even keeping track of how many impoverished Americans there are? It staggers the imagination to know that not only have things been permitted to get to this point, but that the Bush administration encourages it. After all, there are no "pioneers" among the poor, and the economy is strong.

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