Just about a year ago, a Deutchebank analyst figured out that by the end of this summer, more than half the mortgages in the country would be underwater. That process has begun. In May the mortgage delinquency rate - which the Masters of the Universe and their media puppets insisted would decline - rose almost 10%. (Via Avedon)
Last week, Pew Research released the results of a new study that said more than half our working population is either unemployed or underemployed.
Consistently ignored in reporting on the economic crisis is the dramatic toll it's taking on America's children. The prevalence of poverty has expanded dramatically in light of growing unemployment, accompanied by state attacks on social welfare spending that benefits the disadvantaged. Child poverty grew nationally to a total of 22 percent of all children in 2010, an all time high for the last two decades, and an increase in five percent over the last four years. Half of the poor are now classified as in "extreme poverty" - described as living in families earning below 50 percent of the poverty line. The percent of children who are food insecure also increased to 18 percent in 2010. This growth translates into an additional 750,000 children nationwide who are malnourished.
Reliance on food stamps increased by 24 percent between August 2008 and August 2009, with the number of children benefitting them growing from nearly 30 million to 37 million. Some localities are suffering under even higher levels of poverty. Throughout Illinois, up to 1.5 million people were reliant upon food stamps as of June 2009 - an increase of 22 percent from 2007. From 2000 to 2008, child poverty increased by 72 percent in Colorado. Overall, more than 30 states saw their reliance on food stamps increase between 2008 and 2009.
Sadly, attention to child poverty isn't considered "sexy" enough to make the headlines or features in the "paper of record" (New York Times) or other agenda setting media. A review of stories featuring child poverty from August 2008 (at the time of the economic meltdown) through June 2010 finds that the issue was only featured in a single New York Times story and just three stories in the Washington Post.
Homelessness is on the rise as well, but that isn't being ignored. It's being fought with the latest tactic-of-choice in cities: starvation. In Orlando, the home of Disney in Florida, the land that reality must never be allowed to touch, city officials outlawed a soup kitchen that has been operating in a public park for years. Seems that lately the numbers of homeless has grown and tourists are supposedly complaining about how unsightly it all is.
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that it's OK for Orlando to restrict the group feedings that have brought dozens of homeless people to Lake Eola Park.
In a case watched by cities and homeless advocates across the country, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reversed a 2008 ruling by a federal judge in Orlando who believed the city's rules were unconstitutional.
"We won on every single point. It's a complete vindication for the city," said City Attorney Mayanne Downs. "The point here was to protect Lake Eola Park. It's a very important part of our city's heritage and history, and all we wanted to do was to protect it from an unfair burden."
Advocates have continued to serve meals to large groups of homeless and needy people at Lake Eola Park since U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell ordered City Hall to stop enforcing its ordinance. In fact, in the nearly two years since his ruling, the regular feedings at Lake Eola have grown substantially, city officials say.
"Over 100 people have been gathering at the park every day, and it's really becoming a problem," said Commissioner Patty Sheehan, whose district includes the iconic downtown park. "It's gotten to the point where people are telling me they are no longer going to take their families to the park anymore."
The ruling clears the way for the city to begin enforcing its ordinance again, effectively putting an end to the feedings or at least forcing them to move elsewhere.
So a few rich people (the only kind Pubs like Sheehan ever deal with) complained that hungry people are scary and demanded she move them somewhere they wouldn't have to see them so Patty obligingly made feeding the hungry illegal. After all, the tourists Orlando depends on don't like seeing them either, presumably.
I'm not so sure tourists are as self-involved and callous as all that. I live in a heavy, tourist-driven city, too, and I've seen or heard of very few complaints about us from them. The city of Savannah, however, is very concerned about what some tourists might think someday and aren't at all shy about claiming they've had oodles of complaints to justify every crackdown. Thing is, they can never seem to come up with even one specific complaint from any given specific tourist. In the best conservative tradition, it's all anecdotal or assumed. "Everybody knows", you know. And whenever a complaint does get tracked, it turns out to be a complaint against a particular homeless person for a particular act - panhandling, for example - or it's from somebody who lives here and claims to be making the complaint on behalf of some imagined bunch of non-specific tourists.
Actually, in general tourists either a) ignore us (by far the preferred response), b) say Hello and walk on by, or c) offer us food or money unasked. Most are either not bothered by our existence or sorry for us to some extent. Very few are afraid. I think they're getting a bad rap. I don't think people leave their hearts at home just because they go on vacation. Besides, it's absurd to poretend that they don't know what's going oin in this country. Just 'cause Wall Street and the Beltway decide to believe everything's OK doesn't mean ordinary people are ignoring the reality they see every day. But taking their names in vain gives city officials like Sheehan the excuse they need to dump a problem they'd really rather pretend doesn't exist and don't like to have thrown in their faces every day.
What would happen, I wonder, if tourists in Orlando started to complain about the city's heartlessness toward its homeless population? Think the Republican officials would give a damn?
No, me either. Complaints only matter to conservatives when they mirror their own fears. Otherwise, you're just a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals whining because somebody had the guts to get tough with the poor.
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