Gleaned From the News

  • The recession is over.  It began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009 (one month before I was laid off- someone should have told my employer!). 
  • Banks are rebounding.  Airlines are rebounding.  Car makers are rebounding.
  • The top five percent of income earners saw in an increase in wealth from 2007 to 2010.  The income of the remaining 95 percent fell or was flat.
  • The homebuilding industry is years away from recovering from the excesses of the housing boom.
  • The number of people without health insurance rose sharply last year to 50.7 million — an all time high — according to recent data.
  • California Medical Association officials say about half the state’s doctors don’t accept Medi-Cal patients in their private practices because of low reimbursement payments. In some communities, that number is much higher.
  • Unemployment in the U.S. may stay above the pre-crisis level until at least 2013.
  • CEOs of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis took home nearly $12 million on average in 2009.
  • Thirty-six states lost jobs in August (California lost over 33,000).
  • Extended unemployment benefits kept 3.3 million people out of poverty in 2009.
  • As of 2009 1 in 7 Americans (and 1 in 5 children) lived below the poverty line.
  • A quarter million families are homeless.
  • Nearly 5 million people are ‘doubled up’ – living with extended family members.
This entry was posted in Class divide, Corporate Profits, poverty, recession, unemployment. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Gleaned From the News

  1. Belinda Gomez says:

    Tiffany–balderdash. Real connections are wonderful, but very often, people who live in public housing are held back by their community/family ties. People who win big by playing the lottery frequently find that their entire extended families think that they deserve some of the payout.

    Fellowship with others is wonderful, but it has nothing to do with actual social and economic class.

  2. Lynn says:

    Hmmm. If we use college degree, we call some of the world’s wealthiest and most productive people “lower class”. (Steve Jobs?)

    How about we just give up labelling people altogether? Especially with artificial, non helpful labels like “race” and “class”.

  3. Anna says:

    Some people say the recession is over but I don’t think anyone would say that the “effects” of the recession are over.
    The effects of the recession have been so expansive and far reaching…. Even if some politicians and economists are saying the recession is over they know (even if they don’t say it) that this doesn’t mean the effects are over. I was laid off from my job at the end of May and luckily have been getting unemployment (what little it is). Something that has helped us tremendously is that the cost of our Cobra benefits was decreased. We now pay under $300 a month for Cobra for a family of 4. Another piece of good news is that I just got a job that pays a bit more than what I was making before. Unfortunately, my experience is not all that common, unfortunately. The process of applying and interviewing was arduous, to say the least. I applied for this (and about 50 other jobs) in June and was interviewed all summer for this job. Having to respond to e-mails frequently, be available for in-person interviews at the drop of a hat and basically be at their beck and call was tough. But, thank God, I got the job. I start working on Monday and I entend to make donations to worthy causes (A.K.A THE BOXCAR KIDS) too. Please tell us how you are doing and what you need!

  4. V's Herbie says:

    meant to include a link to the NPR story I was referencing…

    Link!

  5. V's Herbie says:

    There was an economist talking about the recession end pronouncement. He said something to the effect of “it’s important to know if things stopped getting worse, so if they start again we can call it a separate recession”

    Gee thanks buddy…

    so really all the announcement means is some econ scholars figured out when we stopped being flushed down the toilet. It doesn’t mean we’re not still in the sewer.

  6. Bob says:

    Since the recession is over, does that mean you will have to change your blog heading, “One Family’s Reflections on Being Part of the Great Recession”?

    Sharon and I send you our best. We’ll try to stop by some time soon.

  7. SMS says:

    Interesting take on things Tiffany.
    We are not seeing any positive changes here in the UP of MI. Maybe no change instead of the downhill slide. Certainly no progress to increasing economy and jobs available.

  8. Siddeley says:

    We are flirting with disaster and whoever said that the recession is over is leading the way. I would love to believe it is true but in my opinion nothing has changed since we took the plunge 2 years ago. We propped up the banks and businesses with paper money. Every time I hear of another bail out by the government it cracks me up. I mean it is like handing someone a picture of a dollar bill and saying “here you go…. pretend this is real.”

  9. John says:

    The homebuilding industry will take a while to get back on their feet, but in my area where I live there is some house building which is incouraging. Those extended unemployment benefits really helped my dad.

    But then again, I don’t want to rely on the government.

  10. Tiffany says:

    I think life in the U.S. has permanently changed. We spent the last century becoming more and more depending on the government, corporations, and our employers. During the last century we gave up strong family ties and real friendship and replaced them with “me time” and Starbucks friendships (i.e. you can’t have a quiet talk over the kitchen table with a friend, it needs to be a trip out for coffee or a meal). We dumped relationships with family members if they didn’t hold our same political beliefs or if it was more fun to spend time with our Starbucks friends. We gave up real skills (home repair, home cooking, etc.) and replaced them with fun time and trips to the grocery store for pre-made food. We gave up on the idea that a man and a woman can learn to get along (even if it’s difficult sometimes and takes effort) and replaced it with quickie divorces or no marriage at all. Now we are less able to take care of ourselves and there isn’t a backup system. We are now coming to realize that the government can’t be our family, our husband/wife, or our friend.

    Now it’s time to pay the price and decide what we’ll teach our children. Will teach them to make simple, cheap, healthy home cooked food? Will we teach them to sew on buttons and make simple home repairs? Will we teach them to choose a husband/wife and to work with him/her even when life gets difficult? Will we encourage them to build friendships that are built up over conversations over the kitchen table and long walks around the local park? Will we teach them not to depend on government or employers for services that we can provide ourselves (i.e. education, health care, retirement, etc.)? Will we encourage them to become educated in subjects/skills that will provide real benefit to others (i.e. a degree in engineering, not in comparative literature)? Will we encourage them to make a realistic life plan (i.e. considering their skills, temperament, ability to work hard, etc.)?

    I’d like to propose that this will be the new class system in the U.S. in the future:

    Lower Class: Works for others and does not own home. Has little ties to family.

    Middle Class: Either owns a business with at least 2 income streams or owns a home. Has ties to least 2 family members (i.e. could ask them to come and help out on their farm for a day and they would say yes gladly). Can read, do basic math, and knows who their mayor, senator, congressperson, and president is. Votes and is able to clearly explain why they voted as they did on 25% of the issues. Knows at least 2 neighbors well and could turn to them for help during an emergency.

    Upper Class. Owns a business with at least 3 income streams and owns a home. Has ties to 10 family members. Can read, do basic math, and knows who their mayor, senator, congressperson, and president is. Knows how laws are made and bills are passed. Votes and is able to clearly explain why they voted as they did on 75% of the issues. Participates in politics by serving in local, state or national government or by donating time and money to help those serving. Provides at least 2 of the following for their own home: electricity (i.e. through solar panels, windmill, etc.), water (perhaps a well), or food (home garden). Knows most of their neighbors and is able to provide help to neighbors during emergencies. Helps the poor in their community and offers jobs to others.

    I think the next generation all stands good chance of being middle class or even upper class, depending on what we teach them now. The time for depending on government has passed. A new era of self determination, connection to family, and benevolence to our neighbors has begun.

    • Sharon says:

      Tiffany:

      While I agree with many of your observations, I disagree with tying class placement with home ownership across the board. There are, for example, many reasons NOT to own a home (not wanting to deal with maintenence issues, mobility challenges, etc) – this is especially true in large metropolitan areas like NY, Boston, etc. I would be more inclined to tie class position to education level (no high school diploma, GED = low class; college degree = middle class, etc). There really could be a variety of definitions, based on locale.

      • Tiffany says:

        I didn’t tie home ownership to middle class status. “Either owns a business with at least 2 income streams or owns a home.” This means middle class person could own a home OR own their own business. An upper class person does need to own a home because they need to have a stable residence so that they can maintain stable family connections, know their neighbors (and provide help to them in times of need), and know their community (and also assist in local charity work and politics).

        I really think education level is no longer relevant to class. I know several high school grads (and even a high school drop out) who own successful businesses and plenty of grad students who have been out searching for a job for the past 3 years. A college degree hanging on the wall doesn’t really mean much any more.

        Education is a great thing. I think Americans should teach reading and reading comprehension. In my daily interactions with customers of my business, I frequently run into those who are unable to read and comprehend even a paragraph of information written at 4th grade level (unfortunately this include many college grads). Basic math is also important. If your children can’t work out compound interest rates or balance a checkbook, they won’t be going very far in life. Silly degrees in fields of questionable merit are a waste. Unless your child has a clear plan (and a backup plan too) for getting work or starting a business, will that degree in Greek literature, geology, or theater really be worth anything in 5 years?

        It’s time to start teaching our children that class is about making and executing a plan. It’s about benevolence to family, friends, and community. It’s about working hard, long, and smart. It’s not about spending some time in school, hanging a degree on the wall, and asking someone else to provide a job.

      • boxcarkids says:

        Geology – especially petroleum geology is a very valuable degree!

    • wondering says:

      @Tiffany – Your proposal implies that no one who does not own a home or a business could be middle class – even if they live in a large urban center, earn over $100,000 per year, are well-educated both in academics and politics and that they would be lower class simply by dint of being an employee and not an employer.

      Seems like a big hole there. Your proposal doesn’t cover the issue of class from an income point of view (wealth versus poverty and all the grades in between) at all.

      • Tiffany says:

        You don’t need a large income to live a good life. You simply need the skills of budgeting, time (for home cooking, home repairs, etc.), and fellowship with family, friends, and community (so that you can support each other when things go wrong). It’s much easier acquire and practice these skills by running your business or owning a home.

        Someone earning $100,000 and living in an “urban center” without owning a home is in a very dangerous position. He/she might loose his/her job and then would not have much of a backup system. Savings might be possibly help in this case, but a lot of people earning a $100,000 income and not choosing to own a home are not saving large amounts of cash. They are often working long hours and don’t have stable family, friend, and community connections to turn to when job lose happens.

        It take more than a high paying job to be middle class. In today’s economy it’s all about ownership and real connections to family, friends, and community.

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