Somewhere along the way, the land of milk and honey became the land of diminished expectations. The United States government’s numbers would have you believe that less than a quarter of Americans live in poverty, but the real number is actually much higher than that.
To put it in perspective, consider that in 1984, the wealth gap separating blacks from whites was less than $100,000. That number has since tripled. Also, as Alternet reports, most people have no wealth. The number of people with assets– which include stocks, homes and mortgage accounts minus debt– is at an all time low. An analysis from the Economic Policy Institute shows that for most people, their debt outweighs their assets.
And even though we’re supposedly in an economic recovery, most people are still living through a recession. Over the past three years, income inequality has grown, not narrowed. According to the IRS, the highest wage for the bottom half of American income earners is $34,000 per year. For working people, nothing is going up but the median debt level, which rose in 2009.
Even people at the higher echelons of income are feeling a squeeze. A family earning $60,000 will see their income reduced by about $15,000 in taxes while Apple and GE pay pennies on the dollar in taxes.
Thus when you consider the real cost of living and the stagnation of wages, which haven’t risen in at least two decades, you see that the bottom half of American wage earners who top off at $34,000 are earning a poverty wage. All life sustaining products, such as food, have risen exponentially in cost but wages, when adjusted for inflation, are still in late 1970’s ranges.
This all comes as Congress cuts foodstamps to the poor and eliminates them for people who have been incarcerated as part of the Farm bill.