I see the news media has picked up on the increase in the poverty rate. Here is the Wall Street Journal's take on the numbers. I noticed a bit of schizophrenia in the piece especially toward the end. One of the experts noted that the poverty rate only considers income and ignores the 'government' subsidies the poor receive (housing subsidies, earned income tax credits, food stamps, etc.) Said expert remarked that if food stamps alone were counted the rate would have dropped last year a little under 4 million people about as many people as fell into poverty over the year. Are those people really no longer poor because they receive that aid? That seems to be what this guy is saying. And if we no longer count them as poor do they no longer qualify for aid?
I have another quibble with this article. At one point it says that Americans over 65 have done better than younger Americans because our income has gone up a little over 5% because of increases in social security. Which older Americans is he talking about. Mom actually got no useable increase because her Medicare payments went up at the same time. They gave with one hand and took away with the other. And this year she got no increase at all because the fudged inflation figures showed no increase. As a household our income did increase but only because I had to go on Social Security after two-and-a-half years unemployed with no job prospects in sight. If you take last year as your standard, those older Americans who had 401k and other retirement savings probably did get an increase because stocks rebounded--to the level they reached 10 years ago. For them, as for many Americans, they lost a decade.
For the most part, I can relate to this MSNBC article. After several disappointments with the meat we bought from our local supermarket and several disturbing stories about where some of that meat comes from, we shifted to a small local meat market. We also know of one more source for quality meat that is hormone and anti-biotic free as well as grass fed. Three things will keep us from returning to the supermarket: the taste and texture were far better, the price was not that much more, and the service was unbelievable in a world that runs on self-serve. We picked out the beef and pork roasts we wanted and actual butchers cut them into manageable pieces which their clerk separately wrapped and marked. We will be going back for chicken and pork chops next and we will explore what other products they offer.
This MSNBC article reflects some of what we have talked about here--the lack of trust in traditional institutions. Last night we listened to the news story about the FDA's hearings about the genetically modified salmon. What we really don't like is that the FDA is going to determine whether the salmon is safe and, having done that, will allow it to be marketed without any indication that it is GM. So the consumer will not have any choice about whether they consume GM salmon because they won't know and providers won't be required to tell them. The FDA and USDA have done such a wonderful job in protecting the pubic from bacterial contamination in other foods that I have a big problem trusting that the FDA determination in this case will serve the interests of the consumer first.