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Poverty "Flat," Just Like Earth

Lost amidst the hoopla and funny hats of this week’s Democratic National Convention, and its historic nomination of America’s first-ever human presidential candidate, was the timely release of an “upbeat” U.S. Census report on poverty.

Proving that a “household” can still do the job a single wage-earning dad used to, median household income rose 1.3%, crossing $50k for the first time – a terrific starting salary for a recent college grad, but kind of depressing when split between the two household heads of a family of four holding down three jobs to earn it. Factor in inflation, and those briefcase-toting households actually earned $1,100 less than they did in 2001 – the year President Bush took office. At least Alice In Wonderland ran to stay in place.

But let’s turn those upside-down smiles back upside-down again, Wonderland-style, with more dubious great news from the report: for the first time during the Bush presidency, the percentage of U.S. citizens living in poverty has not risen, holding steady at 12.5%. While that year-to-year percentage is considered “virtually unchanged,”“statistically insignificant,”and “flat,” the actual number of citizens living in poverty has increased year-to-year -- up from 36.5 million Americans to 37.3 million. It’s easy to see how those 816,000 new poor might feel “insignificant,” or especially “flat”… but it’s hard to imagine they see themselves as “unchanged.”

The key to this sunny statistical anomaly is that the number of Americans swelling the ranks of the poor is irrelevant, as long as the population itself keeps growing at the same rate. In some dark, oil-depleted Mad Max future of a half billion U.S. citizens, 62.5 million of them could be utterly impoverished, bashing each other with rocks over the discovery of a discarded oil dipstick from a Nash Rambler, and we will no doubt be boasting that our poverty population has remained “unchanged” since way back at the dawn of the21stcentury. (Except that too would be technically inaccurate – back in the faux Millennium year of 2000, the waning days of Clinton’s Adulterous Presidency, the U.S. poverty rate was the lowest in twenty years.)

Maybe, like the moment in time the Terminator travels back to in order to “terminate” John Connor's mom and ensure his own bleak future, these are the days that determine whether ours is a future of hunting-with-rocks, or something marginally better. The party of “Change” has gone as futuristic as Deep Impact and selected a black presidential nominee; while the party that scolded Americans for “whining” about the economy has their hands full defending their recent past. (On the other hand, they went all Battlestar Galactica on us in picking a female VP poised to inherit the presidency.)

Whatever the outcome, start stockpiling rocks. Just in case.

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Disclaimer: This website is satirical in nature and naturally satirical.  Although many of the facts, figures, statistical information, and events both current and historical contained herein are true and accurate, "Eat The Poor" also contains elements of parody, including exaggeration and ridicule, regarding events, public figures, corporations, government institutions, and others we find deserving of unwanted attention.  No harm is intended to figures both public and private and/or institutions or corporate entities mentioned herein.
The use of the phrase "herein" herein is hereby acknowledged to be unnecessary and excessive.

A Modest Proposal for a film by Kurt Engfehr and Ken Pisani.
2006 Ken Pisani and Kurt Engfehr.  All rights reserved.
All "Blogging Poorly" posts  Ken Pisani.