Can we talk about poverty now?

Class - the third rail of American politics - is rearing its ugly head more often these days as the economic downturn cripples the wallets of average Americans. But don't expect your elected officials to do anything in support of their constituents anytime soon.

From Boston Globe:

UNEMPLOYMENT is at its highest level in 15 years. Housing prices won't stop falling. The stock market has suffered its most punishing collapse since 1931, and shareholders have lost $7 trillion in wealth. Millions of workers have lost their jobs; millions more are worried about losing theirs. IRAs and 401k accounts have been decimated, and companies are halting their contributions to retirement plans. Retail sales are dragging, the credit markets have seized up, and worse is expected in 2009. The government has gone to unprecedented lengths to improve the economy, yet the economy keeps getting worse. The federal budget deficit is headed for a trillion dollars, and the national debt is well over $10 trillion and climbing. The number of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track is at or near its all-time high; consumer confidence is at its all-time low.

So what do you do now?

Well, if you're a member of Congress, you give yourself a raise.

Beginning this week, US representatives and senators will be paid $174,000 a year. That represents an increase of $4,700 and the 10th time since 1998 that congressional pay has been given a boost....

..."Finding anyone brave enough to defend the pay hike in Washington these days is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack," writes McClatchey's Rob Hotakainen. "When asked to comment, normally accessible members quickly go missing, are on vacation, are extremely busy with family members, or can't be reached on their cellphones because they're in remote locations."...

...Hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when members of Congress didn't make it an annual priority to pad their pay envelopes. In 1932, during the Great Depression, the House and Senate even cut their pay by 10 percent, then cut it by another 5.5 percent in 1933. Today's lawmakers, save for a handful of honorable exceptions, are about as likely to follow that precedent as they are to sprinkle anthrax on their Cheerios...

Between Detroit's Big Three, Bernard Madoff and Congress, it's time for Americans to rise to the occasion and take back this country from the mad men. Who is with me?

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At Wednesday, January 07, 2009 8:59:00 AM, Anonymous Keith B. said...

Politicians are so afraid to talk about class in this country. So, I wouldn't expect them now to talk about poverty when the economy is falling off the wagon.

At Thursday, January 08, 2009 4:21:00 PM, Anonymous Shar in London said...

It's like you say talya, the more things change the more thinges remain the same.


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