Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Great Trickle-Down Scam Exposed: As the fortunes of billionaires grow, so does the number of children living in poverty

(A young boy gets his hearing tested in a WPA health clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ca. 1935-1943. New Deal policymakers greatly expanded health services to children. The situation today? See "Poverty threatens health of U.S. children," American Academy of Pediatrics, May 4, 2013. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

Billionaires: "All together the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a staggering $2.29 trillion, up $270 billion from a year ago" (Forbes, September 29, 2014).

Children: "A higher percentage of children live in poverty now than did during the Great Recession...About 22% of children in the U.S. lived below the poverty line in 2013, compared with 18% in 2008" (USA Today, July 21, 2015).

We also know that the number of homeless children in America has reached record levels, the middle-class has shrunk in every state, and wages have been stagnating or dropping for many years despite increased worker productivity and increased corporate profits.

(See "CEO Pay Has Increased About 876 Percent Since 1978," Huffington Post, August 29, 2013 and "CEO pay more than 300 times average workers in 2014," USA Today, June 21, 2015)

(These children are receiving milk from a WPA program in St. Paul, Minnesota, ca. 1935-1943. New Deal policymakers greatly enhanced nutritional opportunities for low-income children. The situation today? The political right--which has recently taken control of Congress--has repeatedly compared people receiving food assistance (many of whom are children) to "wild animals" and "lazy pigs" (see, e.g., here, here, here, and here. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

We've been handing out gargantuan tax breaks to the super-wealthy for the past several decades, under the promise that their miraculous investments would make life better for everyone. Indeed, the Republican Party is so doped up on trickle-down economics that they're trying to protect illegal tax evasion by millionaires & billionaires. Worse still, even as all the evidence shows that trickle-down economics is a colossal failure, tens of millions of voters are eager to cast a ballot for someone like Jeb Bush, who will promote more trickle-down economics and has said that Americans need to work longer hours - even as they're already working longer hours (and getting less vacation time) than just about every other developed country.

The American electorate has displayed an endless capacity to be deceived. I have little doubt that the child poverty rate could climb to 75%, and that the Forbes 400 could add several more trillion dollars to their collective wealth, and millions would still vote for a candidate who said, "We need to cut taxes on the wealthy to spur economic growth."

 (A WPA poster advertising a children's art exhibit. New Deal policymakers thought art was important to a child's creative development, so they offered free art classes for them and frequently displayed their art in various galleries and exhibitions. The situation today? Decades of tax breaks for the super-wealthy, and the recent fraud-fueled recession, have necessitated funding cutbacks, or even complete elimination, of public school art programs. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division.)

With New Deal infrastructure & policies in place after World War II, the middle-class grew like never before or since. The economy expanded along New Deal roads, across New Deal bridges, and out of New Deal airports. Taxes were higher on the wealthy (thanks to New Deal policymakers), unions were stronger (thanks to New Deal legislation), banking was more stable (thanks to New Deal programs like FDIC), retirement was more secure (thanks to Social Security), and so on. 

But as long as millions of Americans ignore history, and keep listening to think tanks and media outlets funded by the super-wealthy, none of these New Deal facts matter much. The electorate will simply buy into the next trickle-down scam...condemning even more children to poverty and homelessness.

Isn't that amazing?

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