Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week
J.C. Pan at The New Republic writes—The Devastatingly Low Bar of “Official” Poverty.
We now have new numbers to confirm what everyone who received a $1,200 stimulus check or extra unemployment benefits over the summer likely already knows: Additional government money is a good thing during an economic collapse. As The New York Times reported this week, two recent studies have found that over the last few months, between six to eight million additional people officially fell below the poverty line, in the absence of renewed government aid, after several provisions in the Cares Act expired in July.
This, of course, suggests that the first stimulus worked largely as intended: As poverty researcher H. Luke Shaefer told the Times, “It wasn’t perfect, but hands down it’s the most successful thing we’ve ever done in negating hardship.” In July, for instance, 70 percent of people surveyed by the Fed said they could cover a $400 emergency expense, which was higher than the number of people who said the same even prior to the pandemic.
But it’s also the case that the official poverty numbers alone have never fully captured the scope of economic strain in this country, and that millions of people in the United States hover just above the poverty line or continually drift back and forth across it. (The official label for the group that doesn’t quite make the poverty cutoff is “near poor,” a distinction that I suspect is little comfort to those who might be able to pay their utility bills one month but know they won’t the next.) The weekly $600 unemployment supplement and no-strings checks supplied by the Cares Act didn’t just pull back people from the brink of disaster but also demonstrated that there’s little other than political inertia that keeps the government from providing every person with the resources needed not just to clear the low bar of the poverty line but to live a decent and dignified life.
Most of our existing measurements of poverty also raise the question of low expectation when it comes to how people live and what they deserve. If the highest aspiration of our present policy regime is to lift people out of poverty, as the refrain often goes, what kind of life does that guarantee? Shouldn’t we reach for more than whatever rests just above abject misery? […]
“Before we invented civilization our ancestors lived mainly in the open out under the sky. Before we devised artificial lights and atmospheric pollution and modern forms of nocturnal entertainment we watched the stars. There were practical calendar reasons of course but there was more to it than that. Even today the most jaded city dweller can be unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these years it still takes my breath away.”
~~Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—Post-debate thoughts:
In Isaac Asimov’s 1955 book Franchise, a supercomputer chooses a “voter of the year” to decide the fate of the election. Then, that person answers a series of questions which the computer uses to decide the results of the election.
Joe Sixpack thought he had hit the jackpot, but unfortunately for him, the fictional “Joe the Plumber” got the gig.
Or at least, that’s what I learned from John McCain, in between his angry outbursts and snorting.
On substance, I actually thought McCain had his best performance thus far, when not distracting with his weird facial expressions and snorting. But still, Obama is on another level altogether. Perhaps if Romney or Giuliani was the nominee these would be fairer contests, but it’s not even close. And while McCain seemed better prepared than in the previous debates, tonight was also the wingnuttiest McCain has looked all campaign. All the veneer of being a moderate was stripped away as he derisively tossed aside the notion of “health of the mother”. The notion was a insult to his sensibilities!
Not that it matters. There was nothing here tonight that would change minds. Given that Obama has already broken 50 percent nationally and in the key battleground states, and that a significant percentage of voters have already cast their early votes, McCain needed to radically transform the shape of the race. That means a home-run performance coupled with an Obama collapse. Neither happened.
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