The Corpus Callosum

Looking For Good News

Sometimes I go to sites such as href="http://www.yesmagazine.org/" rel="tag">Yes!
or ,
looking for a positive spin on current events.  Another is the

site, where they have an href="http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/special_packages/good_news/">entire
section devoted to good news.

But then, there is this:

href="http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/16760690.htm">U.S.
economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty

By Tony Pugh
McClatchy Newspapers
Thu, Feb. 22, 2007

 WASHINGTON – The percentage of poor
Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high,
millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line
and the gulf between the nation’s “haves” and “have-nots” continues to
widen…

 The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor
Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That’s 56 percent
faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period.
McClatchy’s review also found statistically significant increases in
the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large
U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also
suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn’t confined to
large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.

The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual
economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically
since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged
behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to
corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries.
That helps explain why the median household income of working-age
families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years…

 This is something that has been increasingly apparent in the
past few years, but the longer it goes on with no signs of reversal,
the more distressing it becomes.  What is most pertinent
however, for readers (most readers of this blog have at least some
financial resources, I assume), is this:

href="http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/16760689.htm">Even
the well to do can stumble into poverty

By Tony Pugh
McClatchy Newspapers
Thu, Feb. 22, 2007

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – Two years ago, Douglas County, Colo., had the
nation’s second highest median income among small counties…

 Only about 7,000 of the county’s roughly 250,000 residents
are poor, according to recent census data. But 3,908 of the poor – 55
percent – are in deep poverty. They include struggling newcomers and
families once entrenched in the county’s upper-middle class.

The recent technology slowdown caused many Douglas County homeowners to
lose their jobs. County foreclosure filings topped 1,000 in 2006,
compared with 212 in 2000.

“We’ve had quite a few people end up losing jobs and going through
their savings and their retirement savings,” said George Kennedy,
Douglas County’s human services director…

This is compassionate conservatism?  The ownership economy?
 I’d say this is an example of politicians saying they are
doing one thing, while actually pursuing an entirely different agenda.
 Some people would call that lying.  Some would say
it is a systematic effort, as href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thom_Hartmann">Thom
Hartmann does in  his book, href="http://www.amazon.com/Screwed-Undeclared-Against-Middle-Currents/dp/1576754634/sr=8-1/qid=1172410808/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-5650057-6422461?ie=UTF8&s=books">Screwed:
The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class.

One of the points I often make, when medical students have their first
experience on an inpatient psychiatric unit, is to stress the fact:
this could happen to anybody.  The “this”
varies.  Often I am referring to the onset of mental illness.
 But is is common for us to see people who’ve had a sudden
reversal of fortune.

In most cases (it seems, I don’t really keep track), they did not have
mental illness before they became impoverished, or if they did, it was
mild and easily controlled.  That is, their impoverishment was
not the result of mental illness; it was the other way around.
 

One bit of good news: many of the medical students I’ve met recently
have had experience in life, or in training, or in volunteer work, such
that they are already well aware of the point I am making.
 Some of them even realize it could happen to them, too.