The National Insecurity State and the United States of Inequality

By Rajan Menonm, a TomDispatch regular, is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He is the author, most recently, of The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention. Originally published at TomDispatch.

So effectively has the Beltway establishment captured the concept of national security that, for most of us, it automatically conjures up images of terrorist groups, cyber warriors, or “rogue states.”  To ward off such foes, the United States maintains a historically unprecedented constellation of military bases abroad and, since 9/11, has waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere that have gobbled up nearly $4.8 trillion.  The 2018 Pentagon budget already totals $647 billion — four times what China, second in global military spending, shells out and more than the next 12 countries combined, seven of them American allies.   For good measure, Donald Trump has added an additional $200 billion to projected defense expenditures through 2019. 

Yet to hear the hawks tell it, the United States has never been less secure.  So much for bang for the buck.  

For millions of Americans, however, the greatest threat to their day-to-day security isn’t terrorism or North Korea, Iran, Russia, or China.  It’s internal — and economic.  That’s particularly true for the 12.7% of Americans (43.1 million of them) classified as poor by the government’s criteria: an income below $12,140 for a one-person household, $16,460 for a family of two, and so on… until you get to the princely sum of $42,380 for a family of eight.

Savings aren’t much help either: a third of Americans have no savings at all and another third have less than $1,000 in the bank.  Little wonder that families struggling to cover the cost of food alone increased from 11% (36 million) in 2007 to 14% (48 million) in 2014.

The Working Poor

Unemployment can certainly contribute to being poor, but millions of Americans endure poverty when they have full-time jobs or even hold down more than one job.  The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are 8.6 million “working poor,” defined by the government as people who live below the poverty line despite being employed at least 27 weeks a year.  Their economic insecurity doesn’t register in our society, partly because working and being poor don’t seem to go together in the minds of many Americans — and unemployment has fallen reasonably steadily.  After approaching 10% in 2009, it’s now at only 4%

Help from the government?  Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare “reform” program, concocted in partnership with congressional Republicans, imposed time limits on government assistance, while tightening eligibility criteria for it. So, as Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer show in their disturbing book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, many who desperately need help don’t even bother to apply.  And things will only get worse in the age of Trump.  His 2019 budget includes deep cuts in a raft of anti-poverty programs.  

Anyone seeking a visceral sense of the hardships such Americans endure should read Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.  It’s a gripping account of what she learned when, posing as a “homemaker” with no special skills, she worked for two years in various low-wage jobs, relying solely on her earnings to support herself.  The book brims with stories about people who had jobs but, out of necessity, slept in rent-by-the-week fleabag motels, flophouses, or even in their cars, subsisting on vending machine snacks for lunch, hot dogs and instant noodles for dinner, and forgoing basic dental care or health checkups.  Those who managed to get permanent housing would choose poor, low-rent neighborhoods close to work because they often couldn’t afford a car.  To maintain even such a barebones lifestyle, many worked more than one job.

Though politicians prattle on about how times have changed for the better, Ehrenreich’s book still provides a remarkably accurate picture of America’s working poor.  Over the past decade the proportion of people who exhausted their monthly paychecks just to pay for life’s essentials actually increased from 31% to 38%.  In 2013, 71% of the families that had children and used food pantries run by Feeding America, the largest private organization helping the hungry, included at least one person who had worked during the previous year.  And in America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.  In New York City, no outlier when it comes to homelessness among the working poor, in a third of the families with children that use homeless shelters at least one adult held a job.

The Wages of Poverty

The working poor cluster in certain occupations.  They are salespeople in retail stores, servers or preparers of fast food, custodial staff, hotel workers, and caregivers for children or the elderly.  Many make less than $10 an hour and lack any leverage, union or otherwise, to press for raises.  In fact, the percentage of unionized workers in such jobs remains in the single digits — and in retail and food preparation, it’s under 4.5%.  That’s hardly surprising, given that private sector union membership has fallen by 50% since 1983 to only 6.7% of the workforce. 

Low-wage employers like it that way and — Walmart being the poster child for this — work diligently to make it ever harder for employees to join unions.  As a result, they rarely find themselves under any real pressure to increase wages, which, adjusted for inflation, have stood still or even decreased since the late 1970s. When employment is “at-will,” workers may be fired or the terms of their work amended on the whim of a company and without the slightest explanation. Walmart announced this year that it would hike its hourly wage to $11 and that’s welcome news.  But this had nothing to do with collective bargaining; it was a response to the drop in the unemployment rate, cash flows from the Trump tax cut for corporations (which saved Walmart as much as $2 billion), an increase in minimum wages in a number of states, and pay increases by an arch competitor, Target.  It was also accompanied by the shutdown of 63 of Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores, which meant layoffs for 10,000 workers.  In short, the balance of power almost always favors the employer, seldom the employee.

As a result, though the United States has a per-capita income of $59,500 and is among the wealthiest countries in the world, 12.7% of Americans (that’s 43.1 million people), officially are impoverished. And that’s generally considered a significant undercount.  The Census Bureau establishes the poverty rate by figuring out an annual no-frills family food budget, multiplying it by three, adjusting it for household size, and pegging it to the Consumer Price Index.  That, many economists believe, is a woefully inadequate way of estimating poverty.  Food prices haven’t risen dramatically over the past 20 years, but the cost of other necessities like medical care (especially if you lack insurance) and housing have: 10.5% and 11.8% respectively between 2013 and 2017 compared to an only 5.5% increase for food.   

Include housing and medical expenses in the equation and you get the Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM), published by the Census Bureau since 2011.  It reveals that a larger number of Americans are poor: 14% or 45 million in 2016.  

Dismal Data

For a fuller picture of American (in)security, however, it’s necessary to delve deeper into the relevant data, starting with hourly wages, which are the way more than 58% of adult workers are paid.  The good news: only 1.8 million, or 2.3% of them, subsist at or below minimum wage.  The not-so-good news: one-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15.  That’s $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.   

The problem facing the working poor isn’t just low wages, but the widening gap between wages and rising prices.  The government has increased the hourly federal minimum wage more than 20 times since it was set at 25 cents under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.  Between 2007 and 2009 it rose to $7.25, but over the past decade that sum lost nearly 10% of its purchasing power to inflation, which means that, in 2018, someone would have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage.

Workers in the lowest 20% have lost the most ground, their inflation-adjusted wages falling by nearly 1% between 1979 and 2016, compared to a 24.7% increase for the top 20%.  This can’t be explained by lackluster productivity since, between 1985 and 2015, it outstripped pay raises, often substantially, in every economic sector except mining.

Yes, states can mandate higher minimum wages and 29 have, but 21 have not, leaving many low-wage workers struggling to cover the costs of two essentials in particular: health care and housing.

Even when it comes to jobs that offer health insurance, employers have been shifting ever more of its cost onto their workers through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as by requiring them to cover more of the premiums.  The percentage of workers who paid at least 10% of their earnings to cover such costs — not counting premiums — doubled between 2003 and 2014.

This helps explain why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 11% of workers in the bottom 10% of wage earners even enrolled in workplace healthcare plans in 2016 (compared to 72% in the top 10%). As a restaurant server who makes $2.13 an hour before tips — and whose husband earns $9 an hour at Walmart — put it, after paying the rent, “it’s either put food in the house or buy insurance.” 

The Affordable Care Act, or ACA (aka Obamacare), provided subsidies to help people with low incomes cover the cost of insurance premiums, but workers with employer-supplied healthcare, no matter how low their wages, weren’t covered by it.  Now, of course, President Trump, congressional Republicans, and a Supreme Court in which right-wing justices are going to be even more influential will be intent on poleaxing the ACA.

It’s housing, though, that takes the biggest bite out of the paychecks of low-wage workers.  The majority of them are renters.  Ownership remains for many a pipe dream.  According to a Harvard study, between 2001 and 2016, renters who made $30,000-$50,000 a year and paid more than a third of their earnings to landlords (the threshold for qualifying as “rent burdened”) increased from 37% to 50%.  For those making only $15,000, that figure rose to 83%.  

In other words, in an ever more unequal America, the number of low-income workers struggling to pay their rent has surged.  As the Harvard analysis shows, this is, in part, because the number of affluent renters (with incomes of $100,000 or more) has leapt and, in city after city, they’re driving the demand for, and building of, new rental units.  As a result, the high-end share of new rental construction soared from a third to nearly two-thirds of all units between 2001 and 2016.  Not surprisingly, new low-income rental units dropped from two-fifths to one-fifth of the total and, as the pressure on renters rose, so did rents for even those modest dwellings. On top of that, in places like New York City, where demand from the wealthy shapes the housing market, landlords have found ways — some within the law, others not — to get rid of low-income tenants.

Public housing and housing vouchers are supposed to make housing affordable to low-income households, but the supply of public housing hasn’t remotely matched demand. Consequently, waiting lists are long and people in need languish for years before getting a shot — if they ever do.  Only a quarter of those who qualify for such assistance receive it.  As for those vouchers, getting them is hard to begin with because of the massive mismatch between available funding for the program and the demand for the help it provides.  And then come the other challenges: finding landlords willing to accept vouchers or rentals that are reasonably close to work and not in neighborhoods euphemistically labelled “distressed.”  

The bottom line: more than 75% of “at-risk” renters (those for whom the cost of rent exceeds 30% or more of their earnings) do not receive assistance from the government.  The real “risk” for them is becoming homeless, which means relying on shelters or family and friends willing to take them in.

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts will make life even harder for low-income workers seeking affordable housing.  His 2019 budget proposal slashes $6.8 billion (14.2%) from the resources of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) by, among other things, scrapping housing vouchers and assistance to low-income families struggling to pay heating bills.  The president also seeks to slash funds for the upkeep of public housing by nearly 50%.  In addition, the deficits that his rich-come-first tax “reform” bill is virtually guaranteed to produce will undoubtedly set the stage for yet more cuts in the future.  In other words, in what’s becoming the United States of Inequality, the very phrases “low-income workers” and “affordable housing” have ceased to go together. 

None of this seems to have troubled HUD Secretary Ben Carson who happily ordered a $31,000 dining room set for his office suite at the taxpayers’ expense, even as he visited new public housing units to make sure that they weren’t too comfortable (lest the poor settle in for long stays).  Carson has declared that it’s time to stop believing the problems of this society can be fixed merely by having the government throw extra money at them — unless, apparently, the dining room accoutrements of superbureaucrats aren’t up to snuff.

Money Talks

The levels of poverty and economic inequality that prevail in America are not intrinsic to either capitalism or globalization. Most other wealthy market economies in the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have done far better than the United States in reducing them without sacrificing innovation or creating government-run economies. 

Take the poverty gap, which the OECD defines as the difference between a country’s official poverty line and the average income of those who fall below it.  The United States has the second largest poverty gap among wealthy countries; only Italy does worse.

Child poverty?  In the World Economic Forum’s ranking of 41 countries — from best to worst — the U.S. placed 35th.  Child poverty has declined in the United States since 2010, but a Columbia University report estimates that 19% of American kids (13.7 million) nevertheless lived in families with incomes below the official poverty line in 2016.  If you add in the number of kids in low-income households, that number increases to 41%.  

As for infant mortality, according to the government’s own Centers for Disease Control, the U.S., with 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, has the absolute worst record among wealthy countries. (Finland and Japan do best with 2.3.)  

And when it comes to the distribution of wealth, among the OECD countries only Turkey, Chile, and Mexico do worse than the U.S.

It’s time to rethink the American national security state with its annual trillion-dollar budget.  For tens of millions of Americans, the source of deep workaday insecurity isn’t the standard roster of foreign enemies, but an ever-more entrenched system of inequality, still growing, that stacks the political deck against the least well-off Americans.  They lack the bucks to hire big-time lobbyists.  They can’t write lavish checks to candidates running for public office or fund PACs.  They have no way of manipulating the myriad influence-generating networks that the elite uses to shape taxation and spending policies.  They are up against a system in which money truly does talk — and that’s the voice they don’t have.  Welcome to the United States of Inequality.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Clive

    One sign of passive resistance that I do keep an eye on is declining fertility rates (from my time in Japan where Japanese women, faced with a social situation which they no longer supported but couldn’t do much about went on a fertility strike — that is a gross oversimplification and there’s a lot more to it than that, but it is a part of the demographic changes there).

    Whether by choice or necessity, US women are voting with their wombs. I suspect it is more the latter than the former, but whatever the reason, it does make a point. Which, if it continues and accelerates, will eventually start to call attention to itself.

    Personally, I cannot fathom why any woman in the US (or a lot of Europe, for that matter) would have even one child, unless you have net assets exceeding $1M. The hardest of the (many) hard luck stories one sees are where a child or children are involved. More often than not, it is the woman who bears the brunt of the real hardship, through the very (excruciatingly) limited options at their disposal. And usually they are on their own. I’m, ah-hem, the wrong gender to be giving advice to the sisterhood. But women of the world, please, do think not once, not twice, but a thousand times before exposing yourself to the risk of economic catastrophe that being a parent brings.

    Even if you don’t agree, as this piece explains, it’s a tough unforgiving world we have here if you fall between the gaps in The System.

    1. Anonimo2

      I have taken a look at the link from vox you have posted and I have to say that it kills me when it states that the cause is unclear. It’s not exactly rocket science: student loans, crappy insecure jobs, auto loans, health care, rising rents (tributes for our feudal lords)… One cannot but wonder why young people are not having childs anymore.

      As a millenial myself, I have to say that I completely agree with what you said. Even if I could afford having a baby I wouldn’t. Why on the earth? To create another slave? Another consumer? Never. For me it is like a silent protest, just as you suggested.

      I wish we all did the same. Maybe someday our feudal lords will run out of serfs.

      1. Clive

        Yeah, I didn’t call that out but it was ridiculous wasn’t it, all that “gee, it’s all so-oo mysterious, I wonder what the reason could possibly be?” perplexation.

        Very occasionally when this subject is covered you get oblique mentions of the root causes, camouflaged as things like “housing” or “childcare”. But most of the time, it’s like the Vox article, all head-scratching and throwing verbal puzzled looks to the reader.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Vox is very occasionally good, as in the recent linked article stating unqualified support for Medicare for All, not Some, but mostly it’s pretty awful, not only failing to draw conclusions but drawing the wrong ones.

    2. JTMcPhee

      As to any chance to change the trends noted above, let’sremember something important about the C-suite-ers and billionaires generally and the charmers and associates that populate the 10% (the remoras that accompany the sharks, feeding of their scraps, cleaning their gills and skin, for an interesting description):


      So far, the 0.1% have not achieved the goal they are spending billions on, to live forever or at least vastly extended lives, compared to the mopery. So far, the catastrophes that we awoke people perceive and foresee have been eventuality at a rather slow pace, compared to our little and shortening mope lifespans.

      So the consequences that appear to be coming will not affect the 0.1%, who have the “insulation of great wealth” in any event, to cushion and protect their sociopathic butts “while yet they live.” And ‘moderate wealth” likewise insulates much of the 10% (maybe not the ones that own property near sea level) from the consequences of globalized combustoconsumption and trade and all the ills described in the article.

      The very wealthy, and the “pretty comfortable,” get the best food, the best medical care, the most insulated lifestyles away from the favelas and fetid basins the mopery live in while creating more wealth for the Great Concentrators of Waealth and Power to Hoover up. They live out their protected and stimulus-rich lives and, when they get to the end of their telomeres, they have kindly doctors and nurses and caregivers to wipe the drool off their chins, clean their privates when they crap and piss themselves, administer medications while looking for cures to further extend the “worthies’” lives. And they die in great comfort, as they have lived.

      So they are well fixed, like cohorts of the higher hierarchy before them, to expire with a sardonic sneer, with the words “After us, the flood” on their lips, regretting only that they won’t get that next great titillation, that next billion dollars in their grasp. Knowing that they are in death, free of any possibility of retribution. Their one worry, it seems — a popular uprising that would drag them down before they were done eating the rest of us: . “After I’m dead, what are you mopes going to do? Find and dig up my corpse and dishonor and despoil it? Reassemble my scattered ashes so you can pi$$ on them? Hahahahaha…”

      So there are no large scale incentives for the people who collectively are working to an organizing principle that is “all groaf, all the time,” “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone,” looting-based, grasping and deceitful, to do anything more than more of the same.

      Of course many of us mopes are locked into the behaviors that feed all this, without the manifold comforts the really rich and their enablers enjoy, consuming and laboring for “moar stuff” or just buying the junk food to survive, because that’s all we can afford.

      The causes may ‘be unclear,” to analytical types who are steeped in the Narrative, but remedies, effective remedies, are equally obscure, and kept that way by a tacit or covert cooperation. And there are always people who for a few dollars more and a little more pleasure and comfort in their all too human lives, will keep on doing the deadly stuff, like making and using ozone-layer-killing chlorofluorocarbons,

      Where’s the genius that can point the way to breaking that cycle, to getting us as a species off that race-to-the-bottom path? It’s a dangerous thing to be such a beacon — ask MLK, Jr. and people like him…

  2. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Are there any bets as to the time and date when the underclass will decide the French Solution is the only way forward?

    I’m curious.

    1. sharonsj

      I no longer have any idea what it will take to move the masses to really large and possibly violent protest. Maybe life just doesn’t suck enough.

      1. Buck Eschaton

        I read a journal article a while back that claimed depression could be interpreted as political protest or resistance…and since depression has been skyrocketing since 2000, and the Case-Deaton study and the incredible number of deaths of despair, I think its already turned violent, people just seem to be taking out on themselves.

        1. Hayek's Heelbiter

          Fascinating observation of local psychological manifestation of macro sociopolitical trends.

        2. Amfortas the Hippie

          yup. we’re well trained to internalise our failure to thrive.
          I noticed it long before i knew what soshulizm was…people i worked with(in a pizza joint) whose situation was known to me, talking to customers they knew at arms length as if they were doing just fine….even going on about the beach or the lake(as if)
          sure, this is human nature, and all…but it feels worse…and contrived.
          more akin to peacock feathers, than “look what a mighty hunter i am” as one hands out the catch to one and all.
          we are subtly encouraged to not speak of how hard it is to get by. so offing oneself might look like the only way out…and anyway, experience shows that nobody will ever discuss the actual reasons for someone’s suicide in polite company(poverty, and it’s fruits), but express bewilderment and shock, instead.
          my scanner tells me that suicides are way up above mean in this far place, as are overdoses and death by drink and misadventure.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        There are two kinds of protests (well, three if you count virtue signaling):
        1. Howls of pain – protests against without any necessary strategy or, often, even hope for things getting better.
        2. Demonstrations of power – protests against as part of a plan/strategy for solving a problem or improving a situation (even when it turns out that what was demonstrated was that the “power resources” were at that moment inadequate to the task).

        Generally, the evidence shows that #2 situations motivate much more action, especially sustained action, than #1 situations.

  3. Disturbed Voter

    Unfortunately nobody has an answer to social structure, genetics, psychological disability. All of this is individual and collective illness. Is there a doctor in the house?

  4. Peter

    Rajan – freat article and unfortunately accurate, However, I was surprised that you missed the greatest threat to our National Security – Climate Change. Climate Change is the great threat to mankind in its short history on this planet and at the present time, it is NOT being addressed with the ne3cessary haste and seriousness…..

    Once climate Change gets to tipping points and all the feedback loops start to engage – life on this planet will end as we know it. That could happen in a short a time as 20 years. We must wake up to this immense problem and address it at the great speed possible. We have to save our planet, it is the ONLY one we have…..

  5. Ford Prefect

    The Ken Burns Vietnam series is on Netflix now. Every American should watch the first episode to understand how easy it is to go down a rabbit hole of ascribing western geo-political values to a people’s simple desire to have an independent nation. I find this interesting in the US given that many of these countries are simply trying to follow the same route the US followed in 1776. But now the US is playing the role of Britain back then where the status quo must be maintained to protect corporate interests and geo-political positions. There is the same naive belief that military might automatically trumps local yokel rebellions. Vietnam proved this wrong and Afghanistan/Iraq have reinforced this.

    Ho Chi Minh originally wanted the US to simply stay out of the conflict recognizing the right of people;’s to be free of colonial powers. However, the fact he had taken up with the communists because of their anti-colonial positions meant that the “domino theory” and “a red under every bed” came to dominate the US thinking and led to disaster.

    One of the most heart-warming geo-political stories out there is that Vietnam and the US have been able to reforge ties over the past couple of decades and we have taken them on as a trading partner. After spending 15 years bombing and napalming villages around their country, that is the least we owe them.

    1. Synoia


      And all those African Nation who achieved independence of colonial rule without a protracted war, or communism, were what?

      Hoc Chi Minh was a fool. He did not understand the consequence of India in 1948. If he’d been patient, he would have gained the whole country without any war on the ’60s.

      The US was stupid too. The Knee jerk reaction to communism was best overcome by the big US brands, for example Coca-Cola with its franchise model of business, not guns and bombs.

      1. JBird

        Hoc Chi Minh was a fool. He did not understand the consequence of India in 1948. If he’d been patient, he would have gained the whole country without any war on the ’60s.

        Just how would he have gained the whole country in the 60s?

        The United States, using the CIA, rigged the elections between the North and South Vietnamese factions that were to determine who was to run the country. This after helping the French try to keep their Indochina colony with the attendant murders, torture, and repression using such as the French Foreign Legion (then with a heavy number of former Wehrmacht and SS personnel). The Vietnamese had militarily won, with only the decisions of who and how the country was to be run. The American government handed the South to the corrupt ruling Catholic elite, while blocking any reformists efforts there, and preventing the winners of the elections, which were centered in the North from taking power.

        The Vietnamese, under Ho Chi Minh, wanted to ally themselves with the Americans and they believed in some form of democracy; the only thing that was non-negotiable was any outside control, and they only took support from the Soviets, and the Chinese, because no one else was willing to help them. Heck, many in South Vietnam also wanted to not be under North Vietnamese control, but also did not want the ruling clique that the French/American outsiders had installed. Hatred of outside control, and of the elite rich corrupt enablers, was a nation-wide unifier.

  6. juliania

    In relying on the statistic of “4% unemployment” the piece does a disservice to reality. I’d like to see a statistic on actual fulltime employment, something that people who find themselves having to take on a second job know full well. Full time employment, in which overtime is adequately compensated, is very rare, very very rare.

    That 4% registers nothing at all, absolutely nothing. Except for maybe the mendacity of those who compile it.

    1. JBird

      I have not read that article, but I can say that the most used indicator of unemployment is the U-1, or U-3 number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest numbers are 1.4% and 4.0% respectively, but the U-6 number is probably the best official number and the latest is 7.8%. From what I understand even the highest official numbers are too low and might be an under-count of as much as 100%.

      Although I believe much of the unemployment under-count, like the homeless under-count, is do to political shenanigans so that the system does not have to deal with the problems, it is also true that getting the right numbers is difficult as the unemployed and the homeless are often hard to find let alone contact.

  7. sharonsj

    I just went over to Raw Story to read their news and what do I find but an article entitled “Here’s why so many rich people are obsessed with the apocalypse — according to psychologists.” The comments are illuminating (most folks are vicious).

  8. Scott1

    “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” John Dos Passos “The Big Money”.
    Things are getting kinda medieval.

  9. Sound of the Suburbs

    The Republicans have been running rings around the Democrats.

    They cut taxes on the rich and spend on the military so that when the Democrats get into power there is no money.

    They then turn into deficit hawks and say there is no money for social programs and they will need to cut services not increase them.

    Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan nobbled Bill Clinton when he came into power and told him that he couldn’t implement his social programs and needed to cut the deficit.

    This was covered in a BBC documentary.

    Part 2 – The Lonely Robot (11.30 – 16.30)

    The deficit wasn’t a problem and covered the trade deficit.

    This is the US (46.30 mins.)

    Clinton was proud of the Government surplus but he didn’t realise that this meant the private sector had to go into debt.

    The last Government surplus occurred in 1927 – 1930, it precedes crises.

    The Democrats need to learn how the monetary system works and stop getting bamboozled by the Republicans.

    Watch the second video.

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