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Austerity and the “Economic Destabilization Agenda”. Impoverishing America’s Middle Class
By Joachim Hagopian, April 08, 2014
The destabilization agenda currently driving US foreign policy to target and attack any national government that resists American Empire imperialism is also driving current US domestic policy to attack the 99% that represent the middle and lower socioeconomic classes of America. The disappearing middle class has been under attack for awhile, and as a result, is in free fall implosion swelling the fast growing ranks of a disenfranchised underclass. There appears to be an all out global assault on the struggling working class poor.
April 1st marked the largest welfare cuts ever in Britain. Draconian laws the world over are causing billions of humans to suffer. Austerity measures that have been taking effect in Europe have already arrived in America too. Cuts to social welfare, social services and public assistance programs designed to be a safety net for the needy and poor are being systematically chipped away.
Every month the official government spin churns out crunched false numbers of unemployment rates hovering between 5-10% (and currently stalled at 6.7%) over the last recession-ridden decade. What is purposely left out are all the hapless Americans who after years of futility have given up looking for work, merging with generations of the chronically unemployed in the destitute urban areas of America where there are no jobs.
The truer estimate of Americans either under employed or without jobs includes all working age Americans employed less than full time hours who desire full time jobs as well as both those who recently lost jobs and are receiving unemployment compensation as well as the even larger number of Americans without jobs who have given up and stopped looking. That total is an estimated near 30 million people or about 25% of the US working age population. To reverse this seemingly unavoidable growing trend of more and more people chronically out of work, the volume of new jobs filled must exceed this mounting underclass of the unemployed. The so called growth in the job market that the Obama administration likes to tout as tangible progress in economic recovery is but a scam when the truth includes this surging chronic jobless population.
To illustrate how the US federal government works against the interests of the people in need, 1.3 Americans were cut off employment benefits three days prior to last Christmas. This year another 3.6 million workers are slated to lose benefits.
While these alarming rates of America’s expanding underclass are exponentially rising, financial assistance to the needy is rapidly diminishing. From the Congressional Budget Office comes the statistic that in 2011 federal grants to state and local governments totaled $607 billion, or roughly 25 percent of entire state and local government spending. A brief from May of last year documented how sequestration, the $85.3 billion spending cut for the fiscal year 2013 impacted state budgets by decreasing funding levels for federal grants provided to the fifty states. Every state depends heavily on federal grants and loans to help provide necessary state services that include health, housing and social services as well as education, public safety and infrastructure. However, recent federal spending cuts have brought austerity to many states already struggling before last year’s cutbacks.
This drastic sequestration measure has only added momentum as a snowballing effect to the obsessive crusade that tea party and fellow Congressional Republicans have had toward reducing federal spending at all cost and consequence to suffering Americans. Their agenda to slash and destroy basic federal programs that so many Americans require for survival nowadays while crying foul over a modest decrease in the defense budget is compelling evidence that record setting profits for the military industrial complex take priority over the basic needs of their financially struggling constituents. And over 50% of the annual federal budget goes to global war making masquerading as “defense” spending.
The already anemic state budgets have slashed services across the boards. In recent years 43 out of 50 states have been forced to cut back funding on higher education, which of course only contributes to the ever rising exorbitant cost of attending college these days. At the same time, student loan interests have gone up turning generations of college graduates in this nation into indentured servants. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student debt during the recession has skyrocketed to total more than either credit card or auto loan debts. From 2004 to 2012 in the face of rising higher education costs, both the number of students requiring loans and amount of those loans jumped by 70% to a current average loan debt of $26-29,000 per college graduate. According to the Almanac of Higher Education, of the nearly 20 million college students in America, upwards of 60% take out college loans. Last week’s AP article read, “One trillion student loan debt widens US wealth gap.” Again, another disturbing sign of the times that all but confirms the death of the upwardly mobile society of America. With the standard student loan of a ten year repayment plan, all that money would otherwise be going toward investing equity in homes, retirement plans, stock investments, children’s college education or spent right back into the economy.
With the ongoing US crisis in public education lowering its standards and world ranking especially in math and science, near 70% of the United States have lowered their state budget funding for K-12 grade education. 60% of the states have reduced funds earmarked for the elderly and disabled and over 60% of the states decreased money for public health.
The misnomer called the Affordable Healthcare Act places millions of working class Americans falling through the cracks. Though it may be too early to know at this point, what is becoming painfully clear is that millions of US citizens are earning too much to be eligible for public assistance yet not enough to afford health insurance under Obamacare. Likely more Americans will be uninsured than prior to the act, which of course defeats Obamacare’s stated objective and whole purpose.
US Congress continues to whittle away the food stamp program, just over two months ago cutting another $8.7 billion over the next ten years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This slices food benefits by an average of $90 per month for 850,000 people from the lowest income families in America. And this was a 251 to 156 bipartisan vote, proving that both political parties make decisions that hurt the most vulnerable. Just this last November the government cut $319 a year in assistance to a family of three, trimming $11 billion from the budget through 2016. These severe food stamp cuts come when the demand for emergency food banks in this country has never been higher, overloaded with increasing numbers of hungry families needing their services. Reducing the national debt off the backs of the poor while extending tax benefits for the rich has been the modus operandi for the richest Congress in US history – over half of them millionaires. Their actions consistently make laws that benefit the wealthy and punish the poor.
Meanwhile, food prices are going up fast. Several days ago Reuters reported that in March food costs worldwide jumped to its highest level in nearly a year, caused by severe weather conditions and geopolitical tensions in the Black Sea region according to the United Nations food agency. With drastic drought conditions only likely to continue in California containing the world’s largest food producer per square mile, the San Joaquin Valley, prices will be steadily rising all year long.
The ruling class elite are putting increasing pressures on the government to implement austerity measures that are hurting people who cannot afford it worldwide. As global warming melts polar ice caps releasing poisonous methane gas, oceans become too toxic with radiation and chemicals to sustain life, droughts, floods and natural catastrophes occurring more extreme every year, and increasing risk of war in more hot spots than ever, the bottom falling out on so many humans just struggling just to survive on this earth is reaching epic proportions.