Friday, March 18, 2011

News of growing disparity trend

In yesterday's Star Tribune a few articles pointed to the growing disparity between the have and  have nots in our society.  One article noted  "Study shows who bears Minnesota's biggest tax burden: Middle-, lower-income Minnesotans pay 12.3 percent in taxes. Wealthiest pay 10.3 percent."

Another article further inside of the same Twin Cities + region section read "Child poverty rate is up sharply... A new Kids Count report shows that the number of children in extreme poverty has doubled since 2000."  This is particularly concerning, since we know that children are our future, and when they get a healthy, strong start it is in all of our own best interest.  They will be the young adults caring for the boomers in nursing homes, paying for the social security of their elders and wrestling with how to redesign our affluent American lifestyle so that it is sustainable.

Further back into this section of the paper we read "Bill aims to cut spending on health care for poor." The poor simply don't have very good lobbyist, do they?  There is no AARP for the young or the poor.

Finally, in the business section, reads an article "Report: U.S. has millions of millionaires - There were 8.4 million such households last year, an 8 percent gain from 2009."  Seems to be a disturbing trend that has developed.  It has been paying big dividends to be wealthy in our society, while many of the middle class and poor have lost their homes and are struggling to keep up with basic living expenses.

So, what to do about this trend? In the article on child poverty the research director of Children's Defense Fund, Kara Arzamendia, recommended the minimum wage be raised from its current $7.25, and also to provide additional child-care assistance.  Families making less that $20,000 a year spend nearly 30% of their income, on average, for child-care.  Enormous financial stress lands on young families and their children.  It has becoming increasingly costly to rear a child in this society, that now we have user fees for most everything, from drivers education to the debate team.  This is paired with the tremendous cost of day care and skyrocketing higher education tuitions.  In these stressful economic times the last place we should be looking to glean more resources is from our young families.

As was referenced in a blog last December about an Enough for All gathering, the following Legislative recommendations were made:
  • Restore work as a way out of poverty
  • Refocus public assistance to streamline services and support everyone's capacity and potential
  • Help Minnesotans build and maintain financial assets
  • Revitalize our communities though infrastructure and person-to-person support
  • Modernize our system of education  to build the best workforce in the nation
  • Develop an ongoing structure to monitor Minnesota's effort to end poverty

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