In the comic-book argument about America, there are two kinds of people: hard-working “real” folks and welfare queens. Hence, Sen. Jon Kyl and others talking about how extending unemployment benefits will discourage workers from going out and finding a job (this when six people are seeking every available position).
Lost is the real-life plight of the working poor. A total of 39.8 million people — 13.2 percent of the population — lived at or below the poverty line in 2008. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.9 million were working but their incomes still fell below the poverty line, 1.4 million more than in 2007. (And this doesn’t count the desperate millions who hold down two or more part-time jobs just to stay above the line).
Women were more than twice as likely as men to be among the working poor. Families with children under 18 were also hard hit. You can download the entire report here.
The Back Story: Simon Johnson of MIT does a skillful takedown of former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s new memoir in the New Republic. Paulson portrays himself as the tough cop who saved the system, when in reality this former Goldman Sachs boss was an integral part of setting up the Great Panic.
“Paulson sounds tough throughout the book and he has many growling moments that add to the theater. But on the substance that matters–when it came to his friends, associates, and even long-term Street rivals–he was weak. He had a soft and gentle touch. In his mind, no one was really to blame, and (almost) everyone could and would be saved, and at no cost to them–and never mind what that meant to taxpayers and ordinary citizens.”
Today’s Econ Haiku:
Will the big bankers admit
They have a problem?