Thursday, January 31, 2008

That's Real White Of You

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the one voice of hope in a political campaign is a trial lawyer.

Now that John Edwards is gone, if you're poor, working class, a single parent, live in the wrong area of the country or just can't get a break, as far as this presidential election cycle goes, you're probably SOOL. While speaking kindly of him in tonight's debate, don't expect either of the Dems to really do much for the lower two thirds. The National Journal got some headlines and page views today with a headline that claimed that Obama was the most "liberal" Senator in 2007, ahead of Clinton. But it also noted "Of the 267 measures on which both senators cast votes in 2007, the two differed on only 10."

40% of the population of New Orleans lived in poverty during Bush years. Or rather, most of the Bush years, preflood that is before they drown or had to flee for their lives. But in the 8 years of the Bill Clinton presidency, 40% of the population of New Orleans also lived in poverty. Rhodes scholar, maybe, friend of the working man, I don't think so. That giant sucking sound of jobs heading south still can be heard. There has been less a war on poverty than a war on the poor.

Here are two different web sites that graphically display what is happening in this country.

The first is from a site called Social Explorer . This map displays poverty levels in the US according to the US Census in 2000. Go to the pull down menu on the top right and toggle the 2000 census. Then go to the middle menu and go to the Poverty.

Now compare it to this map from Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.

Where are the fallen heroes coming from? Poor areas in post industrial US. Towns and cities that saw their jobs and industries shipped off to where labor was cheap, laws where easy and profits for multinationals are high. Men and women who would have had good union jobs now see their only way into the middle class is to risk their lives in the military in exchange for an education. It’s called an economic draft. This is not to say that they are not patriotic and don't believe in what they are doing. Their fathers and mothers taught them to believe in the American dream. It is a dream most parents were able to realize by working overtime. That option isn't available for many in places like the small towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, upstate New York or any of the other states that comprise the Rust Belt. Those factories are now polluting the Yangtze. The rapidly truncated Appalachians never really shook their poverty despite the efforts in the 60's. There are parts of South Dakota and John McCain's Arizona that skirt third world status.

There will be lip service to the lower two thirds tonight but neither candidates will really be speaking to the working and the poor. They'll be talking to the contributors. Again.

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