Manufacturing Poverty

Here’s an exercise in connecting the dots.  First, the U.S. government released a report that summarized the impact of the recession: “The financial crisis wiped out 18 years of gains for the median U.S. household net worth, with a 38.8 percent plunge from 2007 to 2010 that was led by the collapse in home prices, a Federal Reserve study showed” ( Jeff Kearns, “Fed Says U.S. Wealth Fell 38.8% In 2007-2010“).

Here’s the second thing: “(Reuters) – Louisiana is embarking on the nation’s boldest experiment in privatizing public education, with the state preparing to shift tens of millions in tax dollars out of the public schools to pay private industry, businesses owners and church pastors to educate children” (Stephanie Simon,”Louisiana’s bold bid to privatize schools”).

First they deregulated the financial sector, and I didn’t speak out because… then they deregulated the pubic schools and…

Simon provides a few descriptions of some of the schools that are getting this money; it turns out that, not surprisingly, the best school have few openings for new students. The schools that will accept students are not so good:

The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.

The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.

Over the last 30 years or so– since the election of 1980– the right has used an ideology of the market– a religion, in many ways– to engineer a massive shift of wealth away from middle and working class people and into the hands of the rich. Oddly, the very people being robbed support the robbery. It’s class hidden by geography.

The top 20 poorest states include  just 4 states that reliably vote Republican:  Alaska, Virginia, Utah and Wyoming. Two more, Colorado and Nevada, are toss ups. The bottom 20 has just 4 that reliably vote Democratic: West Virginia, New Mexico, Michigan and Maine.  Ohio and Florida are toss ups. Poverty is partisan.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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