Posts Tagged ‘children’

children

Certainly not in the United States.

According to the most recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation,

Nationally, 22 percent of children (16.1 million) lived in families with incomes below the poverty line in 2013, up from 18 percent in 2008 (13.2 million), representing nearly 3 million more children in poverty. The child poverty rate among African Americans (39 percent) was more than double the rate for non-Hispanic whites (14 percent) in 2013.

In 2013, three in 10 children (22.8 million) lived in families where no parent had full-time, year-round employment. Since 2008, the number of such children climbed by nearly 2.7 million. Roughly half of all American Indian children (50 percent) and African-American children (48 percent) had no parent with full-time, year-round employment in 2013, compared with 37 percent of Latino children, 24 percent of non-Hispanic white children and 23 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander children.

As the authors of the report make clear,

Growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development. Already high compared with other developed nations, the child poverty rate in the United States increased dramatically as a result of the economic crisis. The official poverty line in 2013 was $23,624 for a family of two adults and two children. Poverty and financial stress can impede children’s cognitive development and their ability to learn. It can contribute to behavioral, social and emotional problems and poor health. The risks posed by economic hardship are greatest among children who experience poverty when they are young and among those who experience persistent and deep poverty.

It’s quite possible (given the decline in unemployment) the indicators of economic well-being for children will improve when the 2014 data are available. However, I’ll venture to guess the rates of poverty and of parents’ lack of secure employment will still be much too high—so high they’ll demonstrate that, in the United States, children simply don’t count.

CJzJhTtW8AAcnqg

The details of the agreement between Greece and its European creditors are now available. And there’s no doubt about it: this (as the top-trending Twitter hash tag puts it) is a coup. Greece has been forced to surrender (or, given the upcoming debate in parliament, to have the freedom to consider surrendering) a large part of its national sovereignty in exchange for a new European Stability Mechanism program bailout.

Alexis Tsipras [ht: sk] may or may not be a hero, “who fought like a lion against unfathomably large interests” and made it possible for Greece “to live to fight another day.” But that’s really beside the point. So, in the end, is Greek sovereignty—and, for that matter, the humiliating terms sponsored by Germany.

Because what we’re really witnessing is a coup in Europe as a whole. Merkel, Tsipras, Schäuble, and the rest are just the dramatis personae of a series of events that have turned the European project against its own people.

The dream, of course, was to expand democracy, eliminate national rivalries, and promote universal prosperity. But now the European project has become a nightmare of enforcing the conditions of creating and capturing profits—of large enterprises and banks—across an entire continent. And anything that gets in the way—whether existing pensions and state-owned enterprises or rehiring doctors, nurses, and cleaning women—will be sacrificed on the altar of those free-flowing profits.

And who are the losers? The hundreds of millions of workers, farmers, students, young people, and children who are being forced to endure extraordinary levels of unemployment, poverty, and economic insecurity in order to promote a post-2008 recovery that is benefiting only a tiny minority across the continent. And that’s just as true in Germany as in Greece, in England as in Spain. Not to the same degree, of course. But the current negotiations over Greek debt—in which all of their leaders and finance ministers have participated and to which they have given their assent—have demonstrated to the working people of Europe that nothing will be allowed to stand in the way of the interests of the free deployment of capital under conditions that are administered by the troika.

And if an entire nation has to be humiliated in order to serve as an example, so be it. . .

Chart of the day

Posted: 9 July 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

child poverty

Is there any statistic more illustrative of the nature of contemporary capitalism—especially the effects of the global financial crash and of the so-called recovery—than the rate of child poverty?

According to the most recent UNICEF report (pdf),

The number of children entering into poverty during the recession is 2.6 million higher than the number that have been able to escape from it since 2008 (6.6 million, as against 4 million). Around 76.5 million children live in poverty in the 41 most affluent countries.

In Greece, the child poverty rate almost doubled between 2008 and 2012, from 23 to 40.5 percent! (No doubt it is higher today.)

Greece-children

Not only have the rate and absolute number of poor Greek children risen dramatically, but they have done so in the context of increased severe material deprivation. The proportion of children who are income poor and severely deprived has tripled in Greece between 2008 and 2012.

There ‘s been a great deal of moralizing about Greek debt in recent years. Any new deal for Greece that does not attempt to mitigate the effects of the current crisis on its children fails the most basic test of economic morality.

the-strip-slide-0153-jumbo

Special mention

E7BACEDA-37C9-4968-A795-7531B41582D5_590_392 www.usnews

1370538404-132686_600

Special mention

161928_600 161924_600

20121211-145328

While mainstream economists continue to discuss and debate their favorite topics—when to hike interest rates, the appropriate measure of capital, how to apply monetary rules, the outcome of debt negotiations in Europe, and much else—they never mention one obvious fact: capitalism kills. In particular, it kills babies and middle-aged people.

According to Alice Chen, Emily Oster, and Heidi Williams [pdf], capitalism kills babies. The United States, for example, ranks fifty-first in the world in infant mortality—comparable to Croatia, despite an almost three-fold difference in income per capita. But, as it turns out, it’s not differences at birth that explain the low ranking of the United States; it’s the high rate of postneonatal deaths. And that high rate (e.g., in comparison to Finland and Austria in the authors’ study) is “due entirely, or almost entirely, to high mortality among less advantaged groups. Well-off individuals in all three countries have similar infant mortality rates.” In other words, the high level of infant deaths in the United States are almost entirely a consequence of the grotesque levels of economic inequality that capitalism has created within the United States.

We also have to admit that capitalism kills middle-aged people. In a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Katherine A. Hempstead and Julie A. Phillips found that suicide rates among middle-aged men and women in the United States have been increasing since 1999, with a sharp escalation since 2007. Their conclusion is that

Relative to other age groups, a larger and increasing proportion of middle-aged suicides have circumstances associated with job, financial, or legal distress and are completed using suffocation. The sharpest increase in external circumstances appears to be temporally related to the worst years of the Great Recession, consistent with other work showing a link between deteriorating economic conditions and suicide.

What’s the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Well, in this case, preventing neonatal deaths and middle-aged suicides should start with eliminating capitalism.

 

Whatever happened to the idea of providing affordable, professional, on-site childcare for America’s families?

Yes, such childcare [ht: sm] did exist—for a few years (1943-45), in a few enterprises (the Kaiser Company shipyards in Oregon and California). The workers in those shipyards paid a nominal fee to leave their children (initially, from the ages of 2 to 6—but then expanded down to 18 months and up to 12 years) in Kaiser Centers, where they received food, exercise, and an education provided by trained staff who were paid the same as workers in the yards [pdf].

IN-FLY-81202-chart-of-week_Child-Care1

Now, of course, few employer-sponsored childcare centers exist—and the price of decent childcare is beyond the reach of many U.S. households.

We did have it once, as the Kaiser Centers prove. And we could have it again—either as an employer-provided benefit or, even better, as a universal, government-sponsored program.

But workers would have to demand it—in the name of their children—as a useful way of capturing and spending a portion of society’s surplus.

 

*No, I’m not trying to channel The Simpsons’ Helen Lovejoy.