Showing posts with label U.S. Poverty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label U.S. Poverty. Show all posts

Friday, September 27, 2019

Our Shameful Gini Coefficient

Our shameful Gini coefficient (video explanation Gini) is more indicative of regressive, oppressive, and corrupt nations than the great nation we claim to be:

Gini by Country - Yellow USA @ .381
Unfortunately, the most recent USA Gini coefficient has trended up to .408 (see United Nations 2011 Table 3 below) .

Like we target economic growth with low inflation we must target income and wealth growth with low Gini (video explanation Gini).1  


UPDATED 11/04/2017 OECD, Income Distribution and Poverty   : by country - INEQUALITY
UPDATED 08/26/2013 UnivWisconsin, Midwest International Economic Development Conference, Keynote Slides, 2013; The Idea of Antipoverty Policy, Martin Ravallion and NBER, The Idea of Antipoverty Policy

Interesting keynote further hastening the elimination of any historical stench of mercantile economics suggesting poverty as a necessary economic byproduct—a stench equally odoriferous to indentures, slavery, and rotten corpses.

UPDATED 12/05/2012 CRS, The U.S. Income Distribution and Mobility:Trends and International Comparisons, dated November 29, 2012 Courtesy FAS Secrecy News

Our current GINI continues to climb toward "nation-destructive" levels—.47+ is an acutely damaging level of income inequality that our policymakers must immediately reverse! Our policymakers need not waste time debating what levels of inequality are optimal until our nation approaches .30.

Continuing to parrot the delusion that America is an "exceptional meritocracy" is dangerous to the extent that it paralyzes our nation or prevents immediate action! Or as more eloquently stated in the above report:
"...In the United States, a longstanding argument against redistributionary policies has been that each person has an equal opportunity to move up the income ladder. Research raises questions about whether Americans’ perceptions of their likelihood of upward mobility are exaggerated. Empirical analyses estimate that the United States is a comparatively immobile society, that is, where one starts in the income distribution influences where one ends up to a greater degree than in several advanced economies. Children raised in families at the bottom of the U.S. income distribution are estimated to be especially less likely to ascend the income ladder as adults..."
UPDATED 04/26/2012 CES, Equality and Efficiency in Advanced Democracies:
Revisiting the Leaky Bucket Hypothesis

Neoliberals often cite Okun as support for their linear Darwinian, dog-eats-dog preference for unregulated economic market efficiency over reduced inequality.

This draft paper (Apr 2012) discusses a more nuanced relationship between market efficiency inequalities.

UPDATED 01/04/2012  CRSChanges in the Distribution of Income Among Tax Filers Between 1996 and 2006: The Role of Labor Income, Capital Income, and Tax Policy Link is Courtesy FAS Secrecy Blog.

If a single graph is capable of explaining much of our current protests, dissatisfaction and societal fragmentation it’s this one:

Our poorest 20% actually lost 6% of the income share during 1996-2006! Incredibly these are the same people our policymakers are currently "piling on" by proposing to further reduce their income share!

Perhaps we can impute the costs of our prisons, mental institutions and other coercive institutions to our poor so their share of our national income is less negative (just sarcasm not an idea).

The good news is that we do not have to accept these pathetic policies—we can demand policies, which decrease income distributional imbalances and thereby decrease both protests, dissatisfaction and societal fragmentation.
UPDATED 11/05/2011 Wikipedia, Gini Coefficient

UPDATED 11/05/2011 Wolfram Mathworld, Gini Coefficient

UPDATED 11/03/2011 United Nations, 2011 TABLE 3 Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (pdf)

Our nation ranks fourth on the United Nations 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), but that respectable rank plummets a staggering 23 positions when our HDI is adjusted for inequality. Stated differently our 2011 adjusted HDI drops by a steep 15.3% (0.910 to 0.771) percentage points, moving our nation completely out of the very high development tranche.


UPDATED 09/27/2019  AP, Census: US Inequality Grew, Including In Heartland States and Economist, The Best Way To Eradicate Poverty In America Is to Focus On Children and CensusBureau, American Community Survey Provides New State and Local Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Statistics
"...The Gini index for the United States in the 2018 ACS (0.485) was significantly higher than the 2017 ACS estimate. Five states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana and New York), the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had Gini indices higher than the United States, and 36 states were lower...--September 26, 2019 Census Bureau Release Number CB19-152-- "Wall Street" donors (i,e, hedge funds) who are anonymously threatening campaign contributions for politicos focused on reducing our obscene Gini coefficient are short sighted and silly...sillier than the Citizen United decision and GOP 2017 Tax Law. (hint: money still can't speak and the tax cut didn't "pay for itself" while hurting most Americans)...

UPDATED 09/03/2019 FR, Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. since 1989

...the "thin red-line" at the bottom of the above chart has a lot of explanatory power...

UPDATED 04/08/2019 OUP, World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice 
...Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets, and other drivers. Examples of diverse and effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability include the following (not in order of importance or urgency): (a) prioritizing the enactment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world's terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats; (b) maintaining nature's ecosystem services by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats; (c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particularly forest landscapes; (d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics; (e) developing and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploitation and trade of threatened species; (f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; (g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods; (h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services, especially where such resources are still lacking; (i) increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature; (j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change; (k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels; (l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment; and (m) estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal...--Warning to Humanity--

UPDATED 02/23/2019 LateShow, Bill & Melinda Gates Talk Taxing The Wealthy and GatesNotes, Our 2019 Annual Letter and SA, Revolt against the Rich

UPDATED 08/03/2018 Economist, As Inequality Grows, So Does The Political Influence Of The Rich have to save the "rich" from themselves or...

UPDATED  07/02/2018 Robert Reich, How to Prevent Future Trumps

UPDATED 06/19/2018 Economist, Should We Tax The Rich More?

UPDATED 06/23/2018 CNN, America's Poor Becoming More Destitute Under Trump, UN Report Says and Reuters, America's Poor Becoming More Destitute Under Trump: U.N. Expert and UN, Report Of The Special Rapporteur On Extreme Poverty And Human Rights On His Mission To The United States Of America

UPDATED 02/25/2018 HooverInst, Cardinal Conversations: Francis Fukuyama and Charles Murray on "Inequality and Populism" [moderator, Niall Ferguson]

It is unfortunate that Ferguson could not find a more informative and interesting person than Murray as counterpoint to Fukuyama.

It is useful to note that a basic income is not intended to effect an individual's dignity, but mitigate structural poverty that limit modern economic systems, which express components of randomness.

UPDATED 01/02/2018 Brookings, Once the Tax Bill is Paid for, Low- and Middle-income Households Will be Worse Off
"...After-tax incomes for the bottom 20 percent would decline by an average of 11 percent, or $1,560 (rounding to the nearest $10).  Average after-tax income would fall by 1.2 percent, or $690, for middle-income households.

On the other hand, households in the top 40 percent would be better off on average after the financing is included (relative to a baseline without the tax cuts).  Those in the top 0.1 percent would still gain, on average, more than $190,000..."
UPDATED 12/17/2017 UCTV, The Past, Present and Future of US Income Inequality with Valerie Ramey and Brookings, Thirteen Facts About Wage Growth

The hodgepodge of congressional tax proposals, which the Republican Party is branding as a historic tax reform and a great Christmas gift to the middle-class will do little to decelerate American's accelerating middle-class decline.

UPDATED 12/09/2017 FT, Universal basic income: renaissance for a 500-year-old idea and Kurzgesagt, Universal Basic Income Explained and Wikipedia, Basic Income

UPDATED 10/23/2017 11/08/2017 WSJ, Tracking Taxes: Live Coverage of the GOP Tax Bill and NYT, Republicans Release Tax Plan, Cutting Corporate and Middle-Class Taxes and WP, GOP Tax Plan Would Shrink Mortgage Interest Benefit, Slash Corporate Tax Rate and Reuters, IMF calls for fiscal policies that tackle rising inequality and IMFBolog, Inequality: Fiscal Policy Can Make the Difference

If corporate America did not create jobs when they could borrow money at near zero interest rate it is highly unlikely that they will use any proposed tax break to create jobs now.

It is difficult to overstate the harm an increasing distributional imbalance has and will continue to inflict on our nation or as more eloquently stated by the IMF:
"...While overall global inequality has fallen in recent decades because of the economic rise of countries such as China and India, inequality within countries has risen sharply, especially in large countries like the United States and China. The Fund warned that excessive inequality could lower economic growth as well as polarize politics..."

The now proposed "tax-framework" tax-plan does little or nothing to cut our increasingly destabilizing inequality imbalances. These imbalances will likely continue to worsen as the bipartisan divide widens and our leaders flounder for consensus.

UPDATED 10/20/2017 Economist, Higher Taxes Can Lower Inequality Without Denting Economic Growth

A race to the tax-rate bottom is invariably accompanied by unrealistic and unrealized growth forecasts (NYT, Republicans Ready to Move on a Tax Plan Few Have Seen).

UPDATED 10/03/2017 Brookings, Back to the Future: Reagan, Trump and Bipartisan Tax Reform

The same unproved and harmful Republican Party sermons on economic dogma masquerading its wacky financial engineering schemes†, which prophesies growth that "god" could not deliver! These dogmatic prophesies are highly likely to end where its earlier prophesies based on unproved economic dogma have ended, with nation destabilizing debt and dangerously imbalanced wealth-distribution coefficients.

...don't forget to laugh...

† It will be interesting to see if European Union’s Markets in Financial Directive II, or MiFID II will dampen our casino-capitalists' appetite for wacky financial products?

UPDATED 06/15/2017 Ted, Poverty Isn't a Lack of Character; It's a Lack of Cash and Brookings, Can Universal Basic Income Boost Financial Inclusion and Transparency?

When we handout money to recapitalize (aka rescue) the capitalists from their pathetic cannibalistic ways we call it "helicopter money"! Lets recapitalize our poor and call it a "minimum basic income".

Our religious zealots (some might say wackos) can still pray for our poor and the politicians can still rhetorically crucify them—we can unify all these similar programs under the budget line item "pay not pray or punish"!

UPDATED 06/03/2017 Economist, Gimme Shelter, The Super-rich Are Different: They Pay Less Tax

...a lot less! These are the (non)taxpayers, which our "new" alt-white-house's budget proposes to help with tax breaks at the price of providing healthcare coverage for an estimated 23 million of our citizens; higher premiums for insuring citizens with preƫxisting conditions; and higher premiums for aging seniors...

...and these are the taxpayers, which our "new" alt-white-house OMB Director Mulvaney asserts are not getting cannot make this stuff up!

UPDATED 04/19/2017 IMF, Transcript of the Press Conference on the Release of the April 2017 World Economic Outlook

We'll see if our citizenry once again vote for the unproved canard that "tax breaks for our wealthy benefit our poor"?

UPDATED 03/23/2017 Economist, Economic shocks are more likely to be lethal in America ...and when the economic shocks turn to trends?

UPDATED 03/01/2017 CSM, Guaranteed Paycheck: Does a 'basic income' Encourage Laziness?

What's the basis for correlating "laziness" with a minimum income floor?

UPDATED 01/12/2017 WH, Household Incomes Rising: Facebook Live with President Obama

UPDATED 12/27/2016 MoJo, 11 Charts That Show Income Inequality Isn't Getting Better Anytime Soon

The "distribution of income" graph on top is problematic, but the graph of annualized (1870-2014) per-capita growth below that graph is disturbing because it presages a regressing future for America absent intervention of significant invention!

Those interested in the significant role meaningful inventions play in macroeconomic growth will want to read macroeconomist Robert Gordon's new book The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War.

Those thinking recently hyped technology "shared economy" platforms like Uber, Airbnb etc. will significantly alter Gordon's "bell-shaped graph" will want to study Robert Solow, Paul Romer et al. and take to heart any or all the many variants of a quote oft attributed to Solow:

"you can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics." (Wikipedia)

...and of course evaluate the growth implications of graphs contained in our census publications like: Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060 Page 4   dated March 2015.

Thank you Mr. President,...your presidency has provided many Americans with much pride:

Your successor's leadership and government (regime?) will likely exacerbate America's distributional dilemma and economic growth problems4, in pursuit of its fervent laissez-faire (aka neo-anarchism) and paradoxical efforts to use government to end it!
UPDATED 09/02/2016 Reuters, U.S. Treasury says EU's Apple tax ruling aimed at U.S. companies  One nation's "money grab" is another nation's "level playing field"!

Plenty of multinational companies and competing nations use financial schemes and shenanigans for competitive advantage*. Instead of criticizing the EU, Treasury Secretary Lew should nominate or name a few or better yet jointly investigate the amount of taxes and penalties owed as a result of their unfair competitive advantage?

WSJ, Apple Ordered to Pay $14.5 Billion Irish Tax Bill How about imposing penalties for Apple et al. substitution of corporate financial schemes and shenanigans in lieu of responsibly participating in civil society?

* There is a big difference between a nation (or local entity within a nation) setting its own tax policy and using its tax policy to confer a subsidy or unfair competitive advantage!

With respect to "concerns" that Apple will deduct its Ireland tax from any owed our Treasury note that Apple (and other corporations) is engaging in a different set of financial schemes and shenanigans while awaiting favorable U.S. tax treatment (i.e. nominal or zero tax) before repatriating its overseas earnings!

UPDATED 08/29/2016 NYT, Central Bankers Hear Plea: Turn Focus to Government Spending

The current Congress is unlikely to correct the imbalances created by predominately relying on monetary policy, financial shenanigans, and unproved economic dogma for sustainable economic growth.

Stated differently as the financial shenanigans unwind, dogma ditched, and global interest rates begin to trend negative bankers are pleading for fiscal help!

Hopefully, our next Congress will be less dysfunctional?

UPDATED 04/29/2016 Economist, Household income inequality: ladders to climb
UPDATED 04/09/2016 UCTV, Income Inequality and the Future of the American Dream: Differing Perspectives

Ayn Rand's apostles and acolytes are not lacking in "strong beliefs"—they lack any theory of realpolitiks, economics, or governance to support those "strong beliefs", except, perhaps chaos and anarchy. Blowing things up might work for novelists, terrorists, libertarians, nihilists, actors, anarchists, and Howard Roark; not so much for democrats, economists, or statists.

It's unimaginative, unbalanced, and unnecessary to blow up government to correct market failures or economic and distributional imbalances.

UPDATED 04/01/2016 UCTV, Breaking Promises: The Young’s Declining Share of the Economic Pie with S.Druckenmiller G. Canada

How "precious", our confused cowboy-capitalists, who have spent the last several decades silently launching and participating in one catastrophic financial scheme after another are concerned about our children's declining share of the economic pie (i.e. our seniors are getting too much)!

Yes, there are capitalists concerned about our children's futures, but they're currently too busy scooping up the shit after the confused cowboy-capitalists' previous parades and figuring out how to sustainably grow the economic pie to lecture the public on a looted treasury.

Unfortunately, it's not an April Fools joke! You can't make this stuff up.

UPDATED 03/28/2016 MoJo, California Is About to Make a $15 Minimum Wage a Reality and UCBLC, The High Public Cost of Low Wages

The confused cowboy-capitalists currently cannibalizing "disrupting" our economy are unlikely to be responsive to an acute political pull for growing wage rates.

Is economic inequality simply a disguised and advanced form of rent-seeking?

UPDATED 02/17/2016 YouTube, Capitalism will eat democracy - unless we speak up, Yanis Varoufakis

Unconstrained capitalism is cannibalistic, which is capable of consuming itself—this is news to neither capitalism's proponents and opponents nor economic theorists.

UPDATED 02/11/2016 Economist, Going after Google and Guardian, How much does Google's European boss really earn? and Fortune, A Top Google Executive Said He Doesn't Know How Much He's Paid

Google does not what to be part of the estimate $7.6 trillion3 "off-shore tax problem" and must immediately take steps to completely extract and alienate itself from this problem.

Let no Google press release ever read "Google pays all the taxes we are legally obligated to pay" or other like drivel with respect to their participation in the "off-shore tax problem"!

Wonder how many more video's like this one will be required before Google decides to exit all "legal" tax dodging and avoidance schemes...? Taxodus - Playing The Global Tax Avoidance Game (documentary not to be confused with the game by the same name)

UPDATED 12/19/2015 NYT, Class Differences in Child-Rearing Are on the Rise and Stanford, The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor: New evidence and possible explanations

Continuously parroting myths is not a substitute for publicly sponsored research.

UPDATED 11/06/2015 UCTV, Inside Inequality: The Making of the Book with Thomas Piketty and his Collaborators and UCTV, Capital in the 21st Century with Thomas Piketty - Helen Edison Lecture Series


UPDATED 10/12/2015 NYT, Nobel in Economics Given to Angus Deaton for Studies of Consumption and The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2015 to Angus Deaton:
"for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare"

UPDATED 09/16/2015 NYT, Uninsured Numbers Drop as Poverty Rate Holds Steady Deceleration generally precedes a beneficial inflection (reversal) of a trend.

UPDATED 08/14/2015 UCTV, Economic Inequality and the Future of Progressivism with Bill De Blasio and Robert Reich

UPDATED 08/13/2015 Atlantic, The Resurrection of America's Slums and Atlantic, Income Inequality and the End of the Middle Class

The stakes are likely to be greater than a sustainable 21st century Middle Class—any sustainable solution set is unlikely to include prayer and parroted dogma.

UPDATED 05/29/2015 UCTV, The Great Divide with Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich

Stiglitz discussing his newest book, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them.

A collection of previously published media articles describing in nontechnical terms the harm inflicted by our "Great Recession", including the so-called "collateral damage".

UPDATED 04/22/2015 Ted, Why we need to rethink capitalism

UPDATED 01/01/2015 BBC, France economist Thomas Piketty rejects Legion D'Honneur

Piketty tells France's leaders to keep their encomium and focus on solving economic issues—politicos no doubt find it easier to hand out encomiums than solve pesky economic distributional imbalances?

UPDATED 10/18/2014 UPI, Janet Yellen says income inequality hurting U.S. economy

Continuously asserting that distributional imbalances are harming our economy and nation does nothing to reduce or eliminate these imbalances. Our income and wealth imbalances are so grossly large there is little harm in acting immediately, using crude methodology and tools, if necessary, to reduce these imbalances. We can debate the finer economic points of optimal imbalances in a capitalist economy while the imbalances are trending down (as opposed to up)!

Of course perpetually debating how best to achieve a balance between capitalism and confused-corrupt-cowboy-cannibal-carny-casino-capitalism is important. However, this debate, which has continuously occurred since the founding of our nation, need not impede immediate action to reduce or eliminate our grossly large income and wealth imbalances.

UPDATED 10/08/2014 Reuters, New data shows Americans' incomes still stagnant after recession

Well, on the upside talking about an important economic attribute usually precedes corrective actions—on the downside some prefer to substitute talking for corrective actions.

UPDATED 09/15/2014 WP, Income inequality is hurting state tax revenue, report says

UPDATED 09/15/2014 Twitter, Joseph Blasi Coauthor of the popular book The Citizen's Share: Putting Ownership Back in Democracy (out in paperback) and AuthorsAtGoogleTalk (~58:00).

UPDATED 05/29/2014 NYT, Taking on Adam Smith (and Karl Marx)

It's encouraging that these difficult (different than complex) discussions are finally beginning.

Discussions on how to improve capital distribution need not morph into a bipolar choice between capitalism and socialism.  Nor, need these discussions underestimate the benefits of speedily implementing demonstration projects aimed at convincing capital that "God and Darwin" have played no part in creating our current distributional imbalances.

* Piketty response to Giles concerns over the rate at which wealth distribution (Chapter 10) imbalances are accumulating—primarily the result of different interpretations concerning the reliability of the British noncontiguous heterogeneous data sets.

UPDATED 01/05/2014 NYT, Mapping Poverty in America Nice United States map listing county poverty (distributional imbalances twin sister) rates.

UPDATED 12/08/2013 Economist, Inequality in America Gini in the bottle and New Yorker, American Inequality in Six Charts

The good news about our nation's current income inequality is that it's enabled us to start an important dialog about inequality and related myths—notwithstanding the many subtle and not so subtle inferences to Darwinism, a money gene has not been located!

That will not dissuade some of our citizenry from sending saliva to 23andMe, cells to a cryonic laboratory or seriously consider whether to preserve their body post-death. It's unclear why these citizens would think future human habitats will require or apply their unique skill set or be constrained by today's myths?

UPDATED 12/04/2013 WH, President Obama Speaks on Economic Mobility (entire)

Sometimes all you can say is Wow!

UPDATED 10/12/2013 UPI, U.S. poverty rate stabilizes but number of poorest of poor grows 

What's "exceptional" about any nation simultaneously producing richer rich and poorer poor?!

UPDATED 08/03/2013 UPI, Obama: Reversing income gap is 'highest priority'

UPDATED 01/16/2013 Reuters, Number of working poor families grows as wealth gap widens
"Data showed that the top 20 percent of Americans received 48 percent of all income while those in the bottom 20 percent got less than 5 percent...In 2011, roughly 23.5 million, or 37 percent, of U.S. children lived in working poor families compared with about 21 million, or 33 percent, in 2007, the report (pdf) said."
UPDATED 09/19/2012 Atlantic, U.S. Income Inequality: It's Worse Today Than It Was in 1774

UPDATED 06/30/2012 GoogleTalk, Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality

UPDATED 06/06/2012 NPR, Growing Economic Inequality 'Endangers Our Future'

Cannibal capitalism is negatively distorting markets and the lives of millions of Americans—will we return to capitalism or proceed to carcass capitalism?

UPDATED 05/29/2012 UPI, U.S.: Second-highest child poverty level

UPDATED 11/03/2012 Moyer&Company, On Winner-Take-All Politics

By using a macro-measure target like the "gini coefficient" our policymaker are able to completely avoid winner-take-all-politics or accusation of "choosing winners and losers" or engaging endless and mostly useless debates about redistribution.

The "gini" is then discussed and managed in a manner not dissimilar to a discount or unemployment rate.

UPDATED 12/18/2011 TTBK, Decline of the Middle Class

UPDATED 12/16/2011 AP, Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

The result American exceptionalism, survival of the fittest or just decades of pathetic public policy that "hallowed out" our middle-class? Jeffrey Sack talking on The Price of Civilization thinks it's the latter:

UPDATED 12/07/2011 SeattleTimes, Obama: Middle class at 'make or break' stage

President Obama takes direct aim at those seeming hell bent on returning America to the workhouses of centuries past—full video (55min) of the President's Osawatomie, Kansas speech on the economy.

Mr. President, reducing our gaping income inequality gap improves more than trust. A reduced income inequality improvements life expectancy, math and literacy, infant mortality, homicides, imprisonment, teen births, trust, obesity, mental illness and social mobility, are all positively correlated with lower income inequality!

The above graph is from Richard Willkerson's short Ted Talk on How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

Other research confirms Wilkerson et al's linear correlation between a nation's worsening quality of life measures and its increasing income inequality.

Some of our President's critics proudly assert that the difference between knowledge and ignorance is mere opinion and justification for seeking "God's" opinion, which they inform us they routinely do. Hopefully, before bothering "God" they will read Irving Fisher's 1907, "Why Has The Doctrine of Laissez Faire Been Abandoned?" (quoted in part below):
"...The adherents of this school seemed to treat the difference between knowledge and ignorance as a mere difference in opinion, with which the government has no more concern than with difference of religious creeds. It is certainly true that the attempts of governments to impose what is regarded by the ruling class as the 'true religion' upon the entire people have always proved ill-advised; the recognition of this has produced the modern sentiment of religious toleration. But we are carrying toleration too far when we refuse to correct errors which science demonstrates to be false. There are doubtless millions of persons to-day who jeer at the idea that indiscriminate spitting is dangerous to public health, but it would be silly to allow their ignorant prejudice to prevail. The bacteriologist knows what the ignorant do not know, and every effort should be made to pass down this knowledge to the masses as soon as possible after it is discovered. We can not let any dogma of laissez faire prevent us from checking suicidal ignorance...."--Fisher, Laissez Faire 1907--
UPDATED 11/07/2011 IMF, Inequality and Unsustainable Growth: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Berg, Andrew, and Jonathan D. Ostry, 2011

Paper makes the correlation between inequality and length of growth period—a decrease in the Gini from .40 to .37 is expected to lengthen the growth period by 50 percent.

It goes on to make the fascinating observation:
"...Second, the efficacy of some standard policy recommendations may depend on forces related to distributional issues. It may be simultaneously true that inadequate regulation lay behind the financial crisis in the United States and that increasing inequality underlay the pressures on lenders and borrowers to overleverage. Better analysis of macroeconomic and financial sector linkages, and thus more appropriate regulation, can surely help. But such analysis cannot ignore the larger context of rising inequality if it is to yield useful policy advice...."--Inequality and Unsustainable Growth--
The above correlation and observation would seem to favor President Obama's strategy to prevent our acute distributional issues from becoming chronic.

How ironic that our policymakers, so practiced at yelling "class warfare"2 and enacting policies that exacerbate our distributional inequalities are in fact truncating the very growth their yelling and policy seeks to create and sustain, thereby jeopardizing our nation.

UPDATED 11/05/2011 Reuters, Inequality dents U.S. rank in U.N. development index

UPDATED 11/03/2011 ProPublica, U.S.'s [Shameful] Growing Income Gap By The Numbers a troubling trend that must be immediately and significantly reversed.

UPDATED 04/15/2011 Vanity Fair, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
"...An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul...."--Joseph E. Stiglitz--
Growing Unequal? Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries


1. When discussing or thinking about national inequality distributions and policy, measurements of income, wealth, GDP, GNP, and other economic indicators are often unhelpfully conflated with measurements of that nation's citizens.

2. One suspects that managing an economy that maintains equilibrium between incentives and inequalities requires policymakers with a different skill set.

3. Those interested may enjoy reading Gabriel Zucman's short seminal primer on off-shore tax havens, including initial data estimates on corporate participation (figure 8 of Excel Spreadsheet), The Hidden Wealth of Nations

4. UPDATED 12/28/2016 Economist Ken Rogoff sees 'significantly faster' growth under Trump. Rogoff generally asserts it's to early to predict stagnation of long-term growth, given our recent Great Recession (i.e.  lesser growth is an attribute of financial crises?).

Originally Published October 25, 2008; Last Updated September 27, 2019; Last Republished September 27, 2019:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hunger In The United States

Originally Published September 04, 2009; Last Updated December 12, 2018; Last Republished  July 31, 2018:
As our unemployment rate3 inches into record territory more persons are using food stamps. The EBT card1 provides, on average $133 dollars per month in groceries—insufficient for even the most fastidious eater and frugal shopper.

The unemployment is lamentable2—usage of food stamps is commendable.


UPDATED 07/31/2018 UMNMedSch, New Research Challenges Common Assumptions About People Who Use Food Shelves and Summary of 2017 Minnesota Food Shelf Client Survey by Hunger Solutions Minnesota and SuperShelf (pdf)

UPDATED 01/02/2014 NAP, Research Opportunities Concerning the Causes and Consequences of Child Food Insecurity and Hunger: A Workshop Summary (2013)

Additional funding is required to collect additional current household survey data in pursuit of future food insecurity and hunger research.

UPDATED 01/23/2013 NAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Examining the Evidence to Define Benefit Adequacy (Uncorrected Prepublication  Proof)

What a delightfully relevant, pragmatic and scientifically based proposed framework for ensuring the functional adequacy of SNAP!
UPDATED 09/06/2012 USDA, Household Food Security in the United States in 2011

More "American exceptionalism"? Our food insecurity for 2011 was 14.9 percent or 17.9 million households. Wonder what is exceptional about a nation with 14.9 percent food insecurity?

GettingFoodStamps, How to Apply Fortunately, those committed to ending hunger in America are working very hard to make it simple and painless to both apply for and use food stamps.

USDA, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).


UPDATED 06/06/2013  NYT Blog, Welfare for the Wealthy

Another of the seemingly routine examples of a federal southern policymaker engaging in activity adverse to the economically disadvantaged constituents he supposedly "represents"—SNAP resources to economically disadvantaged Tennesseans (and other economically disadvantaged Americans) must be increased, not reduced.


UPDATED 12/12/2018 Reuters, House Approves Farm Bill Without Tightened Food Stamps Criteria

UPDATED 01/09/2017 AgriPulse, New report proposes more fish, less milk for USDA's WIC program
UPDATED 12/09/2016 USDA, Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on House Agriculture Committee Report on SNAP

We can expect our libertarian laissez-faire neo-anarchists and like zealots to ramp up their "gut-any-government" and like dogma over the next several years or weeks. (e.g. Bloomberg, Trump Team Said to Consider Thiel Associate O’Neill for FDA)7

Also, we can expect hunger in American (and other nations) to continue increasing in response to a period of significant regional (and global) civil society and economic structural changes.

Shifting responsibility for basic or fundamental governmental services to our resource challenged states will not adequately respond to the nutritional (and other) requirements of our citizens during this period.

UPDATED 09/15/2016 USDA, USDA Seeks Retailer Volunteers for SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot
UPDATED 08/05/2014 VOA, Advocates Say New York City Facing Hunger Crisis

It's difficult to imagine a more fundamentally non-delegable function and responsibility of any 21st century government than ensuring all its citizenry has simultaneous and continuous access to basic nutrition, education, shelter and healthcare.

Utilizing concepts appropriate or applicable for an 18th century government are unlikely to be useful, helpful or successful for a 21st century government.

UPDATED 12/12/2013 CSM, Ageless agriculture: 11 food programs by and for seniors

These boutique programs are necessary (and very useful) but insufficient to ensure hunger is eradicated across our nation. Programs like SNAP must continue, improve and expand until sufficient to ensure hunger is eradicated across our nation.

UPDATED 11/06/2013 UPI, The Issue: Food stamp cuts -- 47 million Americans have less to eat

It's unclear why some of our leadership think that punitive measures will solve our nation's structural hunger problem? According to these leaders our government need only withhold or reduce resources to solve our structural hunger problem! Unsurprisingly, such punitive and perverse logic is ineffective and only exacerbates our nation's ongoing structural hunger problem.

Stated differently and somewhat charitably, punishment rarely, if ever solves non-structural problems; punishment never solves structural problems, prayer notwithstanding.

UPDATED 08/16/2013 DailyJournal, Meal programs expand summer nutrition for schoolchildren who are hungry over summer

UPDATED 07/25/2013 TReuters, USDA study shows incentives can help poor eat healthier foods

Kudos to the USDA for efforts aimed at boosting fruit and vegetable consumption by SNAP users. These type of pilot programs to provide nutritiously dense foods for our food insecure must be extended through all levels of public and private food programs (e.g. food stamps, food banks, pantries, community and recreation centers and other similar food distribution points).

UPDATED 06/30/2013 YouTube, Bill Moyers: The Faces of America’s Hungry

Inexplicably, many of our current economic models do not incorporate parameters for estimating and managing equality and inequality—complicating the tasks of understanding and managing our increasingly complex economy.

UPDATED 09/26/2012 Reuters, Ferrari seized in U.S. food stamp fraud case Great now our policymakers can increase SNAP resources, instead of cutting it by five percent.

UPDATED 09/20/2012 UChicagoNews, Extreme Poor Americans Worse Off

Our meager and mostly mean spirited anti-poverty policies are making our poor poorer!

Those decrying even our meager and mostly mean spirited efforts at reducing (we're not even close to elimination or eradication) our poverty may want to visit the poor of Owsley County, Kentucky (the images depict another type of "American exceptional")!

It's difficult to understand why we elect and reelect policymakers (e.g Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky) that allocate trillions of dollars to fight foolish, stupid and unnecessary wars (in which no small proportion of Kentuckians fight and die) instead of allocating those resources to solve the multifaceted problems required to eradicate our poverty.

UPDATED 07/14/2012 Montgomery Advertiser, Food stamp rate troubling

Instead of applauding our USDA for its outreach effort to ensure all Alabama residents are food secure Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Al) is leading a campaign to implicitly and explicitly criticize those he supposedly represents for utilizing our SNAP program.

Session's criticism and condemnation of our poor must be ignored—efforts to ensure all food insecure Alabamians are enrolling in SNAP must continue. Wherever the blame lay for our current budgetary difficulties it most surely is not on the backs of our poor Alabamians.

SNAP expenditures can be expected to increase into the foreseeable future—the senators from Alabama may want to focus their effort on (re)building Alabama instead of condemning and criticizing its poor. SNAP will help stabilize Alabama's economy while they focus their efforts on (re)building Alabama.

Our census bureau has estimated Alabama's 2010 population at 4,779,736 of which 805,095 participated in our SNAP program at an estimated cost of $1,226,018,708.

UPDATED 06/07/2012 AgriPulse, Advocacy groups ask Congress to protect Farm Bill nutrition programs

Not only must Congress not reduce SNAP funding (S. 3240 proposes to reduce funding by ≅$4.5B) it must stand ready to provide additional funding.

UPDATED 05/24/2012 SFGate, Food stamp fraud raising concerns in gov't offices 

The seemingly obligatory annual article on food stamp fraud that usually accompany attempts by some of our politicians to limit resources flowing to our poor or economically disadvantaged.

Refreshingly this article reports the amount of fraud at a relative miniscule one percent—many articles on food stamp fraud (and other fraud) usually leave it to the reader's imagination, which is rarely accurate.

Surely our national security data mining algorithm developers can further reduce the one percent by automatically comparing monthly revenues, sales and EBT revenues by outlet.

Alternatively6, those interested in further reducing the one percent can routinely sell (typically for 60-80 cents on the dollar) a statistically representative number of EBT cards across American communities and then trace the transactions to "light up" those networks that reclaim the 20-40 percent profit.

These anti-fraud efforts may cost more than the amount recovered or undesirably restrict the number of participating small community EBT food outlets. Unfortunately, current economic policy and market failures6 impede or prevent our larger automated food outlets from profitably operating in our communities where EBT cards may be over represented. And of course, EBT card users' mobility is relatively more restricted due to impaired health or limited income or both.

However, some of our politicians' unstated objective may not be a reduction of food stamp fraud but to broadly justify annual efforts to reduce food stamp resources. Of course it makes no sense to increase the food insecurity of millions of Americans in pursuit of the one percent of fraud but this never seems to deter the annual efforts to eliminate or significantly reduce food stamp resources.

UPDATED 05/03/2012 Food stamp cuts may slow farm bill

UPDATED 04/19/2012 SFGate, Howard Buffett helps start rural feeding program.

UPDATED 10/07/2010 Reuters, Poverty rises in suburbs, help lags: Brookings.

UPDATED 08/12/2010 UPI, Michigan food banks say demand up. Unfortunately, the Michigan food bank is not an isolated case.

Instead of increasing food stamps and related resources Congress recently diverted $12 billion dollars of food stamp funding to pay for the recently enacted teacher jobs and medical care (CBS News, Food Stamps Slashed to Pay for Teacher Jobs Bill) legislation.

UPDATED 05/24/2010 UPI, Pregnancy food insecurity, weight gain.

UPDATED 05/07/2010 Reuters, Food-stamp tally nears 40 million, sets record.

UPDATED 03/19/2010 California Watch, Hunger in the Golden State. The University Southern California Annenberg School for Journalism & Communication is teaming up with California Watch to conduct a six month investigation and three series program on hunger in California.

California Report, Hunger in the Golden State

UPDATED 02/02/2010 Reuters, Biting recession leaves ever more Americans hungry.
UPDATED 12/31/2009 Reuters, Midnight in the food-stamp economy.

UPDATED 12/08/2009 Reuters, Hunger, family homelessness on rise in U.S. cities.

UPDATED 12/06/2009 UPI, Food stamp lawsuit in Maryland court.

If your state legislature or local food stamp office has set up a series of meaningless or inconvenient hoops through which you must jump work to eliminate those hoops.

Queuing all day to receive food stamps is one such meaningless hoop, but there are others limited only by the imagination. A common attribute is to require an activity not directly related to the efficient verification of income and identity: queue up; show up; call up; report; limited or weird office hours; unnecessary or duplicative paperwork; multiple approvals; multiple trips; inconvenient office locations; unpleasant office environment; unhelpful or unprofessional personnel; incorrect or confusing guidance; unnecessary or unrelated police presence or intimidation; no dispute resolution or appeals process etc.)

UPDATED 11/20/2009 PBS NewsHour, More Americans Facing Hunger, Report Finds.

Our policymaker's response to problems may lag based on the dubious rationale that responding may exacerbate rather than ameliorate the problem (i.e self-fulfilling prophecy).

When responding to hunger and food insecurity problems our policymakers must lead in their response, not lag. Use any surplus inventories at our nation's network of food banks as a leading indicator of decreasing hunger or food insecurity5.

UPDATED 11/17/2009 Reuters, One in seven Americans short of food.
"About 14.6 percent of U.S. households, equal to 49.1 million people, ''had difficulty obtaining food for all their members due to a lack of resources'' during 2008, up 3.5 percentage points from 2007 when 11.1 percent of households were classified as food insecure." --Reuters--
Hopefully, our current leadership will not wait for this grim 14.6 percent to become 15 percent before implementing depression era type modern-jobs3 programs nationwide.

If you must fret about your food insecurity do so after you apply for and receive food stamps.

We can argue about the whys over the next decade.

Year Unemployment Rate4
1923-29 3.3
1930 8.9
1931 15.9
1932 23.6
1934 21.7
1935 20.1
1936 17.0
1937 14.3
1938 19.0
1939 17.2
1940 14.6
1941 9.9

Reuters, Food stamp list soars past 35 million: USDA


1. The Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card functions exactly like a debit card.

It's used exactly like a debit card when purchasing most food items—non-food items and some "prepared food" must be paid for separately.

2. As more data becomes available it appears likely that much or all of the unemployment magnitude is the result of gross mismanagement of our economy and was partially or completely avoidable.

3. UPDATED 09/05/2009 See NYT, In Unemployment Report, Signs of a Jobless Recovery.
Everybody is looking around saying, Where is a robust recovery going to come from? and not finding it,...We're going to have elevated unemployment for four years to come.--NYT quoting, Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute--
Wonder why economists can "look around" and not see any next generation jobs (they can't even see McJobs!) to sustain economic growth? Wonder who was (or wasn't) working on creating and transitioning America to the next generation jobs? Wonder if they were just too busy creating and fighting wars? Wonder if war is our next generation jobs!? Wonder when laissez faire economics will be creating the next generation jobs? Wonder if cooperation and not laissez faire economics is required for next generation jobs?

4. From Bureau of Labor Statistics: Compensation from before World War I through the Great Depression

5. Distinctions between hunger and food insecurity need not cloud our policymaker's immediate and sustained response. The distinction is useful for establishing measurement precision.

A person's subjective hunger may not accurately reflect objective food insecurity, particularly if their food intake has been excessive over a lengthy period of time (e.g. see Obese people can misjudge body size).

6. The article suggests yet another alternative albeit somewhat more creative. If, as the article suggests "big" outlets (supermarket) engage in fewer fraudulent EBT transactions, then placing a supermarket in communities where EBT cards are over represented may reduce fraud.

Perhaps, with some luck, the amount of the fraud reduction will more than offset any incentive a franchise may require to locate a supermarket in communities where EBT cards are over represented?

To the extent that small outlets are selling more alcohol than food or alcohol as food or just processing EBT cards for the 20-40 percent profit they are not directly competing with any supermarket.

7. Also, SA, Trump Considers FDA Chief Who Says People Should Use Medicines "At Their Own Risk" and SA, Science [or lack thereof] and the Trump Presidency

You can't make this stuff up! Private equity not only investing in the pharmaceutical sector but running a government agency charged with regulating the sector—what could possibly go wrong?(NYT, Former Insys Officials Charged in Scheme to Push Its Painkiller [Fentanyl Spray])

It didn't take the "brilliant" executives at Insys long to figure out that selling their Fentanyl product to a relatively small market of cancer patients experiencing extraordinary pain was not going to generate extraordinary profits...betcha you can't guess what's next?

Those using Fentanyl "at their own risk" can can die from asphyxiation if this powerful narcotic paralyze their chest muscles. 

Of course, the "gut-the-government" neo-anarchists would not know this, because they'd have eliminated CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report as a drag on profits.