Does America Hate Its Children?
December 2012, Robert Reich wrote about America’s children . . . Remember the Children.
“America’s children seem to be shortchanged on almost every issue we face as a society.
Not only are we failing to protect our children from deranged people wielding semi-automatic guns.
We’re not protecting them from poverty. The rate of child poverty keeps rising – even faster than the rate of adult poverty. We now have the highest rate of child poverty in the developed world.
And we’re not protecting their health. Rates of child diabetes and asthma continue to climb. America has the third-worst rate of infant mortality among 30 industrialized nations and the second-highest rate of teenage pregnancy, after Mexico.
If we go over the “fiscal cliff” without a budget deal, several programs focused on the well-being of children will be axed – education, child nutrition, school lunches, children’s health, Head Start.
Even if we avoid the cliff, any “grand bargain” to tame to deficit is likely to jeopardize them.
The Urban Institute projects the share of federal spending on children (outlays and tax expenditures) will drop from 15 percent last year to 12 percent in 2022.
At the same time, states and localities have been slashing preschool and after-school programs, child care, family services, recreation, and mental-health services.
It seems as if every one of usual major interests have political clout – except children. They can’t vote. They don’t make major campaign donations. They can’t hire fleets of lobbyists.
Yet they’re America’s future.
If you follow the link to Robert Reich’s commentary you can read what major interests have the clout and dominate America’s interests.
Eight years later, January 2020 and Paul Krugman is asked a question by a correspondent.
“What important issue aren’t we talking about?”
His answer: “The state of America’s children.” And Paul asks a similar same question Robert Reich did 8-years earlier, Why Does America Hate Its Children?
“On the Democrat side, it is not entirely fair to say we are ignoring the plight of children. Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren has laid out a comprehensive and fully financed plan for universal child care. Bernie Sanders says he is for it but he has not provided details. And as far as I can tell, all the other Democratic presidential candidates support doing more for children.”
Krugman: Congress is lazy when it comes to children versus other policies. The policy toward children attracts far less media attention than the debate over “Medicare for All,” which will not become a reality anytime soon — let alone the so-called Warren-Sanders “spat.” And my guess is that even well-informed voters have little sense of the grim exceptionalism of America’s child-oriented policies, which are Dickensian compared with those of every other advanced country.”
Describing the differences between the US and other countries;
“Every advanced country mandates some form of paid leave for new mothers, typically three or four months — every country, except America, which offers no maternity leave at all.
As I pointed earlier, Maternal healthcare in other countries is far less deadly than in the US.
Krugman: Most advanced countries devote substantial sums to benefits for families with children. In Europe these benefits average between 2 and 3 percent of G.D.P. as opposed to the United States at 0.6 percent of G.D.P.
Even where the United States does help children, the quality of that help tends to be poor. In comparing French and American school lunches: French schoolchildren are taught to eat healthy meals while American children are basically treated as a disposal site for farm surpluses.”
Krugman: “What’s especially striking is the contrast between the way we treat our children and the way we treat our senior citizens. Social Security isn’t all that generous — there’s a good case for expanding it — but it doesn’t compare too badly with other countries’ retirement systems. Medicare actually spends lavishly compared with single-payer systems elsewhere.
So America’s refusal to help children isn’t part of a broad opposition to government programs; we single out children for especially harsh treatment. Why?
The answer, I’d suggest, goes beyond the fact that children can’t vote, while seniors can and do. There has also been a poisonous interaction between racial antagonism and bad social analysis.”
In 2006 Joel Garreau identified a changing population trend going from majority non-Hispanic white to majority minority to occur by 2040. It is already in process as less than half the population in grade school is non-Hispanic white. All of those things which may have a positive impact on children are under attack. Medicaid, Chips, subsidized ACA, SNAPs, etc. are under constant attack by state and federal government.
Krugman: “These days, political support for programs aiding children is surely hurt by the fact that less than half the population under 15 is non-Hispanic white. But even before immigration transformed America’s ethnic landscape, there was a widespread perception that programs like Aid to Families With Dependent Children basically helped “Those” People . . . you know, the bums on welfare, the welfare queens driving Cadillacs.
This perception undermines support for spending on children. And it creates a widespread belief of aid to poor families creating a culture of dependency, which is blamed as the culprit behind the social collapse in inner cities. In response, aid to families increasingly comes with work requirements, or it takes the form of things like the earned-income tax credit, which is linked to earnings.
The result is a decline in assistance for the poor children who needed it most.”
Rather than rebuilding blighted areas, schools in those areas , and create jobs to sustain the people there; the population capable of doing so has moved just beyond the reach of the cities, establishing economic barriers protecting them (Detroit), and moved children to chartered schools. In effect, the nation is segregating the next generation which needs the most help.
The Atlantic’s Privileged versus Poor Navigating Elite University Life touches upon the results of being segregated and later on being exposed to a different culture in our universities. Many drop out.
Krugman: At this point, we know the cultural explanations of social collapse were all wrong. The sociologist William Julius Wilson argued long ago that social dysfunction in big cities was caused, not by culture, but by the disappearance of good jobs. And he has been vindicated by what happened to much of the American heartland, which suffered a similar disappearance of good jobs and a similar surge in social dysfunction.
We have established a basic vicious system under which children can’t get the help they need unless their parents find jobs that don’t exist. A growing body of evidence says this system is destructive as well as cruel from early childhood into college age.
Multiple studies have found safety-net programs for children have positive long-term consequences. Children who receive adequate nutrition and health care grow up to become healthier, more productive adults. And in addition to the humanitarian side of these benefits, there’s a monetary payoff: Healthier adults are less likely to need public aid and are likely to pay more in taxes.
It’s probably too much to claim that helping children pays for itself. But it surely comes a lot closer to doing so than tax cuts for the rich.
So we should be talking a lot more about helping America’s children. Why aren’t we?
At least part of the blame rests with Bernie Sanders, who made Medicare for All both a progressive purity test and a bright shiny object chased by the news media at the expense of other policies that could greatly improve American lives, and are far more likely to become law. But it’s not too late to refocus.
Whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, I hope he or she will give our nation’s shameful treatment of children the attention it deserves.
PK has this right.
“There has also been a poisonous interaction between racial antagonism and bad social analysis.”
“Amazing how some people think that only the children of “those people” receive any benefits from such programs.
Goes along with the voting of people in Kentucky against the ACA when so many of their residents benefited from it.
“The impact of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), also known as Obamacare, has been debated among politicians, policymakers, and other stakeholders. The ACA was signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama (D). The law facilitates the purchase of health insurance through a system of health insurance exchanges, tax credits, and subsidies. Initially, states were required to expand eligibility for Medicaid under the law; a 2012 ruling by the United States Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion voluntary for states. The law also requires insurers to cover healthcare services within a standard set of benefits and prohibits coverage denials based on preexisting conditions. Under the law, all individuals are required to obtain health insurance.
Between 2013 and 2016, the number of uninsured individuals in Kentucky declined by 63.8 percent.
About 72,000 individuals in Kentucky were enrolled in health plans offered through the health insurance exchange in 2017. Enrollment in Medicaid amounted to about 1.3 million in May 2017.
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that between 2016 and 2017, average monthly premiums for benchmark plans on Kentucky’s exchange increased by an average of 3 percent in the Louisville market, from $223 to $229.”
Yet they vote in people whose Holy Grail is killing the ACA.
(b)”What important issue aren’t we talking about”(/b)
Late dean of the DC press corps said that, when he came to Washington in the fifties, all the lobbyists were union. They took care of the quality and quantities of problems that you complain of. Do you think the crass anti-people crap that goes on in this country would be going on if we had German level unionization.
Easy avenue to union density recover (from extreme, critical anemia) — that will serve at the same time to give the Democrats an “virtual candidate” to take back the battle ground states from the Donald (since the Dems seem incapable of fronting a real person pres candidate who can win by his or herself).
EVERYBODY THAT WE WANT BACK FROM TRUMP WILL GO CRAZY TO VOTE FOR:
The brainchild of former SEIU president Andrew Strom who dropped the above essay on On Labor a couple of years ago and for some reason went away and forgot about it. I’ve since literally sent out 30,000+ emails pushing it. Got 7,000 or so journalists on my lists — AT&T only allows 500 a day so it takes couple or three weeks a mailing. The path well fertilized for anyone who wants to make an issue of it.
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(b)”Yet they vote in people whose Holy Grail is killing the ACA.”(/b)
They will vote for anyone who really might help them — or at least sounds genuinely interested in helping. Otherwise they will vote Repub — in what amounts to a pure rebellious vote. They even say they know what the Donald is — but the Dems who should care don’t care so they will vote Repub. Rebellion; that’s all!
They voted for a black guy twice — Obama was different — he might actually help them. In 1988, Jesse Jackson got 54% in the Michigan Democratic primary over Dukakis and Gephart. Bernie might be able to win their votes because he sounds sincerely interested in their problems even though he’s pushing left wing stuff they theoretically abhor.
(more on Bernie below: part of my latest email screed for regularly schedules union cert/recert/decert elections at every private workplace)
Bernie Sanders Sets a Goal: Double Union Membership in 4 Years
“…would allow a majority of workers to form a union simply by signing authorization cards, rather than winning a secret ballot election … ”
The Big Squeeze (2008), Steven Greenhouse
Loc 504 “Ultimately, officials with the steelworkers say, 60 percent of Landis’s [plastic] production workers signed union support cards.”
Loc 694 “A far higher percentage of workers were immigrants, from Latin America, Vietnam, Bosnia, and Sudan. Kathy calculated that of the more than one hundred workers who had signed pro-union cards two years earlier, only fifteen remained.”
Lot of good card check going to do there.
Greenhouse, later in the book (I’m about a third through), presents Fed-X Ground drivers as making only $25,000-35,000 a year, compared to $60,000 for UPS (Teamster Union) drivers. Amazon gig drivers may now be absorbing those jobs. Supermarket jobs were middle class jobs pre Walmat, pre two-tier labor contracts.
Even having a union not much help there.
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Two X nothing = nothing. Bernie will double 6.5% private (non-gov) union density? 13% union? 40 percent of workforce under $15/hr – what min wage should be. Min marks what highest labor firms can pay (e.g., 25% labor costs fast food) – most businesses could pay substantially more. 13% unions going to help them a lot.
“The PRO Act does indeed include a “grab bag” of measures for which unions have long been pushed. But there’s one big thing missing in the bill when it’s placed in the context of the last few decades of labor law reform campaigns: a provision allowing any group of employees to organize through a majority sign-up process (“card check”), rather than through a voting process monitored by the National Labor Relations Board.
“Remember the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the reform law pushed by the labor movement during the 2008 election cycle that died in the U.S. Senate after passing through the House? Its centerpiece was card check, without conditions, making organizing much easier by circumventing the commonly drawn-out election process. The PRO Act only requires card check if an employer is found to have violated labor law during a failed union election. ”
Will the Democrats ever get it? Will they ever really try to help? Will they ever got the fallen away, blue collar Dems back?
Kevin Drum (you top progressive, numbers guy), this morning:
“There are really only two options here. First, we just stop talking about how unfair the world is, because all it does is discourage people.
… [my artificial break] …
Or, second, we offer an actual solution that’s credible and appealing. The only one I can think of is a big, loud, endless promise to rebuild unions. But there’s not even a single Democratic candidate who has made that their trademark in the same way that Medicare for All is Bernie’s trademark or a wealth tax is Elizabeth Warren’s.”
ALLOW ME TO EMPHASIZE:
“The only one I can think of is a big, loud, endless promise to rebuild unions.”
PS. (b) (/b) doesn’t seem to work here anymore — is there some other way to bold?
PS. EMichael: you are allowed one, short reply, now. :-[
Another good reason to support age-weighted voting.
The votes of old people (I am 71) should be worth less than the votes of young people.
How do you rebuild unions in this country without addressing the problem of racism in the union movement?
For a lot of the people who need to belong to unions now, the union was just another means of keeping them out of a job they were capable of doing. I hope things are different now, and certainly in some unions today diversity is alive and well, but until the union movement can acknowledge past practices and demonstrate that they have changed – don’t expect everyone to jump on the bandwagon wholeheartedly.
Rebuilding unions sounds like a return to racist hiring practices. You need a catchphrase that doesn’t remind people of the past they didn’t have.
I think you are mostly thinking of construction jobs and other high paying categories where members tried to keep it all in the family or were just racist. I don’t think you are thinking about the folks that I come in contact with daily at Target, Walgreen’s, McDonald’s or Walmart. I tend to think mostly (or maybe only) about the bottom 40% of earners.
As a color blind Bronxite (where if everybody’s different, nobody’s different) I don’t see racism as any insuperable blockade even where it exists. Matter of fact I see racism fading faster if we can get everybody on the same economic level.
Take the west side and south side of Chicago where all the killings go on. Americans won’t work for $10/hr even if they get a guaranteed income — ergo, gangs (gangs also absorb what I call the out-of-their-own-control teen delinquents which is my personal explanation for the big national drop in crime — different topic). If McDonald’s with 25% labor costs can pay $15/hr, then, Target and Walgreen’s can pay $20/hr with 10-15% labor costs and Walmart can pay $25/hr with only 7% labor costs.
This is what the blue collar areas that have lost manufacturing jobs need to benefit by — even if that means they have to move out of old job locales. The money is there — unions can easily get. Don’t forget: when thoroughly unionized we will have the same political money as the oligarchs and most all the votes.
Note well: if one big segment gets more money in pay, that segment spends more — proportionately more for the most part at lower income businesses. This example of low paid workers in a higher end restaurant that constantly gets attention is a split-screen example — is the exception that proves the rule. Lower wage workers aren’t going to spend at higher end restaurants of course so there may be no compensating their lost business; but that’s sort of the idea, we get to spend where we eat. Upshot is: higher wage can mean even higher employment (your local McDonald’s will benefit — min wage already squeezing as much as possible out of Mickey’s customers; now his customers will have more to spend).
Your heart is in the right place but you go way beyond the possible. There are 27 right to work states, unions have almost no chance to survive let alone to grow.
You need to be a little more realistic, cause face facts, not many are going to vote for a WalMart greeter to make $25/hour.
Tell that to the Target workers. Wouldn’t they vote for a union? If so, they will vote for anyone who pass a regularly scheduled union election labor law. Did I mention, federal labor law — not state.
Consumers will support $25/hr Walmart greeter with their dollar/votes — if they want them to show up for work. Bottom 40% now getting 11.3% of overall income — easy enough to get them up to 20% — cost top 59%, 14% of their income but they want the 40% to come to work. Anyway, let the market decide — who can disagree with that; but first their has to be a free labor market. Fed min was $12/hr in 1968 at something like half today’s per capita income — ridiculous to be almost half that today.
Federal min wage under performs Malthus. Since 1968 population gained 65%. In preindustrial world per capita income would have dropped 60%. Mind you that compares to the preindustrial world which did not have per capita economic growth. B fed min dropped 70%.
Everything you say makes sense. The idea that unions are going to thrive in a right to work state is a fantasy. Just like it is a fantasy to suppose a WalMart greeter is going to go on strike unless they make $25/hr.
Almost every single one of them is living paycheck to paycheck. A strike would put them out on the streets. Your heart is in the right place, but you’re divorced from reality.
You can probably count on one hand the number of unions who have half decent strike funds. WalMart workers would have nothing.
You need to work on your math.
It Was Very Helpful
Craft trades and manufacturing unions were the ones I knew personally. Back when EEO was beginning to be enforced, I knew union members who were angry that the union was deferring to the law and supporting the hiring of blacks. Some employers exploited those divisions to demonstrate that their workers didn’t want to be in unions.
I am just saying that the obvious need for unionism may not be so obvious to groups who historically did not benefit from it. Like most institutions in this country, it was another form of white privilege for much of its history, and needs to address that directly.