Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Mining Poverty

Recall Senators McConnell’s and Graham’s strong opposition to the first COVID relief package? Said it was because they feared it might reduce the incentive of workers in their states to work for low wages; that’s really low wages as in less than a living wages. Mitch and Lindsey, and most of the present day republican party, are miners of poverty. Miners as in get every last possible cent possible out of the working class and personally wheelbarrow it up to those living in the big houses on the hill. Being as they are professionals, Mitch and Lindsey don’t come cheap.

Right to work states are right to mine states. With few exceptions, right to work states are red states. A living minimum wage is an anathema to the miners of poverty.

The miners’ motto: Get every last drop of blood. Though a hand full of democratic members of Congress (think FL) do prenez l’argent, most of the support for poverty mining comes from republican politicians. Faced with regulation or restriction, lenders of payday loans, cash advances, title loans, low wages, and such, turn first to the the republican party.

Another way of obtaining the very last drop is on the spending end. There are stores that deliberately take advantage of poor people. They may do this by way of taking advantage of the customer’s inability to compute price per unit in real-time, their innumeracy, senility, etc. Major grocery chains avoid low-income areas. Dollar stores move in and sell inferior goods for less.

Payday loans take a big cut of the working poor’s wages without hardly lifting a finger beyond signing a political contribution check. Car title loans are a great way of getting at any asset/savings the working poor might have.

Peonage, as practiced in say Alabama, is the cruelest of all the various means of mining poverty. Arrest someone for little or no reason, brand them a felon, then throw them in prison. Once incarcerated, the great state peddles their labor as a source of revenue. Local turkey/chicken/pork processor, general contractor, furniture manufacturer, … hires the the prison labor for a few dollars a day so as to better compete with turkey/chicken/pork processors, general contractors, furniture manufacturers who pay their workers a living wage. Meanwhile, across Alabama, the working class poor are competing for jobs with prison labor. Fine economic model you have there, Mitch and Lindsey.

Disparity

When a Guatemalan family borrows money to pay a coyote to, hopefully safely, smuggle one of their children into the United States, we might yet hear the talking heads refer to it as the search for a better life. Perhaps. More likely it is done out of deep despair. Despair from seeing year after year of failed crops, of failed government, of their country being a failed nation, …. That’s despair, as in the lack of any hope; despair as in desperate.

Despair is not foreign to our shores. Across America, for almost two generations now, we’ve seen too many good paying jobs disappear from our towns and cities; our towns dry up and blow away, our intercities fall farther into disrepair and decay; too many of our own have fallen into despair. Here, in America, we are but yet in the early, hopefully reversible, stages of also becoming a failed government, a failed nation. Here, we see pockets of the escape to drugs, of the resorting to crime, that the citizens of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, have too long seen in abundance.

Most of us, it seems, would like to improve our lot. For the average American, this might mean working a little harder, taking a few night courses, taking the boss fishing, … These are really just trade offs. But, borrowing every cent you can possible borrow and selling your few possessions so that your child just might possibly get a shot at life, that’s a whole different level of like, of want; that’s despair.