In Conclusion

COMPLACENCY

I began this short article series by asking one question – Why is it I  have always felt I could never catch a break financially? 

I believe I have answered that question to my satisfaction. In researching these articles I have discovered the following –

  1. Poor people and minorities are being systematically marginalized and kept in poverty in the United States.
  2. The Privileged classes scapegoat and ride the backs of the poor & minorities and are never held accountable.
  3. Wealth and complacency of the Privileged classes works to create a “Matrix” effect on the poor population – we are told that we are completely responsible for our poverty when, in fact, the opposite is true.  We are caught in a socio-economic structure designed to keep us poor and under the control of the upper classes as a way to safeguard their resources by limiting our access to them.
  4. Poor people and minorities are dying and being killed at an alarming rate in this country when compared to the rest of the population. Which is skewing the political landscape to provide less and less help to the underprivileged.
  5. The so-called “Opioid Epidemic” is not an equal opportunity killer – it is killing mostly people who live in poverty.
  6. All of the above mentioned issues, including wealth inequality, are growing exponentially worse over time.

Very few people were willing to read these articles – I know why.  They uncover a painful and frightening truth about the United States of America. People would rather watch cat videos on Facebook or fight with each other in the comment sections of YouTube over who is “RIGHT?” – the Democrats or Republicans.

And while you are all busy doing that, the most vulnerable among us are dying and being killed at an alarming rate.

People like me, who write articles like this, keep sounding the warning bells and pointing out facts – but no one is willing to listen. Everyone is way too interested in Trumps latest scandals, that last for 15 minutes, and are then buried by the news outlets so that the NEXT one can take it’s place – thus keeping the public entertained and riveted to their seats, but mostly DISTRACTED.

What disturbs me most by this is that the majority of Americans continue to fall for this distraction- on BOTH sides. It’s like a train wreck – none of you can look away.

As a person now in my 60’s with a very curious and creative mind – I have so many other things I want and need to do with my limited time left on the planet.

So I shall leave this with you  – and perhaps someday, someone else will Google – “Why can I  never catch a break financially?”  And they will happen upon this blog.

Puppet Show

Who Profits

Self-Medicating the Pain of Poverty

Have you ever wondered about the recent rise of the “Opioid Epidemic”? I did, and this is what I discovered about it –

OpioidDeathsByTypeUS

Prescription opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the US. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that as of 2011, the rate of overdose deaths from opioid prescription drugs, including popular pain relievers containing oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid) were highest in states with higher poverty levels.

U.S. Opioid Overdoses Cluster in Centers of Poverty

MONDAY, March, 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Poverty may be fueling America’s opioid crisis, a new study suggests.

Of the more than 515,000 Americans who have died from drug overdoses since 2006, most lived in poor areas where there were few job opportunities, researchers discovered.

It turns out that economic and social conditions appear to be driving the geographic differences in overdose rates, with some parts of the country bearing heavier burdens than others, said study author Shannon Monnat, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University in New York.

“The drug epidemic is a pressing concern among policymakers, but the media portrayal of the drug overdose epidemic has largely been that it is a national crisis, with the common refrain that ‘addiction does not discriminate,’ ” Monnat said.

Although this is technically true, some places in the United States have much higher drug death rates than others, she said.

John Auerbach, president and chief executive officer of the Trust for America’s Health, agreed that until poverty and lack of job opportunities are recognized as risk factors, the drug epidemic will continue unabated.

“There is a strong correlation between drug use and overdoses and social and economic factors in the lives of people,” said Auerbach, who wasn’t connected to the study. “As we grapple with opioids, we have to think about more than just treatment and overdose, we also need to think about the social determinants of drug addiction and overdose.”

According to the new report, the overall rate of overdose deaths in U.S. counties was nearly 17 deaths per 100,000 people. But the rate varied widely, depending on county.

In some counties, deaths from drug overdoses topped 100 deaths per 100,000, Monnat found.

Places where deaths were highest included clusters in Appalachia, Oklahoma, parts of the Southwest, and northern California.

West Virginia had the largest difference between the highest and lowest death rates, she added.

Moreover, drug-related death rates were significantly higher in poorer counties and counties with high levels of family distress and in areas dependent on mining, Monnat said.  -Source https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20180326/us-opioid-ods-cluster-in-centers-of-poverty#1

Addiction does discriminate: it hits hardest those who are already down or feel that they will never be able to rise.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, crack cocaine, which was prevalent and visible in poor black communities, was said to be a great threat to the white middle class. In many black communities, before crack took off, unemployment rates had been high and rising, driven by the decline in manufacturing jobs and biased hiring and firing practices.

Now, another drug epidemic is afoot, and white America looks economically a lot more like black America in the 1990s: stable, well-paying jobs are disappearing, replaced by lower-wage positions with far more uncertainty. And criminalizing drug use, while proven not to work, remains the default.

Though advocates like to claim that addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer, in reality, it is far less likely to hit people who have stable, structured lives and decent employment than it is those whose lives are marked by uncertainty and lack of work.

Decades of survey data also show that the addiction rate among the unemployed is usually around twice as high as among those who have jobs.

Source – https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/01/drug-addiction-income-inequality-impacts-recovery

 

 

2 Americas

Book

In her book “Automating Inequality”, Virginia Eubanks explores exactly what I have begun writing about in this blog. I am heartened that she has published it and I feel I am not the only one who is seeing some of the things that are happening here.

“Americans tolerate systems that dehumanize the poor to a degree that would not be tolerated if the systems were designed for other classes.” 

The way I see it there are 2 Americas and half the people who will read this article will think I am delusional or making things up and the other half will knowingly nod their heads because similar things have been happening to them.

I liken my experience of being marginalized into near poverty to “Death by a Thousand Cuts”  (Lingchi (Chinese凌遲), translated variously as the slow process, the lingering death, or slow slicing, and also known as death by a thousand cuts, was a form of torture and execution used in China from roughly 900 CE until it was banned in 1905. 

If you read the first post I made on this blog you will see actual events that have recently happened to me, causing me to create this blog –  but this began decades ago, seemingly random occurrences and happenstances that repeatedly rendered me just poor enough to not be able to invest in something that would truly improve my financial life. No matter how hard I worked (I was working 60 hours a week for many, many years and taking no vacations or expensive nights out in order to save-up my money) I could never get any substantial raises that would lift me out of my income bracket, despite working for a Multi-Billion Dollar corporation for the last 28 years of my career- in fact my hourly rate was capped for 5 years and I was told I had reached the top of my pay grade – and yet all my male co-workers, doing the same work I was doing, were getting raises and making $6.00 to $10.00 an hour more than I was. Thus every time I got hit with a financial burden it would set me back. Something would always go wrong and I would have to spend the money – the car would break down, the cat would get sick and there would be expensive vet bills, I would need surgery and have to take time off work, the rent would be raised, the car registration & insurance fees would higher than expected, the utility bills kept increasing, I would need a $1,500.00 root canal that insurance would not cover, I’d have to pay for new prescription glasses,  also not covered by insurance, my bank would make “errors” to my accounts that would cost me more money, then the stock market crashed in the housing crisis and wiped out 60% of my retirement savings –  just on and on and on ad nauseam. There was no winning this game.

If you just read the above section and are nodding your head “Yes” – I want to tell you something – we are NOT the victims of “Bad Luck”. We are caught in a systematic socio-economic  structure designed to keep us poor, marginalized and afraid.

Because people who are afraid are easy to control.

_______

“The poor get poorer and the rich get richer.”  Many of us have experienced this in small ways in our daily lives in the form of bank fees if our account falls below a certain minimum amount, or in the higher interest rates we pay on a loan given the fact that we don’t have a yacht to put up as collateral.  But lately it seems like this proverb has shifted to “the poor get poorer and holy crap don’t tax the rich — who else is going to generously provide menial minimum-wage jobs to the poor?!

Absent proper government intervention and legal protections, it looks like the proverb is true.  And, examining the shocking growth in income inequality in the United States, it seems reasonable to infer that America is keeping the poor poor and the rich rich through simple inaction. – Source http://www.businesspundit.com/11-ways-america-is-keeping-poor-people-poor/

________

Yet the Economy is still growing! The US economy roared ahead in the second quarter of 2018, growing at an annual rate of 4.1%, its fastest pace in four years, the commerce department announced recently.

But if the economy is still growing, why aren’t conditions improving for EVERYONE? 

wealth distribution

Source – https://www.statista.com/statistics/203961/wealth-distribution-for-the-us/

The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Wolff’s data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period. Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. That gap, between the ultrawealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades.

Income inequality is a growing problem in the United States. The richest Americans have reaped a disproportional amount of economic growth while worker wages have failed to keep pace. And the $1.5-trillion Republican-passed tax cuts from December stand to make the situation worse. – Source https://www.vox.com/2018/7/29/17627134/income-inequality-chart

Who’s eating the Bye-Bye Miss American Pie?

The Pie

But WHY?

Well, if you go to Wikipedia there are pages and pages of fancy reasons for your consideration –

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_income_inequality_in_the_United_Statesthere

but between you and I – it’s just one word …

GREED.

 

Poverty, Death & Politics – The Real Genocide

“The 2017 U.S. Census Bureau’s Official Poverty Measures reports that within the country, 40 million people — more than one in every eight Americans — live in poverty. Almost half of them are categorized as indefinitely in “deep poverty,” living with less than $2 a day.

Put that together with the fact that in the U.S., about 2.6 million people die every year — and most of those deaths are associated with poverty.

That changes U.S. politics. Research has shown that the haves have different political positions from the have-nots. By living longer and healthier lives, the haves have more opportunity to influence the politicians who craft the policies and programs that distribute public goods and services.

Meanwhile, because low socioeconomic status leads people to be sicker and to die earlier, poor Americans have far less chance of shaping political life — or of pursuing the policies that would help improve their health and lengthen their lives, such as improvements in health care, education, child care, neighborhood safety, nutrition, working conditions and so forth.” – From the Washington Post By Javier M. Rodriguez Cristian Capotescu May 31, 2018

Here is a link to their full article:

Poor people die younger in the U.S. That skews American politics.

Read more about their actual study here:

Health disparities, politics, and the maintenance of the status quo: A new theory of inequality

“Political participation of the poor is overall lower because of poverty, bad health and many other factors, but millions of impoverished Americans across the country also die prematurely. For instance, in 2015, research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Social Security Administration revealed that, since 1990, among the bottom quarter of Americans with the least education, life expectancy has either stagnated or decreased. That’s for well over 40 million people.” – Source: Ed Kilgore http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/05/poor-people-often-dont-survive-to-become-seniors-who-vote.html

40 million people.

Death by Inequality: Poverty and Racism Are Killing America’s Children

A new report concludes 600,000 children have died in the United States for no reason over a 50-year period. Thousands more will die this year, and next year, and the year after that. 600,000 is a lot of people. it’s more than the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Or Oakland, California. Or Minneapolis, Minnesota. Or Omaha, Miami, Atlanta, and Milwaukee.

An entire city of children has been lost.

This is the real “death tax.” It’s a tax on poverty, a tax on race, a tax on political powerlessness. And it’s paid with the lives of the innocent.

These deaths should have led every news broadcast and been a banner headline in every newspaper in the country. They would have been, if terrorists had killed these kids. After all, we changed our way of life after 3,000 people died on 9/11.  But after the deaths of 600,000 children, nothing’s changed at all. — Source:

https://www.usw.org/blog/2018/death-by-inequality-poverty-and-racism-are-killing-americas-children

But why kill-off the poor and minorities?

Social cleansing (Spanishlimpieza social) is class-based killing that consists of elimination of members of society considered “undesirable,” including but not limited to the homeless, criminals, street children, the elderly, sex workers, and sexual minorities[clarification needed].[1][2][3] This phenomenon is caused by a combination of economic and social factors, but killings are notably present in regions with high levels of poverty and disparities of wealth.[1][4] Perpetrators are usually of the same community as the victims and are often motivated by the idea that the victims are a drain on the resources of society.[1][5] Efforts by national and local governments to stop these killings have been largely ineffective, and the government and police forces are often involved in the killings, especially in South America.[2][6][7]

Does Any of That Sound Familiar? 

Data collected by the Washington Post on the use of lethal force by police officers since 2015 indicate that, relative to the portion of the population, Blacks are over-represented among all those killed by police under all circumstances.

Screen-Shot-2018-07-10-at-11.40.30-AM

The LGBT Murder Rate Skyrocketed Nearly 90% Last Year

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs calls it “a crisis of fatal violence” against LGBT Americans. Source –http://www.newnownext.com/lgbt-gay-hate-crime-murder-homicide/04/2018/
_____

At Charlottesville – White supremacist Richard Spencer and the Alt Right called for the “peaceful ethnic cleansing” of non-whites. Gee … I wonder what that means?

HateCrimes_2017_1

I am not writing this article to sensationalize the facts or scare anyone. I wrote it to prove the very point of this blog. We, as a species, can no longer ignore the patterns represented here.  We can’t pretend this isn’t happening and go back to our happy little lives thinking it is “just a passing phase” or “someone else will fix it”. Poor people and minorities are dying and being killed at a FASTER RATE than the privileged middle and upper classes in this country.  And if that doesn’t make you stop and think – it should.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

First they came …” is a poem written by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis‘ rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

The Privileged Ride the Backs of the Poor But Are Never Held Accountable

The Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2009

Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, about 5.5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure across the country, according to CoreLogic data. Since Q2 2004–when home-ownership rates peaked–about 7 million homes have been foreclosed on.

forclousers

While about 4.5 percent of white borrowers lost their homes to foreclosure during that period, black and Latino borrowers had 7.9 and 7.7 percent foreclosure rates, respectively. That means that blacks and Latinos were more than 70 percent more likely to lose their homes to foreclosure during that period, – According to The study by the Center for Responsible Lending.

In 2008, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $638, or about 80 percent of the $798 median for their male counterparts.  -U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The stock market did quite well in the wake of the recession. Anyone whose finances survived the initial blast had a chance to regain ground in the recovery—or even profit.

But families with net worth’s closer to the average often have a huge portion of their overall wealth invested in their houses. With the value of that gone, they had little wealth left to reinvest. 

So while families hovering around the average net worth lost 36 percent over the past decade—dropping from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013—people in the top 95th percentile actually gained 14 percent in the same tumultuous period—going from $740,700 in 2003 to $834,100 in 2013.

“Other research, by economists like Edward Wolffat at New York University, has shown even greater gains in wealth for the richest 1 percent of households.” – NY Times

Who made money after 5.5 Million American Homes Were Foreclosed On? 

http_com.ft.imagepublish.prod.s3

Who was Held Accountable

For 5.5 Million American Home Foreclosures?

who was convicted

This Is Not an Accident

I am a 63 year old Caucasian woman, a member of the LGBTQ community, born in the United States of America. I am a USAF veteran, I worked in factories for most of my adult life (44 years) and earned $6.00 to $10.00 LESS an hour than my male co-workers.  I am now retired and live primarily on my Social Security Retirement  – less than $1,800.00 a month.

I was recently the victim of a retirement investment fraud and lost over 28% – $7,000.00 of pre-taxed money I had saved during the years I was working – at the hands of a “highly respected” American investment firm – Keep in mind this happened during a time when all the news outlets have been reporting how GREAT the markets are doing.

2 weeks before this happened I learned that I had been over-billed $75.00 more a month on my health insurance all last year and that I would NOT be refunded the over-paid money and my premiums for next year would be rising by 60%.  A few months prior to this I was informed by the bank that held my mortgage that they had “made an error” when I bought my first house last year and I would have to pay an extra $2,500.00 to them PLUS have my mortgage raised by an additional $100.00 each month.

SIDE NOTE: I had to retire at 62 because I could no longer afford to live in the Bay Area and continue to work – My rent was raised from $1390.00 a month for a 400 square foot apt to $2300.00 a month – a 60.4% increase. During my last 7 years working in Silicon Valley I had my hourly rate capped for 5 years in a row and then received LESS than 1.5% annual raises for 2 years. BTW – I worked for a MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR Corporation that was earning a large profit margin. I had been with this employer for 28 years and had always been given stellar reviews.

I began wondering about all this – either I have the most incredible “bad luck” in the Universe – or there was something else going on here. Could it be that these things are happening to other people?  And if they are – who are they happening to?

Thus, I started looking into it and what I discovered is disturbing – and it’s been happening slowly over years in this country – almost imperceptible as a systematic pattern unless you zoom out your focus  – and oh so easy to ignore if you are living in a place of comfort and privilege, spending your time posting pictures of little kittens and happy little flowers on Facebook – “focusing on the GOOD THINGS in life”, reluctant to even admit that there is suffering and corruption in the world around you – because, Gee, it isn’t happening to YOU. And YOU don’t have to choose between buying groceries or paying your medical bills on a weekly basis.

In this blog I am going to begin illustrating with facts and statistics this systematic marginalization and what amounts to a slow and steady genocide of  American poor and minorities at the hands of the American wealthy and complacent. 

The statistics speak for themselves. By systematically raising the cost of housing, access to healthcare, and higher education in addition to mounting unchecked corruption in financial systems aimed at stripping people of low to moderate income of what little money they have left – the poor and minorities are gradually being pushed farther and farther into poverty, homelessness, illness and death. If only rich white people can afford homes, education and healthcare it does not take a genius to extrapolate where we are headed.

Average wealth has increased over the past 50 years, but it has not grown equally for all groups. Between 1963 and 2016,

Families near the bottom of the wealth distribution (those at the 10th percentile) went from having no wealth on average to being about $1,000 in debt,
those in the middle more than doubled their wealth,
families near the top (at the 90th percentile) saw their wealth increase fivefold,
and the wealth of those at the 99th percentile—in other words, those wealthier than 99 percent of all families—grew sevenfold.
These changes have increased wealth inequality significantly. In 1963, families near the top had six times the wealth (or, $6 for every $1) of families in the middle. By 2016, they had 12 times the wealth of families in the middle.

WealthRaceOverLifetime-avg

 

WealthPercentiles

US-consumer-credit-student-loans-2018-Q1

Homeless Stat

health care

1968-Present_US_CA_SF_Tri-Valley_LDV-Median-Prices