Is this the yellow brick road?
7 January 2010
Some six million Americans—one in 50 people in the US—are living on no income other than $100 or $200 a month in food stamps, according to an
analysis of state data by the New York Times. The number of people who reported that they are unemployed and receive no cash aid—neither welfare,
nor unemployment insurance, pension benefits, child support or disability pay—the newspaper reported, has jumped by 50 percent over the last two
years, as the recession has taken hold.
According to the January 3 article, the number of people reporting no income tripled in Nevada over the past two years, doubled in Florida and New
York, and increased nearly 90 percent in Minnesota and Utah. In Wayne County, Michigan—which includes Detroit, where half the population is
unemployed or underemployed—one out of every 25 residents reports an income of only food stamps. In Yakima County, Washington, the figure is one out
of every 17.
The figures reveal the vast scale of human suffering in the US as the new decade begins and puts the lie to talk of an economic “recovery.” The 6
million people in households reporting no income—which includes 1.2 million children—is equivalent to the entire population of Indiana or
Massachusetts, or the combined populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston.
Such a social catastrophe underscores the indifference of the Obama administration, which has done virtually nothing to provide relief to those who
have lost their jobs, homes and livelihoods—even as it spares no expense to shore up the fortunes of the financial elite and fund its ongoing
“Many of those who would have received cash assistance in past recessions are not getting it now,” Judy Putnam, a spokesperson for the Michigan
League for Human Services, told the World Socialist Web Site. “Only a third of the state’s children living in poverty are getting cash assistance
compared with two-thirds before ‘welfare reform’ in 1996. People in Michigan are heavily dependent on food stamps.”
The social crisis facing working people—depression levels of unemployment, home foreclosures, the growth of hunger, poverty and homelessness—is
the most graphic expression of the failure of capitalism, an economic system that benefits the wealthy few at the expense of the vast majority.
In the midst of this worsening situation for the working population, it was reported last week that the top three banks—Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan
Chase and Morgan Stanley—which received tens of billions in public funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program—will hand out $49.5 billion in
end-of-year cash bonuses and stock awards. All told, US banks will dispense an estimated $200 billion in total compensation.
The Obama administration is continuing and accelerating the transfer of wealth from working people to those who are responsible for precipitating the
worst economic breakdown since the Great Depression.
Nearly a year after his inauguration, President Obama has demonstrated he is nothing but a tool of the financial oligarchy. The very future of the
working class depends on the development of a mass socialist movement against this administration, both big business parties, and the profit system
which they defend.