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The current US growth hides a distorted economic landscape
Incidentally, whenever President Bush assertively claims or loads his speeches with his trademark ‘adjectives’, it invariably calls for a detailed scrutiny, for obvious reasons. And this time it has to do with the claims he has been propagating on the “stupendous” American recovery since 2001 under his aegis. Well, all macroeconomic indicators substantiate his claims as they go on to indicate that it has been a fourth consecutive year of economic recovery. Surprisingly, between the so called economic upswing, poverty has accentuated and household income has plummeted since 2001, with no signs of any immediate recovery.
The US today houses a whopping 37 million poor (about 12.7% of American population), which includes almost 13 million children. Logically, this scenario comes across as an irony to any economic recovery, and that too when it has not only been sustained, but has grown over a four year period. As a matter of fact, the poverty rates in the US have been rising every year since 2000 when it was 11.3%. Eventually, it has been on the rise to touch 12.7% in 2004, bludgeoning another 5.4 million people – including 1.4 million children – to destitution. As America Inc. has been milking profits at unprecedented levels, the figures also go on to state how skewed the American economic growth (3.5% for year 2005, 5.6% for Q1 2006; IMF) has been since long. Poverty and recovery are a simultaneous American reality today.
The worst is, those are Hispanics and African Americans who have been at the receiving end, with around 22% and 25% respectively living in poverty. The situation is grimmer for American women and children. Researches indicate that American women are nearly 40% more vulnerable to live in poverty than their counterparts. It is appalling that a majority of adult women are still engaged for a minimum wage of just $5.15 an hour since 1997; and recent trends also indicate that even these wage rates have been moving southwards. Moreover, they just make around 77 cents, when compared to every dollar made by their male counterparts. As far as children are concerned, reports state that in the US today, a child is born into poverty every 43 seconds, and every quarter of an hour a child dies from causes related to poverty. Even then, under the Bush administration, around 19% of children living in poverty still remain deprived of insurance cover.
Unbearable health costs, sky rocketing housing costs, and rising education costs are further making the already grim scenario worse. For a majority of the American poor, it is a sordid saga of ever escalating prices, unending unemployment and perennial debt. Even a year after the hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, there has been an enduring failure on the part of administration to re-establish devastated homes, causing irrevocable damages to blacks and poor Americans.
In such a scenario, where a country is not providing with dedication to its downtrodden and disadvantaged classes, it is clearly outrageous for any President to trumpet about a “stupendous economic recovery.” If the Bush Administration does not get its act together, then the “American poor” – which today sounds like an oxymoron, would surely be an axiom tomorrow.
By:- The IIPM Think Tank
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