Thursday, July 11, 2013

Strategies for Increasing Poverty

The most recent jobs report got a nice spin from the media, who seemed quite excited that 195,000 jobs were created in June. This was presented as a “solid improvement” in the job market. That this didn’t change the unemployment rate of 7.6% was mentioned as an afterthought. Meanwhile, there are over 11 million Americans still out of work, and 37% of those folks are among the long-term unemployed. If we add the number of folks who are underemployed (working part time because they can’t find full time work) the numbers increase to being 22 million. The folks at Planet Money track what they call the broader unemployment rate, which includes the underemployed. That number is about 14%.

These numbers should be of concern. A consumer-based economy is never going to recover if 14% of the population is unable to spend money. Congress has shown their deep concern for jobs and the economy by recently voting for the 37th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. These 37 votes have cost US taxpayers over $53.8 million. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the repeal would add $109 billion to the deficit over the next decade. This is a Congress that is on track to be the most do-nothing Congress in US history, passing fewer bills than any thus far.

What are states across the nation doing in response to the huge numbers of unemployed and underemployed? Well, duh – they’re doing what logic dictates. They’re passing restrictive abortion laws.

Texas just passed a law that dramatically restricts abortions, and outlaws them outright after 20 weeks. The forced birth crowd would have us believe that women get bored with being pregnant, or find it inconvenient, and decide at 5 months pregnant that it’s time to just have an abortion. The reality is that fewer than 2% of abortions occur at this point in a pregnancy. The late term abortion is an agonizing choice, made for health reasons, no matter what the forced gestation crowd tries to tell us. Texas has just sent women a message: “we’d rather let you die.”


Texas is sending out all kinds of messages. Their unemployment rate is 6.5%. The poverty rate in Texas is 18.5% and the child poverty rate is a whopping 25.7%. Texas has the highest number of uninsured children in the nation. That deep concern for the fetus ends at the moment of birth.  Pew Research finds that only 38% of Texans want to make abortion laws stricter. It’s certainly not the will or the work of the people that’s being done by the Texas legislature. 

Ohio has a 7% unemployment rate. The poverty rate is 16.4%, and the child poverty rate is 24%. Ohio’s response? They’ve just passed an abortion bill that forces women to have ultrasounds, and cuts funding for family planning. Rape crisis centers risk losing public funds if they mention abortion. That kind of flagrant limitation of free speech would never, ever be applied to any other law. Governor Kasich signed it on a Sunday night.

Arkansas passed a law (currently blocked by a judge) in May that prevents abortions after 12 weeks. Arkansas has a 7.3% unemployment rate, a 19.5% poverty rate, and a child poverty rate of 28%. It seems those numbers are such a source of pride for the state that they’re desperate to expand them by forcing women to incubate.

Last week in Wisconsin, Scott Walker secretly signed a bill that makes ultrasounds mandatory for women seeking an abortion. If this is a good, necessary thing, why was it done in secret? Wisconsin, by the way, has a 7% unemployment rate, 13 % poverty rate, and an 18% rate of child poverty. Clearly mandatory ultrasounds are the key to changing all that.

Mississippi, Alabama, and Kansas all have court cases pending on restrictive abortion laws. Alabama has a 9.8% unemployment rate, a 19% poverty rate, and 28% of Alabama’s children live in poverty. Mississippi has a 10.5% unemployment rate, a 22.6% poverty rate, and 32% of the state’s children live in poverty. One can only conclude that those numbers are a source of pride, since they’re working so hard to perpetuate them. As for Kansas, their unemployment rate is 5.7% (it’s on the rise), the poverty rate is 13.8%, and the child poverty rate is 19%.

One wonders why, at a time of economic turmoil, the response is to invalidate women’s rights and create more poverty. There’s no interest on the national or state level in job creation – just uterine regulation. The uterus must be the deadliest weapon on the planet, since the desire to regulate it is unparalleled.

North Carolina has tried to graft restrictive abortion language to other bills in recent weeks. One concerned banning Sharia law (the irony!) and the pending bill concerns motorcycle safety. The language to restrict abortion was added in secret to the bills, by Republicans in the legislature. That they have to resort to secrecy and trickery to attempt to pass these kinds of bills tells us all we need to know. This isn’t the people’s business that’s being conducted – it’s throwing red, divisive meat into the public sphere in an effort to distract voters from the things they really should be mad about. Like the utter failure to do anything that will create jobs – especially jobs that pay a decent wage. Forcing women to serve as involuntary incubators isn’t going to rebuild the nation’s economy.

 © 2013 sbruce
published as a biweekly column in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's pretty disgusting what is being allowed to happen. TeaRethugs care absolutely NOTHING for living breathing human beings. They feign to care ONLY for the fetus and once it's born, cast it and its mother off into the wilderness for the wolves to feed on. This may be because collectively, the GOP has the brain of a fetus. Perhaps also because collectively they have all read only one book which was A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and decided that this was the world they wished to create and live in. It's staggering to realize that here in the greatest country in the whole world, THIS is now where we are at. Poor poor frightened white men. And their great leader Mr. Coke/Kotch/Koch however he prefers to disguise his German name, has just announced that families with an income of $34 plus thousand a year are in the 1% is proof positive of delusion.