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LINK Americans Want to Believe Jobs are the Solution to Poverty

This article is excellent. Not a soundbite, a thorough examination of the conditions and biases that millions of Americans are facing.
I feel that the bias in place goes a long way in keeping conditions as they are. Too many people are unaware.
In my state the minimum income for receiving aid - food and insurance - was lowered by $3,000 from 2017 to 2018. The result of that - a full time minimum wage earner is now forced to buy insurance and go hungry.
-ask my son, the full time college student , full time worker, who is now without health insurance.

By AmiSue8
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This was a great read, thank you for posting @AmiSue.

Over my working career I have been a card carrying union member in two industries - shipping and airline. And I also moved into management in the airline industry to manage workers in the union to which I once belonged. There is no question in my mind that organized labor in the US is directly responsible for much of the worker benefits and rules in place today - vacation time, overtime rules, holiday pay, health benefits, etc. Unions also got the blame for the shutdown of significant industries (auto, steel and shipping), unfairly as I see it.

We are told that our standard of living is not competitive, labor wise, in the global economy. This is the mantra of manufacturing companies that move their factories off shore, or contract out to cheaper labor markets. And we are also told it is necessary to maintain affordability to certain products. But when the money is followed, this reasoning really exposes that it is greed that puts the increase in profits above the fairness to workers. That "moral necessity to make as much money as you can [for corporations and shareholders]" benefits only those at the top.

Those corporations have paid for this privilege through ownership of the legislature, and had their constituency of the government codified through the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United. There are few actual benefactors of the US workers left in Congress. All benefits go to the few. The only way we change this is to start voting these incumbent money grabbers and sellouts out of office, and electing more progressive representatives.

Byrdsfan Level 8 Sep 13, 2018

Agreed. Well put.

Good afternoon Steve!
Sounds like you had an interesting career. I worked for Airborne Express for 9 years back in the 80s. Airlines (for me, cargo carriers) were quite a complex business model to understand.
I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and witnessed what happens when a union becomes greedy. The UAW created an unsustainable business model for both the GM and Delphi operations. The Union demands became so burdensome that all plants here were shut down. The same thing happened to the NCR company back in the 50s/60s. In both cases, all those jobs moved to southern states, or overseas. Now, it wasn't just the unions that did this. Poor management and I'm sure greed on that side of the table was equally at fault. My point is that greed anywhere in the logistics/manufacturing chain eventually destroys an organization. And unions are just as guilty at overreaching as managment.

@bigpawbullets Oh, no question. In the case of the Seamans' Unions, operating costs of [US] flag carriers made them non-competitive, and most major shipping lines including SeaLand Container Lines, for which I worked, moved most of their fleets and registries (mostly Liberia) off shore to be able to operated them at a profit. Much cheaper to crew with foreigners than with US union members.

The passenger airline business was a bit more nefarious. After de-regulation in the late 70s, the price and route competition led to a situation where airlines were, on the most competitive routes anyway, pricing their product (passenger seat mile) below cost. Add to that a corporate restructuring where a new parent company was created, and former airline departments (freight, reservations systems) were spun off into other profit centers. This move allowed the parent company to charge the airlines - which were the cash cows - exorbitant rates for services that were formerly provided by and still "owned" by the airline. This allowed the parent company to be quite profitable, but to then claim to airline employees that they were "losing money" and had to either take lesser contracts or as in many cases, declare bankruptcy, and vaporize pension plans in the process. Insidious. Fortunately, for me, American did not vaporize their pension plans, like United among others, and I still collect mine.

As you pointed out, many unions were short-sighted in ignoring economic trends, while still trying to hold out for that big contract increase. They certainly own much of the downfall of their own influence, but I still believe the enactment of "Right to Work" laws in many states set a very difficult environment for organized labor.


An example of ingrained bias-
After I posted this I was overwhelmed with the need to express that I personally don't feel entitled to a 'handout'. That I've busted my ass my entire life and will until I drop just to provide for my family.
The impossible situation created by the new restrictions - My home, yes I own a house, is surely going into foreclosure as a direct result of now having to purchase health insurance and food. I received a pittance in food help after losing my FT job - 1 of 3 jobs - back in April.
I grew up comfortably middle class, have a college degree,and live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country.
The problem is NOT what people have come to view it as, it is much more complex.

AmiSue Level 8 Sep 13, 2018

Interesting read. Thanks for posting it Ami.
I'll have to read it a few times to absorb the entire thing. The two things that popped out the first pass through are:
1) Upward mobility is in fact, a myth. I believe that this has been true throughout our country's history. That's why it makes such a great story when it occasionally happens.
2) with the above stated, the fact that we've a "caste" system here in America becomes evident. I'll have to reread the article, but I'm betting that the young mother is in the same situation her mother was in. I'd be curious as to the economic lifestyle of the's population. Are you in the same "class/caste" as your parents? I am, and our kids are. Breaking out and up is not usually an option. So, to follow my thought further... does this mean that the "living below the poverty-line" is the fate of a caste of people which cannot, except in rare cases, be changed? That's depressing.

It is depressing and you have good questions. You know my personal story very well; the 'caste' bias does not apply to me.

I'd say yes. I'm not disabled, as my mother was but despite my hard work and good education: I'm almost exactly where she was at my age.


Yes. There is massive denial about the plight of the working poor in the U.S. people come up with every excuse and reason to blame the workers when it's these massive corporations refusing to pay people a living wage so CEOs and shareholders can get massive payouts. Well past time we were out in the streets demanding change.

that seems to me like pretty much it in a nutshell.


the NYT site isn't cooperating. however I would say that it's pretty obvious capitalism is not the solution.

hankster Level 9 Sep 13, 2018

Shoot! Try and track it down. Author is Mathew Desmond.
It really lays out the fact that just like 'socialism' is a dirty word here 'poverty' elicits a strong and erroneous bias. I believe that bias is powerful in thwarting positive change.

@AmiSue i will... and i agree.

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