Morning Must Reads: Poverty In The Midst of Plenty

Wide swaths of Americans face the same problem today, too few jobs that pay a decent living. From Sunday, Peter Edelman discusses the lack of good jobs and its relationship to poverty.

With all of that, why have we not achieved more? Four reasons: An astonishing number of people work at low-wage jobs. Plus, many more households are headed now by a single parent, making it difficult for them to earn a living income from the jobs that are typically available. The near disappearance of cash assistance for low-income mothers and children — i.e., welfare — in much of the country plays a contributing role, too. And persistent issues of race and gender mean higher poverty among minorities and families headed by single mothers.

The first thing needed if we’re to get people out of poverty is more jobs that pay decent wages. There aren’t enough of these in our current economy. The need for good jobs extends far beyond the current crisis; we’ll need a full-employment policy and a bigger investment in 21st-century education and skill development strategies if we’re to have any hope of breaking out of the current economic malaise.

And this morning Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele discuss the shortage of good jobs at the heart of the betrayal of the American dream.

As steady work disappears, more and more people work under contracts, wages go down, and of course, some have no work at all. Benefits that middle-class Americans paid for through reduced wages, benefits that promised to make their lives more secure, have been canceled.

And the worst is yet to come, as the privileged and their associates in Congress prepare to initiate slash-and-burn policies, beginning in 2013, to balance the budget 
 largely on the backs of the working middle class. That's when people will learn that they are expected to work until at least the age of 70, assuming that they can find employers willing to hire them at that age and that they are healthy enough to handle full-time employment. At the same time that the government is requiring people to work until they are 70 before retirement benefits are available to them, for most working people, 50 is all too often the new 65 when it comes to employment opportunities for anyone who wants to do anything other than become a greeter at Wal-Mart.

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