By Sherwood Ross
It used to be that when the National Urban League(NUL) spoke up it was to spotlight the plight of second-class African-Americans suffering from segregation and discrimination.
Now when its President Marc Morial speaks, the phrase “most Americans” creeps into his rhetoric because the sub-basements of America where the country has dumped so much of its black population are becoming jammed with an influx of poor whites as well.
And it’s great that Morial speaks out. When was the last time you heard a public figure talk about helping the “poor”? Politicians, for example, are always out to help the “middle class,” as if poor folks don’t exist.
Conservatives have demonized the poor as “lazy” spongers when, in fact, they are doing the hardest, dirtiest work, yet cannot make ends meet, toiling in virtual slavery, often lucky to have two or three part-time jobs.
Reporting on the NUL’s latest State of Black America document, Associated Press said, “African-Americans and Latinos are losing economic ground when compared with whites in the areas of employment and income…” But whites are losing ground, too. As CBS News has found, more than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks. At least 46 million Americans today can be said to be poor. If not for food stamps, the count would be millions higher.
As Morial put it: “While ‘too big to fail’ corporations went into the bail-out emergency room and recovered to break earnings and stock market records, most Americans have been left in ICU with multiple diagnoses of unemployment, underemployment, home losses and foreclosures, low or no savings and retirement accounts, credit denials, cuts in education and school funding—and the list of maladies continues.”
“There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front,” says William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who is an authority on race and poverty.
According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of Americans in poverty climbed from 12.2% in 2000 to 15.9% in 2012. And of this 15.9%, the Kaiser Family Foundation of Washington, D.C. tells us, blacks make up the largest number, at 35%, followed by Hispanics, 33%, whites 13%, and others 22%.
As CBS News reported last July: “Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.” That’s a story about all Americans, whites included, not just the black minority.
CBS said further, “Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy ‘poor.’
Marriage rates are in decline across all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of black ones, CBS found.
So where is the money going? If the poor, white and black alike, are suffering, maybe it’s because so-called “defense” contractors are eating their lunch.
According to the National Priorities Project, “fiscal year 2015 military spending is projected to account for 55 percent of all federal discretionary spending…greater than military spending of the next 10 largest countries combined.” Add it up and you’ll find Washington is spending as much, or more, on war as all 50 states collect in taxes to spend for peace.
Thus, Federal domestic spending is neglected as the the Bush and Obama regimes waged war around the world. Countries attacked by America include Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. In just the Obama years, he spent $250-billion on HUD but $4 trillion on “defense” (aka “aggression”)—money that could remake America into a garden spot.
That’s 16 times as much for war as housing and at a time when no foreign nation is threatening America. By the way, study after study shows that spending for military purposes does not begin to stimulate the economy as does spending at home for peace.
Americans need to ask themselves, “Is this where I want my tax dollars to go?” Do you really want to keep the drone war going in Pakistan?
Here is a list of some of the big winners while more Americans of all races sink deeper into poverty. Note that their profit margins are usually around a hefty 10%. Following are arms sales, profits, and products, according to Business Insider: #1 Lockheed Martin, $35.7-b (billion), 2.9-b; F-35 fighter; #2, Boeing, $31.4-b; 2.9-b; fighter planes; #3 Northrop Grumman, $28-b, $2-b, drones and nukes; #4 General Dynamics, $24-b; 2.6-b, tanks and ships; #5 Raytheon, $23-b; $1.9-b, missiles; #6, L-3 Communications, $13-b; 96-million, intelligence gathering; #7 United Technologies, $11.4-b; $4.7-b, helicopters; #8, SAIC, $8.2-b; $618-million; engineering; #9 OshKosh, $7-b; $790-million, trucks; #10, Computer Sciences, $6-b; $96-million, intelligence gathering.
Back in 1972, when Sen. George McGovern ran for the presidency, he declared, “For every bomb that falls in Viet Nam a house somewhere in America collapses from neglect.” Nobody listened then. Is anybody in the Administration listening now?