A Thud of a 'Boom'

Despite George W's recent cheer leading effort to convince us that -- sis-boom-bah, the economy is surging and The Boom Is Back! -- most Americans are shaking their heads and saying, a boom for whom?

With the mass offshoring of both blue-collar and white-collar jobs, and with the Wal-Martization of wages and benefits here at home, it's no longer just the unskilled, down-and-out, abject poor who are left out by our "boom boom" economy, but also skilled, formerly-middle-class workers.

There's a quiet crisis spreading in the America that Washington and Wall Street either never visit or ignore. I'm not talking about the inner cities, but the middle-class suburbs, where even hunger is a growing problem. "Food insecurity," as the jargonists label it, is up by 15 percent in the last four years. That's one and a half million new people now struggling to put food on their tables. One soup kitchen serving 11 Connecticut suburbs says 80 percent of its clients have jobs -- mostly low-wage, no-benefit, Wal-Martized jobs.

Likewise, affordable housing needs have long been ignored by both government and commercial developers, so 94 million of our people now have "significant" housing problems. That's one-third of the population of the richest country on earth. Worse, 40 million of us now have housing problems ranked as "severe," meaning their housing is either severely substandard, severely unaffordable, or both. Housing prices go up, while most people's incomes stay flat or go down... and the affordable housing crisis mushrooms.

Meanwhile, the richest among us get the bulk of federal housing subsidies. Not only do multimillionaires enjoy full mortgage deductibility on their main mansions, but also on their Park Avenue condo, their Aspen getaway home and the summer place at the beach.

If the elites continue to ignore the hard realities faced by a growing majority of us, they'll need to build mighty high fences around their own compounds.


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