Thursday Night Owls. J.C. Pan: Poverty numbers leave out far too many economic strugglers

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But it’s also the case that the official poverty numbers alone have never fully captured the scope of economic strain in this country, and that millions of people in the United States hover just above the poverty line or continually drift back and forth across it. (The official label for the group that doesn’t quite make the poverty cutoff is “near poor,” a distinction that I suspect is little comfort to those who might be able to pay their utility bills one month but know they won’t the next.) The weekly $ 600 unemployment supplement and no-strings checks supplied by the Cares Act didn’t just pull back people from the brink of disaster but also demonstrated that there’s little other than political inertia that keeps the government from providing every person with the resources needed not just to clear the low bar of the poverty line but to live a decent and dignified life.

Most of our existing measurements of poverty also raise the question of low expectation when it comes to how people live and what they deserve. If the highest aspiration of our present policy regime is to lift people out of poverty, as the refrain often goes, what kind of life does that guarantee? Shouldn’t we reach for more than whatever rests just above abject misery? […]

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“Before we invented civilization our ancestors lived mainly in the open out under the sky. Before we devised artificial lights and atmospheric pollution and modern forms of nocturnal entertainment we watched the stars. There were practical calendar reasons of course but there was more to it than that. Even today the most jaded city dweller can be unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these years it still takes my breath away.”
          ~~
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—Post-debate thoughts:

In Isaac Asimov’s 1955 book Franchise, a supercomputer chooses a “voter of the year” to decide the fate of the election. Then, that person answers a series of questions which the computer uses to decide the results of the election.

Joe Sixpack thought he had hit the jackpot, but unfortunately for him, the fictional “Joe the Plumber” got the gig.

Or at least, that’s what I learned from John McCain, in between his angry outbursts and snorting.

On substance, I actually thought McCain had his best performance thus far, when not distracting with his weird facial expressions and snorting. But still, Obama is on another level altogether. Perhaps if Romney or Giuliani was the nominee these would be fairer contests, but it’s not even close. And while McCain seemed better prepared than in the previous debates, tonight was also the wingnuttiest McCain has looked all campaign. All the veneer of being a moderate was stripped away as he derisively tossed aside the notion of “health of the mother”. The notion was a insult to his sensibilities!

Not that it matters. There was nothing here tonight that would change minds. Given that Obama has already broken 50 percent nationally and in the key battleground states, and that a significant percentage of voters have already cast their early votes, McCain needed to radically transform the shape of the race. That means a home-run performance coupled with an Obama collapse. Neither happened.

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, Daily Kos reports

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