The Working Poor: 41 Million People

Hopefully a lot of people have seen the video clip where a woman tells George Bush that she works three separate jobs.  Dubya’s response: “Well, isn’t that uniquely American?”  In a way, I hope Dubya is right – I’d hate to see people in other countries having that problem.  If you missed it the first time around, it’s in Michael Moore’s movie Sicko (within the first few minutes).

MSN Money reports in Study: 41 million in U.S. can’t afford basics.  From the article:

About one in five working American families can’t afford basic needs, and many scrape to get by on insufficient income and government aid, policy researchers conclude in a report (.pdf file) released today.


Many of these workers earn too much to qualify for “work supports” such as Medicaid and food stamps, while their employer-provided health insurance doesn’t cover enough of their basic medical costs, according to the report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts.


“We no longer live in a world where having a job means you’re automatically able to make ends meet,” said Heather Boushey, co-author of the report. “Our work-support policies need to be updated to support the millions of families with earners in bad jobs.”

While providing government support for these workers might help in the short-run, that’s clearly a short-sighted solution.  In an era where companies (and the executives who run them) are making record salaries, surely there’s enough money to pay people a reasonable wage.  And wouldn’t it make more sense to make healthcare more affordable.

For once, I agree with Dubya: These problems seem to be uniquely American.  Now if only we didn’t have to wait until after the next election to start hoping for solutions.


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