Grim before the storm


A snapshot of working America was not a pretty picture even before the Wall Street crash.


Adapted from Despotism (1946)

Before the recession/depression even hits, average Americans are worse off in many ways than average people in most other major industrialized countries.

So there’s reason for great concern about how we would fare under a drastically worsening economy.

I mentioned earlier today that there’s a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America 2008/2009, that would justify your getting a bailout from the U.S. Treasury.

Not socialism (which is what the banks are getting) and not welfare (which is what other corporations have been getting and are getting even more of).

How about just some sound social-welfare policies?

In sum, most Americans are relatively worse off in many ways than people in 19 other industrialized powerhouse countries (Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).

Here are some factoids from the report:

Per capita income: Norway first, U.S. second.

Income inequality: U.S. first (meaning worst) “Despite the relatively high median income in the United States, inequality in the United States is so severe that low-income households in the United States are actually worse off than low-income households in all but four peer countries.”

Overall poverty rate: U.S. highest.

Child poverty rate: U.S. highest.

Elderly poverty rate: U.S. third-highest.

Leisure time: U.S. last. “The average full-time U.S. worker, at 46.7 weeks per year, works more than the average worker in any peer countries, and about one month more than the overall average, which is 42.6 weeks.”

Maternity leave: “The United States [ranks] last among its peer countries in generosity of mandated maternity leave benefits.”

Child care: The United States spent $1,803 per child, which was less than a fourth of what was spent in Denmark, less than a third of what was spent in Norway and Sweden, less than half of what was spent in Finland and France, and well below spending in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

More from this report in future posts.