Economics

Decent Poverty Report: Own Goal!!

To watch PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE is to spend time with an American who saw deeply into the nature of society and its institutions. For a time his voice was very much in vogue, and he was widely admired and quoted by influential young activists. He wasn't a "pundit" in the contemporary sense of having tailor-made opinionated commentary for every news cycle.

The Society I Live In Is Mine

Paul Goodman was a public figure who did not shrink from taking action in support of his beliefs. In the biopic PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE you'll see him alongside draft resisters; speaking out at peace rallies; going before the Board of Ed with radical reform proposals for New York City schools; advocating the banning of cars from Manhattan; and telling elite defense contractors they're the world's most dangerous men. Goodman's formal career in politics advanced no further than a school board position on Manhattan's west side.

A Pox on Both Your Houses

The Economy. The Ecology.

From the Greek, oikos: house, dwelling.

Which house do we really live in?

Which house shall we huff and puff and blow down?

For one of them will have to go;

that much we can hardly fail to know.

Thank heavens for the depression of 2008 and 2009. It's a miracle. I say this sincerely. For because of this depression, my country managed to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions for two consecutive years.

Decent Poverty Report: The Guaranteed Income

Well, folks, here comes the austerity, with asperity. Will the rich, who have gained so disproportionately over the past two decades, shoulder their share of the sacrifice? December's tax debate gave us the answer to that one. How about the military?

state of union, state of world

A lot of news has been happening lately, from Tunisia to Tucson. For those of us whose heartstrings vibrate merrily at the thought of revolution, it's pleasant to watch the Tunisian fever turning into a prairie fire across North Africa. Is Hosni hosed? Are they diggin' it across the Arabian peninsula and sayin' "Ye, men?" Are we digging the Palestine Papers, an autopsy on the corpse of the so-called peace process? Are we digging in our heels?

Are we enjoying the so-called resurgence of our great black-and-white changey-hope of a president?

Decent Poverty Report: Poverty and Misery

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson launched his War on Poverty, a phrase attributed specifically to the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act and more broadly to his administration's efforts to expand the social safety net and improve education, housing, job training, and health care. The writer and social gadfly Paul Goodman was at the height of his popularity in 1964.

Decent Poverty Report: Necessities

Today was a momentous day for our family, and not just because we celebrated the solstice. We got a home phone, a landline, after going cellphone-only for nearly three years. We did it mostly for our daughter, largely because of concerns about radiation but also because we want her to know the experience of having a "real" phone that's as much hers as ours, dialing one, answering one, using the answering machine, knowing people's numbers.

Decent Poverty Report: Bust and Boom

This reporter's parents were born in the early 1930s. Their worldview was formed by their Depression-era childhood, by World War II, and by the postwar era in which they grew to adulthood. They had the good fortune, and the talent, to follow in their own lives the trajectory of the American economy's greatest bust-to-boom. But their values remained Depression values, so they were always more grounded than giddy as they ascended toward material success. An aphorism my father taught me expresses what I mean concisely: "Once you're poor, you're never rich."

This reporter was born in 1967.

Decent Poverty Report: Planning Ahead

Unlike millions of Americans, I have had the good fortune to survive well into adulthood without accumulating any debt. To be honest, it's not something for which I deserve any... well, let's not say credit, let's say praise. The fact is I've been privileged by my parents' efforts, talents, and good fortune. They both worked all through their adult lives and both had very rewarding careers, easily surpassing their own parents on the ladder of success. It so happens that their early adulthood years coincided with the peak years of the U.S.

Decent Poverty Report: our depression

I don't know why so few people utter the word "depression" to describe the economic conditions in America over the past year or two. I suppose some people believe on principle that as long as things don't get as bad as they got at the nadir of the thirties—and they haven't—we're not entitled to the word. Certainly the corporate news media and those who take their cue from them, patrolling the public discourse like vigilantes, wouldn't think of using it.