The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved. Photo By Burim (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Seniors Alvin and Eva Johnson spend most their time these days figuring out tough choices instead of the traveling they dreamed of when they retired a few years ago. They decide between going to doctor’s appointments, filling prescriptions or purchasing food. Their mortgage has been paid off, as well as their 27 year old car, leaving them only their daily living expenses to contend with.
But Alvin and Eva, like many seniors these days, have seen their fixed incomes not go far enough. They are able to live independently in their modest 938 square foot home, but the monthly checks leave little for the unexpected. “Our furnace broke two years ago,” Eva says. They were able to get the needed repairs before winter, but still have not finished paying for them. “It’s a good thing George (the repairman) knows us,” Alvin explains. “He sees us at church so knows we are doing the best we can.”
There is little chance that things for the Johnsons and other seniors will change for the better any time soon. Washington seems to have little interest in including these people in the discussion about poverty, entitlements and income inequality – and especially in the conversation about increasing the federal minimum wage.
In the discussion of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, we often hear all the advantages this will bring.Here are what the experts are saying, after conducting their research and studies on the issue:
- 27.8 million workers would see their wages go up as a direct or indirect result of the boost
- The growth in the U.S. economy would result in about 85,000 new jobs
- 4.6 million people would rise above the poverty line
- The increase would reduce the ranks of the nation’s poor by 6.8 million
These forecasters and economists, together with their commentators and pundits, have left completely out of the discussion a very important segment of America’s population if this plan is adopted in its present form. In all the discussion there has been no inclusion mentioning how this segment will be brought up income levels that do not threaten their survival even more.
By Woodennature (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Have you stopped to think about the effects this will have on those who live on social security or disability benefits? The monthly benefits for these groups are figured using a COLA formula on an annual basis. As COLA remains relatively consistent compared to fluctuations in wages, this formula will not automatically adjust benefit amounts to recipients of the programs, resulting in an even wider gap between the bottom wage earners and those living on social security or disability fixed incomes.
This move will widen even more the gap these two vulnerable groups face in their struggle to manage day-to-day life on limited incomes. Here are a few more facts for you to consider:
- One in seven seniors live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau
- 4.8 million Americans over 60 are food insecure, doubling since 2001
- Approximately 3.5 million seniors live in poverty, according to Census figures, but that number rises to about 6.2 million when health care costs are factored in
- Homeless rates among the elderly will climb by 33 percent within a decade’s time
Until the national discussion takes into account our seniors and vulnerable, any talk of raising the minimum wage will result in even more impoverished conditions for these people. The great tragedy of the failed “trickle down economics” theory is still making grandma live without basic needs, while we talk about “family values” and our “Christian” nation. The war on the poor needs no ammunition or uniform – just a public with blinders will suffice.
Macro economics, anyone?