From Volume 36, Issue 46 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 27, 2009

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Nearly 15% of Americans were 'Food Insecure' Last Year

Nov. 16 (EIRNS)—Globalization kills. In a land that even a generation ago could produce food surpluses that could provide nutrition to a world beyond its borders, a year ago 14.6% of households were "food insecure at least some of the during the year" 2008, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today.

More than a third of the " food insecure," or 5.7% of the total, had "very low food security," meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced, and their eating patterns were disrupted at times because the household lacked money and other resources for food. "Prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security were up from 11.1% and 4.1%, respectively, in 2007, and were the highest recorded since the first national food security survey was conducted in 1995."

But the USDA would prefer you think about it this way: "Eighty-five percent of American households were food secure throughout the year in 2008, meaning they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members."

Yet President Obama, the man who pushed through trillions in bailout money for the banks, boasted during his Asia trip: "I signed into law last month [a bill that] invests $85 million in new strategies to prevent children from experiencing hunger in the summer."

Obama contended, "My Administration is committed to reversing the trend of rising hunger. The first task is to restore job growth, which will help relieve the economic pressures that make it difficult for parents to put a square meal on the table each day...."

Will Local Governments Disappear Without Federal Reorganization?

Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Two events in Washington, D.C. yesterday focused on the crisis faced by U.S. local governments. Unemployment in U.S. cities is "staggering, well-beyond the national figures," past president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Trenton's Douglas Palmer, told the Economic Policy Institute audience: 17% in Trenton, N.J.; 14.9% in Providence, R.I.; 13.4% in Las Vegas, Nev.; and 19.4% in National City, Calif. "I can't go to the grocery store, or walk down the street, without people coming up to ask for a job," Palmer said; every Senator and Congressman should "walk down the street of any community" to get in touch with reality.

The National League of Cities/Brookings Institution event concentrated on the bankruptcies of the cities: Nine out of ten city finance officers report that they don't know how to balance their budgets in 2009—and it's getting worse.

The League begged for Federal money so that cities can "establish public service employment programs," hiring people to do such things as maintain properties left vacant by the collapse, and invest in transportation; they asked for aid to lower borrowing costs for municipal bond issuers and facilitate financing for local capital projects.

Will State Governments Disappear Without Federal Reorganization?

Nov. 18 (EIRNS)—The disappearance of state tax revenues in the depression collapse, combined with urgent service demands arising from mass unemployment, hunger, and lack of health care, are starting to drive states beyond "budget crisis," to existential threat of disintegration of state government. California under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is closest to disaster. President Obama has repeatedly ruled out special aid to the state; Lyndon LaRouche has warned that it, and soon other states, must be taken into a kind of Federal bankruptcy protection, or they will not survive as states. LaRouche has also emphasized the leading role California should play in a U.S. Four Power Pacific-oriented economic renaissance, along with China, Russia and India.

Less than six months after monstrous budget cuts of $15 billion, combined with new taxes, were forced on the state legislature by Schwarzenegger, California is facing a new $21 billion shortfall. Next year's budget (fiscal years 2010-11) is already expected to face a $21 billion shortfall. This includes the postponement of an approximate $8 billion shortfall which remains in the FY 2009-10 budget, into the next budget.

A state official told EIR that the $21 billion shortfall is based on estimates of an economic recovery beginning in January 2010, with a forecast that the revenue shortfall will begin to ease! The official admitted that this is a "highly unlikely scenario."

Were California to make new budget cuts of this magnitude, it would have eliminated nearly 40% of its total budget spending, in four years—from approximately $105 billion, to approximately $65 billion, in each two-year budget! Competent state authority would not survive.

Other states which, on smaller scales, are similarly threatened, include Illinois, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. The last, after cutting $7 billion from its $70 billion FY 2009-10 budget, already projects at least another $3 billion shortfall in the next budget, as tax revenues keep falling far below forecasts. All state agency budgets may be reduced by 15%. "These budget numbers are scary. They're going to have a grave impact on the citizens," said one Democratic state delegate.

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