From Volume 36, Issue 47 of EIR Online, Published Dec. 4, 2009

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Hunger Haunting the Households of America

Nov. 23 (EIRNS)—A nationwide study, by the charity Meals on Wheels, found that 6 million, or 10% of U.S. seniors went hungry last year. Following a 2008 study of the entire population, this year's report focussed on the elderly. They found that those at greatest risk were among minorities, women, and the less-educated. While hunger was worse in rural locations and in the South, the largest increases in absolute numbers were in the cities. Income was a factor, but 62% of the hungry are actually above the poverty line. Showing the gaunt face of the crisis, the study found that having an infant or young child in the household also increased the likelihood of seniors going hungry, as scarce food was given to the young.

In New York City, the number of people seeking emergency food assistance is up 20.9% over last year, according to a study by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. Despite reporting an increase in (FEMA and other) aid, AP reported that shelters found that demand was still outstripping supply.

Hunger Crisis Stretches Social Safety Net To New Limits

Nov. 25 (EIRNS)—While the international financial meltdown continues to be discussed in terms of a state budget crisis, statistics formerly reserved for so-called Third World countries, in unemployment, nutrition, and food security, make their appearance in America's wealthiest cities. Exemplary is the case of Los Angeles, where one in eight residents faces hunger every day, according to the Jewish Federation's "Blueprint to Reduce Hunger in Los Angeles."

The Blueprint reports that in L.A. County:

Local food pantries are seeing a 50% increase in clients. Only 10% of people who are going hungry every day are homeless; 50% of seniors do not have enough money to buy adequate food; 25% of children are food insecure. The number of people utilizing emergency food services has increased by 41% over 2008, with at least one in six people receiving food aid was identified as never having received assistance in the past. The number of people receiving food stamps is at an all-time high of 750,000. An obesity epidemic has reached 55% of adults and 25% of children; diabetes and high blood pressure/cholesterol have become rapidly growing diseases in low-income communities. This is due to lack of grocery store supermarkets in impoverished regions.

With California statewide unemployment reaching 12.7%, officially, and an already $21 billion budget deficit projected for the next fiscal year, the future of programs comprising the already stressed social safety net remains in jeopardy.

States Face Budget Meltdowns for Next Two Years

Nov. 25 (EIRNS)—The collapse of state budgets, which is already destroying California's government outright, and threatening the same to a half-dozen other states, is going to get much worse for another two years. That is projected in a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The dimensions of the projected collapse facing the governments of states and cities in FY2010-12 is even more notable, in that the EPI report's stated premise is that the Obama "stimulus" act has been a great success and the U.S. is now in an economic recovery! Yet what it is projecting, illustrates economist Lyndon LaRouche's assessment that the economy went over the cliff in October, and is plunging toward "dark age" conditions under Obama's policies.

The EPI report projects that during the three fiscal years from 2010 (which began July 1, 2009) to 2012, state and city governments will have suffered a total of $600 billion in budget revenue shortfalls ($500 billion for states, and $100 billion for localities), of which they calculate about $140 billion is being offset by "stimulus" aid in fiscal year 2010. States have been forced to cut programs continually from their FY2010 budgets, by shortfalls of about $110 billion, nationwide, after the Federal aid is counted in. That aid does not continue after FY2010, so EPI uses the report to demand a new "stimulus"/jobs bill—clearly rejected by the Obama White House.

For FY2011-12, the report projects another $250 billion in state budget shortfalls and $80 billion in cities. Compare that, to the magnitude of all the states' budgets over that two-year period if the financial and economic crash had not occurred: roughly $700 billion. Thus the Federal states as a whole are facing a further shortfall in FY2011-12 which averages 35% of the budget in each state. This will mean an existential collapse of government, with many "Californias" and worse, unless the direction of the entire economy is reversed by the financial bankruptcy reorganization and new credit system measures LaRouche is fighting for.

Dems Face Winter of Discontent and Despair

Nov. 23 (EIRNS)—The Democratic debacle in the Nov. 3 gubernatorial elections, due to economic collapse, unemployment, and popular rejection of White House policies, is going to be evident again in Democratic primaries prior to the 2010 elections, warned a senior AFL-CIO labor leader today. Tea Party demonstrations may give way to mass labor demonstrations against Obama policies by the Spring, he said.

Some Democrats are dropping out before primaries—six-term Congressman Dennis Moore of Kansas City quit today; Texas Senate candidate Tom Schieffer quit Nov. 21; U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd is so far behind in Connecticut that he may be asked to quit by the party.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), speaking in desperate tones about the economic collapse at the California Democratic Central Committee meeting last week, said that the African American community throughout the country was on the brink of losing the most basic elements of civilized society: shelter, jobs, food; and that one had to quadruple the official unemployment statistics to get a more accurate picture of the crisis in African American communities. The Cleveland Plain Dealer on Nov. 21, describing the jobless depression and despair in that city, reported that the average jobless American, nationwide, has been without work for more than half a year—by far the longest since the U.S. Labor Department started keeping records in 1948.

The "stimulus" act has failed to create jobs, and the Dec. 3 "jobs summit," called for by Obama before he headed for Asian misadventures, looks like a "jobs? Shove it!" instead. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Wall Street Journal Nov. 23 that the White House opposes any Congressional jobs or infrastructure bill, wants to "hold down the deficit," and wants no further stimulus legislation.

The AFL-CIO leader pointed out that states have been using Federal "stimulus" aid mainly to steal jobs from other states, to draw away their major employers by offering bigger tax breaks. South Carolina spent $3 billion to get Boeing to move a major production line there from Washington; and Kentucky got Harley-Davidson to move from Pennsylvania.

As for the "jobs summit," the labor leader described it as a joke, and said there has been no word to labor or industry as to what it will discuss. Ironically, he noted, a labor-business alliance is developing—against Obama! He told of being turned down by "too busy" Obama after two personal appeals, backed by Senators and a Cabinet official, for Obama to make a meaningful Presidential visit to a major machine-tool jobs city which has been swept by job losses. Labor has no access to this "Democratic" White House, he said.

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