Poverty among American school teachers

Full-time job Elementary school teacher. Earns $80,000 annually
Second job Oyster farmer. Earns $15 an hour. Also works as an event coordinator and manager for a catering company

“When I think about things like the fact we need a new septic system, or that we need to replace some doors and the deck on my house, I go into almost like a panic attack.”

Full-time job High school history teacher. Earns $56,149 annually
Second job Bookseller at Barnes & Noble. Earns $11.75 an hour. Works 20 hours a week

” If I didn’t work a second job, I would be a risk for not having funds to deal with major financial problems that could occur in anyone’s life, whether that’s a major medical expense, a major car expense, or a family emergency.”

Full-time job Middle school social studies teacher. Earns $49,000 annually
Second job Suite-level attendant at the sports stadium for the Tulsa Roughnecks and Drillers on nights and weekends. Escorts people to seats and takes tickets. Earns $8.75 an hour

“Then you have to go to your second job and you’re tired. You still have to find that extra strength to go on because you know you still need that extra money to get those bills paid”

Full-time job High school US history and geography teacher. Earns $35,000 annually
Second job Uber driver. Earns between $100 and $400 a week

None of this is actually poverty, is it?

The Guardian, markets, business and numbers

A Guardian headline concerning business, numbers and markets is unlikely to get any of the three right, is it?

Cornish public toilet with sea view up for auction for £15,000

It’s for sale by auction – thus the price isn’t £15,000, is it?

And if you were to tell them that the price has just risen as a result of the article they’d not believe you either.

The Guardian and numbers

The EU tariff on non-EU bacon is about €68 to the kilo. Britain may have to pay an extra 15p on the price of a pack of eight rashers.

Err, how?

No, no, not why would the EU tariff be relevant to a non-EU country and all that. But how does €68 a kg translate into 15 p on a pack of 8 rashers? It being back which is packed by the 8, such being perhaps 250 grammes weight.

I cannot see any likely mistake which gets from €68 euro per kg to 15 p per 250 grammes, either. But, you know, arts graduates and numeracy.

How Guardian

You highlight once again the massive problem of food waste, with one third of produce thrown away (Report, 21 August). A large part of this is due to supermarket special offers such as three for the price of two, which pressure people to buy more than they need. How much of supermarkets’ profits are made by persuading people to buy too much food, which either increases the problem of obesity or of food waste? It is time to consider making this type of special offer illegal.
Dudley Miles
London

God Forbid the oiks get cheaper food because reasons….

And as to profits – offering more goods for the same price is usually not entirely profit enhancing. Secondary effects might be, greater footfall, advertising, reputation for bargains, getting rid of soon to be out of date stock, all those sorts of things. But offering more goods for the same money not so much, not directly.

In fact, if we account for it straightforwardly, profits purely on selling at regular price v profits on selling 3 for 2, we’d probably find that between none and a negative portion of profits come from such deals.

But, you know, So, So, Guardian

No, this gets even better

So, our bloke who did the English BA and MA and has $100,000 in student loan debt. Turns out he’s an editor at the NY Times. And his loan repayments are $1,100 a month or so.

And, err, you know?

Anyone who can actually get hired at the NY Times can find a grand’s worth of freelance work a month. That’s a trivial task, seriously. No, really, putting together freelance gigs to make $5,000 or $10,000 a month is tough, very. But an extra $1,000? It’s 700 to 1400 words a week, one or two pieces! And that’s at the bargain internet pay rates, let alone print.

Which does actually tell us something interesting about the NY Times. It’s written by the sort of people who can’t get $1,000 a month as a freelance.

Willy Hutton’s latest claim

US doctors coined a phrase for this condition: “shit-life syndrome”. Poor working-age Americans of all races are locked in a cycle of poverty and neglect, amid wider affluence. They are ill educated and ill trained. The jobs available are drudge work paying the minimum wage, with minimal or no job security.

That’s for the US.

In 2017, 80.4 million workers age 16 and older in the United States were paid at hourly rates, representing 58.3 percent of all wage and salary workers. Among those paid by the hour, 542,000 workers earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. About 1.3 million had wages below the federal minimum. Together, these 1.8 million workers with wages at or below the federal minimum made up 2.3 percent of all hourly paid workers.

Or around 1% of all workers.

The minimum wage is, at best, a minimal issue in the US economy.

There is little social housing, scant income support and contingent access to healthcare.

Section 8 vouchers exist, that’s housing benefit in all but name. Most of the large cities have rent control – not a good idea but they have it – which is like affordable housing. It’s true, they’ve stopped having directly government built and owned housing because they realised they were vertical slums even more shit than no housing at all. You’ve perhaps heard of “the projects?”

Income support exists, it’s largely in goods and services in kind rather than cash. And health care? Has Willy never even considered the size of the Medicaid bill?

Finding meaning in life is close to impossible; the struggle to survive commands all intellectual and emotional resources. Yet turn on the TV or visit a middle-class shopping mall and a very different and unattainable world presents itself. Knowing that you are valueless, you resort to drugs, antidepressants and booze. You eat junk food and watch your ill-treated body balloon. It is not just poverty, but growing relative poverty in an era of rising inequality, with all its psychological side-effects, that is the killer.

That’s why Willy’s a fat boozer as he considers the billionaires that infest London.

What our citizens are experiencing is criminal, even if it has nothing to do with the EU, the great lie so brilliantly told by Brexiters and the malevolent political genius that is Nigel Farage. Instead of blaming Brussels and impoverishing ourselves with Brexit, Britain should be launching a multipronged assault on shit-life syndrome and the conditions that cause so many to die prematurely. Acknowledging the crisis, together with measures to address it, will be crucial to winning any second people’s vote on Brexit.

We need (as Andrew Adonis and I argue in Saving Britain) an industrial policy not just for the City, but for the country, a repurposing of enterprise, a re-enfranchisement of workforces and a remaking of our threadbare social contract, in particular the dysfunctional care system. Too many of England’s towns, even some in the south-east, are becoming crucibles of shit-life syndrome. They have become inward-looking, urban islands in which despair and despondency are too prevalent; their high streets in decline while hi-tech, knowledge-intensive jobs pass them by. Train and bus fares are so high that travelling within them has become prohibitively expensive. Stripped of power by the most centralised system in Europe, they are disempowered and sullen about the present and apprehensive of the future. All this can and must change.

Above all, it is an agenda for an effective parliamentary opposition – combining a campaign to stay in the EU with a campaign to change Britain. The life expectancy numbers tell a dramatic story. It is time to act on their message.

Oooh, that’s pretty good. We must decentralise power as we centralise it in Brussels?

I don’t think Polly understands trains

Trains do signify the fitness of a government. If an incoming Labour government concentrates hard on making trains run on time at fair fares, that would be a potent signal of all-round efficiency worth investing in heavily. But what perplexes me is the passivity of train-travelling commuters, among the most well-heeled, empowered of citizens. Yet apart from a minor kicking down of a gate in St Albans during the worst of the timetabling disaster, they fail to rebel. Along Southern’s lines, passing through nothing but top Tory MPs’ constituencies, passengers tolerate years of strikes and disruption, with more to come. Why aren’t they taking direct action, voting out their MPs and super-gluing ticket barriers? Ah, I forgot. The private companies get paid regardless of ticket income: only the state loses if people refuse to pay, another brilliant bit of contracting in these failed franchises.

Err, no. The Southtern line the operator gets paid because it’s not a franchise, it’s a contract to operate. On franchises no ticket revenue means no revenue.

The Guardian and numbers

Finally, in 2015, the ECB launched its quantitative easing programme, whereby member states’ central banks bought €2.4bn (£2.1bn) worth of securities, including €2bn of government bonds. Accordingly, the eurozone’s monetary base grew dramatically, from €1.2tn to more than €3tn.

Sigh.