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Author Topic: U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty
Gordon Bennett
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U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty
By Tony Pugh
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 - half the federal poverty line - was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period. McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.

The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries. That helps explain why the median household income of working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty - the highest rate since at least 1975.

The share of poor Americans in deep poverty has climbed slowly but steadily over the last three decades. But since 2000, the number of severely poor has grown "more than any other segment of the population," according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"That was the exact opposite of what we anticipated when we began," said Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, who co-authored the study. "We're not seeing as much moderate poverty as a proportion of the population. What we're seeing is a dramatic growth of severe poverty."

The growth spurt, which leveled off in 2005, in part reflects how hard it is for low-skilled workers to earn their way out of poverty in an unstable job market that favors skilled and educated workers. It also suggests that social programs aren't as effective as they once were at catching those who fall into economic despair.

About one in three severely poor people are under age 17, and nearly two out of three are female. Female-headed families with children account for a large share of the severely poor.

According to census data, nearly two of three people in severe poverty are white (10.3 million) and 6.9 million are non-Hispanic whites. Severely poor blacks (4.3 million) are more than three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be in deep poverty, while extremely poor Hispanics of any race (3.7 million) are more than twice as likely.

Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, has a higher concentration of severely poor people - 10.8 percent in 2005 - than any of the 50 states, topping even hurricane-ravaged Mississippi and Louisiana, with 9.3 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively. Nearly six of 10 poor District residents are in extreme poverty.

'I DON'T ASK FOR NOTHING'

A few miles from the Capitol Building, 60-year-old John Treece pondered his life in deep poverty as he left a local food pantry with two bags of free groceries.

Plagued by arthritis, back problems and myriad ailments from years of manual labor, Treece has been unable to work full time for 15 years. He's tried unsuccessfully to get benefits from the Social Security Administration, which he said disputes his injuries and work history.

In 2006, an extremely poor individual earned less than $5,244 a year, according to federal poverty guidelines. Treece said he earned about that much in 2006 doing odd jobs.

Wearing shoes with holes, a tattered plaid jacket and a battered baseball cap, Treece lives hand-to-mouth in a $450-a-month room in a nondescript boarding house in a high-crime neighborhood. Thanks to food stamps, the food pantry and help from relatives, Treece said he never goes hungry. But toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and other items that require cash are tougher to come by.

"Sometimes it makes you want to do the wrong thing, you know," Treece said, referring to crime. "But I ain't a kid no more. I can't do no time. At this point, I ain't got a lotta years left."

Treece remains positive and humble despite his circumstances.

"I don't ask for nothing," he said. "I just thank the Lord for this day and ask that tomorrow be just as blessed."

Like Treece, many who did physical labor during their peak earning years have watched their job prospects dim as their bodies gave out.

David Jones, the president of the Community Service Society of New York City, an advocacy group for the poor, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee last month that he was shocked to discover how pervasive the problem was.

"You have this whole cohort of, particularly African-Americans of limited skills, men, who can't participate in the workforce because they don't have skills to do anything but heavy labor," he said.

'A PERMANENT UNDERCLASS'

Severe poverty is worst near the Mexican border and in some areas of the South, where 6.5 million severely poor residents are struggling to find work as manufacturing jobs in the textile, apparel and furniture-making industries disappear. The Midwestern Rust Belt and areas of the Northeast also have been hard hit as economic restructuring and foreign competition have forced numerous plant closings.

At the same time, low-skilled immigrants with impoverished family members are increasingly drawn to the South and Midwest to work in the meatpacking, food processing and agricultural industries.

These and other factors such as increased fluctuations in family incomes and illegal immigration have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty - the highest rate in at least 32 years.

"What appears to be taking place is that, over the long term, you have a significant permanent underclass that is not being impacted by anti-poverty policies," said Michael Tanner, the director of Health and Welfare Studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, disagreed. "It doesn't look like a growing permanent underclass," said Sherman, whose organization has chronicled the growth of deep poverty. "What you see in the data are more and more single moms with children who lose their jobs and who aren't being caught by a safety net anymore."

About 1.1 million such families account for roughly 2.1 million deeply poor children, Sherman said.

After fleeing an abusive marriage in 2002, 42-year-old Marjorie Sant moved with her three children from Arkansas to a seedy boarding house in Raleigh, N.C., where the four shared one bedroom. For most of 2005, they lived off food stamps and the $300 a month in Social Security Disability Income for her son with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Teachers offered clothes to Sant's children. Saturdays meant lunch at the Salvation Army.

"To depend on other people to feed and clothe your kids is horrible," Sant said. "I found myself in a hole and didn't know how to get out."

In the summer of 2005, social workers warned that she'd lose her children if her home situation didn't change. Sant then brought her two youngest children to a temporary housing program at the Raleigh Rescue Mission while her oldest son moved to California to live with an adult daughter from a previous marriage.

So for 10 months, Sant learned basic office skills. She now lives in a rented house, works two jobs and earns about $20,400 a year.

Sant is proud of where she is, but she knows that "if something went wrong, I could well be back to where I was."

'I'M GETTING NOWHERE FAST'

As more poor Americans sink into severe poverty, more individuals and families living within $8,000 above or below the poverty line also have seen their incomes decline. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University attributes this to what he calls a "sinkhole effect" on income.

"Just as a sinkhole causes everything above it to collapse downward, families and individuals in the middle and upper classes appear to be migrating to lower-income tiers that bring them closer to the poverty threshold," Woolf wrote in the study.

Before Hurricane Katrina, Rene Winn of Biloxi, Miss., earned $28,000 a year as an administrator for the Boys and Girls Club. But for 11 months in 2006, she couldn't find steady work and wouldn't take a fast-food job. As her opportunities dwindled, Winn's frustration grew.

"Some days I feel like the world is mine and I can create my own destiny," she said. "Other days I feel a desperate feeling. Like I gotta' hurry up. Like my career is at a stop. Like I'm getting nowhere fast. And that's not me because I've always been a positive person."

After relocating to New Jersey for 10 months after the storm, Winn returned to Biloxi in September because of medical and emotional problems with her son. She and her two youngest children moved into her sister's home along with her mother, who has Alzheimer's. With her sister, brother-in-law and their two children, eight people now share a three-bedroom home.

Winn said she recently took a job as a technician at the state health department. The hourly job pays $16,120 a year. That's enough to bring her out of severe poverty and just $122 shy of the $16,242 needed for a single mother with two children to escape poverty altogether under current federal guidelines.

Winn eventually wants to transfer to a higher-paying job, but she's thankful for her current position.

"I'm very independent and used to taking care of my own, so I don't like the fact that I have to depend on the state. I want to be able to do it myself."

The Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation shows that, in a given month, only 10 percent of severely poor Americans received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in 2003 - the latest year available - and that only 36 percent received food stamps.

Many could have exhausted their eligibility for welfare or decided that the new program requirements were too onerous. But the low participation rates are troubling because the worst byproducts of poverty, such as higher crime and violence rates and poor health, nutrition and educational outcomes, are worse for those in deep poverty.

Over the last two decades, America has had the highest or near-highest poverty rates for children, individual adults and families among 31 developed countries, according to the Luxembourg Income Study, a 23-year project that compares poverty and income data from 31 industrial nations.

"It's shameful," said Timothy Smeeding, the former director of the study and the current head of the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University. "We've been the worst performer every year since we've been doing this study."

With the exception of Mexico and Russia, the U.S. devotes the smallest portion of its gross domestic product to federal anti-poverty programs, and those programs are among the least effective at reducing poverty, the study found. Again, only Russia and Mexico do worse jobs.

One in three Americans will experience a full year of extreme poverty at some point in his or her adult life, according to long-term research by Mark Rank, a professor of social welfare at the Washington University in St. Louis.

An estimated 58 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 75 will spend at least a year in poverty, Rank said. Two of three will use a public assistance program between ages 20 and 65, and 40 percent will do so for five years or more.

These estimates apply only to non-immigrants. If illegal immigrants were factored in, the numbers would be worse, Rank said.

"It would appear that for most Americans the question is no longer if, but rather when, they will experience poverty. In short, poverty has become a routine and unfortunate part of the American life course," Rank wrote in a recent study. "Whether these patterns will continue throughout the first decade of 2000 and beyond is difficult to say ... but there is little reason to think that this trend will reverse itself any time soon."

'SOMETHING REAL AND TROUBLING'

Most researchers and economists say federal poverty estimates are a poor tool to gauge the complexity of poverty. The numbers don't factor in assistance from government anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps, housing subsidies and the Earned Income Tax Credit, all of which increase incomes and help pull people out of poverty.

But federal poverty measures also exclude work-related expenses and necessities such as day care, transportation, housing and health care costs, which eat up large portions of disposable income, particularly for low-income families.

Alternative poverty measures that account for these shortcomings typically inflate or deflate official poverty statistics. But many of those alternative measures show the same kind of long-term trends as the official poverty data.

Robert Rector, a senior researcher with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, questioned the growth of severe poverty, saying that census data become less accurate farther down the income ladder. He said many poor people, particularly single mothers with boyfriends, underreport their income by not including cash gifts and loans. Rector said he's seen no data that suggest increasing deprivation among the very poor.

Arloc Sherman of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues that the growing number of severely poor is an indisputable fact.

"When we check against more complete government survey data and administrative records from the benefit programs themselves, they confirm that this trend is real," Sherman said. He added that even among the poor, severely poor people have a much tougher time paying their bills. "That's another sign to me that we're seeing something real and troubling," Sherman said.

McClatchy correspondent Barbara Barrett contributed to this report.

BY THE NUMBERS

States with the most people in severe poverty:

California - 1.9 million
Texas - 1.6 million
New York - 1.2 million
Florida - 943,670
Illinois - 681,786
Ohio - 657,415
Pennsylvania - 618,229
Michigan - 576,428
Georgia - 562,014
North Carolina - 523,511

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Source

--------------------
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a
little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

- Benjamin Franklin

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HILANDER
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I just can't help but notice more and more at work how America is becoming more and more a service based economy versus a strong manufacturing economy. Went by the Port Of Everett today with an empty train bound for Canada and couldn't help but notice thousands of board feet of raw timber waiting for export.

--------------------
If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all.

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bdgee
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I see the point, Hi..., but I'm not so sure the denuding of North America is a good thing.

(How can we convince Brazil to stop rampant deforestation when we won't?)

In the South, up and down the rivers that used to be used to transport ore to our own steel mills, the same barges now carry the same ore to the Gulf to be loaded onto ships bound for Japan and Korea and other points in elsewhere. And the same barges that once carried coal to fire the U.S. steel mills now carry that coal to ships headed to steel mills in other parts of the world (it was strip minned throughourt the South, leaving huge barran scars of unreclaimed unforrested scars across America).

We've allowed the politicians to turn our economy over to large corporations, which then transform us into a soon to be second-world economy, all in the name of free trade.

Free trade without checks and ballances is no way to ballance the exonomy. It is the way to foster corporate wealth so the corporations can move out of the Country to avoi taxes. It is a way to economic dictatorship via huge corporate boards of directors. It is a Bush Family enduring dream, born ot of almost religious love of Nazism in the 1920s and 1930s.

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bond006
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Look at the way Americans work more hours and less rest than most of the world. And if you look at the rest of the modern world and some of the third world we work a bigger percentage of our lives before retirement.

With Bush in charge the class lines are being very sharpened and very defined not only is he rolling back the social saftey net getting rid of labor laws that protect workers. He is actually using every thing in his power to crush labors bargining power.

If he keeps it up and Bush is replaced by another right wing pig like him there will be a class war in this country.

It has happened in the past at the turn of the century about then and it will happen again.

It lasted a long time until the great depression and labor would have finished off most of the most of the ruling elements of industry and bussiness but the greatest American President ever in this country Roosevelt gave people great concessions and stoppped a revolution and the wealthy hate him to this day even though he most likley he saved there necks from the noose.

If we don't get another Roosevelt with in the next 10 years its imho its ain't going to be nice at all.

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bdgee
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Excellent post, bond....
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urnso77
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oh boo hoo. If capitalism doesn't work for you then go to a socialist nation where you probably belong. There are so many opportunities in the United States, if you are poor in America then my question would be where did you go wrong? I cannot stand all these socialists coming on here trying to make everyone "equal" by narrowing the gap of the "haves and have nots".
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bdgee
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quote:
Originally posted by urnso77:
oh boo hoo. If capitalism doesn't work for you then go to a socialist nation where you probably belong. There are so many opportunities in the United States, if you are poor in America then my question would be where did you go wrong? I cannot stand all these socialists coming on here trying to make everyone "equal" by narrowing the gap of the "haves and have nots".

Does the word Constitution mean anything to you or are you just another Fascist pig dining off "other" people.

There is nothing in the Constitution that even remotely suggest your bigoted stand on everything is appropriate.

Anyway, I don't think you know what socialism is. Or Democracy.

They sure ain't what your limited view says.

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urnso77
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i guess im a fascist pig then. yes!
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bdgee
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Agreed!

But I'm not going to ask you to be ashamed, because if you could understand why, you wouldn't be one.

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urnso77
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You're not very nice bdgee. You shouldn't resort to calling people names. Now come over here and gimme a hug and lets make up.
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bdgee
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When anyone, including you, starts demanding that people that don't adhere to the far rightwing extremist position should "... go to a socialist nation where you probably belong", while at the same time being so ill informed and uneducated that he believes that the Constitution etablished that this nation MUST be capitalistic (or must be any other form of economic state) or even prefers that it be, I resent them, in their bias and ignorance, declaring just who can and who can't be American.

You call everyone of us, that isn't one of you, un-American with that cheap trash!

The Constitution is quite specific on who is and who isn't an American citizen and you and your kind besmirsh and dishonor that fundamental document and requirement of being The United States of America by insulting it with you insane attacks on people.

Crap, you don't even know the definitions of the terms you brandish about.


I don't believe I called anyone a name that didn't assume it first out of context and attack others with insults and namecalling.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

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bdgee
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You don't need a hug, you need an education and a whole lot of respect for others.
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urnso77
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good grief bdgee. I was just trying to lighten it up a bit and you start calling me extreme righwinged and uneducated. Take it easy! I am educated. I have a business degree and had to tolerate years of bias in the classroom but I survived. We just have a completely different outlook on the world and thats perfectly fine. Maybe my beliefs are a little skewed because my brother is currently in Iraq fighting the terrorists. I am all for victory in Iraq so I wouldn't mind seeing a topic posted in this forum that actually looked positive for a change. Everything is damn negative all the time. That is all.
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bdgee
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You started calling me unfit to be an American and a socialist and whatever.

I don't call declaring who is and who isn't patriotic or American or who can and can't participate in the rights and benifits granted to the people by the Constitution to be "light" or anything close thereto.

Maybe that wasn't bias yiu experienced in the classroom, but was reason that the rightwing discounts as bias. It is a frequent claim (tactic)of the rightwing to claim that everything not in concert with their extrem bias is leftwing bias. Since reason and tolerance neither can play the tune of the far right, the far right believes everything rational or reasoned is bias against them.

Science and scholarship ar not leftwing. It only seems that way to the rightwing because they want to discount them in order to assume prejudged positions and cannot counter the logic of reason with their bigoted stance.

There is no such thing a "victory in Iraq". It is and has always been a scam by the administration to control the U.S. population and a religious attack on another religion.

You cannot win in a battle among dominant philosophies based on faith.

You cannot with in a battle to replace a culture with some other cultur unless the replacement provide something needed that the ousted does not, plus all the benifits of the ousted.

There is no possible positive conclusion in for the U.S. in Iraq, which was obvious to most of the world befor this bunch of crooks invaded it.

The reason it is all negative is that this was irrational to begin with, not to mention that it subverts both Constitutional and international law.
Your brother is not fighting terrorist except for those that came there to defend that innocent Nation from occupation. There were no terrorist in Iraq to fight with until we invaded.


I hope you brother survives Iraq intact. We should be ashamed of sending him there.

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rimasco
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Back by popular demand: "EXCERPTS FROM THEO"

15. Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong,
good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western
civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The
reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not
correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West
because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so
forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in
primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he
GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points
out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in
Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the
leftist's real motive for hating America and the West. He hates
America and the West because they are strong and successful.

16. Words like "self-confidence," "self-reliance," "initiative",
"enterprise," "optimism," etc. play little role in the liberal and
leftist vocabulary. The leftist is anti-individualistic,
pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve everyone's needs for them,
take care of them. He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense
of confidence in his own ability to solve his own problems and satisfy
his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of
competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.

17. Art forms that appeal to modern leftist intellectuals tend to
focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an
orgiastic tone, throwing off rational control as if there were no hope
of accomplishing anything through rational calculation and all that
was left was to immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment.

--------------------
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"

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bdgee
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Pablum for rightwingers
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Gordon Bennett
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The truth has a liberal bias.

quote:
Originally posted by urnso77:
Everything is damn negative all the time.



--------------------
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a
little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

- Benjamin Franklin

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bdgee
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"The truth has a liberal bias."

Because it lends on reason and facts.

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Gordon Bennett
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Yup. No wonder the evangelicals hate it so much.

--------------------
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a
little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

- Benjamin Franklin

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bond006
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Leftist hate strenght? I hope you are not saying that the corporate welfare class of American Business are strong because if they weren't sucking off the Government baby bottle they would starve to death.

I have lived a soldiers life as a young man and worked in the prison system after I have seen a lot of what some people call strenght and the free loading right wing wimps sure don't have it.

If it was not for the American tax payer that they cheat most of them would have gone under, and as far as leaving the country you go and get the hell out of here whinner.

Further more you really don't even know what a socalist country is or a commie nation for that manner.

And don't be so Damn dumb to tell me thAt Western Eourope is socialist it is very far from it according to any of the political science classes that I have ever had

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dinner42
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[Cool]

--------------------
Bill Gates, Donald Trump and James Dean, Willie Nelson, John Lennon and Neil McCoy

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dinner42
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quote:
Originally posted by dinner42:
quote:
Originally posted by bond006:
Leftist hate strength? I hope you are not saying that the corporate welfare class of American Business are strong because if they weren't sucking off the Government baby bottle they would starve to death.

I have lived a soldiers life as a young man and worked in the prison system after I have seen a lot of what some people call strength and the free loading right wing wimps sure don't have it.


If it was not for the American tax payer that they cheat most of them would have gone under, and as far as leaving the country you go and get the hell out of here whinner.

Further more you really don't even know what a socalist country is or a commie nation for that manner.

And don't be so Damn dumb to tell me thAt Western Eourope is socialist it is very far from it according to any of the political science classes that I have ever had


Small business typically are not making it these days... There are several that have closed up lately in this area... But note, many or most of the ones I am familiar with are immigrants on 2% Government loans. Most failed in the first year and burned up that tax money and are off to the next loan and deal only to do it again... They can just ride and hop and ride again.. Maybe thats the game...hmmmmm just a thought..

lol

good post btw

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Bill Gates, Donald Trump and James Dean, Willie Nelson, John Lennon and Neil McCoy

Posts: 1102 | From: Sometimes Honolulu, Sometimes Laguna Beach, today in the Valley | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bdgee
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It is always true that MOST small business don't make it, whatever the conditions of the economy.

Somewhere back in the past I recall learning that among the huge percentage of failed small business was a more than small contribution of resturants and bars, that make up a majority of those small businesses.

That was before the internet and i wouldn't be surprised that so called "home businesses" (like ebay stores) now make up most of the failures.

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Gordon Bennett
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Agreed. However, the way things are going, it's also becoming more and more foolish to depend on others for something as important as your paycheck.

A well-executed home business, based on doing what you actually enjoy, is a great alternative.

--------------------
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a
little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

- Benjamin Franklin

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bdgee
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Indeed!!!!!

And in my evaluation, you should try and have at least two, in case one fails.

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Gordon Bennett
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Yes, diversification is a good plan! And if you're fortunate enough to have BOTH businesses succeed, you can always phase out the one you enjoy the least.

--------------------
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a
little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

- Benjamin Franklin

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