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A story in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend caught my eye. The title tells it all: Report finds 20% of Californians struggled to feed their families in 2010.” The article started with this: One in five Californians struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families last year, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center.” 

Families all over the country are struggling as we remain mired in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. California ranks no. 16 among all the states. These rankings are interesting in themselves. They show that among the states ranked one through 13 are all in the South, a region that on everything pertaining to bad things (crime, poverty, imprisonment, dropout rates, illiteracy, poor health, etc.) the southern states almost always rank among the lowest. Should California therefore feel better? Not in the least, as California remains one of the richest states in the nation where nevertheless one-fifth of the population is barely able to feed themselves. 

What is perhaps even more interesting is that in an article appropriately title How the Rich Soaked the Rest of Us” Richard Wolff brought out some recent data that showed very clearly that the rich have shifted the tax burden” from themselves onto the average worker. Wolff shows that from 1979 and 2005 the top 1 percent of households saw their after-tax household incomes rise by 175 percent” while most everyone else barely gained any ground. 

Meanwhile, virtually every state is dealing with a budget crisis” brought about by what Wolff describes, highlighted by what the governor of Wisconsin did — give about $100 million in tax breaks for the super-rich and big corporations of his state and turn around and claim there is a budget crisis” which must be solved by cutting wages and benefits (not to mention busting the unions). In my own state of Nevada, we have such a crisis” that there are proposed cuts at UNLV to the tune of about 29% (on top of about a 22% cut two years ago) plus cuts in public education, among other services. Likewise California and virtually every other state. 

Meanwhile, as Jeffery Reiman has said, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison.” And people find it hard to put food on the table in the richest country in world history. And we wonder why kids drop out of school, join gangs and get caught up in the juvenile justice system.