Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Not Call a Depression a Depression?

We're told that we're in a recovery. We're told that the economy is starting to show signs of improvement. Why? Because, the stock market has shot up and Wall Street profits are through the roof.

Okay, but what percentage of the adult population can live off the stock market and corporate profits? Less than 1%?

What about the millions of Americans who face job loss? Lack of health benefits? Foreclosures? Inability to pay bills? Food stamps? Lack of or zero retirement savings? This used to be a country where you could work your way up the ladder. Now, the ladder has transformed into a very slippery slope. If you're not at the top already, you better make like an octopus, and strap on some suckers because it appears that slope is getting slicker.

It is clear that the American/global ruling class are incapable of setting self-interest aside. So, unless we the people stop playing by their rules, humanity will continue to be subordinated to the dictates of an infinitesimally small group of super wealthy parasites at the very top.

"I couldn't find statistics for local utility shut offs in my area, but I knew we would start to see more and more of this.

Houses everywhere are going vacant. People don't say goodbye, they don't leave a number, they just disappear. With their disappearance we add another vacant house to the street. But families living in housing without utilities is a new sight for me to behold. I spoke recently with a rep from So Cal Edison who, full time contacts residence who have had their electricity turned off due to non payment. She has a negotiator sent in and they work on a reduced payment. It's amazing to me, that now, it is becoming acceptable in California to camp out in your home.

People are losing their homes, losing their cars and losing their dignity. How are we going to afford kids clothes and school supplies for the coming year? How can we expect families to pay for all these additional costs when the economy is in the shape it in. I ask myself this everyday."
Tumbling from the middle class into a life with less
Not so long ago, Moore and her husband, Seymour, 46, made more than $200,000 a year, vacationed in Fiji and thought nothing of picking up a $400 dinner tab with friends.

But then Moore left her property management job to set up a cat-sitting business, and her husband lost his job as an IT consultant nine months ago. They now scrape by on his unemployment benefits and her Social Security checks, plus a trickle of money from her nascent business. Total income for 2010: $30,000.

Requests for help paying utility bills surge upward
Light switches, furnaces and water faucets aren't the typical gauges of economic health, but at Pikes Peak United Way's 2-1-1 call center, they tell a tale of people who continue to struggle to pay their bills in a weak economy.

According to a report released Monday by the 2-1-1 Information and Referral Hotline, requests for utility bill assistance in the fiscal year ending June 30 jumped 20 percent from the previous year, outstripping requests for help with food and rent.

"That's by far the biggest spike in looking at data year-to-year," said 2-1-1 Center Manager Jessica Johnson-Simmons. "I would guess it would have something to do with recent utility hikes that have gone into effect, but it's also a case of clients just getting too overwhelmed with their...

Recession leads to uptick in utility shut-offs in N.J.
I feel horrible; I know my kids must feel horrible," said Maria Schultheis, who lives in the house with her husband and twin teenage sons. "I'm humiliated because I never had to live like this."

The town water department shut off the Schultheises' water about a month ago after the family fell behind on payments on a $1,700 overdue bill. John Schultheis -- a computer programmer who has been out of work for three years -- watched in disbelief as town workers turned off the water valve near the curb of his three-bedroom bungalow in a quiet middle-class neighborhood in the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany.

As the recession continues, utility companies say a growing number of New Jerseyans are falling behind on their electric, gas and water bills. For many, a flood of emergency funding in state and federal aid programs -- coupled with a state-imposed moratorium on utility shut-offs during the winter months -- has helped keep the lights on and the water flowing over the last few months.

But, with much of the state money gone and the winter moratorium ended, utility officials say more and more families like the Schultheises may be losing their electricity, gas or water service in the coming months.

"I do expect shut-off activity to increase the second part of the year," said Victor Viscomi, PSE and G's director of billing and revenue operations. "Some of the emergency-payment assistance money is drying up."

PSE and G, the state's largest utility, has seen a 10 percent increase in families behind on their payments, compared with this time last year, Viscomi said. Many of those are households that had never had a late payment until now.


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