SE News

Relative Poverty Rate Increased By 1.3 Points In 2016

It's Our Economy - November 21, 2017 - 1:00pm
Above Photo: Jon Collier / Flickr Google is blocking our site. Please use the social media sharing buttons (upper left) to share this on your social media and help us break through. Every year the Census Bureau publishes the official poverty rate and the supplemental poverty rate. The official rate groups all related people in a household into one unit, adds up all the cash income that flows into that unit (except tax credits), and then compares that income amount to a poverty line that varies based on the number of people in the unit. The supplemental rate works similarly except that it takes the cash income concept from the official rate, adds cash-like benefit incomes and tax credits to it, and then subtracts taxes paid, child support paid, child care expenses, work expenses, and medical out-of-pocket expenses. The supplemental rate uses a poverty line that varies geographically and by the number of people in the family unit. In addition to the official and supplemental rates, it can be useful to look at something called a relative poverty rate, which is more commonly used across the world. The relative poverty rate figures provided below are derived in the following manner: Each family’s income is determined by adding cash income, cash-like benefit income, and tax credits, and then subtracting taxes paid and child support paid. This is the same as the income concept used by the supplemental poverty rate except that I do not subtract child care expenses, work expenses, and medical out-of-pocket expenses, as those are not typically subtracted from income concepts elsewhere in the world. The income derived in (1) is equivalized by dividing it by the square root of the number of people in the family. So a four-person family whose income is $40,000 ends up with an equivalized income of 40,000 / ?4 = $20,000. An equivalized income is assigned to every person in the survey. After assigning equivalized incomes in (2), I find the poverty line by taking the median equivalized income and dividing it in half. There is no geographic adjustment. Anyone with an income below 50% of the median equivalized income is determined to be in poverty. Using this method, here is the relative poverty rate for the last eight years, compared to the official and supplemental poverty rates in the same years. The relative poverty rate is generally higher than the other rates and actually went up 1.3 points last year while the official and supplemental poverty rates declined. The next graph shows how much income a single person would have needed during each of the last eight years to be over the relative poverty line. To determine how much income families of other sizes would have needed, you can take the figures here and multiply them by the square root of the family size. So, for instance, a family of four will need double the income in this graph to be above the poverty line using this metric. Note that all of the dollar values are adjusted to 2016 dollars with the CPI-U-RS. The final graph compares the pure relative poverty rate to two anchored poverty rates over this period. The pure relative poverty series is just the rates from the first graph above converted to a line graph. For the 2009 anchored poverty series, I take the 2009 poverty threshold from the second graph above ($16,176) and use that as the poverty line for all of the years in the series. For the 2016 anchored poverty series, I use the 2016 poverty threshold ($17,390) as the poverty line for all of the years in the series. All three measures show the same basic trend until 2016 where the pure relative poverty line goes in the opposite direction of the other two. This is what you would expect given the second graph above where the poverty line shoots up in the last year due to a rise in the median income.  
Categories: Friends of GEO, SE News

Landmark Study Links Tory Austerity To 120,000 Deaths

It's Our Economy - November 18, 2017 - 11:00am
Above Photo: Labour has called on Theresa May to match £6m pledged by Labour for health (Getty) Google is blocking our site. Please use the social media sharing buttons (upper left) to share this on your social media and help us break through. Government is accused of ‘economic murder’ The Conservatives have been accused of “economic murder” for austerity policies which a new study suggests have caused 120,000 deaths. The paper found that there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels. On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020, even with the extra funding that has been earmarked for public sector services this year. Real terms funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2010, and the researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths. Is austerity really to blame for stalling life expectancy in England? The paper identified that mortality rates in the UK had declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, but this reversed sharply with the death rate growing again after austerity came in. From this reversal the authors identified that 45,368 extra deaths occurred between 2010 and 2014, than would have been expected, although it stops short of calling them “avoidable”. Based on those trends it predicted the next five years – from 2015 to 2020 – would account for 152,141 deaths – 100 a day – findings which one of the authors likened to “economic murder”. The Government began relaxing austerity measures this year announcing the end of its cap on public sector pay rises and announcing an extra £1.3bn for social care in the Spring Budget. Over three years the additional funding for social care is expected to reach £2bn, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said was “patching up a small part of the damage” wrought by £4.6bn cuts. The study, published in BMJ Open today, estimated that to return death rates to their pre-2010 levels spending would need to increase by £25.3bn. The Department of Health said “firm conclusions” cannot be drawn from this work, and independent academics warned the funding figures were “speculative”. However local councils who have been struggling to fund care with slashed budgets urged the Government to consider the research seriously. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government must match Labour’s spending pledges in the Autumn Budget. Per capita public health spending between 2001 and 2010 increased by 3.8 percent a year, but in the first four years of the Coalition, increases were just 0.41 per cent, researchers from University College London found. In social care the annual budget increase collapsed from 2.20 percent annually, to a decrease of 1.57 percent. The researchers found this coincided with death rates which had decreased by around 0.77 percent a year to 2010, beginning to increase again by 0.87 percent a year. And the majority of those were people reliant on social care, the paper says: “This is most likely because social care experienced greater relative spending constraints than healthcare.” It also notes that a drop in nurse numbers may have accounted for 10 percent of deaths, concluding: “We have found that spending constraints since 2010, especially public expenditure on social care, may have produced a substantial mortality gap in England.” The papers’ senior author and a researcher at UCL, Dr Ben Maruthappu, said that while the paper “can’t prove cause and effect” it shows an association. And he added this trend is seen elsewhere. “When you look at Portugal and other countries that have gone through austerity measures, they have found that health care provision gets worse and health care outcomes get worse,” he told The Independent. One of his co-author’s, Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, said it showed the damage caused by austerity “It is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics, but good class politics,” he said. “This study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.” The Department of Health stressed that no such conclusion could be drawn. A spokesperson said: “As the researchers themselves note, this study cannot be used to draw any firm conclusions about the cause of excess deaths. “The NHS is treating more people than ever before and funding is at record levels with an £8bn increase by 2020-21. We’ve also backed adult social care with £2bn investment and have 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.” And independent academics added that it is hard to prove cause and effect with this kind of study even if the underlying assumptions may be correct. Professor Martin Roland Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research, University of Cambridge said: “This study suggests that a change happened to cause deaths to stop declining around 2014. This is likely to be a correct finding. However, the link to health and social care spending is speculative as observational studies of this type can never prove cause and effect.” Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “We would urge government to review the evidence behind this analysis. If correct, it would clearly reinforce the desperate and urgent need to properly fund social care Mr Ashworth, responding to the study, said: “This shocking mortality gap is a damning indictment of the dire impact which sustained Tory cuts to our NHS and social care services have had on health outcomes across the nation. “Ahead of the Budget, this appalling news must serve as an urgent wake up call to the Prime Minister. She must match Labour’s pledge to deliver an extra £6 billion for our NHS across the next financial year to ensure the best possible quality of care is sustained for years to come.”
Categories: Friends of GEO, SE News

Prosperity Through Keystrokes: Understanding Federal Spending

It's Our Economy - November 18, 2017 - 10:00am
Above photo: From CNN Money. Google is blocking our site. Please use the social media sharing buttons (upper left) to share this on your social media and help us break through. Progressives Trigger warning: Compassion required. When is the last time you heard Greens, Berniecrats or Indie voters not acknowledge the distinct and pressing need for election reform, campaign finance reform, voting reform? More to the point, when haven’t they mentioned unleashing third parties from the fringe of irrelevancy and up on to the debate stage? That is mostly what is talked about, simply because it is low hanging fruit. It has long been known that our electoral system and methods of voting are corrupt, untrustworthy, and easily manipulated by less than savvy politicians, state actors, and hackers alike. The answers to many of these issues is the same answer that we would need to push for any progressive reforms to take place in the United States: namely, we need enlightened, fiery, peaceful, and committed activists to propel a movement and ensure that the people rise, face their oppressors, and unify to demand that their needs be met. What is not as well-known, however, is how a movement, the government, and taxes work together to bring about massive changes in programs, new spending, and the always scary “National Debt” (should be “National Assets”, but I will speak to that later). In fact, this subject is so poorly understood by many well-meaning people on all sides of the aisle that these issues are the most important we face as a nation. Until we understand them and have the confidence and precision necessary to destroy the myths and legends we have substituted in the absence of truth and knowledge, it must remain front and center to the movement. Progressives, like most people in the U.S., are almost religiously attached to the terms “the tax payer dollar,” and the idea that their “hard earned tax dollars” are being misappropriated. Often, the most difficult pill for people to swallow is the concept that our Federal Government is self-funding and creates the very money it “spends”. It isn’t spending your tax dollars at all. To demonstrate this, consider this simplified flow chart: These truths bring on even more hand wringing, because to the average voter they raise the issue of where taxes, tax revenue, government borrowing, and the misleading idea of the “National Debt” (which is nothing more than the sum of every single not yet taxed federal high-powered dollar in existence) fit into the federal spending picture. The answer is that they really don’t. A terrible deception has been perpetrated on the people. We have been led to believe that the U.S. borrows its own currency from foreign nations, that the money gathered from borrowing and collected from taxing funds federal spending. We have also been led to believe that gold is somehow the only real currency, that somehow our nation is broke because we don’t own much gold compared to the money we create, and that we are on the precipice of some massive collapse, etc. because of that shortage of gold. People in the United States have been taught single entry accounting instead of Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, or GAAP-approved double entry accounting, where every single asset has a corresponding liability; which means that every single dollar has a corresponding legal commitment. Every single dollar by accounting identity is nothing more than a tax credit waiting to be extinguished.  Sadly, many only see the government, the actual dollar creator, as having debt; that it has liabilities, not that we the people have assets; assets that we need more and more of as time goes on, to achieve any semblance of personal freedom and relative security from harm. In other words, at the Federal level it is neither your tax dollars nor the dollars collected from sales of Treasury debt instruments that are spent. Every single dollar the Federal Government spends is new money. Every dollar is keystroked into existence. Every single one of them. Which brings up the next question: “Where do our hard-earned tax dollars and borrowed dollars go if, in fact, they do not pay for spending on roads, schools, bombs and propaganda?” We already know the answer. They are destroyed by the Federal Reserve when they mark down the Treasury’s accounts. In Professor Stephanie Kelton’s article in the LA Times “Congress can give every American a pony (if it breeds enough ponies).” She states quite plainly: “Whoa, cowboy! Are you telling me that the government can just make money appear out of nowhere, like magic? Absolutely. Congress has special powers: It’s the patent-holder on the U.S. dollar. No one else is legally allowed to create it. This means that Congress can always afford the pony because it can always create the money to pay for it.” That alone should raise eye brows and cause you to reconsider a great many things you may have once thought. It will possibly cause you to fall back to old, neoclassical text book understandings as well, which she deftly anticipates and answers with: “Now, that doesn’t mean the government can buy absolutely anything it wants in absolutely any quantity at absolutely any speed. (Say, a pony for each of the 320 million men, women and children in the United States, by tomorrow.) That’s because our economy has internal limits. If the government tries to buy too much of something, it will drive up prices as the economy struggles to keep up with the demand. Inflation can spiral out of control. There are plenty of ways for the government to get a handle on inflation, though. For example, it can take money out of the economy through taxation.” And there it is. The limitation everyone is wondering about. Where is the spending limit? When we run out of real resources. Not pieces of paper or keystrokes. Real resources. To compound your bewilderment, would it stretch your credulity too much to say that the birth of a dollar...
Categories: Friends of GEO, SE News
Subscribe to Grassroots Economic Organizing aggregator - SE News