Brian Birdnow

Last week, after Christmas had passed and the public had begun crossing the last days of 2011 off of their calendars, the economists all chimed in with their year-end reviews, and their projections for 2012. Most of the economists who are given a bully pulpit in our daily newspapers now say that the great recession is over, economic green shoots abound, and we should see moderate, but steady growth throughout 2012, just in time for Obama to claim credit in advance of the November elections. Yet, there are some who dissent from this “official” rosy view. Many conservatives believe that the uncertainties contained in the 2010 health care bill will dampen any recovery and others foresee a new round of energy price shocks in the year ahead, with the price of gasoline breaking the $5.00 per gallon plateau. There is one other definable electoral bloc that does not accept the view that the economy may be turning around. This group is the growing host of Americans who depend on poverty for their livelihood. Yes, when one considers the seemingly intractable problem of poverty, they will find the anti-poverty business everywhere, prominent in the action.

In the Thursday, December 29th issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the newspaper featured an Op-Ed piece by the Executive Director of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Mr. Dan Glazier. Mr. Glazier claimed in his article, “The poverty business is booming”, by which he meant that this region, and by extension the nation, was experiencing a frightful growth in the number of citizens falling out of the middle class and into the ranks of the poor. Glazier, of course, makes no mention of the utter failure of the Obama Administration’s policies to arrest this slide, but no matter. Mr. Glazier sounds the alarm bell, warning his readers of dire consequences if the Legal Services budget is not increased significantly to reflect the startling jump in impoverished people, who, presumably need help in suing their landlords and divorcing their spouses.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.

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