CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I am looking at a bar graph that measures, by decades (1950-2000), the percentage of sons' incomes explained by fathers' income.
The first four years show a gentle decline. From 1950 to 1980 the playing field for employment was moving toward equality. But the 1990 bar surpassed all of the others, literally doubling the inequality, and the 2000 bar soared considerably higher -- to 33 percent.
No one begrudges the head start given a child by their parents when these parents help their child -- as higher income parents are likely to do -- by increasing their vocabulary to help their education.
Vocabulary will not change much from decade to decade, but Reagan's huge tax cuts for the wealthy and the lurch away from manufacturing to finance, created circumstances that allowed wealth and connections to wield more influence than they had. The playing field became considerably less fair and the American dream receded for the majority of folks.
A few years later, when the banksters brought down the economy, some well-off folks did indeed suffer, but the lower-middle class suffered disproportionately. The well-paying jobs that were lost are, for the most part, gone for good. The new ones slowly opening up now, are low-paying.
Thus the Sept. 10 front-page report in the Gazette that "Covenant House served 60 percent more Charleston people in need than it did in 2011," though shocking, should not be too surprising. Executive Director Ellen Allen said the increase is because of an influx of "the working poor."
"The face of the homeless isn't always what people have in mind. These are devastated families who never thought it would happen to them," she said. "Sometimes you have both parents working two jobs."
A 60 percent increase in a single year! How could this be happening?
It seems that neither the churches nor the Democratic Party have been overly eager to point out in a crisp and unequivocal way, what has been occurring. The Republican Party, on the other hand, has kept up a barrage of commentary on how undeserving and overly dependant, the "lower-middle class" is.
And, with the advent of the Ryan budget that Paul Ryan and his Etch-a-Sketch sidekick have been backing, it may happen that most of the already inadequate safety net programs will be wiped out.
Thus it is that when a biblical quotation from Isaiah, Chapter 31, verses 5-8, showed up in the Populist Progressive, I felt obliged to send it to the Gazette:
"The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villainy and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. The instruments also of the churl are evil; he devises wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal devises liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand."
Palmer, a Unitarian Universalist, lives in Charleston.