..................Poverty is an endemic feature of American capitalism. As tracked by the Census Bureau in a September 2015 study, “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014,” the U.S. has witnessed 11 periods of “recession” over the last half-century, including: 1948-1949, 1953-1954, 1957-1958, 1960-1961, 1969-1979, 1973-1975, 1980, 1981-1982, 1990-1991, 2001 and 2007-2009. One consequence of the capitalist boom-bust cycle is repeated upswings in the poverty rate. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, the poverty rate hit 22 percent in the late-1950s, involving nearly 40 million Americans. The rate peaked in 1959, hiting 22.4 percent, the highest in the post-WW-II era.
The same year that Pres. Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, 1973, the poverty rate hit its lowest level over the last half-century – 11.1 percent, involving 23 million people. Like a rollercoaster, the poverty rate increased to 15.2 percent in 1983, then fell to 11.3 percent in 2000, jumped to 15.1 percent in 2010 and has now flattened out at 14.8 percent. In 1964, when Pres. Johnson called for a “war on poverty,” the rate was 19 percent. Has the 15 percent poverty rate become the new normal? Does this mean that a 0 percent poverty rate is no longer conceivable?