[VIDEO] Milton Friedman on the True Cause of the Great Depression 

Milton Friedman corrects the record on the cause of the Great Depression. Debunking the myth that is what from high speculation on wall street. Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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16 Nov 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA --- Notorious gangster Al Capone attempts to help unemployed men with his soup kitchen "Big Al's Kitchen for the Needy."  The kitchen provides three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding about 3500 people daily at a cost of $300 per day. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

16 Nov 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA — Notorious gangster Al Capone attempts to help unemployed men with his soup kitchen “Big Al’s Kitchen for the Needy.” The kitchen provides three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding about 3500 people daily at a cost of $300 per day. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee Dead at Age of 89

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Connor Sheets reports: Author Nelle Harper Lee, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 for her book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” passed away in her sleep Friday morning at the age of 89, her family has confirmed.

“This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors,” Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew and a spokesman for the family, said in a statement Friday morning.

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“We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”

— Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew

Conner’s statement indicated that “Ms. Lee passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing.”

Services for Lee have not been announced, but Conner said the funeral will be private as per her request.

World remembers 'To Kill A Mockingbird' author Harper Lee

[World remembers ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ author Harper Lee]

Lee was born April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, the youngest of four children of lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee.

As a child, Lee attended elementary school and high school just a few blocks from her house on Alabama Avenue. In a March 1964 interview, she offered this capsule view of her childhood: “I was born in a little town called Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28, 1926. I went to school in the local grammar school, went to high school there, and then went to theHarper Lee University of Alabama. That’s about it, as far as education goes.”

She moved to New York in 1949, where she worked as an airlines reservations clerk while pursuing a writing career. Eight years later, Lee submitted her manuscript for “To Kill a Mockingbird” to J.B. Lippincott & Co., which asked her to rewrite it.

[Read the full story here, at AL.com]

On July 11, 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published by Lippincott with critical and commercial success. The author won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the following year.

Lee’s novel tells the story of small-town lawyer Atticus Finch of Maycomb, Ala.—based on Monroeville — and his children, Scout and Jem. Told from Scout’s point of view, the book reflects the innocence of children growing up in the early 1930s. It also depicts the various social classes that existed then, and brings the undercurrents of racism to light.

More than a half-century after its publication, the novel continues to be studied by high school and college students. It has sold more than 30 million copies—still selling nearly a million copies per year by the 50th anniversary of its publication in 2010, according to Publishers Weekly–and has been translated into more than 40 languages.

The film adaptation of the novel, with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout, opened on Christmas Day of 1962 and was an instant hit. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Actor for Peck and Best Screenplay for Horton Foote, who wrote the screenplay for the movie based on the book. Lee became close friends with both of them. Read the rest of this entry »


James Pethokoukis: Does Lower Labor Force Participation Mean the 5% US Unemployment Rate is a Phony Number? 

James Pethokoukis writes: The current 5%  unemployment rate is half its worst level of the Great Recession. But the jobless rate would be 10.1% if the labor force participation rate — which feeds into the unemployment rate — were back at pre-recession levels. So what is the “real” unemployment rate? The other day, I quoted a new Goldman Sachs study on the LFPR issue:

What about the 3.6pp decline in the labor force participation rate since 2007? While it’s true that the unemployment rate would be much higher if participation had remained stable, we now believe most of the decline since that time should be considered structural. By far the largest contribution to the decline in participation has been an increase in retirees—mostly a natural consequence of the aging of the workforce. Rising disability rates—a trend mostly driven by demographics—and a tendency for young people to remain in school have also played a role.The remaining cyclical component is a relatively modest share of the labor force, and broadly captured by the U6 unemployment rate, in our view.

And n0w the San Francisco Fed offers a similar perspective:

First is the aging of the population. The baby boomers are entering retirement and people are living longer. Remember, the participation rate counts everyoneover 16, so my happily retired parents count as “out of the labor force,” even though, in their 80s, few people would still be working. Second is that younger people aren’t working as much as they used to. But this is partly because many have extended their education or gone back to school, and fewer are working when they’re there. Third is an increase in people deciding they’d rather have single-income families (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007–2014). For whatever reason, they’ve traded a second paycheck for spending more time at home, whether it’s for child care, leisure, or simply that it’s a better lifestyle fit. Each of these groups is made up of people who are not working, but doing so for personal or demographic reasons. As their numbers swell, it will, obviously, push the participation rate down.

As for the area of concern, we’re emerging from the deepest, longest recession since the Great Depression. And it’s true that a lot of people did give up looking for work. A key indicator is the somewhat unfairly named “prime-age males” cohort, who are 25–54. This group has historically been a constant in the American workforce, but in the wake of the recession, its participation fell sharply. However, as the labor market has improved, that number has largely stabilized over the past two years, as has the overall participation rate.

[Read the full text here, at AEIdeas]

The last factor to consider is whether there are people who will reenter the labor force and pull the participation rate back up. The “marginally attached” for instance, a group made up of people who are ready and able to work and who’ve searched for jobs in the past year but who aren’t currently looking. The assumption would reasonably be that this group is poised to return to the labor force. First off, these numbers have come down a lot, falling by over 12% in the past year alone. In addition, my staff has found that, over the past few years, their reentry rate back into the labor force has actually fallen. When you combine this with the aging workforce, it looks unlikely that participation will rise. This is supported by other research from both within and outside the Fed System (Stephanie Aaronson et al. 2014 and Krueger 2015). Overall, the evidence suggests that, even with a quite strong economy, we won’t see a significant number of people come back into the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


James Pethokoukis: How Crony Capitalism is Slowing Global Economic Growth

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 writes: US productivity growth, at least as measured, has been in low gear for a decade. And especially so since the Great Recession, averaging just 0.6% annually from 2010 through 2014. We’re aren’t going to consistently hit 3% GDP growth, much less 4%, like that.

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Then again, productivity growth has slowed in most OECD countries over the past decade. A new OECD research note doesn’t think the problem is a lack of innovation, so much as an inability to spread innovation broadly throughout advanced economies. “A breakdown of the diffusion machine” is what the OECD calls it.

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[Read the full text here, at AEIdeas]

The gap between high productivity firms and low productivity firms is increasing. (Maybe also helping to explain rising inequality.) So why aren’t innovations spreading as fast as they used to? The WSJ’s analysis of the paper sums it up nicely:

One key reason appears to be that the process of “creative destruction” identified by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter as essential to capitalism’s dynamism appears to have lost some of its ferocity. In the OECD’s words, “market selection is weak.” One reason for that is government policy, which the OECD said favors incumbents across a whole range of areas, from regulations designed to protect the environment, to taxation. As a result, older firms that suffer from low productivity growth endure, often “trapping” workers in jobs for which they are over qualified. Read the rest of this entry »


Scott Walker’s Righteous Victory in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Associated Press

The Editors, National Review: We are halfway there: On Friday, the state assembly of Wisconsin voted to make the state the 25th to pass right-to-work legislation, and Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill with some satisfaction. That’s 25 down, 25 to go. (Our optimism is not so unanchored as to consider the sorry case of the District of Columbia.)

[read the full text here, at National Review]

Right-to-work laws end the practice of union bosses’ enriching their organizations through a legal variety of extortion under which all workers are required to pay the equivalent of union dues, whether they wish to be represented by a particular union or do not. The traditional position of Democrats, toward whose campaign coffers a great deal of that money is destined, is that this practice is necessary to ensure “fairness” — that workers enjoy the unions’ protection whether they want it or not. But the correct term for an arrangement like that isn’t “fairness” — it is “protection racket,” and Governor Walker’s signature will put an end to this particular brand of racketeering.

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“The face of the American union member in 2015 is not a working man in a hardhat or Rosie the Riveter, but a bored DMV clerk twiddling his thumbs on a government-mandated break while a taxpayer waits six hours to renew a driver’s license.”

A great deal of attention is being paid, and will be paid, to what this means for the presidential aspirations of Wisconsin’s governor, who confronted and trounced entrenched public-sector interests and then trounced them again when they tried to recall him. Governor Walker is an impressive man offering a welcome infusion of ordinary good governance to the Republican presidential pageant, but the political concerns here are secondary. The most important consideration is the excision of a cancer from the American economy and the American body politic.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Unions are not a mechanism by which the rights of ordinary workers are secured; they are a mechanism by which the enormous streams of taxpayers’ dollars shunted into inefficient and criminally wasteful bureaucracies are laundered into campaign donations and political muscle for Democrats.”

The prominent American labor unions mainly are in steep decline, but, because of certain legal privileges, they punch above their weight politically and economically; they are corrupt, sometimes in the formal legal sense and often the more general moral sense; they are an appendage of the Democratic party whose remarkably well-compensated bosses ransack their members’ paychecks in order to exchange political donations for political favors; and, perhaps most important, they are today a prominent presence mainly in the public sector… Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Will Go Down as America’s Gorbachev

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Like Gorbachev, Obama will be esteemed in certain quarters a generation from now, but probably more by foreigners than fellow citizens, and more by his country’s enemies than its friends.

Christopher Caldwell Democrats nominated Barack Obama in 2008 to extract America from George W. Bush’s Iraq misadventure and to spread more fairly the proceeds of a quarter-century-old boom for which they credited Bill Clinton. The Election Eve collapse of Lehman Brothers changed things. It showed that there had been no boom at all, only a multitrillion-dollar real-estate debauch that Clinton’s and Bush’s affordable-housing mandates had set in motion. It also showed how fast historians’ likely rankings of presidents can shift: Clinton went from above average to below average, Bush from low to rock bottom.

“Obama’s legacy is one of means, not ends. He has laid the groundwork for a political order less answerable to voters.” 

Obama may wind up the most consequential of the three baby-boom presidents. He expanded certain Bush ­policies — Detroit bailouts, internet surveillance, drone strikes — and cleaned up after others. We will not know for years whether Obama’s big deficits risked a future depression to avoid a present one, or whether the respite he offered from “humanitarian invasions” made the country safer. Right now, both look like significant achievements.

Yet there is a reason the president’s approval ratings have fallen, in much of the country, to Nixonian lows. Even his best-functioning policies have come at a steep price in damaged institutions, leaving the country less united, less democratic, and less free.

“For a generation, there has been too much private wealth in politics; Obama’s innovation has been to bring private wealth into government.”

Health-care reform and gay marriage are often spoken of as the core of Obama’s legacy. That is a mistake. Policies are not always legacies, even if they endure, and there is reason to believe these will not. The more people learn about Obamacare, the less they like it — its popularity is still falling, to a record low of 37 percent in November. Thirty states have voted to ban gay marriage, and almost everywhere it survives by judicial diktat.

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The decline of great powers

These are, however, typical Obama achievements. They are triumphs of tactics, not consensus-building. Obamacare involved quid pro quos (the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the “Louisiana Purchase,” etc.) that passed into Capitol Hill lore, accounting and parliamentary tricks to render the bill unfilibusterable, and a pure party-line vote in the Senate. Read the rest of this entry »


This Day In History Welfare State Born: FDR Signs Social Security Act, August 14, 1935

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August 14, 1935: FDR Signs Social Security Act into Law

On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which was originally designed to provide economic security during the Great Depression.

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Funded through a 2% payroll tax, the 1935 Social Security Act offered aid for the unemployed, the elderly, children and various state health and welfare programs. Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] Graphic Novel ‘Forgotten Man’ Offers a Fresh Look at The New Deal

The Forgotten Man

Liberals often have their way in the realm of entertainment, dominating film, television and music.

Breitbart News reports: The graphic novel realm can also lean left, but that didn’t stop the creators of The Forgotten Man. The new graphic novel, from Amity Shlaes and Paul Rivoche, tackles the Great Depression from a center-right perspective. The black and white book argues that the New Deal effectively prolonged the country’s economic hardships.

[You can order the book “The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition: A New History of the Great Depression” from Amazon]

The duo chatted with Ed Driscoll about their project, and the conversation soon shifted to the culture wars. They argued that liberty loving artists must take a stand with their work…(read moreBreitbart News

[You can also order the book: “A People’s History of American Empire” from Amazon]

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This Day In History: May 6, 1940, The Grapes of Wrath Wins a Pulitzer Prize

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May 6, 1940: The Grapes of Wrath Wins a Pulitzer Prize

The Grapes of Wrath is available at Amazon.com

On this day in 1940, John Steinbeck was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Grapes of Wrath. The novel tells the story of the Joads, a poor Oklahoma farming family, who migrate to California in search of a better life during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Steinbeck effectively demonstrated how the struggles of one family mirrored the hardship of the entire nation.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Liberal Dream of a Social Safety Net Administrated by State Monopoly

clementine gallot/Flickr

clementine gallot/Flickr

Mike Konczal has an article in The Atlantic with a headline and sub-headline that dazzles at reaffirming statist conventions, congratulating progressive self-righteousness, and preserving liberal comfort zones. As eye-catching ‘screw you’ propaganda, it has a certain charm that begs for correction.

And that’s just the headlines! Who reads articles? Fear not. A good butchering can fix it.

So, with our characteristic zest for counter-programing—and a cheerful middle finger to the lazy critics of conservative ideology—let the rewrite begin.

The Conservative Myth of a Social Safety Net Built on Charity 

The Liberal Dream of a Social Safety Net Administrated by State Monopoly, Fortified by Corruption, Enforced by Violence.

(properly understood, the state is an instrument of force)

 The right yearns for an era when churches and local organizations took care of society’s weakest—an era that never existed and can’t exist today.

The left yearns for a secular utopia where religious charity and private philanthropy is bullied out of existence by academics, bureaucrats, and all-powerful federal administrators — a Marxist fantasy that never existed, and can’t exist today.

See? Isn’t that better?

Read the rest of this entry »


Population Declining in States with Relatively High Dependence on Government

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Michael Barone  writes:  The Census Bureau’s holiday treat is its release of annual state population estimates, to be digested slowly in the new year.

The headline from this year’s release is that population growth from July 2012 to July 2013 was 0.72 percent, lower than in the two preceding years and the lowest since the Great Depression 1930s.

This reflects continuing low, below-replacement-rate birth rates and lower immigration than in 1982-2007. Net immigration from Mexico evidently continues to be zero.

The Census Bureau reports that only 4.8 million Americans moved across state lines in 2012 -- about half the percentage that did so in the boom years of the 1990s. (Thinkstock Image)

The Census Bureau reports that only 4.8 million Americans moved across state lines in 2012 — about half the percentage that did so in the boom years of the 1990s. (Thinkstock Image)

The nation’s economy may be growing again, but Americans — and potential Americans — are not acting like it. There’s a parallel here with poll results showing that majorities still believe we are in a recession that the National Bureau of Economic Research says ended in June 2009, nearly five years ago.

Sluggish population growth is matched by sluggish geographic mobility. The Census Bureau reports that only 4.8 million Americans moved across state lines in 2012 — about half the percentage that did so in the boom years of the 1990s.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why Texas Is Growing (and Illinois Isn’t)

Why-Texas-Is-Growing-And-Illinois-Isnt

Michael Barone writes:   The Census Bureau’s holiday treat is its release of annual state-population estimates, to be digested slowly in the new year.

The headline from this year’s release is that population growth from July 2012 to July 2013 was 0.72 percent, lower than in the two preceding years and the lowest since the Great Depression 1930s. This reflects continuing low, below-replacement-rate birth rates and lower immigration than in 1982–2007. Net immigration from Mexico evidently continues to be zero.

The nation’s economy may be growing again, but Americans — and potential Americans — are not acting like it. There’s a parallel here with poll results showing that majorities still believe we are in a recession that the National Bureau of Economic Research says ended in June 2009, nearly five years ago.

Read the rest of this entry »


FLASHBACK: Excerpt from Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” Speech, 1979

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Millions Homeless, Obama Blameless

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10,000-word New Yorker Article on Rise in Homelessness Mentions ‘Barack Obama’ Zero Times

Jamie Weinstein observes: The New Yorker magazine’s latest issue features a nearly 10,000 word article on the rise in homelessness in New York City — but the piece doesn’t mention the name “Barack Obama” a single time.

According to the article, the number of homeless in New York City has exploded in recent years.

“For baseball games, Yankee Stadium seats 50,287. If all the homeless people who now live in New York City used the stadium for a gathering, several thousand of them would have to stand,” the article opens. Read the rest of this entry »


The Luckiest Generation

Why those born in the late 1930s and 1940s are richer than those who came before — or after.

pic_giant_102413_SM_The-Luckiest-Generation

Kevin D. Williamson writes:  One of the great American assumptions — that while individuals and families may rise and fall, each generation will end up on average better off than the one that preceded it — has been the subject of much scrutiny in the past decade. Democrats and their affiliated would-be wealth redistributors have argued that the large income gains enjoyed by the highest-paid workers threaten the American dream of ever-upward generational mobility, while others have worried that the housing meltdown and the Great Recession, which inflicted serious damage on the net worths of many American families, now stand in the way of that dream. Deficit hawks, including yours truly, have long worried that the entitlement system, with its unsustainable wealth transfers from the relatively poor young to the relatively wealthy old, would eventually leave one generation — probably mine — on the hook, having paid a lifetime’s worth of payroll taxes to support a system of retirement benefits likely to fall apart before we’ve recouped what everybody keeps dishonestly insisting is an investment. It’s fashionable to hate the Baby Boomers, who are numerous and entitlement-loving, for the problem, but in fact they may be the first generation to feel the sting of the reversal.

Read the rest of this entry »


Want to Understand How China is Doing? Don’t Look at GDP

 Why the classic benchmark statistic is unsuitable to describing the world’s second-largest economy.

Carlos Barria/Reuters

Carlos Barria/Reuters

For over a quarter century, the one figure that dominated discussion of China’s economy was this: eight percent. Beginning in 1982, when leader Deng Xiaoping established the percentage as necessary to quadruple the size of the country’s GDP by 2000, China has seldom failed to achieve it—even in 2009, when the world was enduring the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The eight-percent figure became so entrenched that it acquired an almost Talmudic significance, causing speculation that if the economy didn’t grow by that amount, social instability would surely follow. (The fact that the number eight is considered lucky in Chinese culture only added to the mystique.)

These days are now over. China’s GDP has failed to reach the benchmark for six successive quarters, checking in at 7.5 percent for the second quarter of 2013. Though this growth is still robust by global standards, the sub-eight percent figure has raised concerns that a Chinese  “slowdown” is now permanent—and will have serious consequences for the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »


Here Comes the Spoils Society

“To the victors belong the spoils”

— Senator William L. Marcy of New York, 1786-1857, arguing why victorious political parties deserve government jobs.

WASHINGTON — Robert Samuelson writes: We are, I fear, slowly moving from “the affluent society” toward a “spoils society.” In 1958, Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith published his best-seller, “The Affluent Society,” which profoundly influenced national thinking for decades. To the Great Depression’s survivors, post-World War II prosperity dazzled. Suburbia offered a quiet alternative to crowded and noisy cities. New technologies impressed — television, frozen foods, automatic washers and dryers. Never, it seemed, had so much been enjoyed by so many.

This explosive abundance, Galbraith argued, meant the country could afford both private wants and public needs. It could devote more to schools, roads, parks and pollution control. Economic growth became the holy grail of government policy. Production was paramount. It muted social conflict.

The “spoils society” reverses this logic. It de-emphasizes production and fuels conflict. Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry »


Woodward: If Shutdown or Debt Ceiling Causes Economic Crisis, It’s on the ‘President’s Head’

Bob Woodward of The Washington Post said if there is a “downturn or a collapse” resulting from the failure of CR or debt ceiling negotiations it will be on President Obama’s “head” Monday on Morning Joe.

Woodward noted he respected President Obama’s objection to negotiating on the debt ceiling, but criticized the administration for failing to initiate any dialogue that could result in a deal on funding the government.

“It’s on the president’s head, he’s got to lead, he’s got to talk” Woodward said: Read the rest of this entry »


Beer by Beer, Houston Home Morphs Into Landmark

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI Associated Press
HOUSTON July 29, 2013 (AP)

A child of the Great Depression, John Milkovisch didn’t throw anything away — not even the empty cans of beer he enjoyed each afternoon with his wife.

So, in the early 1970s when aluminum siding on houses was all the rage, he lugged down the cans he had stored in his attic for years, painstakingly cut open and flattened each one and began to wallpaper his home.

“The funny thing is that it wasn’t … to attract attention,” said Ruben Guevara, head of restoration and preservation of the Beer Can House in Houston’s Memorial Park area. “He said himself that if there was a house similar to this a block away, he wouldn’t take the time to go look at it. He had no idea what was the fascination about what he was doing.”

Milkovisch passed away in the mid-1980s, but his wife, Mary, still lived there. Her sons would do work from time to time, replacing rusty steel cans with new ones and restoring a hurricane-destroyed beer wall. And when they feared for her safety because of the gawkers, they put up a privacy fence, embedding beer cans in that as well.

The neighborhood has rapidly transformed since Mary Milkovisch’s death in the mid-1990s, going from a working middle-class area to today’s condo- and loft-lined upper-class sector. But the home remains a well-known entity.

Determined to preserve this accidental piece of folk art, local nonprofit Orange Show Center for Visionary Art bought the property about 10 years ago, began a careful restoration of the house and opened it to the public.

“It shows the human nature of the individual is supreme. You can take the simplest thing, and it can actually affect a lot of other people,” said Houston resident Patrick Louque, who lived in the area when it was John Milkovisch’s pet project. “It’s totally grabbed me, and it’s probably totally grabbed the imagination of more people than I could possibly imagine.”

Read the rest of this entry »


NYC Smashes Homelessness Record

Some on Wall Street may be celebrating the Dow hitting a record high on Tuesday, but a new report says New York City now has a record 50,000 people a night sleeping in the city’s homeless shelters.

The Coalition for the Homeless says that, in January, an unprecedented 21,000 children—1% of the city’s youth—slept each night in a homeless shelter, a 22% increase over last year.

“New York is facing a homeless crisis worse than any time since the Great Depression,”says President of the Coalition for the Homeless Mary Brosnahan.

The report says homelessness among families is also on the rise. From 2011 to 2012, family homelessness increased 1.4% nationally. In Boston, family homelessness is up 7.8%. And in “boomtown” Washington, D.C., the nation’s richest city, the number of families without a home has skyrocketed 18%.

The report’s findings offer a stark contrast between the gains made on Wall Street from the Federal Reserve’s $2.5 trillion in so-called stimulus versus the harsh reality America’s jobless recovery.

Indeed, even as today’s Dow rally marks the third-best stock-market leap in the post-World War II era, Americans now find themselves struggling in the worst labor-market recovery since World War II.

via NYC Smashes Homelessness Record — Brietbart.com