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“A hundred million here, a . hundred million there, in cuts that’s how they were talking. So 1 walked over and picked up some peanuts from a bowl and began to drop them in, one by one. ‘Peanuts,’ I said. `Here’s $100 million worth of widows, here’s $100 million worth of children you’ll drive into the snow.’ .” Supply-side economist Jude Wanniski’ s account of a conversation with Reagan Budget Director David Stockman and economist Alan Greenspan in 1982 eince 1979 the rate of poverty among chil dren has increased substantially in the United States. Child poverty rates are up in 33 states, according to a study done by the Children’s two of the 50 states. In 1989, two of every five black children living in the United States lived in poverty; as did two of five Native American children, one of three Hispanic children, one of six AsianAmerican children and one of every eight white children. These figures, according to the CDF, don’t even take into account the estimated 100,000 homeless children whose living conditions were not documented by the 1990 census, on which the study was based. Nor does this calculation, based on census data, include more recent increases in poverty: “Since 1989 child poverty has gotten dramatically worse, due to the recession which started in summer 1990. Figures from the yearly Current Population Survey show that the number of poor children nationwide shot up by 841,000 between 1989 and 1990 alone \(the latest year for which nationwide poverty data are availEdelman in a report released in July. That oneyear increase represents the population of a city roughly the size of San Antonio excluding one or two affluent northern suburbs. A state which would represent all 11 million of the nation’s poor children would be roughly equal in population to Illinois or a nation with a population equal to that of Cuba. In Texas, 1,140,367 children live in poverty up from 791,228 in 1979. That places Texas, with 24 percent of its children living in poverty, eighth among the 50 states. And we are surrounded by states in which large numbers of children are poor. Louisiana’s children’s poverty rate is 32.8 percent; New Mexico, 27.5; Arkansas, 25; Oklahoma, 21.4. Other states in the top ten are Mississippi, where one of every three children is poor; West Virginia, 25.9 percent, Kentucky, 24.5 percent; Alabama, 24; and Arizona at 21.7 percent. And the definition of poverty is not a very generous one. In 1989, according to the census bureau’s definition, a family of three was considered poor if its total income was lower than $9,885; a family of four was poor if its income was lower than $12,675. Who are these poor children? Almost six million of them are white, 3.7 million black, 2.4 million Hispania, 346,000 Asian and 260,000 native American. Blacks represent only 12 percent of the total population, so black children are considerably over-represented among this nation’s poor. There are, according to the CDF, three “key reasons” for the increase in children’s poverty. During the past 10 years wages declined \(takyoung workers and those without college degrees. This loss of earnings was accompanied by government budget cuts, meaning that “income-support programs became less effective at lifting needy families out of poverty.” And a third factor described as less important than the decline in earnings and government benefits was the increase in the number of children who live with single mothers. \(This perhaps explains Vice President Quayle’s harsh criticism of single mothers: Reducing the number of single mothers represents the most cost-effective measure available to reduce the rate of children living in poverty. It’s rational and programmatic, perhaps a suggestion from In 1982, for the first time since the Great Depression, there appeared a large population of Americans on the streets and looking for shelter. “That’s when people began to notice, in places beyond New York City, large numbers of homeless individuals who were not the standard population of men with alcohol problems,” said Fred Karnas, executive director for the Washington-based National Coalition for the Homeless. In 1982, the homeless population in the United States was estimated to be somewhere around 100,000. Today that population is estimated to be 600,000 as much as it can be counted. Take into account people in rural areas and families doubling and tripling up after they’ve lost their homes, and the count might be as high as 3 million, Karnas said. What caused this increase in the number of Americans with no place to sleep at the end of each day? The same things that caused the increase in children’s poverty. And other more complex factors, like the like the deindustrialization of the nation. The increase in the homeless population is a phenomenon that hasn’t yet entirely played itself out, Karnas suggested. And after 10 years in which Housing and Urban by at least 70 percent, those at greatest risk are pr,,, THE TEXAS 1 0 server AUGUST 7, 1992 VOLUME 84, No. 15 FEATURES Perot-Normal Post-Mortem By Thomas Ferguson 1 Where Credit Is Due 1 0 American Amnesty By Amnesty International 1 3 Conventional Midwifery By Deborah Lutterbeck 1 5 DEPARTMENTS Editorial 3 Books & the Culture Remembrance of Rages Past Book review by Rod Davis 1 7 Journal New Life for the Klan By Jane Grandolfo 19 Afterword Letter from Havana By Rosalind Soliz 22 Political Intelligence 24 Cover art by Michael Alexander now single mothers; in the 1990s, 60 to 70 percent of residents of public housing are single mothers and their children. The underfunding of public housing threatens to displace families well into the ’90s, according to Karnas. And in two weeks the Republican Party will begin its national convention with a speech by former President Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan, who New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen recently described as “the ghost of conventions and policies past, the Grand Old Man who introduced us to hard times introducing us to George Bush this second time around?” Together again, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, with Reagan kicking off the Republican National Convention with a primetime speech? I think the Republicans have really miscalculated this time. What can Ronald Reagan possibly tell us? That continued reductions in taxation will result in greater revenue for the government? That no child in America goes hungry at night but for the fault of that child’s parents? That it is again morning in America? I wouldn’t miss it for anything. L.D. EDITORIALS Lost Decade THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3