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November 28, 2011 9:30 AM The ‘Hard Times Generation’

By Steve Benen

Earlier in the year, “60 Minutes” visited with homeless children in Florida, who’d been forced by economic circumstances into poverty for the first time in their lives. Last night, the news magazine followed up, revisiting with families struggling to get by every day.

It’s a tough segment to watch, but it’s worth watching anyway.

If you can’t watch clips online, CBS posted the segment’s script.

As for the larger context, with more than 16 million children living in poverty, and already-full homeless shelters finding it necessary to turn families away, I’m inclined to suggest the Republican austerity agenda — fewer public investments, no jobs bills, prioritizing the debt over the economy, and tax breaks for the wealthy — isn’t just wrong; it’s disgusting.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • wvng on November 28, 2011 9:34 AM:

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of the newly dispossessed live in the right wing media universe, watch Fox, listen to Rush, and think their problems would magically go away if we just got rid of the Muslim socialist fascist in the WH?

  • Hedda Peraz on November 28, 2011 9:37 AM:

    They don't vote; so they don't count.

  • Perspecticus on November 28, 2011 9:46 AM:

    Malkin's takedown of the myth of "homeless children" in 5... 4...

  • c u n d gulag on November 28, 2011 9:47 AM:

    IT'S IMMORAL!

    But, of course, you can't tell them that, because they think they have a monopoly on morality.

  • imjustsayin on November 28, 2011 9:50 AM:

    Ok independents, if you're enjoying the prolific accomplishments of the republicans in congress now, fasten your seatbelts should they retake congress and the White House next year.

  • SteveT on November 28, 2011 9:50 AM:

    But . . . but . . .

    Republicans tell us that if we just cut the taxes of millionaires one more time, then THIS TIME FOR SURE the Supply-side Fairy will rise up out of the pumpkin patch and flitter across the countryside while sprinkling her magical pixie dust over the economy to ensure that every deserving American has a job, that roads and bridges never wear out and the every single child's test scores are above average.

    And if tax cuts for millionaires don't conjure the Supply-side Fairy this time, then next time they'll try something different. They'll cut the taxes of millionaires and sacrifice a chicken. Or maybe a goat. It's just a matter of time until they find the proper incantation.

  • Danp on November 28, 2011 9:50 AM:

    As I watched the segment, I wondered two things:

    1) Does Florida have too many gated communities, completely isolated from reality?
    2) Is the "greatest generation" a joke, or should I be more empathetic to senile people who spend their waning days fearing shark attacks and Aruban murderers?

  • massappeal on November 28, 2011 9:55 AM:

    Good post, great story. It seems appropriate to link to this old Stephen Foster song, as covered by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on their last tour:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6JoSruSCos

  • delNorte on November 28, 2011 10:09 AM:

    Tough to watch, yes, but - wow - those kids are amazing.

    And where are the legion of "compassionate conservatives" who were supposed to rise up and donate of their wealth to make sure this doesn't happen?

  • Brenna on November 28, 2011 10:11 AM:

    It's just completely disgusting.

    I think if republicans take over, a lot more of us will be living out of our cars.

  • bigtuna on November 28, 2011 10:20 AM:

    and how many elected officials, or candidates, of any version, speak up, ever, about these folks?

    ANd, while this is great that CBS "discovered" these people - - news flash, - they have existed forever. I ran into van families during - oh, wait, the Reagan years, too. Hmmm what a coincidence ....

  • PTate in MN on November 28, 2011 10:26 AM:

    "the Republican austerity agenda -- fewer public investments, no jobs bills, prioritizing the debt over the economy, and tax breaks for the wealthy -- isn't just wrong; it's disgusting."

    "Disgusting" is a good description. I'd add "immoral, obscene, despicable, mean-spirited, heartless" as well as --if moral outrage isn't sufficient--"inefficient, incompetent, destructive and anti-democratic."

    Maybe we are finally reaching a tipping point in the US, as the slow-learners finally catch on to what Republican policies do to the nation. It's a con game, and 99% of us are the losers. All we need is 51% of Americans in every district in the country to figure this out and vote Democratic.

  • SteveT on November 28, 2011 10:32 AM:

    PTate in MN said:
    "Disgusting" is a good description. I'd add "immoral, obscene, despicable, mean-spirited, heartless" as well as --if moral outrage isn't sufficient--"inefficient, incompetent, destructive and anti-democratic."

    Don't forget: unChristian

  • jonthebru on November 28, 2011 11:57 AM:

    Their mother obviously took her prenatal vitamins.
    If I had the wherewithal, I don't, I would start a college fund for this young person and her brother.

  • goterpsgo on November 28, 2011 1:13 PM:

    I was amazed at how well-spoken these kids were. As much as they needed money and homes, those kids seemed to really appreciate what they still had. I suspect adversity really focuses people's minds.

    Yes those families are deserving of social services and unemployment benefits. No they are not lazy. Newt should spend time with them for a couple of weeks.

  • low-tech cyclist on November 28, 2011 1:34 PM:

    So how have our major political parties reacted to the news that there are kids living in their parents' cars?

    Would be nice if one of them were to make a big deal about this. Would be nice to say, "while the GOP is OK with kids living in cars, the Dems think it's an abomination."

  • Charley James on November 28, 2011 3:05 PM:

    As I watched the "60 Minutes" segment last night, I found myself crying, crocodule tears running down my cheeks. Thanks to the policies of the Republican Party, we have become a third world country where some 16-million children live in poverty so severe their parent's don't know if they can feed their kids today. America, wake up. The circumstances of this incredibly powerful story is getting more acute every day.

  • zandru on November 28, 2011 3:38 PM:

    Viva CBS

    I think the Republican take-away on this one is, hey, the kids and families are coping. So what's the big deal?

    However, I'd strongly advise against just giving in to cynicism on this one. Remember the 60 Minutes story last week on Congressional insider trading? And before the week was out, bills were being introduced to put a stop to it?

    Admittedly, with a Republican-controlled Congress, not much will happen just yet. But 60 Minutes got the public's attention and they piled on their elected officials and something happened. We ought to send in a big thanks to CBS and 60 Minutes to encourage them to keep it up.

    Frankly, it beats the too-frequent celebutard puff piece that the network suits keep making them do...

  • exlibra on November 28, 2011 5:04 PM:

    Perspecticus on November 28, 2011 9:46 AM:

    Malkin's takedown of the myth of "homeless children" in 5... 4...

    Well, they still have the truck, don't they? It's like camping; fun.

    It's unbelievable how heartless even the otherwise compassionate people can be, sometimes. A dentist who volunteers at our Free Clinic (admissions limit: twice national poverty level) once observed, with some bitterness, that many of the patients actually own cell phones. Can't be but so poor, then, right?

    And, before you ask... When he's not volunteering at the Clinic, he watches Fox and spends the rest of his time cowering under the bed because Muslims are coming after his Christian faith.

    Perhaps the cops across the country could send all those tents and other goodies they confiscated at various OWS sites to the homeless of Florida?

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