02 March 2007

Poverty

Some disturbing news from the national poverty front......the “percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high.” And closely connected is another statistic which we have become accustomed to hearing—the differences between the haves and the have-nots continues to rise.

This current report, based on 2005 census figures, shows that the number of “severely poor Americans” has grown by 26% since 2000. And while we continue to hear about the strong national economy; "wages and job growth have lagged behind, and the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries."

Is this really a surprise? Economists and other writers on the left have been saying this for the past decade--but few listen.

Something else the good old USA can be proud of….."over the past two decades, America has had the highest or near-highest poverty rates for children, individual adults and families among 31 developed countries." This data comes from the ongoing Luxembourg Income Study. Timothy Smeeding, who worked on that study and now heads the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University said of the United States, “It’s shameful…we’ve been the worst performer every year since we’ve been doing this study.”

A recent UNICEF/United Nations survey found some of the same trends. In fact, according to the UNICEF data, children in Great Britain and the United States have a lower quality of life than children in the 21 wealthiest countries of the world. The numbers showed that the United States ranked at the bottom because “of its higher infant mortality, lower immunization rates, higher number of deaths from accidents and injuries before age 19, and more children reported fighting in the past year or being bullied in the previous two months.”

How do you suppose the conservative, free market zealots are going to respond to these reports--if indeed, they respond at all? Some distinct possibilities:
1. It’s the kid's own fault--bad life choices.
2. More tax cuts for the rich might help.
3. These kids should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
4. The parents screwed up.
5. Gay marriage….yes, that’s the problem.

I suppose if I say anything more, I will hurt the troops. But as my friend Peter says, the problem with these poor and poverty-stricken children is that they aren’t fetuses. If they were, the people in power would help them! That's right, the current morons are really only interested if you are a fetus or of military age—anything in-between and you are on your own.


1 comment:

Pat said...

And sadly, Minnesota's severe poverty rate increased by 62%, the fastest rate in the country in the most recent McClatchy statistics. Interesting that it didn't even make the front page of the newspaper . . .