Based on the latest available US census data from 2005, the McClatchy Newspapers analysis found that almost 16 million Americans live in "deep or severe poverty" defined as a family of four with two children earning less than 9,903 dollars -- one half the federal poverty line figure.
For individuals the "deep poverty" threshold was an income under 5,080 dollars a year.
"The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005," the US newspaper chain reported."
America's excursion in social stratification and polarization continues to deepen as recent reports detail a country whose poor keep slipping further down the slippery slope of poverty. Granted, America does not face the daunting socio-economic divide assailing Brazil, India, China and Nigeria, but one has to wonder, in such a nation blessed with an economic output outmatched by none, why does this problem continue to linger?
America is not some borderline third-world country with low wages and high aspirations, neither is it some European haven of social welfare. However, America's problem with poverty and social stratification exudes a history and circumstances which can leave one in a dazed state of confusion. Despite rhetoric and iconography of a country where opportunity is abundant, work plentiful, and quality education accessible; America is still gripped with areas of deep, ingrained, and painfully repressive poverty. Appalling as it is to have so many stuck in a perpetual state of poverty, worse yet is the continued erosion of opportunity. Where there are rich there will inevitably be poor, however, when the keys of opportunity no longer open the right doors, and social mobility begins to collapse--America as an ideal begins to crumble.
Our recent sojourn with the Grand Old Party, has heightened the disparity between perception and reality. Conservative economic policy may be inherently chilled towards the ails of poverty, but much of the tenants of contemporary conservatism ardently hail the need for equality in opportunity. But where has the message gone? In many schools, it is business as usual--every child left behind. Harsher yet, medical care and social integration in much of America's underbelly is ghastly. Poor communities are not receiving the aid they need to ensure that they remain beacons of hope for the underclass to climb the difficult ladder of mobility. Moreover, with the continued loss of manufacturing jobs--education becomes more important than ever, but with a nation still relying on a bamboozling plethora of school districts and funding from property taxes; schools in the communities most affected continue to struggle to meet the needs of an underclass in dire straits. Lets make one thing clear though, the left has only been nominally resolute on addressing the problems of poverty and education. Perhaps the inexplicable transfer payments to the poor are admirable, but they do nothing to preserve the ideal of equality in opportunity that America must adeptly hold fast to. The perpetual decline of education and of many communities highlights the need for American politicians to stop the incessant sound byte war between donkeys and elephants, and concentrate more on educating and alleviating the problems of the underclass. We need our leadership to put education reform and poverty on the same pedestal as fighting dictatorship and addressing campaign finance reform. To stop headlines like that above from appearing, America needs to confront the issues facing the poor and stop playing partisan politics and suggesting band-aids with the aims of garnering marginal support for the next general elections..........