Where is the love?

"The gulf between rich and poor in the United States is yawning wider than ever, and the number of extremely impoverished is at a three-decade high, a report out Saturday found.

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..........

1 comment:

mmk said...

Clearly, RT has addressed an intense and pressing issue—arguable the most pressing—of our society, today. This post, however, only discusses “extreme poverty” within the context of America, an industrialized, economic giant. While in America, extreme poverty is certainly a problem, it simply does not possess the same meaning for Americans as it does for citizens of developing countries.

On a global level, Extreme poverty means that a household can barely, if at all, meet its basic needs for survival. In today’s world, more than 1.1 billion people, roughly a sixth of the human race, are living in extreme poverty1. These people are malnourished, chronically hungry, and have little or no access to basic health care, clothing, or even clean water, much less education. The greatest tragedy of all is that they could be helped. Life saving solutions as simple as a pair of shoes, a water filter, or a bed net to limit the spread of malaria are available to everyone in the world except those who need them most. These people – the extreme poor – and their governments simply lack the financial means to make these crucial investments. They are trapped by disease, climatic stress, physical isolation, and education deprivation; they are unable to escape their condition on their own. While the rest of the world charges ahead, these people – entire countries – are left struggling to stay afloat, and even worse, as a result of current economic cycles, they are sinking deeper into desperation with each passing year. So the question is, how do we stop this? How do we break the trap? The answer, on the most basic level, comes down to reworking, if not reversing, the fundamental capital depreciation cycles in which this impoverished billion and their governments are trapped.

The problem here is need, and on the most elemental level, the solution to need is adequate and well-conceived relief. And the relief is needed not ten years from now, not even next year, but now. Africa, as the most obvious example, must maintain a growth rate of over 5% a year simply to keep the number of poor from rising – meeting the International Development Goals for 2015 would require a growth rate of more than 7.9% Currently, we are not even close to that. The problem must be rethought. Indeed, this paradigm is oversimplified and idealistic. Factors such as government corruption and the difficulty of collecting and mobilizing such a tremendous amount of foreign aid have not been addressed in this short comment and cannot be underestimated. The basic, underlying theory, however, is sound.

Anti-poverty programs will simply not succeed unless delivery programs are refocused; refocused to deliver more public resources where the need is the greatest; refocused to increase the reliability, accountability and overall “transparency,” as the World Bank calls it, of the programs and their beneficiaries; and, most importantly, refocused towards building and strengthening the capacities of impoverished nations and their people to help themselves.