Falling through America's cracks

Friday, July 12, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Poverty in America: Bigger than ever and rapidly spreading. Today's turbulent economic waters are sweeping millions of Americans downstream from the middle class into poverty – and that's our nation’s true economic crisis.

Already the USA has crossed an embarrassing threshold of economic infamy: 50 million poor people. “Poor” means they are trying to make ends meet on $11,000-or-less a year for an individual, $15,000 a year for a single mom with one child, and $23,000 for a family of four. 50 million Americans! That’s literally a nation of poverty in our midst – roughly the equivalent of the entire population of South Korea.

Meanwhile, another 51 million Americans are classified as “near poor” – an individual making between $11,000 and $17,000 a year. So, more than 100 million of our people – one in three of us – are either poor or perched precariously on the brink of that abyss. Yet, Washington offers no anti-poverty agenda. Republicans simply blame the poor for their poverty, claiming they lack initiative and family morals. Democrats are mostly playing defense, trying to swat down the meanest efforts by Republicans to further hurt the poor.

But society’s moral imperative to extend a helping hand to “the least” among us, as Jesus put it in the New Testament, cannot be fulfilled merely with balm, food, and clothing. Rather our major focus should be on the cracks themselves.

Here’s a true populist perception: People fall between the cracks because there are cracks. You wouldn’t put up with cracks in your home, nor should we let this structural damage spread through our national house. America’s poverty numbers – including the already poor, the near poor, and those rapidly tumbling down – are disgraceful, made all the more so by the fact that we’re living in the richest country in the world.

"The richest few among us have abandoned the many to a future of poverty," www.hightowerlowdown.org June 2013.

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