Thursday, September 16, 2010

America, Land of the...Poor?

I was struck by a recent news item. 

Forget struck.  How about floored, shocked, dismayed.

The poverty rate is now at 14.3% - the highest level since the 1950s, when the statistic was first measured. 

And poverty, for a family of four, is an annual household income of $21,954.  

1 in 7 Americans lives in poverty.  And these days, 7 of 7 live with uncertainty, don't they? 

Our economy plugs along with the grace of an "el" train, and the gap between "rich" and poor grows.   I use the term "rich" loosely because somehow I fall under this definition in some political circles. 

I ain't rich.  Blessed? Yes.  But if I'm rich Donald Trump wears a rug. 

1 in 7 are poor. 

Perhaps it's no coincidence that the story broke after several loons rocked the political establishment on primary night. 

I'm not a fan of "isms."  Racism, sexism, ageism. 

Or extremism. 

Extremism is a bipartisan "movement," with adherents on all sides of the political spectrum. 

We lack moderation these days in our political discourse.  Many argue we have for a while, which makes getting together on an issue like poverty a pipe dream. 

Lots to consider in combating poverty, but I tend to simplify it with three main factors:

1.  We spend a ton of money to educate our kids, who overall fall short of other industrialized nations in science and math.  But we spend much less in poor areas due to funding heavily reliant of property taxes. 

2.  Kids who grow up in single parent homes are victimized by a welfare system that still punishes families for sticking together. 

3.  Kids who grow up in cities face crumbling roads, schools and infrastructure.  The race to suburbia has left many who can find a job either unable to get there or faced with hours of public commuting.

A commitment to rail lines and buses would be great (A transportation "Marshall Plan"?), except there's no cash. 

And the problem isn't limited to cities.  The face of poverty is rural, urban, and sadly American. 

What would you do to combat poverty?  I would love to hear from you.


  1. Is it a coincidence that extremitsm is the child of ignorance and by all measures our educational system pales in comparison to other industrialized nations. More specifically, our students have little interest in learning and parents little interest in teaching. Is it a coincidence that ignorance shrinks economic options and we are becoming a nation of significant poverty?
    I think not.
    Edward Lack

  2. well said Ed.

    Kids are born with an inate thirst for learning, too often squashed by negative influences in our society.

    If it "takes a village" to raise a child, we need to do a better job caring about and for each other.