“The dispossessed of this nation—the poor, both white and Negro-live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against the injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the last 40-plus years we’ve had a War on Poverty, a War on Drugs and countless wars on smaller nations. But we have precious little to show for it. Maybe someday we can get past all this war stupidity and actually address the real issues before this nation.
From The Observer:
A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population – the highest percentage in the developed world. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.
Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two.
Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck – a medical bill or factory closure – away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956. The gap between the haves and the have-nots looms wider than ever. Faced with rising poverty rates, Bush’s trillion-dollar federal budget recently raised massive amounts of defence spending for the war in Iraq and slashed billions from welfare programmes.
While 45.8 million Americans lack any health insurance, the top 20 per cent of earners take over half the national income. At the same time the bottom 20 per cent took home just 3.4 per cent.
Almost a quarter of all black Americans live below the poverty line; 22 per cent of Hispanics fall below it. But for whites the figure is just 8.6 per cent.
Dealing with poverty is not a viable political issue in America. It jars with a cultural sense that the poor bring things upon themselves and that every American is born with the same chances in life.