Poverty: America's Best Kept Secret

I think Americans are capable of addressing and solving the poverty created by the class structure, self-interest, individual and corporate greed, conquests and wars and, the inappropriate distribution of resources including water, food and medical assistance that lead to poverty, starvation and death.

IMO it’s shameful that earth’s most wealthy nations continue to destroy other cultures and peoples simply to fuel unsustainable lifestyles and to feed the greed of individuals and corporate shareholders. More shameful still is willingness to praise pursuit of “the  American dream”, while ignoring the poverty of their own citizens and diverting funding away from addressing their needs, to fuel huge military budgets that result in witnessing their own sons and daughters being sacrificed on battlefields for oil and brought home in body bags. This is hard-heartedness.

Measuring Poverty in the United States
The United States defines poverty in absolute terms. This is the threshold below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living: insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health. The European Union, on the other hand, measures poverty in relative terms. This is defined as having significantly compromised access to income and wealth than other members of society: an income below 60% of the national median equalized disposable income after social transfers for a comparable household. If poverty in the United States were to be defined in relative terms as determined by the European Union, the level would be much higher. Source

Poverty in the United States is measured in two ways. The first, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, measures the poverty thresholds. Poverty thresholds classify households by type of residence, race, and other social, economic, and demographic characteristics. This data generally used for statistical purposes in order to to estimate the number of people in poverty nationwide. The second measure is the poverty guideline. Used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it determines whether a person or family is eligible for assistance through various federal programs.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005, nearly 12.6% of the United States’ population, or thirty-seven million people live in poverty. Minorities face higher levels of poverty, with 24.9% of African-Americans living in poverty and 21.8% of Hispanics. Furthermore, poverty rates for children under the age of eighteen remained higher than those between the age of eighteen and sixty four, at 17.6%. Read the full report on poverty in the USA by the U.S. Census Bureau

IMO whatever Americans may master in the areas of technology and science, etc. is not necessarily a measure of “achievement” in terms of the advancement of their citizens or the human species. It seems the governments they elect are hard-hearted when it comes to human suffering and all too accommodating when it comes to assisting corporations to prosper. Continuing this pattern is not likely to result in advancement but only in more conquest and hoarding, until all of their unsustainable structures fall and the survivors become “tribal” once more.

Poverty – Healthcare – American Women & their Children
In 2005, over 14 percent of American women lived in poverty. Among single mothers, this number rose to over 31 percent. This is clearly unacceptable, both for the women and families immediately affected and for society as a whole.

  • Nearly 1 in 4 girls does not graduate from high school
  • Female dropouts earn on average 7 percent below the Federal Poverty Line for a family of three ($15,520 vs. $16,600) while women with high school diplomas earn on average 32 percent above that level ($21, 936 vs. $16,600)
  • Girls make up 87 percent of students in traditionally female fields such as cosmetology and childcare and only 15 percent of those in traditionally male fields. Those who enter traditionally female occupations can generally expect to earn half—or less—of what they would earn in a traditionally male field
  • Women still earn on average 78 cents for every dollar paid to men.

Women and the Individual Health Insurance Market: It’s No Shopper’s Paradise
Many Americans are unfamiliar with the harsh realities of the individual health insurance market because they receive health insurance through an employer. However, as a number of prominent health care reform proposals consider expanding the role of the individual market, it is important to understand how this system fails women. Download NWLC’s report, Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women.

Homelessness became a visible issue during the eighties. From 1984 to 1987, according to HUD statistics, the number of homeless doubled. From 1987 to 1997, the demand for emergency food and shelter indicate that despite the booming economy and the new prosperity, the number of homeless and those living in extreme poverty in the United States has increased. According to a recent White House press release, the number of homeless at any given time has now reached 750,000. The homeless are not necessarily penniless, or without four walls. While anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the homeless have jobs – depending on the city — many have no access to affordable housing.

  • During the Great Depression, the number of able bodied men forced into homeless due to unemployment rates approached 25 percent.
  • In 1987, a Urban Institute study found that while only 12 percent of the U.S. population is black, they make up about 40 percent of the homeless.
  • While the 1994 federal plan acknowledged the central role of poverty in homelessness, the 1996 welfare proposal was passed despite research indicating that it would push one million children into poverty. Bush’s latest pronouncements have focused on “individual responsibility” for poverty.
  • A 1995 evaluation found that approximately 86% of the homeless children and youth attended school regularly. A majority of the service providers and shelter operators felt that homeless children faced difficulties in being evaluated for special education programs and services, and in obtaining counseling and psychological services.
  • In a 1996 study of evening news programs in 1989: Under Bush there were 44 stories on homelessness in 1989, 54 in 1991, and 43 in 1992. The average was 52.5. Under Clinton there were 35 in 1993, 32 in 1994, and just nine in 1995, for an average of 25.3.
  • On any given night in America, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according to estimates of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.
  • According to a December, 2000 report of the US Conference of Mayors:single men comprise 44 percent of the homeless, single women 13 percent, families with children 36 percent, and unaccompanied minors seven percent.
  • The homeless population is about 50 percent African-American, 35 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Native American and 1 percent Asian.  Source

Election 08
This Presidential election is a critical time for Americans to make a quantum leap forward when it comes to voting change. That leap forward can begin by thinking what the candidates have put forward in terms of meeting health care needs and addressing poverty.

John McCain on the issues – welfare and poverty

“A study from scholars at Columbia, Harvard, Purdue and Michigan projects that 20 million Americans who have employment-based health insurance would lose it under the McCain plan.”

  • The centerpiece of McCain’s plan would eliminate the special tax treatment of employer-provided health care and instead offer tax credits to everybody who pays premiums.
  • McCain favors an approach, endorsed by President Bush and championed by McCain’s Arizona colleague John Shadegg.
  • If enacted, his proposal would cause a shift along the lines seen in the credit-card industry.
  • Insurance companies can make bigger profits by offering different policies to different people based on separate assessments of risk rather than charging everyone the same.
  • Americans with pre-existing conditions—cancer, asthma, diabetes, and the like—would need to pay even more than they do today. Through no fault of their own, more of them would end up without insurance.
  • McCain intends to tax workers for the value of health insurance that they receive from their employers.
  • McCain health plan would treat employer-paid health benefits as income that employees would have to pay taxes on.
  • The net effect of the plan will be to increase family costs for medical care.
  • A monumental change in the way health coverage would be provided to scores of millions of Americans.
  • Will cost the average American worker an additional $110 a month in taxes
  • New tax would affect the 158 million Americans who are insured through their employer.
  • This will encourage more and more employers to give up on the idea of providing coverage at all. Read the full story here: NYT: McCain’s Radical Agenda and related stories here  McCain Secretly Plans New Tax on Middle Class and here Why John McCain is Wrong on Health Care

Barack Obama on the issues – welfare and poverty
Barack Obama on Health Care
The Case for Obama: Healthcare

Those who are capable of solving the poverty problem are without doubt determined to pursue their own agendas. As the Republican administration under Bush has worked hand in glove with greedy individuals and corporations, I assume the American electorate will understand that they have created a monster. Hopefully, the  voters have learned from those past eight years of “monster creating” mistakes, and will not elect a government that is corrupt and abusive of their women and children. As voters prepare to head towards the polls on Tuesday, I hope they will demonstrate their altruistic and compassionate drive to achieve lasting and meaningful change that benefits them, the generations to come and our planet.