Obama Didn’t Deliver the Goods Against American Poverty
In 2009 Obama declared that it was corporate excess that accounted for the economic crash in the U.S. of A. People backed him, believed his claims that America’s problems “would be met.” In fact he was elected on that promise. But in 2011 Obama lost control of Congress and has been reduced to compromising with the Republicans – America’s corporate regime. Newt Gingridge, a Republican Presidential candidate, actually forwarded the idea of reinstating child labour in America, declaring that children in really poor areas “have no work habits…what if they mopped the floors and cleaned the bathroom. And you paid them?” Perhaps the Republicans could model Gingridge’s proposal after child labour laws of the Industrial Revolution, where children worked a minimum of 12 hours a day, worked dangerous jobs, held the same responsibilities as adults yet were paid far less? That ought to bring down the American deficit and keep the poor happy in the process, in spite of a surge in youth health problems and a decline in secondary school enrollment. Watch A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains
Equally impress is Robert Rector’s claim that where the poor are concerned “half of poor people have computers. about 40% of them have widescreen HD TV’s, they have totally adequate food to eat.” Where are these poor located? In the documented homeless people’s hotels? The water-logged tunnels beneath Las Vegas? The tents that are springing up across North America? The lines at food banks and soup kitchens? Rector would have us believe that the concept of poverty in America is a huge conspiracy: perhaps there needs to be a distinction made between the poor and the abject and homeless poor in America, but both classes of poor certainly exist.
There is indeed the working poor: people who work their 40-hour + work week but cannot afford both food and rent. They must rely upon the scant assistance of welfare programs to increase their income to a figure where both shelter and food is possible. However, new clothes, Christmas gifts, regular meals are unheard of in these homes. These people live at the poverty level (in Canada this is approximately $26,000.00 a year total household income). Try raising a family on that number. If there are computers in these homes, they must have been donated to organizations such as the Goodwill. If there are 40-inch HD TVs I’ve never heard of them.
I work in a high needs community: average income is probably in the minimum wage or slightly higher range. The community is filled with subsidized housing and even these homes prove challenging for families to afford. New clothes for children are a rarity. Participation in school trips can and does become a financial issue and these trips cost as little as $15.00: the cost of a bus ride and admission to the Metro Toronto Zoo, for instance, at a school discounted rate. This is the situation for people who have jobs. The abject poor are those who live in tents and hostels. For them, even a full meal a day is a blessing. We offer a free breakfast program to needy children in our school for a reason. Read Speakers Announced for Childhood Poverty Forums
Perhaps the increased poverty rate is a direct result not only of continued job loss in America but also the type of attitudes displayed by Gingridge and Rector. Power and Republican should never appear in the same sentence: it’s a death knell for poverty-stricken Americans.
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