More And More Poverty In The United States—We Don’t Even Talk About Poverty Anymore
From The New York Times—
“Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it. And in new signs of distress among the middle class, median household incomes fell last year to levels last seen in 1997. Economists pointed to a telling statistic: It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period, said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard.”
It should be noted that wages are stagnant all the way back to 1997. The issue here is not just the recession. Our wages are stuck.
This concern is quite remote from all the debate we recently heard about the debt ceiling. Jobs and wages have been missing as big issues in Washington. President Obama’s current jobs bill is a start, yet at the same time the President is also talking about cutting federal health funds.
That these poverty numbers and health insurance numbers are not a source of national uproar, is a sign of the extent to which we have lost our way in this nation. President Obama never mentions poverty while the Republican Party takes every step it can to make the lives of the poor as miserable as possible.
These are moral questions. Budgets and our legislative priorities are moral questions.
Morality in this country as seen by the political right is a function of brutality and intimidation. It is moral to cheer about the death penalty and about uninsured people dying.
On the left morality is tempered by cowardice, and by the silent complicity of many on the left who are fine with economic issues off the agenda. We don’t want to get at the core issues driving our politics and society today. We don’t see ourselves as tough enough and willing enough to fight on these questions.
Everyday people are going to have to decide what they want for our future. They are going to have decide that they care about the fates of others.
Every person who is able has the obligation to work. Most people want to work.
But what are people to do when you can’t get a job, and when the jobs that are available do not offer enough hours and money so that you can get by? What do we do when every effort to get people some health insurance is met with silly cries of socialism? What do we do when we can’t even raise taxes on the most wealthy at a time of debt and economic crisis?
We can’t keep going on like this. It won’t end well if we keep going on like this.