While many in congress do not want to raise the minimum wage, what they choose to do is an American shame, and is directly linked to American greed.
50 million people, nearly one-sixth of the nation, goes to bed hungry, or can’t afford food which contains necessary nutritional value. One in six of those 50 million is a child.
Saddled with a broken politically and philosophically divided government, poverty and near-poverty citizens suffer daily. Many of our elected officials refuse to extend unemployment benefits to those who are seeking work, and want to eliminate the ‘food stamp’ program entirely. Their campaign contributions come from some of the wealthiest companies in the country who watch their profits soar, while the working class slips towards poverty.
Rose Aguilar, writing for Aljazeera, points out that the United States is the wealthiest country in the world, but does not care for its people. She believes every citizen should watch a documentary titled, “A Place at the Table.” It follows the lives of families in abject poverty, so poor, they could easily become homeless and are near starvation.
The film shows a mother who is crying as she mixes pasta with a can of tomato paste for the third day in a row. It follows a little girl who goes to bed every night so hungry that her stomach aches so badly she cries herself to sleep.
Much of the film focuses on the daily life of 10-year-old ‘Rosie.’ Rosie lives in a very small house in Collbran, Colorado. She is always hungry. She daydreams of a better life. She wants ‘Extreme Makeover,’ a reality show that rescues poor families, giving them a better home, and a better life, to come and help her family. “I want my kids to have a better life than I do,” she says. “Have more food, have a bigger house. No mold. And never be hungry.”
Rosie is in the 5th grade. She is constantly hungry, and is unable to concentrate. She is always thinking about food. “So I have these little visions in my eyes,” she says. “Sometimes when I look at her, I vision her as a banana. And everybody in the class is like apples or oranges.”
And the stories go on, and on. Tales of family going to churches who hand out food donated by those who can afford to are a common thread.
While our government argues about issues such as the wealthy paying their fair share of taxes, minimum wage increase, food stamps, unemployment benefits, and medical care for everyone, one-sixth of our people are living in unacceptable conditions.
If the statistics from the 2010 United States Census Bureau are studied, it is obvious that capitalism has failed America’s working class, and even more so those in the poverty level. As the song goes, “the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.”
The article further states that the decline of sufficient income began with Ronald Reagan. Aguilar says that when he entered office he gave tax cuts to the very wealthy, increased military spending, and decreased or decimated social programs.
In 1980 there were 200 ‘food banks’ in the United States. Today there are over 40,000, and they can’t keep up with the demand.
Lori Silverbush, co-director of A Place at the Table, says ‘she always knew people were hungry in the US, but had no idea the numbers were so massive.’
In the pilot episode of ‘Newsroom,’ Jeff Daniels is asked ‘why are we the greatest country in the world?’ His answer shocked some and infuriated others. He listed innumerable reasons why we are not the greatest country in the world, including income, health care, and education. Many viewers understood.
America’s shame is the disparity between wealthy Americans, and those in or near poverty. Unfortunately the problem is directly the cause of American greed.
Alfred James reporting