The Shame of Child Poverty

The plight of impoverished children anywhere should evoke sympathy, exemplifying as it does the suffering of the innocent and defenseless. Poverty among children in a wealthy country like the United States, however, should provoke. shame and outrage as well.

Unlike poor countries (sometimes run by leaders more interested in lining their pockets than anything else), what excuse does the United States have for its striking levels of child poverty? After all, it has the world’s 10th highest per capita income at  $62,795 at and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $21.3 trillion. Despite that, in 2020, an estimated 11.9 million American children — 16.2% of the total — live below the official poverty line, which is a paltry $25,701  for a family of four with two kids. Put another way, according to the Children’s Defense Fund, kids now constitute one-third of the 38.1 million Americans classified as poor and 70% of them have at least one working parent — so poverty can’t be chalked up to parental indolence. (Rajan Menon, Tom Dispatch  3 Feb 2020).

My take: I regret to say that this situation is not going to change anytime soon.  The country is firmly in the grip of those whose dearest wish is to emulate the group of billionaires, who pay, in terms of taxable percentage of wealth, less than their secretaries, chauffeurs and gardeners.   It’s going to take a sea change in the attitude to American capitalism and social fairness before any kind of leveling out occurs, however careful and gentle.  And this has to start with a change of heart among the evangelical christians and the hard-heads at Fox News.  If these people soften their hearts and realize that the country is headed in quite the wrong direction, resulting in decline, not greatness, then America could be equitable and fair.

Yes, this is, unapologetically, is  a political statement, but not a party political statement.  There is no reason on earth why the champions of uncompromising capitalism cannot moderate their opposition to, say healthcare, to mention just one vital issue.   If we don’t start treating one another with consideration the results are not worth contemplating.  Epicurus ( plus a host of other wise people) would agree; there is nothing wrong with compromise and a feeling of community.


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