Poverty Nation

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”

-Proverbs 28:27

United States Bureau of the Census data shows that 43 million Americans lived below the poverty line of $22,000 dollars a year for a family of four in 2009. That number is certainly growing in 2010. 46 million Americans do not have health insurance coverage. One in seven Americans live in poverty now. The United States is moving toward becoming Poverty Nation. The poverty level in the United States has never, ever been higher. Where is the sense of urgency and outrage?

Political commentators make the obvious point that the poor often do not vote and have no financial clout in gaining influence over the political direction of a nation. So our leaders can safely ignore them. But if you have compassion for your fellow human beings, and more inconvenient yet, a faith that proclaims to you to aid these people at every opportunity, you cannot ignore them: you must not.

The priority in the nation this fall is extending lower tax rates to the very wealthiest among us and cutting the budget deficit while people starve and suffer. The American middle class is shrinking demographically. In many places fifteen to twenty percent of available working people have no job or are working part-time. Where do these people ultimately go? They become part of the great masses living in poverty.

From merely a practical, cold-blooded calculating standpoint, getting people into family supporting jobs and helping the worst placed among the population is the key to getting the robust economic recovery so many people claim they are seeking. Or are they? Perhaps the nation has entered a new era entirely. This may be the time when the people who control everything in the country have decided that they need not worry about an economic recovery at all. Their wealth is sufficient and when the inevitable social unrest comes we simply lock them up. Yes, here too, the United States has much to be ashamed of. We imprison more people than any nation in the world in raw numbers and in terms of the per-capita numbers as well.

What think ye of a nation that imprisons more people than any other and that feed, clothe, and house its people less adequately month-by-by month? Is this the freedom and opportunity the United States proclaims as the birthright of its citizens? Is it consistent with decency, and morality? Of course not. The questions are strongly rhetorical. They stand like ghoulish things needing no answer or aid to be seen. But the proverb warns against those who refuse to look.

The leaders of both parties and the corporate wealth that backs them shall be cursed in their futures unless they politically, economically, and morally repent. If not, more people are going to needlessly suffer and they will be to blame for it. And what of the teeming billions around the globe who are even more hard-pressed? The wealthy and comfortable have much to answer for. However they try to delay it the curse will come. They will pay the ultimate price for their lack of compassion and human decency. Contempt and disgust are mere words. There must be something more to shout at the heavens about these monstrous injustices. Shame, shame on all of them.

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