The world thinks the U.S. is a mighty and progressive country. And in many ways, they are correct in their thinking. The U.S. supports other developing nations and gives out funding for different programs and services. For many, they also see America as a land of opportunities and a greener pasture where opportunities are endless if you just work hard enough.
What the rest of the world doesn’t know is that while the U.S. appears to be a formidable nation, it also struggles with internal issues, most of which involves government officials and policies, the economy and even that of poverty. Education is expensive in America, which is why many American youths no longer proceed to college after graduating from high school. Hence, they miss out on better work opportunities where more experienced and educated foreign workers qualify for.
It is the reason why a lot of American families rely on federal welfare. The number of the homeless people continues to rise as more employees get laid off from work because of budget cuts and a struggling economy. So, just what is the extent of poverty in America?
It’s a familiar tune: the United States is the most unequal country in the western world, with 13.5 per cent of its population living below the poverty line, according to the latest report from the US Census Bureau. This amounted to just over 43 million people in 2015.
Although this figure is a small improvement on the previous year, it is still very high for an industrialised country. And neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has made the fight against this embarrassing statistic a priority.
The US Census Bureau sets the poverty line according to an individual’s income and family situation: for a couple with two children, for example, it is set at US$24,036 per year.
Its latest statistics are positive however on the economic recovery and the rise in living standards. They are the best figures since the 2007 recession.
Average household income rose by 5.2 per cent between 2014 and 2015, and it is the first time since 1999 that the three indicators of poverty, health cover and salaries have risen together.
But this recovery has passed poor Americans by. The Gini index – the tool used to calculate income inequality across a country – has risen over the years. It has increased 5.5 per cent since the first measurement was made in 1993.
The sad thing about this is that only a small percentage of the population enjoys 90% or more of the riches and resources of the nation while the rest suffer in poverty in silence, where families struggle to provide food on the table, a roof over their heads and to send their children to school. With each new administration, the people hope for things to change but it is probably far from happening under the Trump leadership.
As a candidate, President Donald Trump promised to focus on revitalizing predominantly rural and small-town industries across America, claiming that “[f]amily farms are the backbone of this country” and that “coal is coming back.” President Trump visited these small towns and rural areas promising voters he would “create massive numbers of jobs” and that he would “rebuild … your communities.” But the agenda that Trump is advancing—reflected in his “skinny budget” released today as well as in his reported past policy proposals and statements—reveals his bait and switch on voters in these very communities.
It was clear that President Trump’s promises never extended to the millions of Americans who live in small towns and rural areas. He did not, for example, visit or speak to the concerns of tribal reservations, predominantly African American communities in the Mississippi Delta, or largely Latino farming communities. And yet many rural and small-town voters responded favorably. These voters—specifically white rural voters—overwhelmingly chose Trump.
President Trump won by a landslide in most rural places in America. I’m not sure how they must all feel now after seeing how the Trump presidency unfolds and his little regard for their welfare.
Political leaders and media organizations at all levels pile on these crimes-against-humanity and property values, and have significantly contributed to the self-inflicted injuries of lower economic prosperity. What I am referring to here is a significant decline in property tax revenues, and the negative impacts on Gross Domestic and National Product or Production. We are all Americans no matter what our race, creed, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation. In other words, we are all representative members of the same human race or humanity and the United States economy. Obviously, the urban poverty problems have become endemic and pandemic.
Poverty tends to perpetuate itself and concentrate over multiple generations. Whether you call it PTSD issues or emotional-intelligence deficits — the damages have become pathological and deeply cultural. There is much remedial work to be done, internally and externally to these urban communities across this country of ours.
We should help one another despite color, race or religion because only in unity can real progress be achieved. It will take the concerted effort of the government and of the people to turn things around where everyone has equal opportunities and they can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Until then, we can only wish that the time comes sooner rather than later. This thought can help everyone get through the hard times that we are all experiencing today as many are disappointed with the leader they have chosen to lead the country onward and upward.