Is It A "Natural and Inevitable" Condition?
Or Is It America's Greatest Shame?
(Formerly titled Poverty: America's Hidden Shame, and Poverty: America's Greatest Shame)
(This article last revised 5-5-2014)
"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity, nothing exceeds the criticisms of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed." -- Herman Melville
That is so true, and yet today very preposterous assumptions regarding the poor are rampant, especially in America. But the poor are not merely being criticized by the rich. During the last 34 years they have increasingly been falsely accused and labeled, and even demonized and criminalized by wealthy people.
It's even gotten to the point where scientific studies of social class based on annual incomes as well as by education-levels have found that wealthy people ranked their social class according to the following beliefs:
1) Genetics is more important than environment in explaining social class;
2) Social class ranking is meritorious and determined by a just and fair society and world;
3) A deserving "wealthy aristocracy" should naturally govern; and
4) Poor lower-classes tend to claim society is not fair only to blame someone else for their problems.
Clinging to such misguided and self-serving beliefs to justify themselves, the accusers and critics of the poor simply blame the victims of poverty, and they even claim that the poor in America aren't really very poor and don't know how good they have it.
Now granted, poverty is worse in some countries. In fact, poverty a global epidemic. Global hunger now afflicts nearly a billion people in the world, and every year at least one million of them die from malnutrition-related causes.
However, what some rich Americans fail to see, or refuse to see, is that among the billion people in the world who live in poverty there are more than 60 million Americans, and their numbers are increasing.
In fact, America already has one of the highest rates of child poverty among all industrialized nations, and the problem has gotten increasingly worse since 1981, then much worse in 1996 when a Reaganite Congress passed the ostensible "Welfare Reform" legislation. And the problem has gotten much worse since unbridled greed and corruption caused the economic crash of 2008.
The latest UNICEF report on child poverty showed that 23.1 percent of American children live in poverty, giving the United States the second highest rate of child poverty out of 35 developed countries. Only Romania ranked higher in child poverty. And, in recent years, 20.5 million Americans have been living on less than half of the federal poverty level.
Furthermore, even though under Reaganism the assumption is that poverty is a natural and inevitable condition caused by the poor themselves, the cause of growing poverty in America is actually insufficient and inadequate wages doled out to the working poor, and a general failure of society to care for and help the disadvantaged, the elderly, and the disabled.
In other words, America is not what its Founders intended, because its government does not promote the general welfare, and it does not ensure domestic tranquility by establishing fairness, equity, and justice for all the people.
How did this happen?
How do the richest few who caused the problem keep getting richer and richer while the middle class shrinks, the working poor population grows, and everyone else keeps being knocked down further and further and becoming more and more worse off financially?
It's because greedy people can be very cunning, and most other people are very gullible and easily fooled. And it's especially because Reaganism was deceptively sold as if it were a "patriotic and religious" ideology.
Consequently, when Americans have learned certain facts about poverty, most don't want to face it. Instead, they look the other way and justify themselves with the rationalization that "the poor will always be with us."
That rationalization is very convenient, of course, but it simply ignores what Jesus of Nazareth taught about how we should treat the poor, and how Jesus and James rebuked people who honor rich men with fine clothes while despising poor men who are poorly dressed. And it ignores all the biblical evidence quoted in the sidebar that confirms the Universal Divine Imperative to care for the poor.
In spite of all that evidence, many Americans simply ignore what the Bible says about how we should treat the poor, and they instead swallow the misleading right-wing claim that poverty is an inevitable, natural condition brought on by the poor themselves. They swallow that claim because it was made by Ronald Reagan.
Many Americans also cling to the idea that "God helps those who help themselves," because that idea is deeply ingrained in the American culture. However, even though there is an element of truth in that idea, it has been distorted into a self-serving ideology that is very convenient for those on the partisan political right. For they use it to justify themselves and rationalize that we all get what we deserve -- that our lot and status are the consequences of our actions and behaviors -- that we all reap what we sow.
That is very convenient because there is truth in that as well, at least in a just, equitable, fair society. However, it has proven to not be true in this unjust, inequitable, unfair society, because it is rigged to favor and entitle the wealthiest few, to the detriment of the majority.
After all, wealth has actually "trickled up" during the last 30 years to the point where now the wealthiest few hold 95 percent of the nation's wealth, while 80 percent of us are expected to get by on the remaining five percent. And it's getting worse in that regard.
Furthermore, it is not true that we reap what we sow given the present political economic system that rules our society.
In fact, the truth regarding reaping what we sow has become distorted by self-serving, unscrupulous hypocrites. And all the people who are the innocent victims of inequitable, unjust political economic systems, or crimes, fraud, disasters, catastrophic events and misfortune, do not deserve what they are forced to suffer.
That fact escapes many rich people who serve "Mammon" and yet claim to serve God.
They prefer not to face the truth and instead turn their heads, clinging to the Reaganite "Gospel of Prosperity." After all, it has become part of the predominant ideology and philosophy of the wealthiest few on the "religious right." And they comfort themselves with the thought that God has blessed them, that the poor will always be with us, and that poverty is an inevitable, inescapable reality brought on by the poor themselves.
That has been the result of hypocrites distorting their religion to suit their own purposes.
That has particularly been the case since Reaganism took hold in 1981 closely aligned with Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's "Moral Majority," and since then Reaganites have persistently claimed you are on your own, that you must be totally self-reliant and not "depend" on government, and that the wealthy are "blessed" while the poor deserve to be poor.
That is essentially what the right wing Reaganite "Gospel of Prosperity" claims, even though it actually turned Christianity up-side-down.
What's worse, they act as if government's role is not to promote the general welfare to ensure domestic tranquility, even though the Founding Fathers said it is!
That is why especially during the last 30 years we have increasingly seen politicians ignoring the plight of the working poor, the poor, the disabled and the elderly, preferring to declare people should be self-reliant while at the same time providing the wealthiest few with so much entitlement and privileges that critics have called it "welfare for the rich." But politicians who cater to the rich claim that it is the patriotic and Christian thing to do.
The truth, however, is that their claims are contrary to and in violation not only of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and all the other great spiritual teachers. They are also contrary to and in violation of the intent of most of America's Founders!
For example, John Adams wrote: “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men. Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require.”
In a letter to James Madison in 1785, Thomas Jefferson suggested that taxes could be used to reduce "the enormous inequality" between rich and poor. He wrote that one way of "silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." And Madison then said using laws to "reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity (referring to the middle) and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort."
The writings of the Founders make their intent very clear, and they expose and refute the claims made by Reaganites today.
Their self-serving beliefs are the heartless epitome of rationalization and hypocrisy, and yet some wealthy people indulge in them to justify and validate themselves.
That's why a minority of Millionaires, Billionaires and Multi-Billionaires across America have increasingly been waging war on the homeless and complaining about them for "aesthetic" reasons. And that has made the banishment and even criminalization of the homeless even worse than it has been since Reaganism began corrupting America.
Moreover, because many Reaganites -- including Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party members and sold-out Democrats -- have been led to believe that they are "good Christians," that wealth is a reward from God, and that the poor deserve to be poor because they're "lazy" (as Ronald Reagan claimed) -- they've got a very convenient comfort zone that they think is patriotic, religious and righteous.
However, the truth is that while some people are certainly deserving of their wealth, many wealthy people became wealthy by hook and by crook, and by taking advantage of laws and policies that are unjust. And it's not surprising that they are among the most vicious critics of the poor. They have no empathy, no compassion, no heart.
That's why the most democratic Founder, Thomas Jefferson, wanted all the people to have equal opportunity to prosper, succeed and live up to their full potential. He wanted all the people to be educated in a quality public school system and be able to go on to a quality public higher education system that would provide equal opportunity to ALL the people, regardless of their family's financial status.
That is the Real American Dream. But America has been sold a phony one instead!
Consequently, America and the world are corrupted by money. We have been and are under the rule of money --- and corruption and malfeasance in the offices of the public and private sectors is rampant because the love of money is the root of all evil because it breeds selfishness and self-interest at the expense of others.
That is the situation we find ourselves in, in spite of the fact that we should be governed by the common sense of promoting the general welfare and using the common wealth for the common good.
Why Have Some Americans Been So Easily Duped?
Americans need to understand how and why so many Americans have been duped and fooled, and how and why the "Religious Right" in America was able to turn Christianity upside down by taking isolated sentences from the Bible to "prove" their right-wing political ideology was Christian.
For example, Luke 19:26 states that Jesus of Nazareth said: "I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from those that have not, even what they have will be taken away."
The Reaganite "Religious Right" focuses on that (and a similar sentence in Matthew) because they think that justifies them even though it actually does not. For they simply ignore everything else Jesus said about the rich and poor, which qualified his teachings.
For example, Jesus also said that it is wrong to reap what you did not sow, or profit unjustly because you were tempted by greed and lust for money. Moreover, he said that you should do unto others as you would have others do unto you, and treat all others as you would want to be treated if you were them -- and be fair, just, kind, charitable, and generous.
What's significant is that Luke 19:1-28 is based on what had been written earlier in Matthew 25:14-29, which was written sometime between 80 and 90 CE. Matthew’s account of the story is only slightly different than Luke's later version, and it is significant that Matthew was a tax collector before Jesus called him to be a disciple.
That is why both Matthew 25:14-29 and Luke 19:1-28 are about Jesus saying he would stay at the house of a wealthy chief tax collector because he had promised to give half of his possessions to the poor. That’s why Jesus forgave him and said he would stay at his house.
After that Jesus told a parable about usury, about investing money with the expectation that it will “earn” interest and produce profit. It was after telling that parable that Jesus then spoke about the “haves and have nots,” and when you understand the full context it becomes clear that it began with and is mainly about being charitable and wise, as opposed to being selfish and foolish.
That becomes even more clear when we consider the broader context of Jesus’ teachings and understand why Jesus rebuked the money “changers” or money lenders, why he preached against profiteering and unjust financial gain, and why he said it would be easier for a greedy and selfish rich man to fit through the eye of a needle than to enter heaven. For while there is nothing wrong with money, nothing wrong with wealth, and nothing wrong with banks or taxes, there is something very wrong about the love and lust for money, and greed and selfishness are even worse.
Now, all that is important today because the amazing thing is that Jesus knew many people would claim to love him but would not understand his core, universal teachings.
That's why Jesus is quoted as saying: "For Isaiah said, 'You hear but do not understand; and see but do not perceive.' For these people's heart have grown gross, and their ears are dull, and their eyes do not see." And he said that they should "understand with their heart," rather than with their egocentric self-interest.
Both Isaiah and Jesus actually and literally advocated for those who were financially poor, and they criticized the rich. Jesus even rebuked the money lenders and merchants who were profiting unjustly and had turned the temple into a "den of thieves." He hated greedy profiteers.
Moreover, Jesus said that during the age he ushered in, and especially now at its end, a corrupt, wealthy, powerful few would corrupt society (as Reaganism and Thatcherism have amply demonstrated). They serve not God, but Mammon, worshiping wealth and material possession. And they take more and more so that the majority and the poor have less and less.
That's why all Americans should learn the truth, not only about what Jesus taught, but about what the Founding Fathers of America thought, especially about the fact that government should "promote the general welfare."
That's important because it's gotten to the point where about half of the people in American have the wrong idea and attitude about the cause and the nature of poverty, and they tend to generalize and blame the victims of poverty.
That attitude is, of course, partly the result of a human ego's tendency to judge others as inferior. However, it is mostly the result of carefully crafted political propaganda cloaked as religious truths. And it was not created by accident, or by coincidence. It was created and spread deliberately.
That was because Ronald Reagan led many Americans to believe in the superiority of the rich and the inferiority of the poor. (And for historic, factual evidence of that, read Ronald Reagan's Real Legacy and Record.)
But don't you believe it, because it's not true. In fact, many people throughout history who were poor financially were rich in spirit and were very superior and highly talented and skilled in various endeavors. Many of them died financially poor but their good works lived on to benefit the world. Many of them did receive financial reward, not because they sought it as their goal, but because it was a natural result of their beneficial good works.
Of course, Ronald Reagan was successful misleading people because there are some people that are lazy and not self-reliant. However, the number of them is small and they are a relative few, and most poor people are certainly not lazy. In fact, usually in about 79 percent of poverty stricken households there is at least one adult working full time. It's just that their wages and incomes are unfair and not sufficient.
It must be emphasized that the main problems around this issue are cause by insufficient incomes of the working poor and the poor, and insufficient internal revenue because the wealthiest few are allowed to pay far less than their fair share of taxes. Thus the U.S. Government fails to promote the general welfare and ensure justice for all.
The question is, why are there so many poor people suffering in poverty who are unable to work because they are elderly or disabled, or unemployed through no fault of their own? Why are most poor people in the working poor population working full time for a living but not paid a fair living wage?
The main reason? Reaganism and Reaganomics. The records showing American incomes and wealth inequality show a major shift in the trend lines and a widening of the gap between the richest one percent of the population and the rest of us since Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. (See the article on The American Economy.)
The income gap and the share of income going to the wealthiest few began to steadily grow during the Reagan years. It continued during the 1990s when Reaganite Republicans controlled Congress (and President Clinton often went along with them out of political expediency), and it became extremely high in 2007 just before the Reaganite/Bushite greed and folly caused the economic crises and crash of 2008 and caused the Great Recession the economic crises from which we still suffer.
In January 2014 a report by Oxfam, an international group of organizations working globally to find solutions to poverty and related injustice, reported that even though economic inequality in the world is the second greatest threat to humanity, it is rapidly increasing and has reached the point where now the wealthiest 85 people in the world own as much wealth as the poorest half of the whole world’s population. Furthermore, the report confirmed what other research has been showing, that almost half of the world’s total wealth is now owned by just one percent of the world’s population.
Reaganite Claims and Denial vs The Facts
Amazingly, despite all the facts of the matter, Reaganites in America have had the gall to claim there a "lazy dependency class" that has been made dependent on government assistance and food stamps.
They conveniently ignore that the people they slander and belittle are like people who lost their jobs since the 2008 economic crash, ignoring the fact that the economic crises were caused by the greed, corruption and vain folly of the wealthiest few. They also slander the unemployed who had to rely on unemployment insurance, ignoring the fact that those who lost their jobs had paid premiums in taxes all their working lives.
Rich Reaganite Republicans also slander people like Walmart employees who work full time but are paid so little that they qualify for and use food stamps. For while the owners of Wal-Mart are among the wealthiest ten Multi-Billionaires in America, many Wal-Mart employees need food stamps because they are not paid a living wage and cannot afford even the average necessities of life.
Even worse, the lowest paid Wal-Mart employees receive the least because they are allowed to work only 34 hours per week so they cannot be listed as “full time” employees. That trick is pulled by many employers (even in the public sector) because they are able to deny part time employees the much deserved benefits that full time employees are granted.
But most Wal-Mart employees are worse off. In order to feed their children, get adequate health insurance and affordable housing, many Wal-Mart workers have to rely on taxpayer assistance from the federal government. About half of the children of Wal-Mart employees are either on Medicaid or uninsured, besides having to depend on food stamps in order to feed their families. Therefore, because of Wal-Mart’s business model, American taxpayers have to subsidize the low wages at Wal-Mart, and while that increases the drain on the U.S. Treasury, it helps the richest family in America keep getting even wealthier.
However, speaking of "Food Stamps" (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), Americans should know that even though they are a favorite target for the Reaganite Republicans who want to destroy the program, the fact that it is highly beneficial, not only to the poor, but to the economy!
In September 2013 a Census Bureau report showed that the food stamp program helped keep four million Americans out of poverty in 2012, and related research studies revealed that there are many other widespread benefits to the food stamp program. And yet, in spite of its clear benefits, just two days after that report came out the US House of Representatives approved a $39 Billion cut to the program over the next decade – and according to the Congressional Budget Office, that would result in 3.8 million people being removed from food stamps in 2014.
Such cuts in human services are reminiscent of the Reagan cutbacks to the Food Stamp program and other human services programs in the early 1980s. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in 1984, two years into Reagan's presidency: "Low-income programs were reduced [by Reagan] more than twice as deeply (in proportionate terms) as social programs not concentrated on the poor. Overall, the low-income programs bore nearly one-third of all cuts made anywhere in the federal government even though they constitute less than one-tenth of the budget. No other part of the federal budget was cut so deeply."
Reagan also put an end to the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which threw 400,000 people into unemployment lines. He cut Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), cutting another 500,000 people off from desperately needed assistance. And Reagan also reduced investment in Housing and Urban Development, which drastically reduced affordable housing and triggered growing increases in poverty, hunger and homelessness that have continued to the present day.
That may shock you. But, in spite of the facts, Reaganite Republicans have been following Ronald Reagan’s lead in such matters ever since his first successful campaign for the presidency when he maliciously deceived Americans. But even though his right-wing propaganda has since been proven to be deceptive, it was what right-wing Republicans wanted to hear. It became a huge factor in Reagan’s being elected, and it has been a huge factor in the Republican war against the poor ever since.
Reagan was successful because he was very charming and said "God bless America" after every speech. But he and following Reaganites have simply ignored the fact that human services programs have been an overwhelming success, and the great majority of recipients actually benefit from the helping hand and have been able to escape poverty and become productive citizens because of it.
The fact is that eighty-three percent of food stamps go to households with children, seniors, and people with disabilities. In 2012, the average recipient got $133.41 in food stamps per month, which amounts o $1.48 per meal. Every $5 of food stamps spent generates up to $9 in economic activity. Food stamp spending generates local economic activity, jobs in the farm and retail sectors and beyond. Each $1 billion spent on retail food by SNAP recipients generates $3,300 farm jobs.
The 2009 Recovery Act that increased the Food Stamp funding along with other economic stimuli. That 13.6 percent temporary boost in food stamp dollars helped more than half a million Americans escape food insecurity, and millions more to climb out of poverty—4.7 million in 2011 alone, according the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Food Stamps benefit children who are especially vulnerable to the lifelong ripple effects of poverty—exposed to hunger, under-nourishment, malnourishment, chronic illnesses and disease. But studies show that when poor families get food stamps, children's nutrition and health improve. That is critical during infancy and early childhood, when brain development and metabolic health get their start. And sufficient nutrition in childhood creates marked health improvements both in childhood, youth, and later years.
In spite of the facts, Reaganite Republicans persist in their misleading, deceptive rhetoric against "spending" on human services, refusing to see it is an investment.
Of course, Reaganism is merely a revival of a mentality that has been prevalent during the passing age due to a distorted doctrine submitted as being Christian. In fact, Hamiltonian Federalism in 1800 was touted by the banker Alexander Hamilton as "Christian Meritocracy," and it was similar to Reaganism. And now it has gotten so bad that 20 percent of the American population owns 95 percent of the nation's wealth while 80 percent of us are expected to get by on the remaining five percent. And it's getting worse in that regard.
That's why we all need to remember what the Apostle James wrote: "If a brother or sister is naked and hungry, and one of you who are warmed and filled says to them, ‘Depart’ and do not give them those things which the body needs; what does it profit you?” (James 2:14)
Also, it is a universal divine imperative to feed and care for the poor, and it is not merely a Christian idea, and it's not even necessarily a religious idea. In the most enlightened, successful and harmonic ancient tribes and nations of the world, the elderly, the disabled, the orphans and anyone else who needed help and support received it from the community. The people took care of each other. It was the natural, humanitarian thing to do. It was just common sense. And it still is.
Unfortunately, the more populated and “civilized” humanity became, the less humanitarian some people became, especially those who fought for and gained great personal wealth, power, and domain in the name of religion.
That is why enlightened, conscientious spiritual teachers have always been sent by God to teach people how they should behave toward one another. In fact, that is why there have been so many great spiritual teachers who have taught the Universal Divine Imperative that we should treat all others as we would want to be treated if we were them.
Unfortunately, much of the political and religious leadership of the world’s most powerful empires and nations have simply ignored the Universal Divine Imperative even while masquerading as good, virtuous, and even religious. It has been that way throughout history, and even now the poverty rate in a nation is an indicator of the level of inequity its government's laws allow.
That has been the case in America, just as it has been everywhere else. In fact, honest and objective reports such as The Children's Defense Fund's 2011 Report, which uses government figures and other research studies, show that 15.5 million children in American live in poverty (even according to the low government estimates).
That is why Americans need to learn why Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other Founding Fathers wanted a Democratic Republic, and why and how the great Jeffersonian President Franklin D. Roosevelt saved the country from the corruption of the rich and enabled the middle class to grow large and great.
That is why Americans need to work on fulfilling the Real American Dream instead of believing in a distortion of the American Dream, about the individual “making good” and gaining great personal fame and fortune. That false dream produces a culture of greed and self-interest because it is based on the idea that people should be totally “self-reliant” and that government should do little and "get off our back" so that banks, businesses and corporations can be left to their own devices.
Many of those who bought and sold that idea and culture believed in it sincerely even though it violates the intent of the Founders, and even though it violates the core universal teachings and the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth and other great spiritual teachers.
Fortunately, growing numbers of Americans are finally realizing that what we suffer from are the consequences of a very clever corporate scam perpetrated by Ronald Reagan. Many Americans have learned or realized the shameful cause of our problems. They realize that the wool has been pulled over the eyes of many who still believe in the lies and falsehoods that were sold as truth.
Now the truth must be spread far and wide, because the problem is not the “laziness” of the poor. The problem is the greed, selfishness, and heartlessness of wealthy right-wing extremists.
Their heartless, shameful, misleading and deceptive rationale and propaganda was concocted to blame the victims and justify the greed and hoarding of the wealthiest few, and that propaganda has been spread in many ways to claim poverty is not a problem, and that our political economic system is perfectly fair.
Another example of shamelessly false right-wing Republican propaganda is the claim that nearly half of American households receive some kind of government benefit or so-called "entitlement." However, that is extremely misleading and deceptive.
According to the National Poverty Center (NPC) Policy Brief #28 of February 2012, several studies show a declining proportion of benefits go to the poor. Most entitlements go to the wealthy, and in fact, the misguided and heartless 1996 “Welfare Reform Act” ended the cash assistance program in the U.S. for poor families with children.
Consequently, millions of American parents that are unemployed have virtually no cash income. They have to depend on food banks, soup lines, and the measly and hard to get food stamp allocation -- if they can qualify. Millions of children have been made into Dickensian "Oliver Twists," saying, "Please, Sir, can I have some more?" because they are hungry.
The NPC expects that as a result of shrinking access to cash assistance and the increasingly poor economic climate, the number of households with children living in extreme poverty will increase as it has since 1996 and particularly since 2008. NPC estimates that about 23 percent of all households with children are living in extreme poverty.
Therefore, since the majority of poverty stricken households do depend on at least one adult working full time, the fact is that the problem is not "laziness," nor do the poor deserve their lot. The basic problem is insufficient, inadequate, unfair wages allowed by a political economic system that is grossly unfair and shamefully inequitable because it enables the wealthiest people to take advantage of and exploit the disadvantaged working poor population.
But, this situation was not created merely during the last 30 years, as most objective economists are saying. Since President Kennedy was assassinated and in spite of Lyndon Johnson's token "War on Poverty," the wealth of the wealthiest one percent of Americans has increased by a factor of 700 percent in terms of total national wealth.
Furthermore, while CEOs of huge corporations were among that one percent who benefited, those who benefited most were the top executives in banks, lending institutions and others in the financial services industry. And the cruel irony is that when their greed, corruption and carelessness inevitably brought their industry to total failure in 2008 and 2009, taxpayers were forced to bail them out.
However, in spite of the losses and suffering they have caused to other people, they did not suffer. They weren't even pressed to be more fair, and they didn't have to compensate those they essentially robbed and defrauded. In fact, they are even wealthier now than ever before.
Even worse, the most needed reforms and regulations have not been put in place to prevent further malfeasance and unfairness, and very crucial regulations on banking and financial institutions that had been put in place in 1933 during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term, which were repealed in 1999 by a Republican dominated Congress, were not restored.
Consequently, all the people victimized suffered and growing numbers continue to suffer, while those responsible are still enabled to indulge themselves and exploit us.
The political economic system not only enables and caters to the wealthiest few at the expense of the majority and to the detriment of the working poor and the poor. It enables the greedy and corrupt to bribe legislators and, due to a right-wing Supreme Court decision ("Citizens United"), to influence elections with a flood of slanderous, deceptive attack ads on television. And most of us suffer the consequences.
Poverty Is not "Natural" or "Inevitable"
Poverty is not a natural condition brought on by the poor themselves, and it is not inevitable. In fact, it can be eliminated.
Americans should learn that poverty, hunger and homelessness have been getting worse since 1982. For example, it is no coincidence that there were only 13 Billionaires in America in 1981 before Ronald Reagan became president, but by 2004 there were 313, and there are 460 Billionaires now in America. Reaganism has been very, very successful and beneficial to the wealthiest few, and it's been no coincidence.
It is no coincidence that while we the majority keep paying more and more for the continually escalating cost of living, the wealthiest few rake in more and more of our money. And while our glass is half empty and getting emptier, theirs is overflowing.
It is no coincident that ever since 1982 the wealthiest few have gotten increasingly and incredibly richer while the middle class has shrunk, the working poor population has grown, and more and more people are destitute. For contrary to what is claimed by those who try to justify the growing income gap, the middle class and the working poor get poorer because the wealthiest few take so much more than they need.
Consequently, around 40 percent of Americans do not have: enough income to afford a decent modern lifestyle with decent housing; enough to eat; reliable transportation; adequate and affordable health insurance (even with the “Affordable Care” Act); decent clothing; and many other things that would enable them to live relatively comfortable lives.
About 40 percent of Americans are poor according to Western standards of living. They are poorer than their peers with equivalent jobs in Canada, Europe, and Australia. And American workers have to settle for far less benefits and less compensation for their labor.
The wealthiest one percent hold the vast majority of the wealth of the nation while about 40 percent of Americans are financially insecure and at risk of poverty if not in poverty. And by any definition the political economic system in America is not fair, and we should understand why we suffer from economic crises.
The current economic crises were thirty years in the making because they were brought on by the failures of an enabling, corrupt, careless, Laizes Faire government that serves the interests of the wealthiest few and their corporations, banks and financial institutions, at the expense of the majority of the people, and at the expense of the infrastructure and the environment.
Even though it actually serves "Mammon," not God or Country, the Reaganite ideology has been successful because it was sold as a "Gospel of Prosperity," which we will examine in a moment. And lest anyone think President Obama has changed that, they should learn the facts.
According to a Pew Research study published in April 2013 in an article titled A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%, An Uneven Recovery, by Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, the median net worth of the wealthiest seven percent of the population has risen by an estimated 28 percent, while the net worth of 93 percent of Americans dropped by four percent. And, because that Pew Research Center analysis was based on the most recently released Census Bureau data for 2009-2011, it does not reveal that the situation has only gotten worse since then (a fact most Americans are painfully aware of).
That is because President Obama has expediently endorsed Reaganism, because the Reaganites have managed to steadily and persistently maintain and even enhance Reagan's image to the point where even many Democrats believe Ronald Reagan was good for the country and the world.
The proof, however, is in the pudding, as they say. And the proof can be seen if you compare the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the legacy of President Reagan. The ultimate results of Roosevelt made America and its middle class great, while the full results of Reaganism did the opposite. In fact, Reaganism has nearly destroyed the legacy of Roosevelt and pushed America back to conditions reminiscent of the 1920s, which caused the Great Depression.
Therefore, we should examine the Reaganite rationale, because it is indeed false.
(Continued at Poverty: America's Greatest Shame, Part 2, which discusses further proof of why America's political economic system is so unfair, and how we can establish better banking. And it more fully explains why the Reaganite "Gospel of Prosperity" is deceptive and wrong.)