The official poverty rate in the United States and the reality seem to be two different things. According to Money magazine,
Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.
The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”
Added to this is that about 66% of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour. How is one to live?
Nevertheless, Seattle’s City Council just passed a controversial tax on big businesses, the revenue from which is meant to help alleviate the city’s growing homelessness, and affordable housing problems. It is reassuring to see that action is being taken somewhere, because in Southern California, much less is being done with a great deal more.
According to this article in the Washington Post, Orange County has about 5000 homeless people, and no one, particularly the wealthy, seem to want them around. The homeless are the real victims of Orange County’s compassion fatigue. They find themselves pushed further and further away from necessary services.
Frustrated with the slow pace of politics and demanding immediate, street-level action, residents in the wealthiest counties along California’s coast have been agitating for a solution — which increasingly involves pushing homeless people out of sight.
“The growing resistance to the homeless is small but very loud,” said Tim Houchen, a formerly homeless man who now advocates on their behalf. “Their problem now is that there are many people who do not want any new homeless shelters, but they want the homeless to go somewhere else.”
Malibu … residents have urged a church to stop the weekly dinners it holds for the homeless. Residents argued that offering charity just attracts more homeless people.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer [R], who has referred to the homeless as “sex offenders and drug addicts,” … told a local radio station, [the homeless] should not be located “where good, hard-working citizens of California are trying to raise their families and pay their taxes and just enjoy a quality of life.” He said his county’s homeless population should be sent to the San Bernardino County desert “and provided services.”
I must say that I cannot imagine a more heartless response. Compassion fatigue is understandable, but only up to a point. People think one-off personal charity should take care of the problem, and when it doesn’t, they get frustrated and tired. People need to see that the system must change, otherwise we shall continue to generate more and more poor, along with all the problems they have. It seems impossible for Americans to relinquish their hold on the old capitalist system for new answers to our intractable problems. If more people could embrace Oneness, such suffering and inequality would be considered intolerable, and action would be taken.
Poverty in America is harsh and pervasive. This is unacceptable in the wealthiest country in the world. I am so ashamed that those who can do something most easily, are also the ones most likely to demur. We could all share the load by implementing social programs that prevent such suffering in the first place, like they have in Europe. I simply cannot fathom why this is so repugnant to Americans. The bizarre Calvinist work ethic that plagues our country just does not apply any more, and we must move ahead. I pray we can do this before our society collapses altogether.
Copyright © 2018 Teresa Chupp. All rights reserved.