Wednesday, October 05, 2005

US poverty: chronic ill, little hope for cure - Yahoo! News

US poverty: chronic ill, little hope for cure - Yahoo! News:
"Last year, according to government statistics, 1.1 million Americans fell below the poverty line. That equals the entire population of a major city like Dallas or Prague.

Since 2000, the ranks of the poor have increased year by year by almost 5.5 million in total....

'Every August, we Americans tell ourselves a lie,' said David Brady, a Duke University professor who studies poverty.

'The poverty rate was designed to undercount because the government wanted to show progress in the war on poverty.

'Taking everything into account, the real rate is around 18 percent, or 48 million people. Poverty in the United States is more widespread, by far, than in any other industrialized country.'

Poverty is a universal problem, as is inequality. The world's 500 richest people, according to U.N. statistics, have as much income as the world's poorest 416 million....

The percentage of black Americans living in poverty is 24.7, almost twice as high as the overall rate for all races.

In predominantly black New Orleans, that disparity translated into those with cars and money, almost all white, fleeing the flood while more than 100,000 car-less blacks were trapped in the flooded city.

Some commentators wondered whether the crisis showed that political segregation, America's version of apartheid which formally ended with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, had merely been replaced by economic segregation. Poor black Americans in one part of a city, affluent whites in the other.

A host of other American cities have such divides, including Newark, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland, Miami and the U.S. capital itself. It is a 10-minute drive from the White House to the heart of Anacostia, the city's poorest neighborhood, but they could be in different worlds.

But the black-equals-poor scenes from New Orleans do not portray the full picture. There are three times as many poor whites as blacks in the United States and the poverty rate for whites has risen faster than that for blacks and Hispanics."

Some thoughts about this article:

  • They never mentioned what the rate was in 1999 at the end of Clinton's administration.

  • They didn't mention the city of Albany, NY, but it also would fit the set of cities that "have such divides." So would Holyoake, MA and many others.

  • Only 500 people would have to give it up to double the income of the bottom 416 million? Brings to mind an old song by David Crosby, "What Are Their Names...

...And on what streets do they live?
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind.
Peace is not
An awful lot
To ask."

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