Moral Low Ground

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CENSUS: 1 IN 6 AMERICANS ARE POOR

January 6, 2011 by Brett Wilkins in Rich & Poor with 0 Comments

The number of Americans living below the poverty line is significantly higher than previously thought, according to newly released US census data. Some 47.8 million people, or 1 out of every 6 Americans, are poor. Many of these are older people, aged 65 or above, who struggle with rising medical costs.

While the number of poor Americans has soared to an all-time high, government aid programs such as tax credits and food stamps– much maligned by conservatives– have saved many people from poverty and have kept the number of poor from skyrocketing beyond all control. Without the earned income tax credit, for example, 17.7% of the population would be poor, and without food stamps, which a record 40.8 million people receive, 17.2% of all Americans would be poor.

The new census numbers mean that 15.7% of all Americans are poor. Among seniors 65 and up, the figure rises to 16.1%. In the West, nearly 1 in 5 people are poor.

These staggering statistics point to the need for an expansion, not a reduction in government programs to aid the poor, especially the impoverished elderly. While our nation’s leaders have no problem finding the money to fund the Pentagon’s $740 billion annual budget, tens of millions of human beings are left to rot in poverty. Spending on education, health care and anti-poverty assistance is slashed. And the succeed-or-be-damned mentality of our society perpetuates poverty by making it acceptable to blame the poor for their own misfortune or even just ignore them.

Our national priorities; our very national values need to undergo a drastic re-think if this shocking disparity between the haves and have-nots is to be kept from ballooning out of control with disastrous consequences for our Republic.

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