by: Ted McLaughlin via jobsanger.blogspot.com
There’s a political divide in this country over what to do about the poor and disadvantaged. Some people think we are our brother’s keeper and that means it is our responsibility to take care of people who have fallen through the cracks in our society. And the best way to do this is to use government to help them (through education, welfare, food stamps, job training, etc.). Others think it’s more of every man for himself, and if the poor need help they should beg from some church. But under no circumstances should any tax money be used to help them.
Perhaps there is an argument to be had about some of the adult poor, but there is one thing many people forget when having this discussion — many of the poor are children. In fact, about one in every five children in the United States is living in poverty. The racial breakdown is about 6.1 million Hispanic children (35%), about 5 million White children (12%), and about 4.4 million African-American children (39%). That’s at least 15.5 million children living in poverty (and we haven’t even discussed Asians, Native Americans, Middle Easterners, etc.).
Whatever one might think of poor adults, these millions of children can’t just “pull themselves up by their boot straps”. In fact, they are unlikely to get the food, education, and other types of nurturing that will allow themselves to someday escape their poverty. Most of them will grow up to be poor (and have poor children of their own), and many will turn to crime to escape their poverty (and it will cost even more to catch and imprison them that it would have to just have helped them in the first place).
We are still the richest nation on Earth, in spite of the continuing recession. It’s just that we have, through some short-sighted economic policies, allowed far too much of the nation’s wealth and income to go to only a few of the richest people. And the Republicans in Congress want to make things even worse by cutting taxes for the rich (so they can amass even more) and cutting social programs that help the poor. This is insane.
It is time we lived up to our responsibilities, and the way to do that is to redistribute income through regulation and taxes. Those who have the most should pay the most. I know redistribution is a dirty word for some people, but what they don’t realize is that in every society money is always being redistributed. The problem right now is that most of it is currently being redistributed to the rich. That can only work for so long, and then the rest of society will demand more fairness — first peacefully, and then with violence.
We have a choice. We can change things now, or we can be forced to change things later. That is just how the world has always worked. And if we’re smart, we should start with the children. They are not only the weakest in our society, they are also our future. It is simply a national shame that we have over 15 million poor children in this country.