Editors Note: This is a commentary that was originally a separate piece for the writer’s AP Language and Composition class. The assignment was to create a position paper on a public issue.
by Ardhys De Leon, staff reporter
Confucius once said “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”
This nation was founded upon the principles of freedom and the belief that you can accomplish anything you desire as long as you never give up. That anyone, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or moral code can live the American dream.
Today, this is an America where too many have fallen for the American dream and have found themselves buried within the sea of poverty. This is a life in America where two unemployed parents cannot explain to their children why Santa didn’t leave them any presents under the Christmas tree. Where a child’s safety place, the only place that the child can call home, is at risk of being taken away. Where a mother cannot sleep at night because she worries of whether her family will have a place to live by the end of the month.
Today, the 400 wealthiest Americans on the Forbes list have more money than the 150 million Americans combined. (Collins) All while the number of families in America facing extreme poverty-living on 2 dollars or less a day- has increased from 636 thousand to 1.46 million from 1996 to 2011. (Sherman)
But why is America, one of the richest country in the world allowing this to happen?
Paul Piff, a social psychologist said to National Public Radio “The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become”(Moyers and Winship). Piff’s statement might explain why the rich—also known as the ones who run this country—do not seem to care for the poor. Why they seem to not care that they are in fact the one percent of the nation that is actually doing well.
As a nationalist nation, America tends to focus more on what makes it appear greater than others rather than what is making the people suffer. We tend to be a nation that covers up the flaws in the increasing poverty rate with economic make up, so that the rest of the world may envy it without knowing that the nation is falling apart. This is seen during the presidential election of 2012 where there was little to no discussion about what is happening to the poor. (Moyers and Winship) Again, the poor are being ignored and forced to manage on their own. America has become its own enemy, hurting its own people by making them seem invisible.
Many may argue that America is doing better at tackling poverty because of the programs that are available to the poor. Food stamps (SNAP), government housing, Supplement Security income (SSI) among other programs. (Armor and Sousa)While these programs do help make things a little easier for those struggling, they still don’t solve the problem. At the end of the day there number of Americas depending on food stamps has grown from 17 million in 2000 to 47 million today. (“35 Statistics about the Working Poor”)
President Reagan once said “We fought a war on poverty and poverty won.” Today while the nation is still in denial, poverty stands a victor, claiming the lives of 10,000 children each year (Leidenfrost) and destroying the nation from the inside out.