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U.S. Child Poverty Rate : A National Disgrace

2 October 2011 4 Comments
Arme kinderen voor een raam / Poor children lo...

Image by Nationaal Archief via Flickr

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development recently released some sobering statistics related to child poverty throughout the developed world.  The figures included only North America, Europe and a few other developed countries, and were intended to show the percentage of children who live in households that get by on less than 50% of the national median income.  Since the definition of  “child poverty” is closely related to each country’s  national median income, the statistics tend to illustrate an individual country’s uneven (or even) distribution of wealth, as opposed to showing the absolute level of child poverty in each nation.  For example, out of the twenty-three countries included in the study, the United States showed the second worst results, exceeded only by Mexico.  According to the OECD, The United States has a child poverty rate of 22.4%, whereas countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, France and even the Czech Republic showed rates of less than 10%.  For those of us who were led to believe that America provided the greatest standard of living to the greatest number of people of any country in the world, the OECD results are startling.

What is even more startling is that the OECD figures on child poverty are over five years old, therefore do not take into consideration the detrimental effects the Great Recession has had on families across America.  Undoubtedly the child poverty rates in the U.S. are bound to be much, much worse today.  Over the last four years, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and used up their unemployment compensation, millions more have been evicted from their homes and apartments, thirty-seven million live without health care insurance, and forty million have to count on food stamps to feed their children.  While  five percent (or so) of Americans continue to amass wealth, and continue to enjoy the benefits of an economic system that rewards the wealthy and punishes the middle class, the number of children living in poverty steadily climbs.

The ever-widening divide between the have’s and the have-not’s in America, and the growing number of children growing up in poverty are disturbing trends , and almost surely spell big trouble for the future if something is not done soon. The Great Recession of 2008 (and still continuing) has led to “class warfare” rather than co-operation between Americans.  This warfare is being effectively waged by Republican politicians such as  Perry, Bachmann, Boehner and Paul, who constantly preach that America’s biggest enemy is its national debt, and not the poverty of its people.  They tell us that the federal government is the enemy because it takes the money from the wealthy and foolishly spends it on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps for the unworthy and unemployed poor.  Sadly, far too many good, hard-working Americans have actually bought into the lies and scare tactics of the Republican Party.  So before voting for the next Republican or Tea Party candidate, just think of this: the OECD tells us that only Mexico has a higher rate of child poverty than the U.S., and for this we should all be truly ashamed!



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