Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Poverty, America's Shame

What is so amazing about the conservative's lack of empathy for those who suffer is... IT'S NOT COST EFFECTIVE! And they have the nerve to call themselves FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE... what a crock! These children grow up to be sick, dependent and since they also become unemployable, they turn to crime to maintain their lives. Crimes on those who turned their back on them when they could have been saved by low cost effective, social programs... What a joke! We need to pass around all the stories we can get on this... even though, those who could make a difference will just keep on a keeping their backs turned. (Maybe that is the way they handle problems... IF THEY CANT' SEE IT, IT DOESN'T EXIST!) IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS!!! thinkingblue

PS: Please read the article below and get MAD!

Op-Ed Columnist

Poverty Is Poison

Published: February 18, 2008

“Poverty in early childhood poisons the brain.” That was the opening of an
article in Saturday’s Financial Times, summarizing research presented last
week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As the article explained, neuroscientists have found that “many children
growing up in very poor families with low social status experience unhealthy
levels of stress hormones, which impair their neural development.” The effect
is to impair language development and memory — and hence the ability to escape
poverty — for the rest of the child’s life.

So now we have another, even more compelling reason to be ashamed about
America’s record of failing to fight poverty.

L. B. J. declared his “War on Poverty” 44 years ago. Contrary to cynical
legend, there actually was a large reduction in poverty over the next few
years, especially among children, who saw their poverty rate fall from 23
percent in 1963 to 14 percent in 1969.

But progress stalled thereafter: American politics shifted to the right,
attention shifted from the suffering of the poor to the alleged abuses of
welfare queens driving Cadillacs, and the fight against poverty was largely

In 2006, 17.4 percent of children in America lived below the poverty line,
substantially more than in 1969. And even this measure probably understates
the true depth of many children’s misery.

Living in or near poverty has always been a form of exile, of being cut off
from the larger society. But the distance between the poor and the rest of us
is much greater than it was 40 years ago, because most American incomes have
risen in real terms while the official poverty line has not. To be poor in
America today, even more than in the past, is to be an outcast in your own
country. And that, the neuroscientists tell us, is what poisons a child’s

America’s failure to make progress in reducing poverty, especially among
children, should provoke a lot of soul-searching. Unfortunately, what it often
seems to provoke instead is great creativity in making excuses.

Some of these excuses take the form of assertions that America’s poor
really aren’t all that poor — a claim that always has me wondering whether
those making it watched any TV during Hurricane Katrina, or for that matter
have ever looked around them while visiting a major American city.

Mainly, however, excuses for poverty involve the assertion that the United
States is a land of opportunity, a place where people can start out poor, work
hard and become rich.

But the fact of the matter is that Horatio Alger stories are rare, and
stories of people trapped by their parents’ poverty are all too common.
According to one recent estimate, American children born to parents in the
bottom fourth of the income distribution have almost a 50 percent chance of
staying there — and almost a two-thirds chance of remaining stuck if they’re

That’s not surprising. Growing up in poverty puts you at a disadvantage at
every step.

I’d bracket those new studies on brain development in early childhood with
a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, which tracked a
group of students who were in eighth grade in 1988. The study found, roughly
speaking, that in modern America parental status trumps ability: students who
did very well on a standardized test but came from low-status families were
slightly less likely to get through college than students who tested poorly
but had well-off parents.

None of this is inevitable.

Poverty rates are much lower in most European countries than in the United
States, mainly because of government programs that help the poor and unlucky.

And governments that set their minds to it can reduce poverty. In Britain,
the Labor government that came into office in 1997 made reducing poverty a
priority — and despite some setbacks, its program of income subsidies and
other aid has achieved a great deal. Child poverty, in particular, has been
cut in half by the measure that corresponds most closely to the U.S.

At the moment it’s hard to imagine anything comparable happening in this
country. To their credit — and to the credit of John Edwards, who goaded them
into it — both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are proposing new initiatives
against poverty. But their proposals are modest in scope and far from central
to their campaigns.

I’m not blaming them for that; if a progressive wins this election, it will
be by promising to ease the anxiety of the middle class rather than aiding the
poor. And for a variety of reasons, health care, not poverty, should be the
first priority of a Democratic administration.

But ultimately, let’s hope that the nation turns back to the task it
abandoned — that of ending the poverty that still poisons so many American

Here is another article on the subject CLICK HERE



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