Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Poverty Rate Continues to Climb in the USA

Census Bureau data reveals that more Americans slipped into poverty last year. The poverty rate for African American is almost one in four. It's estimated that 35 million Americans live in poverty.

Not all poor people are part of the underclass. What is not well understood is that many of our fellow citizens work hard and are still poor. A single mother with two or three children who is working for Wal-Mart is a member of the "working poor." And she most likely has no health insurance.

Hurricane Katrina has focused attention on the have-nots in our society. It has also produced a lot of idiotic commentary by conservative pundits on the solutions to poverty. Perhaps the most idiotic comment came from George Will last Sunday. On the ABC program, This Week, he said that girls in the ghetto shouldn't have babies until they are eighteen.

It's almost 30 years since I worked at the grassroots level in the poor neighborhoods of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Nothing has really changed in the intervening years. People with power and influence are still blaming the victims.

I keep hoping there is another Bobby Kennedy out there who will take up the challenge of advocating on behalf of those least advantaged in our society.