MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The website of the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes clear that the well-being of children and families in the United States, regardless of income, is a key focus of its philanthropy. A important tool in focusing on this issue is providing up to date data and information. The goal is to provide policy makers and citizens with the tools to understand the extent of childhood and family poverty in the US.
On one of the foundation's web pages, it states the alarming reality that, "The United States continues to have one of the highest relative child poverty rates among all developed countries":
In order to compare rates of poverty across countries many researchers use “relative” poverty rates, which examine a family’s income relative to the average family in the country. A recent report by UNICEF found that the United States had more children living in relative poverty - defined as living in a household in which disposable income is less than 50 percent of the national median – than all but one other economically advanced countries, Romania.
On September 22, the foundation released an analysis of the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) from the US Census Bureau. It showed that, "the child poverty rate in the majority of America’s largest cities has not yet returned to pre-recession levels. Among the 50 largest U.S. cities, 35 experienced increases in child poverty rates between 2005 and 2013."
The good news, according to the survey was that there was an overall very slight decline nationally in the percentage of poor children in the US:
Between 2005 and 2012, the national percentage of children living in poverty — or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) — rose from 19 to 23 percent. In 2013, the rate declined to 22 percent of children representing 16.1 million children living in poverty. The 2013 federal poverty level was about $23,600 for a family of four.
However, the slight decline was to small and too recent to indicate a trend. The fact that 35 cities saw an increase in childhood poverty is testament to the shameful chronic existence of young people living in squalid conditions in a nation where many live in abundant wealth.
As reported several times on BuzzFlash at Truthout, even President Obama admitted to ABC News that 95 percent of the income gains since 2008 have gone to the top 1 percent. The impact of that lopsided distribution of the nation's wealth to such a small group of people only hurts those who live in poverty, as the president conceded:
"The folks in the middle and at the bottom haven't seen wage or income growth, not just over the last three, four years, but over the last 15 years," the president said.
In fact, other data also show that America's median household income has dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation.
About a half century ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared a "war on poverty." However, a war on poverty cannot be "won" when an economic system that is rigged to distribute cash and assets upward is so effective in achieving its goal of concentrating wealth in so few hands.
Poverty can't be ended until the oligarchy is dismantled and new economic structures are put in place that focus on achieving the best for the common good, not for the greediest among us.
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