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Senate UN Special Rapporteur's report on poverty in the USA

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ender Sai , Jun 3, 2018.

  1. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Bitterest Ex-Mod star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    A few things before we start.

    If you just came here to blame Trump or attack the UN, basically because you lack the intellectual and emotional maturity to handle the underlying criticism of the frameworks, don't bother. Stick to the US politics thread where memes are considered evidence.

    This report covers areas of policy and poverty, and is quite scathing in its conclusions. Even its introduction is terse:

    "The United States is a land of stark contrasts. It is one of the world’s wealthiest societies, a global leader in many areas, and a land of unsurpassed technological and other forms of innovation. Its corporations are global trendsetters, its civil society is vibrant and sophisticated and its higher education system leads the world. But its immense wealth and expertise stand in shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live. About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.4 It has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world.
    5. The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries.5 The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality. The consequences of neglecting poverty and promoting inequality are clear. The United States has one of the highest poverty and inequality levels among the OECD countries, and the Stanford Center on Inequality and Poverty ranks it 18th out of 21 wealthy countries in terms of labour markets, poverty rates, safety nets, wealth inequality and economic mobility. But in 2018 the United States had over 25 per cent of the world’s 2,208 billionaires. There is thus a dramatic contrast between the immense wealth of the few and the squalor and deprivation in which vast numbers of Americans exist. For almost five decades the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.
    "

    It doesn't get any better.

    A lot of you know this. Or at least, more accurately, you suspect it was bad but perhaps not quite this bad. There's one line in here that really hits home hardest, and it hits at both Democrats and Republicans alike:

    "At the end of the day, however, particularly in a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power."

    If you read this report, what are your thoughts? Is this getting much airtime in the US? Do you instinctively feel it's unfair for the UN to single the US out in so public a fashion? What remedies are available - actual remedies, too, and not just hoping the Democrats take Congress (since they're equally at fault for the systemic issues)?
     
  2. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 25, 2004
    That's really the only thing to do. Get Democrats elected, get liberal judges appointed to the courts, gradually enact campaign finance laws, and maybe over the next hundred years things will turn for the better.
     
  3. Darth_Duck

    Darth_Duck Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2000
    That's disheartening to read. "If we do the least we can do it might get better in a century."

    Sent from my SM-G386W using Tapatalk
     
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  4. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    It’s very disheartening to read, and no surprise to anyone who works in a public school system, especially an urban one.

    And yes, both parties are to blame, because mainstream politicians of both parties care more about lining their campaign coffers with corporate donations than about actually fixing any sort of problem.

    I’d add that those in charge of making public education policy are great at throwing cotton-candy solutions to achievement gaps (including insane testing requirements and regulations) and discipline problems and seeing what sticks, when any legitimate study will show that the number one cause of academic achievement gaps is poverty. As far as discipline—try being an eight-year-old who isn’t sure where you’ll be sleeping tonight or whether you’ll get dinner and see how well you behave in school.

    As far as high incarceration—that’s because corporations run our prisons and make money when they are filled. Almost nothing is done in the United States unless someone can make a profit from it. For-profit prison corporations are one of the strongest lobbies against marijuana legalization—and my own theory, admittedly without much concrete evidence, is that they also favor racial profiling by police departments.
     
  5. Darth_Duck

    Darth_Duck Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2000
    I meant the post above mine was disheartening. The report is full of no surprises.

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  6. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

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    Aug 16, 2002
    There is no clear road to a solution, and certainly there is no solution that is not extremely difficult. The two parties are entrenched in power and both serve the wealthy. The party that is and has historically been more receptive to pro-worker, anti-poverty activism is attacking such activists-- calling them not "real" Democrats, purging them from the DNC, calling their mild goals such as universal single-payer healthcare "radical" and "unrealistic," and scapegoating them for the party's dismal failure in 2016 (which was really a culmination of its failures for the past decade). We're seeing potential 2020 presidential candidates starting to support "progressive" goals, but who knows if it's just lip service for most of them and the president alone doesn't set policy anyway. Given that a chunk of Democrats just recently voted for a few bills to roll back regulations on the financial sector, I'm not holding my breath as far as a hypothetical Democratic majority in congress moving the country in the right direction. They talk of incremental change, but that never works when they lose power and when some of them turn around and change things back when they think people aren't looking.

    Basic structural reform or abolition of the United States would not turn out well for most people. I wouldn't expect a better state to come from this climate. It would most likely skew rightward, with all the bigotry and plutocracy celebrated by the Trump administration further codified and legitimized. Of course any left-wing attempt at a coup or revolution, as much as there is a "real" left in this country, would be stopped by the military.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
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  7. LostOnHoth

    LostOnHoth Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 15, 2000
    People who live in poverty are just lazy and need to get off their arses and make something of themselves- why should hardworking citizens donate their tax dollars to lazy miscreants who just want to live off the public dole. If you gave them a safety net they wouldn't work hard and the whole country would be ****ed. The wealth of the country shouldn't be propped up by those few with an actual work ethic. If so and so can make it rich then so can anyone - opportunity is there for all - you just have to work hard and want it.

    As long as that pretty much sums up your average Murican voter then there can be no solution ever. Strange as it is that those countries with heavy taxation, robust safety nets and lower rates of poverty still manage to produce their fair share of millionaires and billionaires. It's almost like you can have economic prosperity and also look after your citizens at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
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  8. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

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    Aug 16, 2002
    I don't think that actually sums up the "average" American voter. The majority or plurality-- I don't remember exactly-- of American voters cast their votes in favor of Democrats in 2016, and supporting the party associated with the so-called safety net (accurate or not) at least shows an impulse to support better conditions for the majority of people. There's also the 45-or-so percent of eligible voters who do not participate in elections for various reasons, and I doubt many of them fit such a characterization either. Getting more people to participate in elections would probably be better for the U.S., which is why those in power tend to do their best to discourage it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  9. LostOnHoth

    LostOnHoth Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 15, 2000
    I interact mostly with people from Texas.
     
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  10. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    I think the idea of “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps” as an imperative has been ingrained in American culture since it was founded—the rugged individualism from settling on the frontier (after stealing the land from the Native Americans of course), the Puritan idea that anything remotely more fun than the standard of “boring as hell” is sinful, and of course, the Wild West gun fetish culture.

    This is an old article about the difference between American children’s literature and British children’s literature:

    Why the British tell better children’s stories

    When kids are learning about their culture through stories and have a choice between J.R.R. Tolkien or Laura Ingalls Wilder, who is getting the better lesson (and the more interesting stories)?
     
  11. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

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    Aug 16, 2002
    Even in Texas it would be at least 40%, though I assume you're interacting with the whiter, more well-off segment.
     
  12. LostOnHoth

    LostOnHoth Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 15, 2000
    Strangely enough it is the legal immigrants who mostly state that view.
     
  13. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    On some level I can understand the mindset that “I went through all the legal channels and paid the fees to get here, why can’t other people who want to come here, do the same?”

    ...but it ignores the fact that people who are escaping war-torn regions or just overall terrible situations do not have hundreds of dollars to pay in fees or time to wait.
     
  14. Coruscant

    Coruscant Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Feb 15, 2004
    Isn’t your point applying less and less every passing day, though? I guess earlier American generations (read: Baby Boomers) grew up on Wilder and Twain, but the latest couple generations have grown up on Potter, a British story, so much so that a wide swath of the Millenials are called the “Potter Generation.” You work with kids, you know how few of them have probably read Huckleberry Finn or Little House compared to Potter, or even Narnia.
     
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  15. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    You’re right about that. I was thinking more of classic children’s stories that might be taught, either in school or by parents, as opposed to stories that kids pick out on their own.

    I have the Little House books in the library but I can’t remember the last time any of them were circulated.
     
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  16. Coruscant

    Coruscant Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Feb 15, 2004
    Ah, I see. Well, I recall reading a lot of Blume, Dahl, Lewis, and, of course, Wilder, before Rowling came along. I had a pretty even mix of American and British, which I suspect most of my peers did, too, whether they came from public or private schools (both of which I attended). I can’t really speak for the Midwest, though.

    I guess I read a lot of this stuff about frontier bravado and gun fetishism and I think, I don’t get it. Most Americans I talk to and see on a daily basis aren’t like that. It goes to show that this country is a very big place, the third largest by area and population (I think?). It seems like so many people, including on this board, forget that.

    Edit: I might be thinking of Beverly Cleary, not Judy Blume. Speaking of, holy ****, Cleary is alive and 102 years old!
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
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  17. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Bitterest Ex-Mod star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    The picture you paint is, necessarily or otherwise, bleak. Not unrealistic, mind you - just that there's precious little scope for any hope. Incremental improvements will not do enough to arrest the trends in poverty and underinvestment in education et al; they can't address wider issues such as welfare and what to me is a really striking statement from the report; "make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship."

    So is it "damned if you do or damned if you don't", but with degrees to which the middle class are in some capacity preserved?
     
  18. grd4

    grd4 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 11, 2013
    My thoughts? All sober, as I understood long ago that my country has been in a slow death spiral since the Reagan Revolution, and that the destruction that we've unleashed on the poor abroad and within is now being visited upon wider swathes.

    Is it getting much airtime? Of course not. Six corporations control 90% of our media--poverty and exploitation aren't to be broached. All we hear about is Russian meddling, and whatever vomit Red Team/Blue Team celebrities like Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee spew. There are small rebellions occurring (e.g., the teachers' strikes), but the cameras trained on them are few and far between.

    Is the U.N. being unfair? Emphatically NO. The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.

    Remedies? I dunno. I'm something of an activist, currently involved in the Poor People's Campaign. I'm compelled to expose and combat institutional evil. As such, I vacillate between hope and despair: seeing, before my eyes, citizens drawn into the battle for a more just society, hearing loftier, humane ideals being disseminated, all the while despairing of the hideous forces that control every government branch and both parties, to say nothing of the climate catastrophe looming in the near horizon. I just don't know.
     
  19. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Bitterest Ex-Mod star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    What will actually be most telling is the people who don't respond here.

    There's an element though where it's chicken and egg, right? Like corporations - one of those nefarious forces - and Koch Brother types are just people. They behave the way they behave for a good reason, and you generally see more social responsibility in other companies outside the US. I mean, US companies are by far and way the most likely to be dodging taxes in Ireland, for example. So I mean, is the issue actually the cultural piece?
     
  20. bluealien1

    bluealien1 Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2015
    I keep see people talk about how both parties are the same,but it's not true.One is at least trying and with the DSA(Democratic Socialist of America) running and winning in states like Virginia we have a chance to turn things around.It will take time.America is never going to be like Europe sadly but we can be better.Right now we are having a backlash(whitelash?) but soon that will be over.America will be behind Europe in alot of areas.

    I live in the South.People here are some of the poorest in America and yet they vote for people who would keep them poor,why?Because people have given up on them.Talk to them,Many are reasonable and can see the truth,it takes time but their minds can be changed.

    Stop saying that Democrats are just corporate lapdogs.Democrats have a large center and that is what will win us the white house and the congress.Most Americans are in the Center,not Left or Right.So long as our Left can push some ideas through,i think we will be just fine.Bring up the wages and people will see who their friends are.(at least for a time)

    *coughcough* Now back to your regular program.
     
  21. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Bitterest Ex-Mod star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    OK bluealien but the UN report notes a 50 year period. That would take us back to 1968. Which means Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama were all presidents during that period. So you know, culpable.
     
  22. bluealien1

    bluealien1 Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2015
    Yes and we had Nixon and Reagan and two Bushs.The road we travel is not a straight one,we zigzag but still get to where we are going.America will never be just like Europe,in some areas will we be ahead and in others we will be behind.At least your parties all agree Climate Change is a thing.
     
  23. Darth_Duck

    Darth_Duck Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2000
    There's always UKIP for UK climate skepticism.

    Sent from my SM-G386W using Tapatalk
     
  24. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Bitterest Ex-Mod star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    Ok sure but it's not like it was up and down. It's just been downhill. Don't give one side a pass because you were or maybe are a paid member of their club.
     
  25. bluealien1

    bluealien1 Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2015
    Please tell me what you mean by this?