You start talking about poverty in the United States with a right-winger and I can practically guarantee that the first thing they’ll bring up is “how good America’s poor have it,” because with them, it’s race to the bottom. Well, guess what, baseball fans?
We hit the bottom.
A new report detailing research done by Brookings suggests that the poor living in the United States are among the poorest people in the world. The Brookings research found that the United States has between 2% and 5% — that’s roughly 6.6 and 16.5 million Americans — living in poverty at the level found in the poorest nations of the world, around $2 per day per person. Which means that, right now, there are anywhere from 6.6 to 16.5 million Americans living in poverty rivaled only in cities like Lagos, Rio de Janerio, and Mexico City. The only reason they appear to have it better is because of the widespread waste culture and scavenging.
Never knock what you can find with scavenging. People throw the neatest things out. And because of that, everything from cars to appliances can be scavenged and, for just a little effort and lot of creativity, turned into something useful again. This wastefulness gives the false impression that our poor are doing better than those in other countries; they’re really not, they just have better material to pick over.
So I guess if you want to argue our poor or doing better because the quality of garbage they pick through is higher, then sure, go for it. To those of us with a conscience, it doesn’t make any difference: they’re still picking through garbage.
I’m sure the underground economy — flea markets, garage sales/yard sales/other sales — also plays a role. In fact, I know it does.
It’s gotten so popular in the United States it’s got its own name, called “Freeganism.” Which I first read as “Reaganism,” fittingly enough.
A silver-lining in this tornado-spawning supercell is that, according to the research, people are only at the bottom temporarily. Most grow from the sub-$2 per day per person level to the more established poverty rate within a year. This means that you get to move from abject destitution to rock bottom poverty. See, class mobility does exist in America!
The only thing that keeps the bottom from falling out, and keeps us from turning into Vietnam or North Korea, is our threadbare social safety net. You know the one; the one that the Republicans keep trying to cut, and the ones that Teabaggers demand the government keep its hands off of. But even that won’t help the fact that our nation is coming up on a dangerous point: the slow motion implosion caused by too much weight at the top of society.
The results of that little spectacle won’t be pretty. After all, we’re talking a 0.01% that’s spent its entire existence sponsoring an anti-poor party that’s demonized the poor, the minorities, and the poor minorities with rhetoric like “welfare queens” and “thugs.” Now, the systemic poverty that they’ve reinforced is finally catching up with the majority — and with it, the same rhetoric. It’s only a question of how much longer the Shining City on a Hill can rot from the inside out before it finally does something to preserve it’s existence — or it collapses.
More from AATTP…
- GOP States Refusing Medicaid Will Lose Nearly 424 Billion in Medicaid Funding While the Poor Lose Their Health and Lives
- Republicans Killing America: 93 of 100 Poorest Counties in the US are in Red States