Friday, January 25, 2008

It's a start...

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a Congressional Resolution Tuesday night that the U.S. ought to set a national goal to cut poverty in half over the next 10 years.

The whereas-es of the resolution are deeply troubling:

1st Session
H. CON. RES. 198
Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States has a moral responsibility to meet the needs of those persons, groups and communities that are impoverished, disadvantaged or otherwise in poverty.

Whereas poverty is a deep, structural problem that implicates our value system and our educational and economic institutions;

Whereas a widely acknowledged definition of poverty is the lack of basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing, health care, education, security, and opportunity;

Whereas policy initiatives addressing poverty have not kept pace with the needs of millions of Americans;

Whereas the failure of America's ability to meet the needs of its poorest was acutely seen during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in August 2005;

Whereas many experts believe that the lack of an equitable distribution of housing choices across the country leads to isolation and concentrated poverty that makes low-income individuals and families vulnerable to catastrophic natural or man-made
disasters like the Gulf Coast hurricanes;

Whereas the economic disparities that have exacerbated restoration of impoverished communities in the Gulf Coast region continue to persist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina;

Whereas the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by over 5,000,000 since 2000;

Whereas there were 37 million Americans living in poverty in 2005;

Whereas the official poverty rate in 2005 was 12.6 percent;

Whereas 24.9 percent of African Americans, 21.8 percent of Hispanics, 25.3 percent of Native Americans, 10.9 percent of Asian Americans, and 8.3 percent of Whites lived in poverty in the United States in 2005;

Whereas in 2005 a family of 4 was considered poor under the U.S. Census Bureau's official measure if the family's income was below $19,971;

Whereas the poverty rate for children 18 years and younger (17.6 percent) remained higher than that of 18-24 year-olds (11.1 percent) and that of people 65 and older (10.1 percent) in 2005;

Whereas the number in poverty increased for people 65 and older by almost 400,000 since 2000; and

Whereas in international poverty comparisons, a common approach is to ask what share of the population has income below 50 percent of the Nation's median income. Using this measure the United States poverty rate at the turn of the 21st century ranked 24th of 25 countries, with only Mexico having a higher percentage rate:
Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),
That it is the sense of Congress that the United States should set a national goal of cutting poverty in half over the next 10 years using a strategy that promotes good jobs at livable wages.

Now, it's a step - but our country has a history of declaring war on poverty, only to be where we are right now. Sure, let's set some goals, but let's also do some work to meet those goals, right?

Locally - we are. And that feels good.


  1. Amen!

    The truly sad thing is that in the last 20 years or so, our economy has done quite well, yet more people are struggling. I think we really need to work on distributing the wealth more fairly across our society.