Thursday, January 23, 2014

It Has Been a Half Century Since the War on Poverty. Have We Made Progress?

 
(written by my friend Daniel L. Berek)
 
With one in five children living in poverty and one in ten in extreme poverty, "the United States is still not a fair playing field for millions of children afflicted by preventable poverty, homelessness, sickness, poor education, and violence…." 
 
Continues Ms. Edelman, the greatest threat to our society, our well-being, our security comes not from a foreign enemy, but "from our failure, unique among high-income nations, to invest adequately and fairly in the health, education, and sound development of our young."  In addition to lack of health care and poor nutrition, inadequate education and the extremely high rate of incarceration prevent young people, most of them of color, from finding work or being able to enlist in the military.  "If America is to lead in the 21st century, we must reset our economic and moral compass," she adds.
 
* * *
 
A large number of CFS patients are denied Disability benefits, which forces their families into poverty.  Even for those who do eventually succeed at convincing a judge that they have a legitimate physical illness, not something that can be cured by talk therapy (as several judges insisted would get me back to work), SSDI checks are often less than minimum wage, leaving the family in poverty.
 
In many cases, the children were born before the parent became disabled -- it's not an irresponsible choice to have children you can't afford, as some would like you to believe is the only reason a family needs welfare/food stamps.
 
A parent's disability should not cost a child its future.  The children of the poor and disabled should get adequate nutrition, health care, and education regardless of their parents' situation -- the children should not be punished for the perceived "sins of the fathers" (which is the result of those whose moral compass says those who don't work deserve no assistance).  The children of the disabled are especially in need of the ability to earn enough to support a disabled parent, which they cannot do if poor nutrition/health/education leaves them intellectually disadvantaged and suited only for menial low-paying jobs.
 
Children are our future -- let's make sure ALL of them get the best possible start in life.
 

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