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The last I noticed there were more people in poverty in 2017 than there were in the turbulent 1960s, more urban and rural ghettos, more lost American souls adrift in the seas of an uncertain future. I’m beginning to think that the term “homeless” is too narrow to fit our needs any longer.
Those who have sufficient wealth can no longer pull Horatio Alger “rags to riches” stories out of the hat and use them as a false hedge against poverty and inequality and the lost hopes for the many millions who lack the ability to weather the storms of an unfair economy and democracy.
Words of encouragement mean nothing. There can be no notion of a great national destiny when American innovation and hard earned freedoms are counterbalanced by child poverty rates that approach 21 percent of the population and about the only thing a family can offer its children is the troubling ability to keep their heads above water.
Life is not equal. We all know that. But it is myopic not to see that decades of a growing inequality are consuming more and more of our people, making more and more of our people at-risk than ever before.
Free market slogans and a can-do attitude can’t fight this tide.
The ideological nightmare of the New Conservative Neanderthal Party (NCNP) and our president Payosa Loco promises a small part of the population that hard work and self-reliance allows all Americans a share in wealth and prosperity. The numbers prove different. While wealth has been created, plenty of it, gobs of it even in a great recession, that wealth has been primarily been sequestered in the vaults of less than one percent of the population. One percent of the population owns more wealth than the other 90 percent of the population at the bottom. The top 400 wealthiest Americans possess more wealth than the poorest 150 million of their countrymen. What idiot would believe that such inequities can lead to a stable and promising society?
That great imbalance is a lingering illness in a society that promotes freedom and social well being. Our slogans are fast growing hollow.
We are not taking care of the least fortunate and the least fortunate are the fastest growing segment of our population. That is a trend headed for disaster.
This is not a new phenomenon. Society has always tended to forget those who can’t keep pace. We offer only token means to deal with a lack of education or a family history of struggle. It was a struggle to provide equal rights for all citizens, to provide social security and medicare, a struggle to provide health care and an equal education for those of color or those who struggle to learn. We tend to ignore those less fortunate no matter the circumstance. Our blindness is the fact that those numbers are growing not shrinking in this new world of global implications.
There is always the simple mantra that this is the land of opportunity, that it is the destiny of our people to dream and achieve and improve our lot in life as if that were a wholly American characteristic.
The problem is that reality doesn’t bear that out at all. The reality is that income for workers is dropping and we are a less literate people capable of understanding why. Income inequality is growing and intellectual ability is declining. It was Mao who said something to the effect that education is the opiate of the people, meaning simply that if you control what you teach you can have a population that will be submissive to the status quo because it knows no better.
The free marketeers and wizards of commerce and finance are showing old Mao the way to get things done in this new century, the way to lead the cows to pasture and sell them an iPhone and a flat screen TV in the process.
By ignoring our democracy and turning our hopes and prayers to the Gods of the Economocracy we are writing a new chapter. We spend less than any other developed nation on education. Our tax revenues are lower. Our poverty rates are higher. We have more millionaires, more billionaires than anyone else while having nearly as many people living in urban and rural ghettos as does Mexico.
And Mexico has a national health plan.
We are fast losing our soul. We are fast losing the ability to rationalize our way out of the path of a disaster waiting to happen. The belief in false slogans will not lead people out of the near feudal state we seem to be striving for against our own best wishes.
We ignore the growing underclass at our own peril. We are chipping away at our own morality, at our own soul.
If your soul has no home, if there is little hope that you can find social well being in the nation you call home, you may be homeless even if you have a roof over your head.