Nearly 1 in 6 children live in poverty in the United States. That’s over 12.8 million kids. The United States also has 788 billionaires who hold a collective worth of over $3.4 trillion, which, as Vox pointed out, is a 14% increase over 2018.
As rapper J-Live once said,
The poor get worked, the rich get richer
The world gets worse, do you get the picture?
Eradicating poverty is often posed as an impossible task, something noble but otherwise unrealistic—a pipe-dream of hippies and idealists. But the truth is, ending poverty would be rather simple. It just requires spending some more money up front. I should make something clear from the outset: We haven’t ended poverty in the United States because we have chosen not to, not because of the inherent difficulty in doing so.
The new $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that is set to pass the House this week includes an expanded child tax credit of $3,600 for children under 6, and $3,000 for children 6-18. The credit is also—finally—granted to families earning <$2,500 annually. It’s a sizable increase over the prior $2,000 credit for sure, and the payments being broken down and distributed on a monthly basis is a welcome change, but it’s not exactly a revolutionary policy. Even so, an analysis by the Urban Institute found that it would reduce child poverty by 40%. That is a massive reduction achieved by simply infusing an already existing program with more funds.
Imagine if we increased and expanded this credit to exist as a basic income system. Imagine if we increased funding for programs like SNAP and CHIP, if we implemented a universal, single-payer healthcare system. Imagine if we raised the minimum wage. None if this is particularly revolutionary at all, it’s just about ponying up the cash to exist as a humane nation.
And we have the cash. Holy shit do we have the cash.
As the Times pointed out, we are the richest country in the world, and we have the biggest wealth gap. That is not a bug in our economic system, it’s a primary feature. The exploitation of the working class creates centibillionares. We give all the breaks to those at the top.
According to a statement made by a HUD official in 2012, it would cost about $20 billion a year to eliminate homelessness entirely. That’s not much. For context, our 2020 military budget was $721.5 billion. Also, Elon Musk made $5 billion more than that on Tuesday.
Paid for. Poverty eliminated.
It’s also worth noting that, coincidentally, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos both have individual net worth’s of right around 175 billion, the estimated yearly price tag for eliminating poverty.
So why don’t we do it? Austerity politics, a bestial adherence to free market capitalism, and a distorted sense of “freedom.” These proposals are not radical at all, but we’ve been conditioned to believe they are. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we are a pure and vibrant meritocracy, that all someone needs to do is work hard to be successful in America—you know, bootstraps and all that nonsense. The truth is that economic mobility in the United States is rare.
If you have rich parents, you have a much higher probability of being rich.
If you have poor parents, you have a much higher probability of being poor.
To help provide clear opportunities for economic advancement through generations we have to get rid of poverty. A life of poverty is defined by sub-par educational opportunities and community resources, poor healthcare and nutrition options, and a brand of unceasing stress that wreaks havoc on the body and mind.
It’s inexcusable that in a nation as rich as we are that we continue to let poverty run rampant, that we think it’s acceptable for people to go hungry, to sleep on the street, to ration meals and healthcare. Eliminating poverty shouldn’t be a radical idea in the least. It should be the obvious, human reaction to suffering that does not need to occur.
We can end poverty right now.
And we should all be pushing to make that happen.
In Case You Missed It
I put out a video discussing how the Senate filibuster is a racist relic and an invaluable tool of white supremacy. It functions to enshrine minority rule and suppress the votes of Black people. It needs to be abolished immediately.
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