Monday, November 01, 2010

Poverty Traps Set By the Rich to Ensnare More and More.

North Philadelphia
Today, I was listening to Marty Moss-Coane, host of NPR's Radio Times revisit the discussion on the culture of poverty. Towards the end of the show, a hospice nurse, who used to work in North Philadelphia called in and relayed his experience working in the second hungriest congressional district in the nation, according to Gallup Healthways Index.

He said, that oftentimes when attending to the dying elderly people in this area, he noticed the feeding tubes ran dry earlier than usual. Much to his dismay, he found out the reason.  The children were drinking the predigested food straight from the tubes they were so hungry.  Personally, I can't even imagine that kind of hunger, but it's much more common than any of us think.

In contrast, less than five miles away, the  Philadelphia Main Line ranks as one of the nation's highest concentration of millionaires, or highest per capita income in the U.S.  The contradiction between the juxtaposing areas within a span of a few miles is truly amazing.

Years ago, while still in college, I visited a friend who resides on the Main Line, in a mansion similar to the mansion pictured below.  I convinced him to go into Philadelphia with me, not realizing how sheltered he was.  As we were walking along a well traveled street near University of Penn, we passed a homeless man, propped up by  a bulging pillowcase with all  his belongings, and huddled over a steam vent to keep warm,  unfortunately something I'd seen many times before. However, much to my amazement, my friend was in shock. Not only had he never seen the homeless, he had never heard of the homeless.  Just a blatant example of the segregation that allows us to blind ourselves to the poverty in America.

Formerly known as “Rathalla” “home of the chieftain upon the highest hill” in Gaelic, summer home of Joseph Francis Sinnott who immigrated to the US from County Donegal in Ireland in 1854. Now, the centerpiece of Rosemont University on the Main Line.

The twenty-first century ushers in an unprecedented level of inequality in our "rags-to-riches" nation. However, here's the truth: The child born to poor parents is almost 30 times more likely to stay poor. The child born to wealthy parents is more than 10 times more likely to stay wealthy.

Poverty traps.

Since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, opportunities for escaping poverty grow fewer while constraints continue to increase, condemned millions of poor women and children to downward mobility. The patchwork of scattered assistance programs do not work together, and are not well-known.  Therefore, navigating the welfare system becomes a full time job in and of itself, leaving those with the least amount of resources, the least amount of time to get on the ladder. Forget about climbing it.

Poverty in America is a family of four making $22,000 or below; 15% of all Americans live in poverty. One in five American children live in poverty, and 30% of all African-American and Hispanic children live in poverty.  These numbers are increasing, leaving far too many people, in a country as wealthy as ours, who are just about surviving, let alone, thriving.

The Well-Being Index composite result is an average of six domains: life
0 (bottom) -100 (top) Scale evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors, work
environment and basic access.

Links:

City, State, Congressional District Well-Being Reports

Stretched Thin: Poor Families, Welfare Work, and Welfare Reform -
“I feel like poverty just … it’s a vicious cycle, I mean if you get your head above that water, then they’re going to drop you. …You know they are going to let the air out of your lifejacket, and you go back down to the bottom rung again.” -- an Oregon hospice worker with three teen-aged children.
Culture of poverty

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