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News ::
GNAWING POVERTY NEEDS ORGANIZED RESPONSE (english)
06 Oct 2003
AS POLITICIANS POINT FINGERS: GNAWING POVERTY NEEDS ORGANIZED RESPONSE

By Monica Moorehead
-------------------------
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Oct. 9, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

AS POLITICIANS POINT FINGERS: GNAWING POVERTY NEEDS ORGANIZED RESPONSE

By Monica Moorehead

While the Bush administration and Congress are shelling out virtually
unlimited funds for the horrific war and colonial occupation against the Iraqi people, they are also waging another war here in the "land of plenty."

The casualties of that war of intensified economic aggression are
increasing.

According to a Sept. 26 U.S. Census Bureau report, those living in
poverty increased to 12.1 percent of the population in 2002. The 2001
impoverished rate had been officially 11.7 percent. That's an additional 1.7 million people plunged into poverty.

Today there are 34.6 million poor people in the United States. That's
defined as an individual annual income of $9,183 or less, or an income
of $18,392 or less for a family of four.

The number of those in poverty is actually much higher--if the millions of extremely low-paid undocumented workers who have migrated to the United States from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe are included.

The number of people living in severe poverty-those who earn less than
half the official poverty income--increased from 13.4 million in 2001 to 14.1 million in 2002. Of those, African Americans and those living in the Midwest experienced the most dramatic drop in their living
standards.

The Census Bureau report also states that median household income--half the households earn that amount or less--decreased in 2002 by $500 to $42,400. Per capita income fell by 1.8 percent to $22,784, the first decline in 12 years. Per capita income, which considers the mean income of everybody, regardless of age, is derived by dividing the total income of all people 15 years old and over in a geographic area by the total population in that area.

The overall poverty rate among African Americans rose to 24.1 percent
from 22.7 percent over the entire U.S. States with a higher
concentration of African Amer icans such as Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, plus Washington, D.C., suffered a poverty increase even worse than the national average. In the Midwest, once referred to as the "industrial heartland," the states hit hardest are Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

To make matters even worse, the Census Bureau announced in a separate
report on Sept. 30 that there are now 43.6 million people in the United States who are without any kind of health insurance. This marks an increase of 6 percent, or 2.4 million, from 2001 to 2002.

Government officials say 15.2 percent of the population is without
health insurance. But if all those who are undocumented are included,
the rate would be much higher.

The overall situation will only get worse for the working class as more jobs disappear.

The Internal Revenue Service released startling data on Sept. 26 showing that the richest 1 percent of people living in the United States "lost" income in 2001. But don't feel too sorry for them, they paid $66 billion less in taxes, and will pay even less as more tax cuts for the wealthy go into effect.

THE REAL CAUSES OF POVERTY

Once the U.S. government released the report on the growing poverty
rate, what was the Democrats' response?

Did they call for the unions to mobilize for a national emergency march on the White House? Such a march could demand billions of dollars in relief for the workers and the poor, through creating millions of jobs, and health care for all.

The Democratic Party has the clout with the union leadership to ask them to respond concretely to this national crisis. Instead, the Democrats used the opportunity to point fingers at the Republicans in typical demagogic fashion. The Repub licans in turn went on the defensive. After all, the capitalist elections are only a year away.

The Democrats are hoping that President George W. Bush's economic
policies of helping the rich get richer and the loss of 2.7 million jobs since 2001 will prompt his ouster from the White House in 2004.

While what they are saying is undeniable, is Bush's pro-rich, anti-
worker, anti-poor program the root cause for so much suffering in the
United States?

President Bill Clinton's 1996 so-called welfare reform legislation and
his reneging on his 1992 campaign promise to create millions of new jobs helped lead to the deepening schism between rich and poor.

But the policies of presidents are symptomatic of what is happening
below, in the inner workings of capitalism--a system that feeds off
profits at the expense of the full social development of humanity.

Capitalism today has taken the form of imperialist globalization.
Worldwide socialized production has become more privatized in ownership by a small clique of super-rich corporations and banks. This
privatization destroys local econo mies in the poorer countries. There
fore, workers from the developing countries have become displaced in the millions as they search for decent-paying jobs inside rich, imperialist countries like the United States.

Just as capital investment knows no border when it comes to super-
exploitation, the workers' struggle knows no border in the struggle to
seek jobs.

If Cuba, a country lacking natural resources, can provide quality health care for all of its citizens, why not the United States? If Cuba can provide jobs and a guaranteed income, why not the United States? Socialism, an economic system based on planned production and socialized ownership of the means of production, is the answer.

The workers and oppressed inside the United States may not be ready to
fight for socialism at this moment. But right now an organized fight is needed to demand that the more than $1 trillion that goes to the
Pentagon budget, the occupation of Iraq and tax breaks for the rich be
diverted to providing jobs, health care, housing, education, full
citizenship for immigrants and much more.

The Oct. 25 march in Washington, D.C., is a timely opportunity to
connect the war against the working and oppressed peoples at home with
the war for empire abroad.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) wwpublish.com. Subscribe wwnews-
on (at) wwpublish.com. Unsubscribe wwnews-off (at) wwpublish.com. Support the
voice of resistance http://www.workers.org/orders/donate.php)
See also:
www.workers.org
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