Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Million. That's a lot.

This afternoon, I was set off by a thread on the ProbeTalk forums (my boyfriend drives a Ford Probe). It seems there's been another earthquake in Indonesia. I feel bad for the residents, but there's little I can do to help from here, as I have little to no money and can't get myself out there to help at the scene either.

The Indonesia incident didn't bother me. What bothered me was that while we're all focused on places overseas, there are people right here in the US that don't have adequate food, shelter or health care. I don't think the government should get so involved overseas (or even that our citizens should) when there's still so many problems right here at home. It's like outsourcing help; people in the wonderful white middle-class that makes up what they still call a majority in America don't like to bother themselves with immigrants, lower-class neighbors or the homeless vetrans who we've all heard about, so we just ignore the problem, for the most part.

Habitat for Humanity is the only organization I can think of off the top of my head that actually works within the United States extensively. The rest of the wonderful nonprofit save-the-world-one-person-at-a-time organizations are mostly focused overseas, trying to help tsunami victims and clean up South Africa while two blocks away from their headquarters in major cities, people are living under fire escapes.

This is the latest census data on poverty in the United States. I look at this and shudder. Over ten percent of our population is living below the poverty level - that's one out of ten people. That's as high as the number of gays in any given population, if I remember correctly; and it's absolutely terrifying. That we should have so many people who can't afford a loaf of bread some weeks in one of the richest countries in the world is mind-blowing.

Study that chart. Almost fifty years, and the poverty rate in this country continues to hover near the rate it was in 1959. Even with all our advances in medicine, technology, agriculture and science this society has not yet found a way to improve the condition of life for 12.5% of its population (or hadn't as of 2003). If the data hasn't shifted drastically in the past two years (which I doubt), then we're still in the same situation today. I looked up the latest population estimates for the US: Approximately 293.4 million people. Using the 2003 poverty rate (12.5%), the number of poor in America is currently around 36.7 million.

That's a lot of people. If you'd like to check my numbers, the US Census Bureau is where all my information came from.

The first tsunami killed around 225 thousand(correct me if I'm wrong). The second earthquake has killed 2-3 hundred. Starvation kills thousands every day. So why are we focused entirely on Indonesia?

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