Monday, September 19, 2011

Poverty is Global

Going through western media, it is easy to think that the west is bubbling over with milk and honey, and its roads paved with gold. It seems like that the people in the west don’t even know the meaning of the word poverty. It is a word only for us who are categorized as developing nations. However, the reality is that poverty is a common situation throughout the world. The trick is that the developed countries have enough money to hide it so that we on the outside can’t see it.

According to the new report released by the US Census Bureau, 46.2 million Americans, i.e. one in six people, lived in poverty last year. The poverty rate rose to 15.1% in 2010, from 14.3% in 2009. This is the highest number since poverty details were first published in 1959.

The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2011 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 100,000 household nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2010.
·         The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent — up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent.
·         In 2010, 46.2 million people were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.
·         Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 9.4 percent to 9.9 percent), for Blacks (from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent), and for Hispanics (from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent). For Asians, the 2010 poverty rate (12.1 percent) was not statistically different from the 2009 poverty rate.1
·         The poverty rate in 2010 (15.1 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available.
·         The number of people in poverty in 2010 (46.2 million) is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
·         Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for children under age 18 (from 20.7 percent to 22.0 percent) and people aged 18 to 64 (from 12.9 percent to 13.7 percent), but was not statistically different for people aged 65 and older (9.0 percent).2

1 The poverty rate for Blacks was not statistically different from that of Hispanics in 2010.
2 Since unrelated individuals under 15 are excluded from the poverty universe, there are 422,000 fewer children in the poverty universe than in the total civilian non-institutionalized population.

What irks me is that even with all these problems, the US still insists on poking its nose where it doesn’t belong. They should concentrate on cleaning up their houses before trying to mow the grass in the neighbor’s lawn. If the so called “developed countries” are true utopian states, then they would have the right to correct the rest of the world.

I don’t blame the ordinary people of America. I blame the policy makers. Ordinary folk just want to get on with their lives in peace. I haven’t dealt with Americans, but I have dealt with Canadians. They are hardworking people with the same problems that we have. Paying their mortgages, leases, healthy lives, good education for their children, etc. I believe that there is a common dream for any society, which is to provide a situation better than what exist today for future generations.

There is an interesting documentary by Michael Moore called Capitalism: A Love Story, which looks into the fall of the US economy. They showed it on one of the HBO channels sometime back. According to that, the economy is run by powerful businesses, and even the congress is sometime powerless to stand in their way.

The disparity in wealth exists everywhere and will exist until the end of time. Equal wealth distribution is a fairytale. What we should work towards is to reduce poverty, so that everyone is able to satisfy their basic needs, and is able to live comfortable lives in peace.

This is just the trailer, you can find other clips on YouTube. 

US Census Bureau reports on poverty


1 comment:

Jack Point said...

The poor will always be with us, eh?

What is important is the average level of comfort and minimising the number who are absolutely poor.