Reprinted with permission of the Delaware County Daily Times
Article published on 6/15/2018
By Joseph Batory, Times Columnist
For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers, their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day. And the song that I am singing is a prayer to non-believers, To come and stand beside us, we can find a better way.
(From a John Denver song: Rhymes and Reasons)
As a nation, we have lost our way! In the “political wheeling and dealing” of Washington government’s elites, far too many of these elected officials continue to pursue only their own self-serving interests. Getting re-elected is all that matters to these people. So the agendas and subsequent support of rich and powerful individuals and groups have become their priority rather than the common good and the critical needs of our nation.
One of the “buried issues” you never hear very much about in Congress or the White House is the appalling rate of poverty among children in the United States. But the primary advocate for children in America, Marian Wright Edelman, leader of the The Children’s Defense Fund, has been relentless in her demands for better treatment of the poor children in our nation. Here is what she wrote to the newly-elected president in January:
It is a national disgrace that 13 million American children (1 in very 5) live in poverty. In fact, children are the poorest Americans… and the younger these children are, the poorer they are. All of this reflects immoral, costly and preventable poverty, homelessness, hunger, health problems, poor education, and violence plaguing millions of children who deserve better. Put this in the context of our nation, for despite having the most billionaires and the highest gross domestic product among the 35-member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the USA ranks a shameful 32nd among these 35 countries for income inequality. The bottom line is that the U.S. is a world leader in the gap between rich and poor.
According to the most recent federal data, six million of the 13 million poor children million in America live in extreme poverty. We are the world’s greatest food-producing nation yet 14.8 million American children live in food-insecure households. There are more than one million homeless children are in our schools. 3.9 million children lack health insurance. And too many poor children attend sub-standard schools.
The International Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that children in the USA experience higher poverty rates than almost all other developed nations. And these horrible conditions among the poor in our nation disproportionately affect children of color who will become the majority of children in our country by 2020 and already are the majority of our children under five.
Ignoring this situation from a governmental perspective makes no sense! Make no mistake about this. The impact of neglecting large numbers of children in poverty will have long term negative economic impacts on our nation. Children who are poor are much less likely to graduate from high school and attend college than kids who have not experienced poverty. Refusing to invest today by adequately addressing the poverty issue will only result in much larger financial and societal impacts down the road when so many of these poor children do not succeed in our society.
Unfortunately, the President’s proposed budget (February 2018) is focused on limiting and reducing programs for those who have much less or very little, the most vulnerable children, families, seniors and other adults. Many of these proposed Trump cuts are not likely be acted on this year. But the President’s Budget is a solid prediction of what lies ahead in the next Congress –constant pitting of the rich against the poor.
And why are these cutbacks necessary? That’s because the 2017 Tax Bill’s “gifting for the rich” has created a massive $1.5 trillion national deficit. So, the White House plan is to offset at least some of this windfall for the wealthy on the backs of the unfortunate!
“This is one of the scariest times America’s children have faced in the struggle to level the playing field because the last 50 years of progress in child health coverage, nutrition, and education are under assault,” summarized Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “We should be building on what we know works and moving forward, not backwards, to improve the odds for children who need our protection. We urge the American public to stand up and stop this war on children now.”
In our seats of government, is anyone listening? Or do any of them care?
Joseph Batory is the author of three books and numerous published articles on politics and education.