It’s Blog Action Day 2008 and this year’s topic is Poverty. Poverty is more than just a lack of food or money. It can also involve a lack of safe and sanitary conditions, health care, shelter, education, and information according to the UN.
According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, the 2008 Poverty Guidelines vary a little whether you’re in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, or Hawaii and are based on the number of people in the household.
2008 HHS Poverty Guidelines
in Family or Household
States and D.C.
|For each additional
SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 15, January 23, 2008, pp. 3971–3972
In 2006, the guidelines amounted to basically 36.5 million Americans (1 in 8) living below the poverty line. With the economy slowdown in 2008, I shudder to think how many people are living below the guidelines this year.
But this just measures the monetary guidelines at a high level. It doesn’t include things like health care and education. So when you look at some of the areas of the country hit hardest by the economic downturn, it’s not just states like Michigan hit hard by job losses… Even states like Hawaii were hit hard by the lack of tourists.
What can we do to help? In my opinion, it’s time for the United States to focus our attentions at home. The unemployment rate was holding at 6.1 percent at the beginning of October according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We can only hope that it holds steady or improves soon.
First we need to stimulate the economy to encourage employers to seek qualified employees. Put America back to work.
Next we need to work on education in our country. Programs like One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) are great to spread the wealth around the world, but there are far too many places in the United States where schools can’t afford to buy books, let alone computers. Let’s put some of these OLPC computers in classrooms in Mississippi, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, and Alabama — the bottom 4 states in the 2007 ALEC education report card.
And lastly, we need to make sure that the people we put in office have our best interests in mind. Yes, there are lobbyists. Yes, there are special interests. These groups pay the money to get folks into office. Let’s make sure that the folks that get into office are smart enough to disagree with their backers from time to time and do what’s right for the country – not just right for their wallets.
In the early 2000s, I have to say I was proud of our country and how it handled 9/11 and banded together. It’s time to do the same thing and make sure that we do what’s right for the United States at home, not just abroad.