Archive for December, 2017

POVERTY IN THE UNITED STATES “IS A POLITICAL CHOICE”

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Below are remarks by Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, reported by Common Dreams on 19 December 2017

Among the things he noted are:
U.S. inequality levels are far higher than those in most European countries;
U.S. infant mortality rates in 2013 were the highest in the developed world;
America has the highest incarceration rate in the world;
In terms of access to water and sanitation the US ranks 36th in the world.

Alston said the US is out of line with the developed world and insists its human rights “do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying for a lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in a context of total deprivation.”

Alston spoke with politicians and political appointees. Some of them, he said, clung to “caricatured narratives” of who the wealthy and poor are—narratives that falsely portray the rich as industrious, and the poor as lazy people who merely need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps in order to make it.

“I wonder how many of these politicians have ever visited poor areas, let alone spoken to those who dwell there,” he stated.

Census Bureau data he cited say more than one in eight Americans –40 million people–live in poverty; Alston said that figure appears to be by design; “…at the end of the day, particularly in a rich country like the USA, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. With political will, it could be eliminated.”

What can we do to change this?  I am contacting my senators, who may or more likely may not do anything about it.  What else can we do?

IS THE UNITED STATES SLIDING INTO FASCISM?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

There is considerable expert opinion that the United States is sliding into fascism. Dr. Brian Klaas, an American scholar who is currently a fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, says that Trump’s willingness to flout the law and attack democratic institutions puts the US on line with the early stages of authoritarian regimes.

He says “This is a threat to our democracy and to the core values we stand for.” Klaas says that Trump hasn’t become a despot “but he clearly wants to be one.”

Klaas also wrote: “Trump demonizes the press, He issues calls to ‘lock up’ his political rival and brazenly deploys divide-and-rule tactics, whipping up nationalist anger against Muslims and migrants. He surrounds himself with family members and cronies, riding roughshod over long-accepted ethical standards. And he belittles our democratic allies while bizarrely cheerleading for brutal despots across the globe.”

All Dr. Klaas writes is true and frightening to me. What will become of the United States if we the people do not rise up against Trump who is clearly doing damage to our country?

Dr. Klass asks “What if a smarter, savvier and more disciplined Donald Trump 2.0 comes along. Trump has paved the way for such a figure. Imagine an authoritarian populist who borrows from the Trump playbook while avoiding its more obvious divisive and self-defeating qualities. Imaging someone with Ronald Reagan’s charism and Barack Obama’s polished rhetoric peddling ideological Trumpism. The Trump presidency could serve as the rehearsal for someone far more dangerous.”

Frightening! What can we do to avoid such a successor to Trump? How can we begin to repair the damage to our country Trump is doing?