Sunday, January 11, 2009

The 'American Dream' of unlimited opportunity has always been something of a myth. The USA has always been a class society, and its inequality is passed from generation to generation. With the gradual weakening of the economic basis of the American Empire this disparity is becoming more and more apparent. Here's a little item that I recently read on the AFL-CIO Blog about just how bad the situation is and how it seems to be worsening, particularly for the children.

More U.S. Children Face Poverty:
by Mike Hall, Jan 8, 2009
Last year, the number of poor children in the United States increased by nearly half a million, to 13.3 million—and 5.8 million of those are living in extreme poverty. Nearly 9 million children have no health insurance. Those numbers are sure to rise as the nation plunges further into recession, says the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in its recently released report, The State of America’s Children 2008.

According to the CDF report, children in the United States lag behind those in almost all industrialized nations on key indicators. Our nation has the unwanted distinction of being the worst among industrialized countries in relative child poverty, the gap between rich and poor, teen birth rates and child gun violence. In addition, the United States is first in the number of incarcerated persons.

Says CDF President Marian Wright Edelman:

"It is a national disgrace that the richest nation on earth lets every sixth
child live in poverty. Our poor children exceed the population of all ages in
the state of Illinois. The number of uninsured children exceeds the population
of the country of Switzerland. We continue this neglectful waste of our precious
human capital at our collective peril. We can and must do better."

The report compiles the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on poverty, health, child welfare, youth at risk, early childhood development, education, nutrition and housing.

Here are some lowlights of the CDF report:
***Every 33 seconds, a baby is born into poverty. One in six children in America is poor. Black and Latino children are about three times as likely to be poor as white children.
***Nearly one in 13 children in the United States—5.8 million—live in extreme poverty. Young children are more likely than school-age children to live in extreme poverty—one in 11 young children, compared with one in 14 older children.
***Currently, 8.9 million children are uninsured. One in five Latino children and one in eight black children are uninsured, compared with one in 13 white children.
***In 33 states and the District of Columbia, the annual cost of center-based child care for a preschooler is more than the annual tuition at a four-year public college.
***3,006 children and teens were killed by firearms in 2005, the equivalent of 120 public school classrooms of 25 students each. Another 16,000 children and teens suffered non-fatal firearm injuries.
***More than half the children participating in the School Lunch Program—more than 17 million children—receive free or reduced-price meals. The 8 million children in the School Breakfast Program who received free or reduced-price meals—4 out of 5 participants—are the neediest children.

Says Edelman:

"Investing in our children—the seed corn of our nation’s future—is key to
our nation’s economic recovery and competitiveness in the global economy. And we
do not have a minute to waste….Poverty and continuing racial disparities in all
child-serving systems are sentencing countless children to dead-end lives."

Click here for the full report.

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