The tears of a child
The desperation of a parent
The signs of devastation all around
The laughter of the young
The comfort of a parent
The signs of abundance all around
This divides plays itself around the world. A world that is unique among our known cosmos. Blessed with a variety of natural resources when if shared correctly would eliminate the suffering amongst us. Sadly we have decided that the chase for monetary wealth should be prioritized over the well being of our fellow human. The irony being that the overwhelming number of us are more likely to be victims of devastation then beneficiaries of a great wealth.
The calls for increasing the minimum wage continue to get louder with four more states voting for measures to raise their minimum wages last Tuesday, bringing the overall number of states that have passed such laws to 29. While there is little doubt that raising the minimum wage is long overdue and an essential step in assisting individuals and families escape poverty. It is but one step up the socio-economic ladder. Real and sustainable progress toward eliminating poverty necessitates a multipronged approach. Two critical outlets to genuine economic empowerment, education and workforce development training, should both be fully embracing and provided adequate funding.
The first and most important step to accomplishing this is ensuring that those individuals who have the power work tirelessly to remove inherent barriers to economic opportunity for all. This will not happen on its own, people effect change and in this country one of the most powerful ways to that is at the ballot box: Peter Edelman expressed that exact sentiment in a New York Times opinion article on July 28, 2012 in which he said:
“A surefire politics of change would necessarily involve getting people in the middle — from the 30th to the 70th percentile — to see their own economic self-interest. If they vote in their own self-interest, they’ll elect people who are likely to be more aligned with people with lower incomes as well as with them. As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top than with those on the bottom, we are doomed. The obscene amount of money flowing into the electoral process makes things harder yet.”
“The change has to come from the bottom up and from synergistic leadership that draws it out. When people decide they have had enough and there are candidates who stand for what they want, they will vote accordingly.”
THE CALL TO EMBRACE EDUCATION
“These children and their parents know that getting an education is not only their right, but a passport to a better future – for the children and for the country.” — Harry Belafonte
The website DOSOMETHING.ORG lists 11 facts about education and poverty in America, the one common thread that runs through all 11 is that those living in poverty have a higher likelihood of failing academically and thus remaining in poverty. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-education-and-poverty-america
Study after study has shown that education is one of if not the key factor in escaping poverty. A child’s desire to learn must be encouraged at an early age and continually stimulated as they grow. It is crucial that adults from family members and local educators to business leaders and politicians shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that there is both a sound home and educational environment where a child’s innate desire to learn and discover is cultivated and that funding for education is a top priority.
Of course everything comes with a price and education is not free. Money is needed to provide the type of quality education that children need today to compete in the increasingly competitive global economy and yes it is true that you can’t simply throw money at every problem and hope that fixes it, education being no different. But you can make smart decisions about where the money is thrown and in the case of education when money is used smartly more is never less. Elaine Weiss, the national coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education (BBA), wrote that Kids who are living in poverty need more, not less, of the supports that help upper-class children thrive. These include small classes, challenging, rich curriculum, individualized instruction and supportive responses to emotional and behavioral challenges. It also means ensuring a meaningful “floor” – in terms of school readiness, physical and mental health, and nutrition – on which they can stand in order to viably learn. http://billmoyers.com/2013/11/06/the-real-21st-century-problem-in-public-education-is-poverty/.
THE CALL TO FUND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
A well-educated, highly skilled workforce may be the most important ingredient to strengthen our economy and ensure a high quality of life.
As more children learn how to download and use an app on their smartphone and tablet before they learn their ABCs it is becoming increasingly clear that advances in technology are creating a job market that many Americans are simply not prepared for. Communities must continue to push for and demand that funds are appropriated for workforce development programs that as Senator Bob Portman, one of the co-authors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), said “modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs to be more responsive to the needs of employers, and more effective in connecting the unemployed with good-paying jobs”.
The bipartisan (yes that word still exists) Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 22, 2014 is a start. As the President stated:
“The bill I’m about to sign…will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run.” He added that the bill will help bring those training programs into the 21st century by “building on what we know works based on evidence, and based on tracking what actually delivers” for those who enroll in the programs — more partnerships with employers, tools to measure performance, and flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and run their training programs in ways best suited for their particular demographics and particular industries.
There is no question that the road out of poverty is a very long one and will require continued vigilance by all. We must continue to make our voice heard by calling for increases in the minimum wage but we also must not lose sight of the other paths out of poverty that must be paved if we are to truly see its end.
Alien #1: Really, looking at the humans again? What’s so interesting this time?
Alien #2: Well if you must know there is a very intriguing event going on right now. Thousands of people in the country they call the United States of America are standing on-line for what in their measurement of time would be days for a communication device they refer to as an iPhone.
Alien #1: A communication device? I hardly would call it that. Really they can’t even make a simple phone call to their International space station and that thing is only in orbit around their planet.
Alien #2: Yes, yes we all know how you like to make fun of the human technology. However, what is interesting to me is that when scanning that particular country I see similar lines forming all the time for food.
Alien #1: Interesting, if I were to compare this to how things operate on our world I would assume that both their communication devices and their food sources are in short supply.
Alien #2: You would think that. But in neither case does that appear to be true. The demand for the communication device appears to be driven by the human’s desire to be part of a group. To be the first in that group to own something apparently increases what humans call their social status and that appears to be a big thing.
Alien #1: Intriguing, yet I’m still confused how does this fit in with their food supply?
Alien #2: In the case of their food supply it appears that it is not a desire to be part of a group or that it is in short supply in the United States. I found this article while scanning their internet.
Alien #1: Their internet I would…
Alien #2: Stop it. We all know you would hardly call it an internet. Never the less I found this regarding their food supply. As much as 40% of food goes uneaten in the U.S., according to estimates from the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. Americans are, in other words, throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion in wasted food every year, a separate analysis by the NRDC found. In fact, one study estimates, just 15% of all this wasted food would be enough to feed more than 25 million Americans every year. And one in six Americans currently lacks a secure supply of food,
Alien #1: Are you sure that information is correct? Because to be perfectly honest with you that makes no sense; how could they simultaneously waste food yet have people go hungry.
Alien #2: How indeed? Here’s where it gets really complicated apparently in the United States as in other parts of the Earth humans have put a monetary value on food.
Alien #1: Really?
Alien #2: Yes, can you believe it? By placing a monetary value on food it means that those who do not have the significant monetary resources, as measured by humans, simply cannot afford to eat. In some cases the situation is so severe that again according to information I found on their internet their own United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates 15.8 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.
Alien #1: Fascinating, Then how is that so many of the humans line up to purchase a communication device if money is in such short demand? Surely being able to sustain a healthy existence is far greater than owning the newest communication device.
Alien #2: It is not that money is in short supply it is simply in the way that the wealth is distributed from country to country and with-in countries. You do remember those artificial lines we have talked about that the humans draw to separate themselves and hold so dear.
Alien #1: Indeed I do. However, what stumps me is that even on our world we struggle with the issue of wealth disparity yet we never allowed it to stop us from ensuring that all of our species have what is required to live and sustain a healthy existence.
Alien #2: Yes, but as we have remarked before the humans have not come to the most basic of understanding, that they are one.
Alien #1: And that is what remains so sad about their existence
Alien #2: Yes my friend it does, that it does.