Tag Archives: poverty

The Desert of the Real. Morpheus breaks down American Democracy

Morpheus: This is our country Neo, everyone treated the same regardless of the color of their skin, gender, ethnic make-up, or religious belief. Individuals judged purely on the content of their character. Everyone has health care, and parents send their children to school unafraid they may become infected with the coronavirus or the victim of a mass shooting. Political leaders tell the truth and put the citizens’ well-being ahead of their agendas; corruption at the highest government levels is unheard of. There is no social or racial injustice. People walk down the street unafraid that they may be wrongfully targeted simply because of their skin color. Everyone is afforded the same opportunities regardless of their social, ethnic, or economic background. It seems too perfect, doesn’t it, Neo? You know something is not right, don’t you, Neo? You can feel it.

Neo: We’re living an illusion?

Morpheus: Yes!

Neo: But why?

Morpheus: Is it so hard really to believe? Our democracy was designed to be where the power comes from the people, not a ruler or group of powerful individuals who would do whatever they want. It was founded on the belief that these truths are self-evident; all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Yet all that has always been an illusion, hasn’t it.

Neo: Are you saying our democracy has never been real?

Morpheus: What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about the people being the source of power or that all men are created equal, then real is simply a bunch of words written on a piece of paper. That America only exists in a series of oft-cited but rarely enacted words. A constitution to be held up to the rest of the world symbolizes the moral high ground we supposedly occupy. That America doesn’t exist, you’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.

This is the country as it exists today. Corruption at government’s highest levels. Blatant disregard for the constitution. The well-being and health of Americans were sacrificed for political gain. Racism and bigotry are alive and well and used by leaders to divide and conquer. Economic and social injustice roadblocks impede the pursuit of happiness for many. The few control the narrative and dictate policy to maintain their power and enrich their bank accounts—millions of citizens living in poverty and millions more without health insurance. Children forced to go to bed hungry, funding for education always under siege…. Welcome to the Desert of the Real Neo. Having seen all of this, I have come to realize the obviousness of the truth. Control. Democracy today is control, an illusion propagated by those in power to control the masses.

Neo: No. I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.

Morpheus: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.

What has become of our country?

What has become of our country?

In a country where so many are unconcerned with their neighbor’s health, they refuse to do something as simple as wear a mask.

A country so fixated with guns that it can’t even pass common-sense gun control even in the aftermath of children being senselessly murdered.

A country where people complain about raising taxes to help the millions who live in poverty, are homeless, have no health insurance, or face food scarify but are willing to pay $1,100 for the new iPhone.

It is time America looks in the mirror and asks itself, is this really who we are? If the answer is yes, then I weep for us because it is just a matter of time before our violence, greed, and lack of concern for our fellow man lead to our downfall.

Ezekiel 22:30 New King James Version
So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

Hate Will Destroy Us All

COVID-19 is ravaging the nation, with close to 200,000 lives lost and countless more impacted by its long-term after-effects.

Unemployment is devastating individuals economically, with close to 30 million Americans relying on unemployment benefits.

Hunger is overwhelming families, with food security affecting over 37 million U.S. households.

Homelessness impacts our most vulnerable, with 1.5 million students classified by the U.S. Department of Education as homeless because of unstable living situations. 

Now more than ever, we should be banning together under the banner of brotherhood, elevating the things that bind us together, cherishing our values, helping others, and holding each one close. 

Sadly, in these turbulent times, our current leadership chooses to ramp up the message of hate, devaluing the lives of people of color, setting a tone of callousness and division. A tone that will never allow us to band together to nurture this nation back to health. 

As our country slowly dies in front of their eyes, those who embrace racism have just one thought, hate. It is all that has ever mattered to them since they raided our land, tore us from our families, herded us together like cattle, and sold us as slaves. And their hatred only grows as our demands to live our lives in equality and dignity grows. As Mr. Spock would say, it does not make sense to expect sense from such a mentality is not logical.

Raising the minimum wage is a step – But it’s just the first one.

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. At the same time, 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 be fully embraced 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 affect 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 economic self-interest. If they vote in their self-interest, they’ll elect people who are likely to be more aligned with people with lower incomes and them. As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top than 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.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/why-cant-we-end-poverty-in-america.html?pagewanted=all
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 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 critical factor in escaping poverty. A child’s desire to learn must be encouraged at an early age and continually stimulated as they grow. Adults from family members and local educators to business leaders and politicians must 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. Yes, indeed, you can’t merely throw money at every problem and hope that fixes it; education is 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 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 essential 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 create 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 would help bring those training programs into the 21st century by “building on what we know works based on evidence, and based on tracking what 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 must not lose sight of the other paths out of poverty that must be paved if we are to see its end truly.

Why Are The Humans Hungry?

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. 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 human technology. However, 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 in our world, I would assume that 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 seems to be driven by humans’ desire to be part of a group. To be the first in that group to own something increases what humans call their social status, which appears to be a big thing.

Alien #1: Intriguing, yet I’m still confused about how this fits 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 the 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. In other words, Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion in wasted food every year, a separate analysis by the NRDC found. 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 complicated apparently in the United States as other parts of the Earth, humans have put a monetary value on food.

Alien #1: Really?

Alien #2: Yes, can you believe it? Placing a monetary value on food means that those who do not have the significant economic resources, as measured by humans, cannot afford to eat. In some cases, the situation is so difficult that again according to the 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 access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life consistently. 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, how is it that so many 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 merely how the wealth is distributed from country to country and within countries. You 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 in our world, we struggle with 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: 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.