Thursday, June 26, 2008

Land of the Free ... and the Hungry

To paraphrase Dennis Miller, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but most Americans consider the USA to be the land of opportunity, but upon closer inspection, you begin to realize that America is not much different from other countries in the world. We have the royalty, or the ruling class; these are the people who have the majority of money in our country and therefore they exert the greatest influence in our county. We have the middle class that makes up the bulk of America, and these are the people who keep our economy going. We have the lower class that are not unlike indentured servants because these people are slaving away at the fast food restaurants and the discount stores for minimum wage, trying to keep their families afloat.

Then there is the group of people who our country neglects and treats like throw away citizens: the homeless, the illegals, the poverty stricken and hungry children.

How come a country as rich and as prosperous as the United States of America has so many women and children living in poverty? When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, my mothers always told me, “Clean your plate because there are starving children in China.” Now we have starving children in America. This should not be happening! Why can’t our tax money go toward helping the starving children in our own country? Why are we spending billions of dollars on the war in Iraq, when America’s basic infrastructure is falling apart?

Many lower class citizens don’t have the opportunity to go to college and further their education. These people are forced to take lower paying jobs because they have not had access to higher education. Fast food restaurants and discount stores now stay open 24 / 7 and they need people to work the different shifts. Many times these people are single mothers trying to make enough money to raise their children. In these jobs the pay increases are usually slow in coming, the long hours never cease, and there is little appreciation for all the time these people put into their jobs.

The lower class is statistically less healthy compared to the middle and upper class, many because of substandard health care options for the lower class. For most of these people - when faced with the choice of feeding their children or buying health insurance - they will choose food every time. Insurance is just not a priority when you are unable to consistently provide the bare necessities, so with limited health care options, these people may delay going to the doctor when there is a problem, and they cannot afford to participate in preventative medicine. If these people had access to affordable health insurance, then many health problems could be corrected before they become chronic or terminal.

I’m not telling Americans they should not be proud of their accomplishments and enjoy the fruits of their labor, but I would ask you to remember the little person on your climb up the ladder. Donate regularly to Food Banks, Goodwill programs and Charities that support the underprivileged. Once you start seeing the other person, it will be hard to go back to being oblivious to those around you.

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