US poverty grows and generates humanitarian crisis

Published on Tip News’s web site, September 20, 2011.

The US Census Bureau, an official statistics office of the United States of America (USA), released on the 13thof September 2011 figures revealing that the poverty rate in 2010 for the country, some 50 million people, reached the highest threshold in history, since data started to be compiled in 1959. In percentage terms, the poverty rate rose to 15.1% from 14.3% in 2009, already a difficult year.

This number is equivalent to the combined populations of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, and is still above that of the State of São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous. This population also corresponds to that of South Africa.

The concentration of the so-called ethnic minorities in poverty is a matter of special concern and makes worthwhile an examination as to eventual violations of human rights. In fact, more than 25% of the Black and Hispanic populations are today under the threshold of poverty, together with 43% of young people of all races.

This sad situation is a result of decades of a disparate economic policy, founded in the deranged doctrine of neo-liberalism, which created domestic privileges for white people, as well as to bankers and members of the military- industrial complex.

On the other hand, on the international stage, the US foreign policy sought to promote the zero sum game, where the economic and trade gains of the USA was made up by losses of other countries. Eventual positive results made by the USA were not sustainable, due to the high cost of keeping the military apparatus necessary to support such policy.

In 2011, year not covered by the released statistics, the internal situation of the USA has deteriorated, with an increase of unemployment to 9.1% in the official numbers, always optimistic. This situation led President Barack Obama to propose a package of US$ 450 billion for the creation of new jobs.

The misery of the American people is aggravated by the notorious deficiencies in the social security network, the same one neoliberals wished to have relegated to private initiative. In fact, more than 50 million people under 65 years of age do not have health insurance in the USA.

Furthermore, 3.2 million Americans are kept above the poverty line as a result of the unemployment insurance, a transitory benefit, which leads us to believe that they will soon add to the roster of miserable souls in the country. Similarly, 20.3 million people are kept above the threshold of poverty by social security payments, a program of limited effects.

Thus, all miserable population added up, there are today approximately 73 million US citizens in misery, number that reveals a humanitarian crisis without precedents in that country. There are no expectations for an immediate reversal of the picture at this moment.

Accordingly, it is to be recommended to MERCOSUR officials, as well as to the Brazilian Congress, the sending of observers to the USA to verify eventual violations of human rights in that country, with a view to proposing measures and reporting to the apposite multilateral organizations.