The United States government allowed this to happen to Jamie Foxx. Sad.
When was the last time you made a donation for a local charity? When was the last time you made a donation at all? When was the last time you even acknowledged someone who was trying to get you to acknowledge their charity?
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say it was sometime recently. If I’m wrong, reevaluate yourself. If I’m wrong maybe we need to reevaluate America’s stance on national poverty. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt again and say you agree.
Why should you agree? Because as of 2009 43.6 million people in the United States are in poverty. That is approximately 14% of the population. Of that 43.6 million, 15.5 million of the impoverished are children.
Days ago, eight teenagers in New Orleans were burned to death in an abandoned warehouse, trying to escape the cold. This happened in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the same area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Since then the rates of homelessness have doubled.
I hope you’re crying.
I don’t think it is hard to disagree that the U.S. isn’t handling poverty or devastating environmental disasters well, but what makes this worse is that countries like Brazil and Mexico are handling it better.
This is great for them, but what does it say about the greatest country in the world?
The newly implemented system called the Bolsa Familia (Family Grant) in Brazil has caused the level of economic inequality to drop faster than in almost any other country in the world according to the New York Times.
“The income of poor Brazilians has grown seven times as much as the income of rich Brazilians. Poverty has fallen during that time from 22 percent of the population to 7 percent,” says New York Times writer Tina Rosenberg.
This is much better than the U.S. “where more than four-fifths of the increase in American’s income went to the top 1 percent of earners,” writers Rosenberg.
Mexico is seeing similar positive effects as Brazil with their program called Oportunidades, meaning yet another country has usurped the US in terms of managing poverty.
How the Bolsa Familia, Oportunidades and the generically termed conditional cash transfer programs work is by giving steady payments to poor families in either cash form or in electronic transfers into their bank account as long they fulfill certain requirements.
Mexico and other countries who’ve implemented similar programs usually require that children stay in school, attend regular medical checkups, and “mom must attend workshops on subjects like nutrition or disease prevention.”
Oportunidades in Mexico assists 5.8 million families, who receive $123 a month in grants as long as they have a child in elementary school and a child in middle school who meet all of their responsibilities.
Rosenberg writes, “Students can also get money for school supplies, and children who finish high school in a timely fashion get a one-time payment of $330.”
Brazil’s payments are much lower, but covers 50 million Brazilians, and doubles a Brazilians income with even the basic benefit. The monthly stipends range from $13-$40 depending on the severity of the poverty, how many children a family has and what level of school they are in.
The purpose: “to combat poverty today while breaking the cycle of poverty for tomorrow.”
Currently these conditional cash transfer programs exist in 40 countries, with a one time trial run in New York City through Opportunity NYC which was a “small privately financed pilot program,” whose results have yet to be determined as beneficial or not.
Despite what we would like to say about our country’s moral conscience and that of our government’s accountability towards the poor, the truth lies in the numbers and the growing wealth gap between the rich and the poor.
While 40 countries are putting cash into the hands of the poor while encouraging them to get educated and healthy, our nation is offering Sausage Pancake Bites and donating bloody sweaters to coat-drives. I would know. I saw it happen.