1 in 4 – One in Four – 25% – Twenty Five Percent (tf)

One in Four.

1 in 4.

That’s the ratio of US children who live in poverty today. I’m not sure if it looks worse with the words spelled…or with the stark numbers. So I wrote them both.

Read them again.

Twenty-five percent.


In what is, by far, the land of the plenty-ist….we allow a quarter of our children to go to bed hungry. Or wondering about their next meal. Their parents have to make decisions like….”medication….or food”….”cheap motel or shelter”…..”back seat of the car for a bed….or the front seat?”

It’s a staggering statistic that should be blared at us from every roof-top. But it’s not. You can’t look at a kid and say, “he’s poor”. Maybe in the old days you could….but not anymore. Poor people aren’t just the dirty, disheveled pan-handlers of folklore anymore. Poor people are looking more and more like me and you these days. Because it doesn’t take much in this century. A lay-off. Unemployment runs out. Can’t pay the mortgage or the rent. Want-ads don’t seem to want you. The only jobs available are the ones that make you wear a name-tag. The $7 or $8 per hour kind. With no insurance. Then a kid gets sick. Or the car breaks down. And it’s all gone. You’ve got nothing but the nice clothes on your back.

You look the same. Nobody knows. You send your kids to school. You’re anonymous. Even your own government stops figuring you into the unemployment numbers. They figure they’ve done their bit. Time has run out. So you’re cut loose. You’re on your own. While your kids sleep…..you stay awake. Maybe just to make sure that no harm comes to them. There’s no telling where you’re forced to lay their heads down for the night….but it’s probably not in the safe part of town.

All this happens when it’s dark outside. Nobody sees. When the daylight comes, we pass them by on the street without a glance. It’s not that we don’t care….it’s that we don’t know. We should….it should be our responsibility to know, but we don’t. We’re in cocoons. We don’t even have to walk in the house through the front door anymore. We just drive right into the garage….and seal ourselves. It’s possible to own land and never set foot on the dirt itself. We’ve got a big screen TV, high speed internet, heat that works and water that isn’t dirty. A thousand homeless kids could silently march up the street and we might not notice. Unless they messed up our lawns. Then we’d be pissed.

This is the United States of America. If we can’t feed and shelter our own children….what will future generations say about us? How can we claim to be the greatest nation on earth when a parent has $500 left in the bank…and needs $500 for rent…and $500 for food….and $500 for medicine. And while pondering that decision that parent is lambasted for being “lazy” and “milking the system”. For being “on drugs”. A majority of Americans actually want the government to drug rest welfare recipients. As if they are criminals. I know tons of folks about a million miles from welfare who couldn’t pass a drug test with somebody else’s pee. All this sounds vaguely nazi-ish to me. It just seems we’re constantly blaming the wrong people for the wrong things….because that’s what we’re being told to do.

Poverty needs to be attacked at the local level. If Washington (or Harrisburg) has taught us anything, it’s that expecting politicians to solve issues of human decency is madness. Poor people, for the most part, do not vote. The goal of a federal or state politician is to stay a federal or state politician. To get re-elected. You don’t get re-elected reminding the electorate that they’re selfishly neglecting children in their midst.

Whoa….neglect? Is that fair?

Well….if it’s true that the only thing evil needs to propagate is for good men (and women) to do nothing….then that would be something we’d have to ask ourselves.

Have we done anything to reverse the trend? Have we done anything to address the root cause of poverty in a nation more than capable of feeding its own many times over? That is….rampant corporate greed. Have we opened up that window and screamed out that we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore that 1 in 4 of our own children go to bed hungry at night?

I know I haven’t. But that’s what I’m doing now. I hope people hear me.

It starts here. In our own cities and towns. One kind act at a time. Supporting a food bank. Or a shelter. Or a community kitchen. Spending less on saving people’s souls and more on putting food in a child’s belly. The Sunday collection plate spells out loud and clear that we’ve got “disposable income”. Maybe it’s time to drop those bills someplace else?

Any maybe it’s time to identify the corporations that take and do not give. Maybe identify the propagandists in our collective midst who help ensure that we fight among ourselves instead of fighting the true enemy. To divide and conquer is so alarmingly simple….it’s almost grotesque to see it in retrospect. Yet we fall for it. Again and again and again. Because when we shut that garage door and turn on the TV, these idiots are the only other voices we have access to.

Maybe it’s time to shun these people. Maybe it’s time to stop blaming Washington and Harrisburg and to start blaming ourselves. After all….we put these guys where they are. How is all this mess not at least partially our fault?

1 in 4.

One in Four.

Twenty five percent.


If this is the greatest nation on earth…..humanity has lots to answer for.

Our children deserve more. About 75% more.

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on November 28, 2011.

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