Poverty in America

Background: In 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to compile a report on the state of poverty in each member country. The focus would be on the effectiveness of government policies to eliminate poverty, examine the human rights status of the poor, and to learn from successes to share with other nations. This report was NOT aimed to hurt America but it does not look good for the 12th wealthiest nation in the world. There was a strict word limit and the report is only 20 pages long.

In 2017, the team arrived and visited Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montgomery AL, Atlanta GA, Puerto Rico (3 sites), Charleston WV and Washington, D.C.

Notable findings

  • About 40 million people currently live in poverty
    ( 8.5M in extreme poverty)
    (5.3M live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty)
  • Americans live shorter and sicker lives compared to those in other wealthy democracies
  • Malaria, typhoid, and other easily treated tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent
  • America has the world’s highest incarceration rate
  • Income inequality is worse in America than in other western countries
  • 25% of Billionaires live in America. Few of them pay a fair share in taxes
  • The top 1% get richer every year
  • The bottom 90% have been worse year after year. A trend continuing for more than 25 years
  • Zipcodes are reliable predictors of success
  • Most poor in America are white and rural
  • The U.S. military ensures human rights treaties are enforced worldwide while ignoring flagrant violations at home.
  • Many of the wealthiest don’t contribute anything to America, instead hoarding personal wealth and market speculating.
  • Some politicians and political appointees were completely sold on the narrative of welfare scammers. “The Special Rapporteur wonders how many of those politicians have ever visited poor areas, let alone spoken to those who dwell there.”
  • “The persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power.”
  • Democracy is being undermined by voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, and other intentional obstacles
  • The UN is concerned about the treatment of Puerto Rico by its empirical overlord.
  • LBJ’s war on poverty was concluded a success in 2014.
  • A third of households who earn income rely on government food assistance.
  • Employers, like Walmart, contribute to the problem thru lobbying for tax cuts while slashing pay and benefits for workers
  • The reduction in labor supply is concerning for the UN but not the Trump administration.
  • Single mothers were disproportionately impacted by the “Welfare Reform” of the 90s
  • IRS funding to audit wealthy taxpayers has been reduced
  • IRS funding to prevent welfare fraud has increased
  • Government Accountability estimated a 3.66% error rate for SNAP
    4.01% for housing programs — Lower than almost every other federal agency
  • In West Virginia, government officials blame the poor; ignoring educational systems, poor economy, and environmental factors.
  • The poor are younger and younger each year. 1/3 white and 1/3 Hispanic
  • More than a million k-12 students are homeless
  • Of everyone on the streets tonight — 1 out of 5 is a child
  • Infant mortality rate in the US is significantly higher than average
  • Adult dental care!
  • On skid row there are 9 toilets for 1,800 individuals. (Refugee camps have better conditions)
  • In many cities and counties, the criminal justice system is effectively a system for keeping the poor in poverty
  • 2 out of 3 inmates are being detained due to poverty, not criminality
  • Politicians and the media encourage “Whites to see poverty as a question of race. Too often the loaded and inaccurate message that parts of the media want to convey is “lazy Blacks sponge off hard-working Whites”.
  • Lack of access to abortion services traps women in poverty
  • Black women are 3x-4x more likely to die in childbirth than White women. Maternal mortality in US > wealthy countries
  • Poor women & their children are more likely to be obese and suffer serious health issues and noncommunicable diseases — keeping them in a cycle of poverty
  • Female immigrants experience higher poverty rates and have much less access to social protection benefits than other women
  • Half of rural West Virginia does not have access to high-speed internet
  • Indigenous peoples have the highest poverty rate and the highest unemployment
  • Suicide among the poor is rising, especially among 10 to 34-year-olds
  • The USA endorsed The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is violating many provisions.
  • “The urge to punish rather than assist the poor often also has racial undertones”
  • Poor rural communities throughout the United States are often located close to polluting industries that pose an imminent and persistent threat to their health
  • The above industries do not benefit the communities due to low tax rates and lobbying against EPA regulations
  • Many communities have yet to expand water and sewage treatment to all their residents.
  • 36% of Republican voters think the Federal Government should do more to help poor people
  • 33% of Republican voters think the Federal Government already does too much
  • “The U.S. leads the developed world in income and wealth inequality, and it is now moving full steam ahead to make itself even more unequal”
  • “The trajectory of the United States since 1980 is shocking”




Seeking my place in the world, questing for understanding, and forever pushing the boundaries on what is possible. Writing makes me happy

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Teresa Nicole

Teresa Nicole

Seeking my place in the world, questing for understanding, and forever pushing the boundaries on what is possible. Writing makes me happy

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