Oct 26th 2017

Child Poverty In America Is Indefensible

by Alon Ben-Meir

A noted journalist and author, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. His exceptional knowledge and insight, the result of more than 20 years of direct involvement in foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East, has allowed Dr. Ben-Meir to offer a uniquely invaluable perspective on the nature of world terrorism, conflict resolution and international negotiations. Fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, Ben-Meir's frequent travels to the Middle East and meetings with highly placed officials and academics in many Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Turkey provide him with an exceptionally nuanced level of awareness and insight into the developments surrounding breaking news. Ben-Meir often articulates

The Trump administration’s proposals on the annual budget, the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and restructuring of the tax system all point to a sad and even tragic conclusion. The poor will be poorer, dilapidated towns will continue to crumble, and crime will rise; but worst of all, our underprivileged children will be weaker, suffering from a lack of medical care and malnutrition with little or no prospect for better and brighter tomorrows.

The state of poverty in the United States, particularly among children, is abhorrent and scandalous, putting America, the richest and most powerful country in the world, in a shameful light. Successive American administrations are guilty of outrageous negligence toward poor children and have inflicted incalculable damage to millions who continue to suffer, causing a tremendous loss of human resources and productivity to the country.

The following heart-wrenching statistics demonstrate the magnitude of the problem. One in 11 children, approximately 6.5 million nationwide, live in extreme poverty (an average of $12,129 per year for a family of four). One in five infants-to-preschool-aged children (4.2 million) live in conditions of foreboding poverty, compounded by the fact that this age is a time of rapid brain development. Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately suffering from poverty—one in three and one in four respectively—compared to one in eight for their white counterparts. If this is not the result of a colossal failure in the US economic system and its defunct policies, then it is difficult to think what that would be.

There is no part of the country that does not experience intense poverty from which children suffer the most. Here are some samplings: in Boston, MA, the child poverty rate is 26.9 percent. In Marion County, IN, 31 percent of children under 18 live in poverty. In Doña Ana County, NM, the child poverty rate is 39 percent; and in Cameron County, TX, the child poverty rate is a shameful 47 percent.

A more explicit case in point provides a most gloomy picture about the plight of poor children in this wealthy country. The state of Kentucky is such an example of the cyclic and greatly threatening effects of childhood economic deprivation to our general society. With 25% of their child population in poverty, it is common to hear that right down the road from an economically stable community is an area of deep impoverishment and scarcity. These Americans are unable to rely on the support of any community, as they are often assigned a stigma by those more privileged and must hide what little they do have from others who are equally desperate and hungry.

The children of these families suffer from developmental issues resulting not only from malnutrition but also from broken homes, lack of education, and the absence of any stable emotional base. The most saddening truth of the situation is that these children were born into a mentally, emotionally, and physically oppressive system. A report by a USA Today affiliate, The Courier Journal, found that these children of poverty could be aided by an Earned Income Tax Credit for their families—one of the very programs hit with funding cuts in Trump’s proposed budget.

In his inaugural address, Trump stated that “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer… Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities… students deprived of knowledge…their success will be our success.” If this was his pledge, why is he cutting support from the very programs which sustain these ends?

By now of course we have become used to Trump’s hypocrisy and his disdainful policies which set the country backward while subjecting a substantial segment of another generation of youth to hopelessness and deprivation. Instead of giving these millions of destitute children every opportunity to flourish in an open society and contribute to the well-being of their communities, he is stifling their growth and making them permanently dependent on government aid as they continue to struggle in silent desperation.

Many of these children do not finish high school; they wander the streets, jobless and adrift, and end up turning to crime. Tens of thousands are incarcerated for petty theft or other minor misdemeanors. When they leave the prisons, many commit more serious crimes. Their prospect of becoming positive and productive citizens further dissipates. For them, the American dream is a living nightmare which is heightened by Trump’s ill-conceived budget that the Republican-dominated Senate brazenly passed a week ago.

Here is the glaring cruelty of Trump’s budget cuts. Over the next 10 years, $190 billion is being cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and $616 billion cut from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In addition, the cut from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (welfare) is $21.6 billion. There is a proposed cut of $40.4 billion from earned-income tax credits and child tax credits.

The Brookings Institution’s analysis of the Graham-Cassidy Bill (which would effectively terminate the ACA) found that around 21 million people would lose health coverage through 2026. It is predicted that his plan to end subsidies for the Affordable Care Act – received by nearly 6 million people (over half of all people who buy insurance through exchanges) in 2017 – will cause premiums to rise for all customers, as well as foist unbearable out-of-pocket costs on low-income Americans.

Under the pretext of correcting fraudulence in such social welfare programs, Trump’s plan will eliminate significant funding from children whose lives depend on it.

Even further, his tax plan would greatly benefit the wealthiest Americans, only benefit the middle class modestly, and have no direct impact on the bottom third of the population, keeping the poor, poor, and creating even more poverty.

These notions do not only contradict his promises to lift the downtrodden from their daily misery, but only reaffirm his indifference to the plight of deprived children and his bigoted attitude toward the Hispanic and black among them, who constitute a majority. What most people are unaware of is that according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development rankings of child income poverty rates, the United States disgracefully falls in between Mexico and Lithuania.

Meanwhile, Trump insists on appropriating $1.5 billion to build a shameful wall along the Mexican border, defying the premise that the country’s greatness was made possible because generations of new immigrants contributed so much to the creative and moral fabric of our society.

Even though the final budget and healthcare bill may somewhat be modified by the House, the fact that Trump proposed such deep cuts speaks volumes about his disregard of the most critical segment of the population. Millions of poor children live in families that have little or no means to improve their lot, which has a significant impact on their growth and character. Here is where the billions of dollars should be invested, which could make a real difference in the lives of our precious children instead of being wasted on useless projects such as the Wall.

It is a choice that Trump and his Republican party which is in disarray must come to grips with. No American child should be left behind. That is something which bipartisan representatives of the American people fought for in 2011, and that is the humane principle that we must defend today.




To subscribe to Facts and Arts' weekly newsletter, please click here.

To follow Facts & Arts' Editor, Olli Raade, on Twitter, please click here.

If you have something to say that you want to say on Facts & Arts, please

Write to the Editor, or write a comment in the comments section.

Browse articles by author

More Essays

May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: " The sad reality is that the Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) were discriminated against from the day of Israel’s inception, whose Ashkenazi (European Jewish) leaders viewed them as intellectually inferior, “backward,” and “too Arab,” and treated them as such, largely because the Ashkenazim agenda was to maintain their upper-class status while controlling the levers of power, which remain prevalent to this day." ..... " The greatest heartbreaking outcome is that for yet another generation of Israelis, growing up in these debilitating conditions has a direct effect on their cognitive development. A 2015 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that “family income is significantly correlated with children’s brain size…increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children.” "
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "We all owe Farah Nabulsi an enormous debt of gratitude. In a short 24-minute film, The Present, she has exposed the oppressive indecency of the Israeli occupation while telling the deeply moving story of a Palestinian family. What is especially exciting is that after winning awards at a number of international film festivals​, Ms. Nabulsi has been nominated for an Academy Award for this remarkable work of art. " 
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "When I crashed to the floor of my home in Bordeaux recently after two months of Covid-19 dizziness, I was annoyed. The next day I collapsed again. Now I was worried. What I didn’t know was that my brain was sloshing around inside my skull, causing a mild concussion. Nor did I know that I was in for a whole new world of weird and wonderful hallucinations."
Apr 13th 2021
EXTRACT: "Overall, our review has found that there isn’t evidence to back up the claims that veganism is good for your heart. But that is partly because there are few studies ....... But veganism may have other health benefits. Vegans have been found to have a healthier weight and lower blood glucose levels than those who consume meat and dairy. They are also less likely to develop cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. "
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Pollock’s universe, the universe of Mural, cannot be said to be a rational universe. Nor is it simply devoid of all sense. It is not a purely imaginary world, although in it everything is in a constant state of flux. Mural invokes one of the oldest questions of philosophy, a question going back to the Pre-Socratic philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus – namely, whether the nature of Reality constitutes unchanging permanence or constant movement and flux. For Pollock, the only thing that is truly unchanging is change itself. The only certainty is that all is uncertain."
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Many present day politicians appear to have psychopathic and narcissistic traits too. It’s easy to spot such leaders, because they are always authoritarian, following hardline policies. They try to subvert democracy, to reduce the freedom of the press and clamp down on dissent. They are obsessed with national prestige, and often persecute minority groups. And they are always corrupt and lacking in moral principles."
Apr 6th 2021
EXTRACT: "This has led some to claim that not just half, but perhaps nearly all advertising money is wasted, at least online. There are similar results outside of commerce. One review of field experiments in political campaigning argued “the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero”. Zero!"
Mar 30th 2021
EXTRACT: "The Father is an extraordinary film, from Florian Zeller’s 2012 play entitled Le Père and directed by Zeller. I’m here to tell you why it is a ‘must see’." EDITOR'S NOTE: The official trailer is attached to the review.
Mar 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "Picasso was 26 in 1907, when he completed the Demoiselles; de Kooning was 48 in 1952, when he finished Woman I.  The difference in their ages was not an accident, for studies of hundreds of painters have revealed a striking regularity - the conceptual painters who preconceive their paintings, from Raphael to Warhol, consistently make their greatest contributions earlier in their careers than experimental painters, from Rembrandt to Pollock, who paint directly, without preparatory studies."
Mar 26th 2021
EXTRACT: "Mental toughness levels are influenced by many different factors. While genetics are partly responsible, a person’s environment is also relevant. For example, both positive experiences while you’re young and mental toughness training programmes have been found to make people mentally tougher."
Mar 20th 2021

The city of Homs has been ravaged by war, leaving millions of people homeless an

Mar 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "There are two main rival models of ethics: one is based on rights, the other on duties. The rights-based model, which traces its philosophical origins to the work of John Locke in the 17th century, starts from the assumption that individuals have rights ....... According to this approach, duties are related to rights, but only in a subordinate role. My right to health implies a duty on my country to provide some healthcare services, to the best of its abilities. This is arguably the dominant interpretation when philosophers talk about rights, including human rights." ........ "Your right to get sick, or to risk getting sick, could imply a duty on others to look after you during your illness." ..... "The pre-eminence of rights in our moral compass has vindicated unacceptable levels of selfishness. It is imperative to undertake a fundamental duty not to get sick, and to do everything in our means to avoid causing others to get sick. Morally speaking, duties should come first and should not be subordinated to rights." ..... "Putting duties before rights is not a new, revolutionary idea. In fact it is one of the oldest rules in the book of ethics. Primum non nocere, or first do no harm, is the core principle in the Hippocratic Oath historically taken by doctors, widely attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates. It is also a fundamental principle in the moral philosophy of the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, who in De Officiis (On Duties) argues that the first task of justice is to prevent men and women from causing harm to others."
Mar 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "Several studies have recently compared the difference between antibodies produced straight after a coronavirus infection and those that can be detected six months later. The findings have been both impressive and reassuring. Although there are fewer coronavirus-specific antibodies detectable in the blood six months after infection, the antibodies that remain have undergone significant changes. …….. the “mature” antibodies were better at recognising the variants."
Mar 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "Like Shakespeare, Goya sees evil as something existing in itself – indeed, the horror of evil arises precisely from its excess. It overflows and refuses to be contained by or integrated into our categories of reason or comprehension. By its very nature, evil refuses to remain within prescribed bounds – to remain fixed, say, within an economy where evil is counterbalanced by good. Evil is always excess of evil." ....... "Nowhere is this more evident than in war. Goya offers us a profound and sustained meditation on the nature of war ........ The image of a Napoleonic soldier gazing indifferently on a man who has been summarily hanged, probably by his own belt, expresses the tragedy of war – its dehumanization of both war’s victims and victors."
Mar 14th 2021
EXTRACT: "A blockchain company has bought a piece of Banksy artwork and burnt it. But instead of destroying the value of the art, they claim to have made it more valuable, because it was sold as a piece of blockchain art. The company behind the stunt, called Injective Protocol, bought the screen print from a New York gallery. They then live-streamed its burning on the Twitter account BurntBanksy. But why would anyone buy a piece of art just to burn it? Understanding the answer requires us to delve into the tricky world of blockchain or “NFT” art."
Mar 14th 2021
EXTRACT: "Exercise is good for your health at every age – and you can reap the benefits no matter how late in life you start. But our latest research has shown another benefit of being physically active throughout life. We found that in the US, people who were more physically active as teenagers and throughout adulthood had lower healthcare costs."
Mar 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "Although around one in 14 people over 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, there’s still no cure, and no way to prevent the disease from progressing. But a recent study may bring us one step closer to preventing Alzheimer’s. The trial, which was conducted on animals, has found a specific molecule can prevent the buildup of a toxic protein known to cause Alzheimer’s in the brain."
Feb 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "The art historian George Kubler observed that scholars in the humanities “pretend to despise measurement because of its ‘scientific’ nature.” As if to illustrate his point Robert Storr, former dean of Yale’s School of Art, declared that artistic success is “completely unquantifiable.” In fact, however, artistic success can be quantified, in several ways. One of these is based on the analysis of texts produced by art scholars, and this measure can give us a systematic understanding of how changes in recent art have produced changes in the canon of art history."
Feb 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "The most politically sensitive option we looked at was the virus escaping from a laboratory. We concluded this was extremely unlikely."
Feb 16th 2021
EXTRACT: ".... these men were completely unaware that they had put their lives in the hands of doctors who not only had no intention of healing them but were committed to observing them until the final autopsy – since it was believed that an autopsy alone could scientifically confirm the study’s findings. As one researcher wrote in a 1933 letter to a colleague, “As I see, we have no further interest in these patients until they die.” ...... The unquestionable ethical failure of Tuskegee is one with which we must grapple, and of which we must never lose sight, lest we allow such moral disasters to repeat themselves. "