Charity begins at home, Uncle Sam!
By Dr. Ismail Salami and Kourosh Ziabari
As the United States is caught up in a number of conflicts and military expeditions around the world, the economic situation of the North American nation is deteriorating on a daily basis, unfolding a devastative crisis with repercussions that go far beyond the tolerance of the U.S. citizens.
The hands of the American politicians are smeared with the blood of Iraqi and Afghan women and children and they are complicit in the sufferings of the Palestinian, Kenyan and Haitian people; still, they're trumpeting for new military adventures in the Middle East, especially the much-favored war with Iran which they have long been talking about. This clearly shows the top echelons of the US government are not prone to learn from their past mistakes but rather opt for plunging into the quagmire they've created for themselves.
The economic situation of the United States in these days brings to mind the bitter and unforgettable days of Great Depression which began in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s and early 1940s. The global economic depression in the years preceding the World War II started from the U.S. with the stock prices suddenly falling on September 4, 1929 and followed by the Wall Street Crash of October 29, 1929 known as the Black Tuesday.
Now, the U.S. which is spending millions of dollars in the wars which it has waged in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya is entrapped in an exacerbating economic situation which is reminiscent of those days; a situation which rings the alarm bells for the White House officials who are increasingly losing popularity with the U.S. citizens. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for August 28 shows that only 23% of the nation's voters strongly approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty percent strongly disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -17. This widespread unpopularity is indicative of the fact that Barack Obama has failed to realize his promise of "change" both in domestic and foreign policy and erroneously trod on the botched path of his hawkish predecessor George W. Bush.
The economic indicators of the United States relate a sad story: the whole country is rife with poverty, unemployment and social inequality. Economic organizations predict a black future for the Wall Street and the ordinary citizens are seriously feeling the pain of economic meltdown.
According to the World Hunger Education Service, there has been a dramatic increase in hunger in the United States in the three years, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The 2008 statistics of this institute show that 14.6 percent of the U.S. households (approximately one in seven), were food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United States.
As reported by the U.S. National Center for Law and Economic Justice, one out of seven people in the U.S. are living in poverty. "In 2009, 43.6 million people – 14.3% of the population – were poor according to the government's definition of poverty," the report says.
Due to the prevalent injustice among the racial and religious minorities in the United States, Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to be poor, and to be in deep poverty. "Although blacks represent 13.3% of the general population, they represent 24.2% of the poor population. Hispanics, who make up 15.9% of the population, represent 28.3% of the poor population," the U.S. Consensus Bureau reported.
Child poverty is also sadly rampant in the United States. As some independent sources believe that 25% of the U.S. children are living below the poverty threshold, the U.S. National Center for Children in Poverty based in the Columbia University Mailman School puts this number at 21%, saying that 15 million children in the United States live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. However, these are official and state-sanctioned figures.
The U.S. Census Bureau believes that one in five U.S. children under age 18 lived in poor families whose income is below the federal poverty level. The Census Bureau made this announcement in September 2009; however, the Brookings Institute researcher Julia B. Isaacs believes that the government is not telling the whole truth. The 2009 statistics of the U.S. Consensus Bureau "lag considerably behind current economic conditions," Isaacs writes. "Job losses and wage reductions occurring in 2009 were obviously not captured. In addition, many adverse events in 2008 were only partially captured."
In an article co-written by Nikolai Barrickman and Kate Randall for Global Research, the results of a study carried out by the U.S. Children's Defense Fund (CDF) on the state of children after the "Great Recession" of 2008 and 2009 have been cited, showing a significant and remarkable inequality among the different social classes in the United States, especially the children.
"The CDF report notes the tremendous growth of social inequality in America. Since the late 1970s, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of the population have stagnated or declined, while the incomes of the top one percent in particular-the ultra-rich-have soared," the article mentioned.
"In 2008, the average income for the bottom 90 percent of US households was at its lowest level in more than a decade. In the face of this growth of poverty, however, income assistance programs have been slashed and are ill-equipped to deal with the serious rise in social need," the report added.
Despite all this sad account of rise in poverty and child poverty in particular, the US officials do not seem in the least worried. While the reports of the whopping rate of poverty are surfacing, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a joint interview, have blatantly said that large new cuts in defense spending would “terribly weaken” U.S. national security, arguing that the US cannot “afford to keep playing partisan chicken with its finances." The big question is are they really capable of human sympathy at all in view of the poverty enveloping their country?
Now, the U.S. is drowning in an economic quagmire. The Iraq War has thus far cost the U.S. the lives of more than 4,000 soldiers and $3 trillion, as the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has noted. Andrew S. Natsios, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development believes that reconstructing the dilapidated Iraq will cost the American taxpayers $1.7 billion. The National Priorities Project also established the website "Cost of War" which shows that the Afghanistan war has hitherto cost the American taxpayers $448 billion.
By following a warmongering policy in the world particularly in the Middle East region, the US government while creating havoc on a tragically global scale also seems to be taxing a collective punishment on its own people, namely that the wars which Washington officials have mounted so far and will mount in future, have cost the US public purse billions of dollars which could have been used instead for empowering the American people and ameliorating the deplorable economic situation in the country.
The world would surely be a better place if the US put an end to its adventurism and manslaughter in the region and instead buckled down to combating poverty in its own country before the creeping phenomenon erodes the very fabric of its society. Indeed, the old saying 'charity begins at home' well suits and applies to the US government.
Dr. Ismail Salami is a high-profile Iranian journalist and the website manager of Press TV. He has written numerous books and articles on the Middle East issues. Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian journalist and media correspondent. He writes for several magazines and news websites on the international affairs.