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Report: US Has Highest Poverty Rate In Developed World

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A UN report released last weekend ranks the United States as the country with the highest poverty rate in the developed world. This explains the social problems facing the country, which, among other phenomena, have increased hatred towards migrants.

In yesterday’s picture, an activist outside Trump Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, protests against the zero-tolerance policy toward undocumented immigrants with a placard that reads “Trump must be caged”.

With the whirlwind of political scandals, the separation of children from their parents and the incessant noise caused by the Trump regime, few noticed the presentation of a report that documents how the richest country in history is now the most unequal, with the highest rate of poverty in the so-called advanced world.

Last Friday, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, presented his report on the United States to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, where he documented the existence of 40 million poor people (18.5 million of them in extreme poverty) and that since 1980 the average income of the poorest half of the population had stagnated, while the 1 percent had soared to record levels.

The report details examples of this inequality, for example, that the infant mortality rate is the highest in the advanced world, African-American mortality rates have nearly doubled the one in Thailand, 18 percent of children live in poverty, and  that a baby born in China today has a longer and healthier life expectancy than its peers in the United States.

“Instead of achieving the admirable commitments of its founders, the United States of today has proven to be exceptional (…) in ways contrary to its immense wealth and commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts abound between private wealth and public misery,” he writes in the report. He claims that the persistence of extreme poverty is a political decision made by those in power.

He accuses the current regime of causing a deterioration of these conditions: the policies promoted over the past year appear to be deliberately designed to remove basic protections for the poorest, to punish the unemployed and to make the most basic health services a privilege to be earned, rather than a citizen’s right.

The day before, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley disqualified the report, outraged that the United Nations had dared to evaluate her country: it is patently ridiculous for the U.N. to examine poverty in the United States. She accused the rapporteur of bias and denounced it as a politically motivated exercise. In fact, the Trump regime had just announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council – the first country to do so since it was established in 2006 – and she was not present when Alston and others addressed the issue.

In his report, Alston points out that in practice, the United States is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights to protect their citizens from starvation, or to die from lack of access to health care, or to grow up in a context of total deprivation.

This is not the first report on the subject. The increase of economic inequality in this country with governments of both parties, reached unprecedented levels almost a century ago, and its anti-democratic consequences as a result of the implementation of neoliberal policies since the times of Ronald Reagan, has been widely documented for months and years.

Without all this in mind, one cannot understand the phenomena of Trump, or at the other extreme, that of Bernie Sanders; the fascist allies of this regime, or the emergence of a popular mass that identifies itself as socialist, or the defeats of the traditional political leadership, or the fear and hatred that have been cultivated below (including the anti-immigrant), or the progressive responses such as the Campaign of the Poor and the recent successful strikes of hundreds of thousands of teachers, among others.

This is the fundamental background to the current political, social and economic problem in the United States.

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