The Invisible People in a Land of Plenty

By Siv O’Neall, published in Axis of Logic, on February 28, 2007,

re-published by on April 23, 2007.

Nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty (McClatchy Story on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website):

But poverty is invisible to most affluent people. The high and mighty deliberately close their eyes and minds to the existence of poverty-stricken people in the United States, the land of plenty. It has become government policy to ignore the bottomless gulf that separates the poor from the super-affluent classes. The dominant theory in today’s corporate-governed world is that the rich people make the world go round and that is all that matters. Keep the wheels turning, profit is progress, everything else is of little importance, if any.

The United States is a land of plenty, or certainly would be if it hadn’t been for the catastrophic and illegal war in Iraq and the costly military presence all over the world. Billions would have to be moved from these recurrent wars to be spent on eradicating poverty – providing health insurance and quality education, cleaning up the ghettos where the destructive forces are gathered that feed on poverty, general negligence and humiliation. This negligence is at the root of much of the crime and misery in this country as well as everywhere else where slums are allowed to spawn through general indifference to the plight of the outcasts and the marginalized. Wars, it has to be added, are always fought for the profit of the arms manufacturers and big business in general and to the detriment of the poor people who sacrifice their lives and their economic and psychological well-being.

Poor children are deliberately neglected in the educational system, as well as in all other respects. The present government policy in the ‘No child left behind’ act is exactly a prescription for leaving the poor children behind. It is an Orwellian slogan with no substance. It sets up a system of tests that are geared to middle class children and that are not in any way indicative of the true level of knowledge of the student. Rote learning is what this system is concerned with, not actual understanding. Just another example of the simplistic ways of thinking of the present government. Shortcuts instead of substantive investment. Semblance instead of reality. This is a way of thinking and acting that pervades every aspect of the deeds and acts of this administration, in the matter of warfare as well as of education.

The theory among the super-rich, the people who run the big corporations and the world economy, is that poor people are expendable. They are of no great importance because they don’t contribute to the profitability of the corporate world. They are, if anything, a heavy chain around the foot of the capitalist. Poor people, so they think, have demands but are not contributing to the creation of capital. A limited number of them are needed as low-paid workers, but less and less so as low-level work moves to the developing countries. Unemployment is desirable since it makes for competition for the lowest-paid jobs and thus to savings for the industrialists. By and large, however, these people are seen as a heavy burden and masses of the poorest people can be sacrificed, as cannon fodder or as victims of natural catastrophes.

Why was New Orleans left on the wayside? … (full long text).

More about IMF disastrous policies in Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Stiglitz’: ‘Globalization and Its Discontents’.
Siv O’Neall is an Axis of Logic columnist, based in France.

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