Currently, 23.1 percent of America’s children are being raised in poverty. That rate puts child poverty in America at a higher rate than in Latvia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia.
It seems inconceivable that a wealthy nation such as ours could host such a dubious distinction. While no one can deny that poverty is advancing in America, there is a substantive divide among Americans regarding what should be done to address the issue.
Phrases such as “haves” and “have nots” or “can” or “can nots” have made their way in to the lexicon. Some believe that if you find yourself mired in a cycle of multi-generational poverty you need only to try a little harder and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” This camp offers that the individual is responsible for him or herself in every way, not the government, not your neighbor, only the individual.
Still others believe that the purpose of government is to address the needs of the people and especially those that are impoverished. This camp measures the civility and decency of America by the support it affords the most vulnerable Americans.
While the debate between these two camps wages their respective campaigns, another ominous indicator has come to light in America. Remember when George and Wheezy Jefferson moved up to the East Side and affluence, they were “upwardly mobile.”
Today, the Jefferson’s might not have had that opportunity to better their lives and the lives of their children. Recent research has found that 42 percent of American males raised in the bottom fifth of income, remained there as adults compared to 25 percent in Denmark and 30 percent in England. Only 8 percent of American males who started out at the wage bottom rose to an upper salary position while 14 percent of males in Demark reached higher salaries and 12 percent in England.