To the editor:
Poverty, like race, are subjects we do not discuss. We leave the discussions to others. Now more than ever, as the gap between rich and poor expands, the chronically depressed impoverished become more numerous, we need a solution to this problem. It is apparent that no solution is soon upon us. However, our government can make decisions like increasing the minimum wage and extending the unemployment benefits to allow people to put food on their tables and retain living facilities.
There has been on war on poverty as a result what we obtain from our feeble effort is not working.
Change the equation from a top down formula to a bottom up one. Change handouts to helping hands. Engage the victim, obtain self-commitment. Objectives and goals must be set which they can understand and measure their progress. We must stop the blame game and understand that victims of even profound poverty have dreams, hope, and aspirations (at least most had them).
It is therefore unproductive to hear our legislation make such statements like, "We should introduce them to a job" or "we should teach them to graduate before they get pregnant." Most victims have had the same desires and have tried and failed. They did not have the material resources or what it takes to succeed, so engage them and help them succeed.
The lack of progress in winning the war on poverty is multifactorial. Often foundations as well as governments make decisions which will condemn victims to repeat cycles of poverty. Good examples are anti-health care, anti-reproductive, anti-women's health issues, to name a few. Anti-family legislation often tears families apart. Current proposed legislation is particularly targeted toward families.
Poverty hurts. Victims are withdrawn, most talk little to you. They are hesitant to come out of their home or even go to food pantries. They will not discuss issues such as health care. They talk about their immediate needs.
We need to recognize the politics of poverty. Did you say it's not political? Well there is one Party which aligned itself with the segregationists and they consistently react to restrict progress and often exploit the poor for their own benefit. This might make for interesting conversation at the country club, but it is wrong and has no place in America today.
We are having much discussion about raising the minimum wage. Our rich congressmen voted against this. Such statement as it will make wages rise makes no sense. So what? Please let us have a discussion about the privilege given to the rich. Multibillionaires in America doubled or tripled their net worth in 2013. What do you think that did to wages? No, we will not have that discussion because that would not favor the rich.
Seniors and retirees are especially vulnerable to the effect of government favoring the rich. Also because of the increasing instability of Medicare and Social Security, there should be no further change that makes Medicare less stable. I would favor increasing the taxes secured in the ACA to help the Medicare Trust. In addition, there was a Long Term Care Insurance proposal in the current health care legislation. This was deleted. Seniors should push to reinstate this. Two hundred dollars a month sounds good to start a LTC benefit.
We seniors must also demand a fix to Social Security and demand that employers fund their retirees accounts (both health care and retirement) as well as they do their increased salaries to top executives.
Lewis Robinson, M.D.