Our Dirty Little Secret: Who’s Really Poor in America?

Posted: March 10th, 2010 by Militant Libertarian

by Leo Hindrey, Jr., AlterNet

Two old friends, civil rights activist David Mixner and former U.S. Senator (and my oft co-author) Don Riegle (D-MI), believe that in the economic recovery, not enough attention is being given to ‘who’s really poor’ now. David and Don have for years advised me — and others — on the issue of poverty in America, and they are worried that too many people, and especially too many people in the administration and Congress, are missing this imperative.

To help make their point, they referred me to poverty activist Marsha Timpson, who describes today’s poor as “America’s dirty little secret, hidden in the backyards of America’s shining homes, the hollows, the reservations, the border towns and the dark ghettos of the city where they are the lie of the American dream.”

I agree with my friends, and with Ms. Timpson’s view, and everyone else should as well, for right now in America:

Although I myself grew up in a fairly hardscrabble environment, as the father of a daughter who was in fact able to create a successful life from the opportunities

her mother and I could give her, it is hard for me to imagine what it must be like to have your child needy and hungry. Yet all of us need to ‘imagine’ this, because each night in America millions of children do in fact go to bed hungry and under-nourished, while also lacking proper housing, needed clothing, and the basic education required to develop and ultimately find gainful employment. And while I wholeheartedly support the First Lady’s new “Let’s Move” effort to improve the nutrition of America’s children, we must first react to basic hunger rather than to food quality.

The overwhelming problem today for most workers isn’t this recession, as horrible as it is — it’s the fact that for every earned income level except the top 10%, average household income hasn’t changed a bit for 10 years, and that for the bottom 60% of wage earners it hasn’t changed for more than 20 years. Through economic expansions and recessions — and bull and bear markets — alike, 90% of workers in America have been standing still earnings-wise.


The best response to this scourge would be for our government to embrace in today’s troubled time the same “economic bill of rights” that FDR, in his last State of the Union Speech in January 1944, demanded for his.

Read the rest at this link.


Leave a Reply