Thursday, January 19, 2012
Childhood Poverty in America 2012
The above chart graphically depicts the relative standing of the U.S. in terms of childhood poverty. The U.S. simply cannot lay claim to economic greatness nor to being the land of economic opportunity in the face of this reality. With nearly 25 percent of our children living in poverty we are more on par with Bulgaria and Mexico than economically advanced nations such as Denmark, Australia, Luxembourg and Norway.
Interestingly, those advanced nations also sport far higher per capita income (in U.S. dollars) than the U.S.: Denmark produces $63,000 per capita, Australia $67,000, Luxembourg $122,000, and Norway $97,000 per capita. The U.S. suffers weak per capita GDP of $48,000 (and holding for about 15 years). While one can always nitpick the data (for example, should we really count incarceration costs as GDP, as we currently do, which fattens the weak U.S. performance) the picture suggests the creeping third world reality gripping the U.S., due largely to its laissez faire economic policies and corrupt politics where money rules over law.
Thus, Dr. King's commitment to fight against poverty and in favor of economic opportunity is as relevant today as ever, and is both morally and economically compelling. The U.S. cannot be either a moral or economic leader of the world with one in four children impoverished. Perhaps our new claim should be land of childhood poverty.
Professor Steven A. Ramirez
Loyola University Chicago
School of Law