The UN’s Shocking Report on US Poverty

This Al Jazeera news feature highlights the recent report by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on extreme poverty levels in the US. Panelists include Alston himself and antipoverty activists from Alabama and Skid Row in Los Angeles. A Guardian reporter accompanied Alston on his tour of American communities. The photos are heart wrenching.

Alston points out the US is very different from other poverty-stricken countries he visits. Other countries have large indigent populations because their governments are too poor to assist them. In contrast, the US has just awarded $1.5 trillion to its most wealthy citizens.

According to Alston, the US has 40 million people living in poverty and many of them are employed. During his investigation, he spoke to WalMart employees who can’t afford to feed their families without federal food stamps. The US government provides $6 billion in food stamps to WalMart employees.

20 thoughts on “The UN’s Shocking Report on US Poverty

  1. Reblogged this on necltr and commented:
    It is the goal of the powers behind the U.N. to break the United States, and the promoters of the NWO have been working at that. The United States stands for success, and most of us want all nations brought up to our level, not all nations (including the U. S.) brought to levels even lower than where we are today. If the Globalists are successful, almost everyone will suffer as everyone will see who the people of privilege really are.

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  2. I watched the video on another site and it is an indictment on the shamelessness shown by the elected officials of the United States and what they think of their constituents who are not by definition, “Corporations Are People!”

    It is useless for the U.N. to continue to send yet another Special Rapporteur to tell US what we already know; that extreme poverty is affecting millions of Americans. The U.N. had previously sent Special Rapporteur, S. James Anaya to report on the plight of the Indians in America and he was ignored. So, what is going to be different THIS time? Not a damn thing! Congress and the president just showed us that with this so-called ‘tax overhaul bill’ that’s coming down the pike and is a huge Christmas gift for the rich while the poor are out spending money they don’t have to try and give their children a “Merry Christmas!”

    They can take pictures of the pitiful and the homeless until the cows go out and come back, but it will make not one bit of difference because those who hold the purse strings will continue to make sure that the needs of the poor are never met.

    People don’t get it already? We are of no use to them, what with robots coming down the pike and everything of any value already pillaged and looted by venture capitalists and hedge fund managers, Wall Street shysters and other corporate hustlers.

    And what do we do? Nothing. What will we do? Nothing. So what this Special Rapporteur has to say is valueless because who don’t already know that we are sinking in our own individual Titanics?

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    • Again you paint an extremely accurate picture of a very bleak situation, Shelby. I have never really trusted the UN very much as they pretty much act as mouthpiece for US foreign policy. I suspect they sent the Rapporteur at this time to highlight the obscenity of Trump’s tax cut bill. I suspect not many Americans watch Al Jazeera English but it’s widely viewed in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Here in New Zealand, programs like this (and the Kiwis who watch them) put enormous pressure on our public officials not to do deals with the US. Otherwise I think you’re right – non of this has much impact on US officials.

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  3. Sadly, the sociologicalmail, it’s a growing problem that will only get worse with Trump’s tax cuts. This is the kind of thing that should be on the 6 o’clock news but It’s the kind of news the corporate media would prefer to bury.

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  4. Yes, it’s shocking. It’s depressing. It underscores the inhumanity of the kind of world in which we live. This isn’t only emblematic of America, but given the productive potential of the American economy, the societal example at hand certainly underscores the “fact” that “for-profit” production has nothing at all to do with producing goods and services for the satisfaction of human needs.

    But where is the analysis in this report to explain this destitution? I’m not hearing it. And that’s the problem, isn’t it? People know there is something flagrantly and terribly amiss, but they don’t understand the dynamics that make for this poverty in the midst of plenty.

    More and more, I’m of the opinion that our collective circumstance is utterly beyond hope.

    “Capital,” that is to say, the culture and the practice of “commodity exchange” is at the very root of the inhumanity devouring us.

    But arising to an insight of that “fact” requires such an enormous and systematic expenditure in time and effort that learning “it” is quite beyond the ken of the vast majority, however “educated” or not, inculcated as we simply all are by experience and education and tradition into a mindset which cannot but only see and understand social reality through a capitalist lens or in terms of the iron law of “commodity relations.”

    Unless the majority wakes up to the mode of its alienation, to an actual and essential understanding of the dynamics of its self-immolation, we are all fucked.

    The older I get and the more I think I understand, the less likely does the prospect of a mass awakening appear to be. The imperatives of cultural hegemony are greater than we can hope to overcome.

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  5. Hi Norman, good to hear from you. I have just finished a great book The Peoples History of the Russian Revolution and plan to post a review tomorrow. It’s mainly based on Trotsky’s history of the revolution. It reminds us the revolution won’t be televised, but it won’t be on the Internet either.
    There’s only one way to organize to dismantle capitalism in a police state and that’s the way Lenin did – clandestinely in highly decentralized underground cells.

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  6. This destruction of what capitalism must now treat as a surplus population is part of the very same genocide with which it is destroying millions on a global level. Just as colonialism/post colonialism’s need for a large population of impoverished peoples now hinders global capitalism, the US economic need for a large population of poor and working class people (as Marx wrote) has now morphed into an obstacle that the powerful fully intend to destroy.
    Yes, it is genocide.
    We must face the fact that the only thing that will stop capitalism is a revolution. Capitalism CANNOT stop itself.

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    • Revolutions don’t work, they just make the capitalists richer, e.g., the Bolshevik revolution. Predatory capitalism is entropic to the extreme and will “die the death” as it runs out of food. The only problem is, it will take billions of “believers” with itself and practically destroy the planet’s ecosphere. Too bad, so sad, but that’s the direction the ball is bouncing and it’s moving too fast, and faster, for any man-made system to stop it. Man made a bad choice and now has to pay the Devil his due. If I were to graph out the environmental/social truly bad news against the good news over the last 5 decades, I’m afraid my bad news line would curve exponentially and shoot right out the top of the graph page. Decades ago I told people to stop flying. Stop supporting wars. Stop consuming unnecessary stuff. Stop going to fast food drive-thrus. Stop eating meat. Stop… stop… stop. All things easily and simply done. Nobody is the only one who paid any attention and Nobody is the only one who, today, has nothing to worry about. I’m thankful m name is Nobody.

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    • In my view, Marie, the only thing that will stop capitalism is if a critical mass of people opt out of the corporate system – both by withdrawing their labor and refusing to consume corporate products. That’s my concept of revolution, and it’s happening in many localities around the world as communities build an alternative sharing economy. It’s happening here in New Plymouth, as more and more of us grow our own food, participate in crop swaps, local seed banks, time banks (where we barter services), and savings pools instead of banks. A lot of people assume revolution has to be violent – the October revolution that took over the Russian government in St Petersburg in 1917 was virtually nonviolent. After the national council of soviets voted to take over the government, the people of the city rose up, walked into the institutions of power and announced they were taking over. As I recall only about six people were killed when guards fired on the citizens taking over the Winter Palace.

      The Bolshevik coup (in which the Bolsheviks systematically annihilated the anarchists and other non-Bolsheviks in the revolutionary coalition) occurred during 1918-1920 after the invasion of the Soviet Union by US, UK, and France. The Bolsheviks believed (with good reason) that the only way they could repel the invading forces was to consolidate the Russian military under their control. If the Russian people had been left to their own devices, I believe the Russian revolution would have continued as democratically as it started.

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