Monday, June 25, 2018

Bring Me Your Poor

The poem etched on the Statue of Liberty has its own history and story: 

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York in 1885 and was officially unveiled in 1886, but  the poem by Emma  Lazarus’  did not become famous until years later, when in 1901, it was rediscovered by her friend Georgina Schuyler.

 Lazarus, who was born in New York City in 1849 to a wealthy Jewish family, composed “The New Colossus” for a fundraiser benefiting the Statue of Liberty in 1883.  It is believed that her inspiration was her own Sephardic Jewish heritage and from her work on Ward’s Island, where she helped Jewish refugees who had been detained by immigration authorities, according to the National Park Service.

In 1903, the last lines of the poem were engraved on a plaque and placed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, where it remains today.

The poem was later published in New York World and the New York Times, just a few years before Lazarus died in 1887.

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

America has always been the country of dreams and of dreamers. The idea of finding one's happiness, freedom and potential is the foundation of America like the poem that sits on the very foundation of the statue itself.    This is where the idea of Meritocracy and opportunity coincide and that if you "work hard" and in turn do the right thing, follow the law and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" you are welcome here and in turn we will offer the hand in which to help you accomplish that goal.   Over time our social safety net came to include free public libraries, public education, roads, highways and other forms of infrastructure to enable you to get to and from across the city and country to again accomplish said goal. And that goal enabled America itself to grow.  Over time we have had a series of events that led to changes and in turn more growth and the never ending boom and bust cycle that has made America great, not again, not never, just always.

Then there is today a Country that I am ashamed to be a part of and I live in a City that to me represents all the rage, the divisiveness and frustration that crosses the country.   I have lived in the Cities that exemplify the have and have nots, those on the outside looking inside and trying to know if they are welcome and where they can go to fit in.  We have massive problems with homelessness in the cities where the wealth is obvious along every sidewalk, every corner and in every home being erected with price tags that defy normalcy.  The essay in Harper's about the rise and fall of New York City applies to many others who are finding themselves in the same - Seattle, San Francisco and Boston.

 ***Truth be told I loathe Boston and my one time experience there reminds me so much of Nashville I cannot imagine now several years later how bad it is today.  Boston your history and shitty behavior towards race and class and religion is so much like Nashville and I have nothing to say except we are just as bad. I truly was not shocked with the marathon bomber  and cannot wait to leave here as I fear the violence that has been a part of Boston's history and present parallels Nashville to a tea. I loathe Boston but it at least Nashville is nowhere nearly as bad, but I suspect not for long.  Waffle House anyone?**

I look to the reality of how citizens respond to the growth and again the reality is that few fight the wealthy oligarchs that taking over cities and states and the elected officials seem to do everything but blow these CEO's in which to draw their business.  I was impressed that Pittsburgh a city in its own struggle for relevance is adamant about rejecting Amazon as they can see the past repeating itself to everyone's detriment.  Funny how they are much like Nashville's renaissance - Ed and Med - but that is where the comparison ends. 

As the United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Commission I was not surprised.  We are a county that exhibits little of the standards of meeting basic human rights to the citizens and residents of this "great" country.

I urge you to read the article below about the U.N. report on poverty in America and in turn the report.  Are you ashamed?  Probably not, this is country where its I got mine everyone else go fuck yourself.  We need to change the Statue's poem.

An explosive U.N. report shows America’s safety net was failing before Trump’s election
by Jeff Stein June 6 The Washington Post 

A new United Nations report is getting plenty of national media attention for predicting President Trump will exacerbate hardships for America's poor by weakening the nation's safety net.

“The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship,” says the report, which will be presented to the Human Rights Council of the U.N. General Assembly.

The United Nations' attack on the White House has generated a flurry of articles, with several seizing on the claim that America will grow more destitute under Trump.

But while many experts do think Trump is making life harder for the poor, America's poverty rate has likely gone down — not up — since he took office because the economy as a whole continues to improve, according to poverty experts.

What is really striking about the report is how dire conditions were for America's poor even before Trump took office.

Among countries in the developed world, the report says, America already has the highest rates of youth poverty, infant mortality, incarceration, income inequality and obesity.

Americans “live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies,” the report says.

About 40 million Americans live in poverty, and 18.5 million live in “extreme poverty.” More than 5 million Americans live “in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”

About 11 million Americans cycle through a jail or prison every year, with at least 730,000 people incarcerated “on any given day,” the report says.

In 2016, a “shockingly high” number of children were living in poverty — about 13.3 million, or 18 percent of them — the U.N. report states, with government spending on children near the bottom of the international pack.

These statistics largely “could not reflect the policies of the Trump administration,” since the best existing poverty data predates his inauguration, said the author of the report, Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, in an interview.

In his report, Alston blames the American political system for these failings, arguing it deprives African Americans of voting rights, unfairly sends the homeless to jail, and has failed to provided health care and housing programs for its citizens.

“The persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” Alston writes. “With political will, it could readily be eliminated.”

Poverty experts say a range of policies enacted by Trump will make poverty both more painful and more prevalent than would have otherwise been the case but say those effects are unlikely to show up in higher overall poverty rates until after the next recession hits.

“We just don't have data to really tell us what's going on yet during the Trump administration, and my guess is, if it did, it would show poverty falling again because of the economy,” said H. Luke Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan. “But we have no reason to think the president is improving the situation and a lot of reasons to think he'll exacerbate them.”

The poverty rate has likely continued to fall during Trump's first and second years in office in part because wage growth has increased, unemployment has fallen, and most people in poverty are in the labor market.

The U.S. poverty rate reached 12.7 percent in 2016, before Trump was elected, down from 15.1 percent in 2010. That came as the unemployment rate fell from a high of 10 percent to 4.7 percent at the end of 2016. Today the unemployment rate is 3.8 percent.

Trump's biggest proposed changes to the safety net — the repeal of the Affordable Care Act passed under President Barack Obama and deep cuts to social programs called for in his federal budget — have failed to pass Congress and are not expected to pass soon.

Trump has successfully pushed through a range of other policies expected to affect the poor. These include granting states the ability to impose work requirements on Medicaid, stripping or undermining key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, pushing tougher sentencing guidelines for criminal prosecutors, ending overtime rules protecting workers and revoking legal status for groups of immigrants. Other experts say the poor are also more likely to bear the brunt of global climate change, and Trump has ended several Obama-era initiatives aimed at curbing carbon emissions.

Conservatives have defended the White House, saying introducing new work requirements will lift Americans out of poverty by encouraging them to work.

“I applaud this action by President Trump to help reduce poverty in our country through promoting opportunity and economic mobility,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement after Trump announced plans to ask executive agencies to impose work requirements.

But others, including the U.N.’s Alston, predict the president's policies will weaken a safety net that already made America among the stingiest in the world for its treatment of the poor.

“It stands to be seen what kind of effect Trump's policies will have on the poverty rate, the child poverty rate, the incarceration rate, wealth inequality, or a bunch of other factors,” said Jamila Michener, a poverty scholar at Cornell University. “But my expectation is most if not all these outcomes will look worse post-Trump than they did pre-Trump.”

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