Starved for compassion

The new U.S. Census Bureau data on poverty in America is appalling.

by Daily Editorial Board

One in six citizens in America lives in poverty, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That translates to over 46 million citizens living on less than $22,000 per year for a family of four, the highest number the Census Bureau has ever recorded. The numbers are even worse for minorities: more than a quarter of blacks and Hispanics live in poverty.

These numbers should be stunning. America is the richest nation on earth; for such a large fraction of its citizens to be living on such a small amount of money is absolutely unacceptable.

The Census Bureau report paints a disturbing picture of America. The economic âÄúrecoveryâÄù from 2001 to 2007 was the first period ever recorded during which poverty increased. The median householdâÄôs income adjusted for inflation is 7 percent less than it was 12 years ago. Perhaps most shocking, 22 percent of AmericaâÄôs children are growing up in poverty.

As one of the richest countries in the world, even when our gross domestic product is adjusted for population size, America has the means to help the impoverished. Refusing to help them is a choice to treat many of our citizens in a deliberately inhumane way.

Millions of our own people are suffering. Choosing to close our eyes and plug our ears is not an option.

When a child goes to bed hungry in America, it should upset every single one of us. Everyone has the right to the basic necessities they need to have a decent life, and for us to deny anyone that while we have the means to provide it is inexcusable and morally wrong.

We should judge ourselves by how we treat the least fortunate in our country. By that standard, we are falling tragically short.