May 05, 2008

What the US Government Should Do: Take Care of its Own People First

By Amanda Tejada [POL 301D-Spring 2008]

The Business of a Superpower
I remember that day; the chaos, the suffering, and the fear that gave birth to admirable responses. They hit us where it hurt, in the capital of the world and killed thousands of people. Nevertheless, it was not all bad, I mean, not all the consequences. The terrible attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon established the beginning of new power relations between the government and the people.

The efforts to protect the ideals on which the nation was founded upon were disintegrated as the plans of government officials began to deviate from those American rights--life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Moreover, citizens' calls for defending those rights were often met with disdain by White House officials, including the Supreme Court-appointed president. These officials who resisted to deliver reasonable answers on people's concerns regarding civil liberties. The war on terror became the war of terror, as Americans feared that their problems were overlooked by the Bush administration.

However, now that the country's next step lie in the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections, Americans are looking for political leaders to stop solving problems for other people outside the country and deliver policies that are more focused on domestic issues, such as hunger and poverty.

The US government has tried to reach out to dozens of countries, helping them alleviate poverty and hunger. However, the same government is neglecting to feed it own citizens. With the status as the world’s superpower, the United States holds the highest rank in childhood poverty amongst all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)--with an estimated amount of twelve million American children [Scherrer, 2001].

In addition, there are roughly “35.5 million people [living] in households considered to be food-insecure” within our borders. Given this, it does not take a genius to realize that there is something wrong. American officials need to take action in their country before trying to feed everyone else.

However, the problem of hunger and poverty in the country is commonly dismissed in the midst of superpower business. In fact, there are some that argue against the importance of such issues, claiming that there are plans already addressing these matters and that there is no need to constantly create new policies. Yet, the problem with this view is that it fails to identify those policies supposedly dealing with this domestic crisis.

On the other hand, in order to raise awareness, the United Nations’
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, calls for all civil societies to provide comprehensive policy to deal with poverty and hunger. But, how can we develop a better understanding of the problem and form appropriate policies? Further, good policy to solve a problem often requires funds, but if there are no funds to make practical solutions possible,then what do we do?

For this, I think, it is important begin to at least implement the plans that already exist. The government needs to take the system of “Food Stamps, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs” and expand them. There are many Americans who have fallen through the safety net. Our government needs to find those people, or to make essential services available to them.

The federal government has set the poverty level at $19,350 for a family of four--which is not much. The average wealth has gone up but the median income has stagnated. There is a need for the better distribution of our resources.

Recognizing the importance of education for the improvement of the problem of poverty and hunger, one can not forget to ask political leaders to take a look at the plan set forth by the Millennium Development Goal (MDG). The eradication of “extreme Hunger and Poverty” is not about handing out money to the poor, rather it is about creating opportunities for improvement.

Today, 33.3 percent of the youth in the US are facing dramatic situations resulting from unemployment. Therefore, there needs to be a way create opportunities out of this unfortunate reality. The Presidential elections may bring great changes to the country; hopefully new policies to meet the needs of the American people. We need leaders that will address the issues of our concerns. The issues of poverty and hunger are very important and we should start solving this problem starting with out own poor first.


Anonymous said...

But, is it "either-or" situation here? If Norway gives 85 cents for every $100 they have to foreign aid, why can't the US do the same? We give some 15 cents instead.

I agree that we should eliminate hunger in the US, but raising the world standards is also to the US benefit.

From a strict humanitarian point of view, a life is a life, no matter where it is.

Ghassan said...

So you think that if the US will stop spending $15 Billion overseas each year on a variety of development programs then that will solve our domestic problems??? You can't be serious.