Global rankings place the United States near the top in wealth, power, and technological innovation; however, that fails to translate to the country’s ability to provide basic Human Rights, as recognized by the United Nations and ratified by the U.S., to those in extreme poverty. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has increased wealth and income inequality as well as diminished social mobility, and the “American Dream” is becoming more of an American Illusion to many. In September 2017, more than one in every eight Americans were living in poverty (40 million, equal to 12.7% of the population). And almost half of those (18.5 million) were living in deep poverty, with reported family income below on-half of the poverty threshold. There is staggering evidence in this United Nations report that U.S. poverty is highly criminalized rather than approached with sympathy and compassionate action for possible political, and profitable reasons that undermines the social mobility and political agency of those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. It is not surprising to find that poverty strikes all demographic categories and that most of those living in poverty are overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market. In terms of searching for solutions, cuts to social safety nets, joblessness, rising housing costs, and an influx of fines and fees for homelessness are only increasing rates of deep and extreme poverty and perpetuating a cycle of incarceration, poor health, and ineffective re-entry programs. Denial does not eliminate responsibility, nor does it negate obligations to provide economic and social rights that are full-fledged Human Rights as recognized by the U.N., and the U.S. in our made demands to other countries.
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