60 Minutes re-aired a segment last night on poverty in America. Unlike the typical expose’ which focuses on unemployment and foreclosure; this compelling piece focused on the affects the recession is having on our children.
Scott Pelly’s interview with 10-12 year olds revealed the true victims of our economic condition. These children were from middle class families who had lost their jobs and subsequently their homes. They were living in their cars, with neighbors or crammed into a cheap motel room.
The children spoke of their shock at finding themselves and their families in this difficult and embarrassing situation. They talked about losing their home, going to bed hungry and wanting desperately to sleep but not being able to allow sleep to come. They spoke with a surreal sense of maturity that belied their tender years.
The most moving comments came from one ten year old little girl who cried as she explained to Pelly that it was her fault that her family was in this difficult situation. She said “it’s my fault because my family has to pay for me…they have to pay to feed me, and cloth me and stuff.”
This was hard to watch. It was a story that should never have to be told in this country. But it is a story that is being told all across this country.
The government defines as impoverished those families earning less than $22,000 per year. There are currently 16 million children living in poverty in the United States of America; up 2 million since 2009. 25% of our children are living below the poverty line. Anyone who thinks the recession is over needs to watch this piece. In fact every adult in this country should watch this piece…and then we should do something about it.
It is our belief that the most important responsibility that we have as human beings is to see to the health, education and well being of the children that we bring into this world. Clearly we Americans are failing in this area.
Much of this problem would be solved if Americans were able to find good paying jobs. The families in this piece are not malingerers or drug addicts or lazy folks trying to get by on government handouts. They are hard working families that through no fault of their own suddenly found themselves without work. They want to work and take care of their children. While the government pours billions into rebuilding countries in the Middle East, these hard working taxpaying Americans cannot find the work they need to take care of their children.
In his speech last week the President said “it is time to start nation building here at home.” No kidding!
We are failing our children. This should never, ever happen. There is absolutely no excuse.
We are better than this.
You can…no, you SHOULD… watch the segment online on the “60 minutes” website.