How Can It Be

  • U.S. Poverty

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” asked Pope Francis in a speech in November when he attacked “trickle-down economics” and sharply criticized “growing inequality and unfettered markets.” Yet this is but one injustice. There are many more.

How can it be that:

• Millions of children go hungry in the “richest country” in the world, and yet Congress passed a farm bill cutting $800 million dollars a year from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This cut will affect 1.7 million people in 15 states.

• 1.3 million jobless people lost unemployment benefits in December.

• House Speaker John Boehner, a multimillionaire who has voted over 40 times with his fellow Republicans to repeal the ACA and shut down the government at a cost of $24 billion, has now signed up for coverage through Representatives, Paul Ryan and Sean Duffy, joined other Republicans and signed up. Taxpayers foot the bill for 70% of their insurance.

• Millions of people declare bankruptcy because of health care costs. One of my closest friends, a CPA, spent every penny he had saved and died destitute because he got sick.

• John Paulson, a hedge-fund manager, can earn billions a year trading “paper,” but the fast-food worker who works like crazy standing on his/her feet for hours a day isn’t worthy of a “survival wage” or a full-time job.

• Teachers and school staff die protecting their students while a man with a high-powered rifle and high-capacity magazines fills them and the children with bullets to the point where some of the children were unrecognizable.

• Over 30,000 people have died since December 14, 2012, by gun violence–many of them children. Many more are traumatized by gun violence each year to the point where students in Chicago run to school in the streets hoping the vehicles will protect them from gun fire. (From a program on NPR)

The pastor at the church I attend said in his prayer: “I am ticked off.” He was speaking of the injustices of this world–a child with stage-4 cancer and the suffering all around us. We should all be “ticked off” and vow to do what we can to bring about change. As Pope Francis stated: “Meanwhile the excluded are still waiting.”