Let’s Eradicate Poverty in America, with Commentary by Michael Moore, Cornel West, Barbara Lee

                       Yes.  It is time we did something about the fact that there are more than 46,000,000 people in America who are living in poverty.  If we were to seriously address this shameful situation, we could virtually eliminate poverty.

            Most of my readers know the facts.  The extent of inequality in America, of both income and of wealth, is far greater than it has been in decades.  The top 1% of us earn more each year than all those in the bottom 50%, combined.  The top 1% now earns 20% of all the income that Americans earn.

            The wealthiest 400 people in America (400!) now hold more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000 of us, combined.  The top 1% holds as much wealth as the bottom 90%, combined.  The wealthiest 1% of Americans own more than 40% of America’s wealth.

            Michael Moore discusses the extent of poverty in America and contrasts it with the enormous wealth that is enjoyed by the 1%.  “That’s an absolute crime,” he says.  “It is immoral; and these guys are just posting the largest profits ever.”

            This extreme, unconscionable disparity naturally causes terrible, unnecessary suffering for so many of our people.  Poverty, as we know, contributes mightily to problems related to health, education, crime, etc.  Furthermore, and very importantly, the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few very seriously weakens our democracy.

            Certainly, the Citizens United decision has exacerbated the problem of the wealthy holding undue influence upon our national policies.  Even prior to that terrible Supreme Court decision, however, the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few has been detrimental to our national well being and has perverted our democracy.  Our members of Congress, of course, are often influenced by campaign contributions.  Corporations and the wealthy have substantially taken control of our Congress and, through inadequate regulation, have been able to implement policies that adversely affect us, with regard to our food, our environment, our health, our nation’s foreign policy, and our economy.  Simply put, critical policy is now often made by minimally regulated corporations or by a government that is overly influenced by the wealthy.  Decisions are made based upon the maximization of profit and the furthering of the concentration of wealth, rather than upon serving the best interests of our people.  The extreme concentration of wealth has been detrimental to our nation’s economy and has very much weakened our democracy.  It has directly contributed to the huge increase in the number of Americans who now live in poverty.

            If we are to eradicate poverty in America, and if we are to strengthen our democracy, we need to heed the words of Justice Louis Brandeis.  “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

            Now that so many in the middle class have been struggling or have fallen into poverty, it seems that more Americans are inclined to acknowledge the problem of poverty in America.  Our slow recovery from the recession, the increase in the number of us living in poverty, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the resurgence of an appreciation for the importance of labor unions have all contributed to the increased extent to which Americans are talking about poverty.  It is essential that we talk about poverty in America.  We must pressure our representatives in Congress to talk about it.  We must insist that they take the necessary steps to eliminate poverty.

            Dr. Cornel West, in discussing the extreme inequality of wealth in America, tells us quite bluntly, “There is something sick about that, my brother.”

            The recently published study, “Social Justice in the OECD: How Do the Member States Compare,” clearly and emphatically points out the poor standing of the United States, when compared to other nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Of the thirty-one countries scored for “Poverty Prevention,” the United States performed worse than all countries, except Chile and Mexico.  Twenty-eight countries –including Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, Spain — all did a better job of preventing poverty among their people.

            Likewise, in the areas of “Health” and “Access to Education”, the United States scored more poorly than most other nations.  In the summary scores, rating each nation for “Social Justice,” the United States ranked as the 27th of the 31 countries studied.

            Congresswoman Barbara Lee points out some very troubling statistics, shedding further light on the incidence of poverty in America.  “The rates of poverty in our minority communities continue to be about twice the national average.”  She correctly calls these data, “painful and shameful statistics.”

            It is time that we insisted that the United States take the necessary steps to eliminate poverty and to achieve a just society.

            Please check out this short video of commentary from Michael Moore, Cornel West, and Barbara Lee.  The included clips are excerpted from videos that can be found here, here, and here.

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4 Responses to Let’s Eradicate Poverty in America, with Commentary by Michael Moore, Cornel West, Barbara Lee

  1. We are writing to ask for your support. Our office has seen a huge increase in reports of people and groups being stopped for sharing food with the hungry. There is also a new wave of laws restricting the sharing of food. The expense and regulation required by authorities makes it impossible to provide help. In many cities you can be jailed for weeks and even months for sharing meals with the hungry. Many of our volunteers have been arrested and held for days for their acts of compassion. Please consider endorsing our campaign and issuing a statement of support. You are also encouraged to organize a a local celebration in your community on April 1, 2012.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Keith McHenry and Kathy Mitro

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    FEBRUARY 17, 2011

    CONTACT:

    Keith McHenry
    575-770-3377
    menu@foodnotbombs.net
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/food_is_a_right.html

    Kathy Mitro
    386-795-9643
    kathymitro@yahoo.com

    FOOD IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE

    Sharing food with the hungry is an unregulated act of kindness.
    End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry.
    Rescind all laws restricting compassion.

    “THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO GIVE OUT FOOD, THERE IS ONLY GIVING OUT ALL THE FOOD YOU CAN”
    – Kathy Mitro who posted a petition on line after being threatened with arrest for sharing food in Daytona Beach. Florida in January 2012

    We are proposing that people all over the world consider sharing free meals in celebration our right to food and participate in our campaign for an end to laws restricting acts of compassion. Celebrate our right to feed the hungry with music, theater, and the sharing of food.

    SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2012

    It has been distressing to receive so many reports in the past few weeks of people being threatened with arrest or cities adopting new laws limiting people’s right to share free food with the public. People in England, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Florida contacted Food Not Bombs about having been threatened with arrest. Others report that their local governments are considering laws to limit acts of compassion.

    This new wave of threats is happening as half of all Americans are struggling to survive. The Department of Agriculture’s February report shows that 46,286,294 people relied on food stamps in November of 2011. People have been arriving at Food Not Bombs meals claiming they had not eaten in four days because other food programs had exhausted their resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 1 in 7 people or 925 million people world wide went hungry in 2010. We are announcing a global campaign to recognize that sharing food with the hungry is an unregulated activity of compassion and should not be interfered with by the authorities.

    Our movement started when the “Diggers” occupied St George’s Hill in Surrey, England on April 1, 1649 in a protest for the right of landless people to feed themselves. We are announcing our global campaign for the right of all people to share food with the hungry without regulation on the anniversary of the first act of the peaceful resistance by the “Diggers” of St George’s Hill.

    The public is encouraged to share meals with their community on Sunday, April 1, 2012 to celebrate our right to share food and end all efforts to restrict acts of compassion. Please email our office so we can post your event on our website.

    FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/food_is_a_right.html

    FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry on blog.foodnotbombs.net
    http://blog.foodnotbombs.net/food-is-a-right-not-a-privilege-end-all-efforts-to-stop-people-from-feeding-the-hungry/

    ENDORSED BY

    Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
    Noam Chomsky, author and professor M.I.T.
    Michael Parenti, author and lecturer
    Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved
    Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
    Bill McKibben, author Deep Economy
    David Barsamian, founder and director of Alternative Radio
    David Rovics, Musician, USA
    Kevin Devine, Musician, Brooklyn, NY
    Dorinda Moreno, Fuerza Mundial Collaborative
    Rev. Brian Burch, President, St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society
    Francisca James Hernández, Ph.D., Southwest Institute for Research on Women
    Kathy Kelly, Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
    Michael Stoops, National Coalition for the Homeless
    Max Ventura, Musician, Activist, Mom, USA
    Rabbi. Auri V. Ish, Musician, Nederland Colorado
    KT Terry, Founder Homeless Not Hopeless Poets For Change
    Kathy Mitro, Daytona Beach. Florida
    Agustina Vidal, Myrtle Beach Food Not Bombs
    Keith McHenry, Co-founder of the Food Not Bombs Movement

    ###

    PLEASE ENDORSE THIS CAMPAIGN
    Please consider endorsing this nonviolent campaign. Email us you name, position and city or if your group is endorsing the name of your organization and city. Seek to overturn all local laws restricting the sharing of food.
    Thanks so much.

    menu@foodnotbombs.net

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
    The current cities actively seeking to restrict the sharing of food are Los Angeles, Daytona Beach,Tampa, St Petersburg, Dallas, Myrtle Beach, Philadelphia.

    A PLACE AT THE TABLE
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/A_Place_at_the_Table.pdf

    Food is a Right Jean Ziegler
    http://www.righttofood.org/

    Hunger Is a ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction’, says Jean Ziegler
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Hunger-Is-a-Weapon-of-Mas-by-Siv-O-Neall-120120-44.html

    SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM:  NUMBER OF PERSONS PARTICIPATING
    http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/29snapcurrpp.htm

    2012 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics Food and Agriculture Organization
    http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world 20hunger facts 202002.htm

    Anti-Poverty Groups Alarmed At Obama Budget
    http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133756360/Anti-Poverty-Groups-Alarmed-At-Obama-Budget

    PETITIONS
    If you have been threatened with arrest for sharing food please contact us.
    menu@foodnotbombs.net

    Speaker of the House: Change the laws that criminalize sharing food with
    hungry individuals
    http://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-change-the-laws-that-criminalize-sharing-food-with-hungry-individuals

    Allow Food Not Bombs Myrtle Beach to Feed the
    Hungry
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/allow-food-not-bombs-myrtle-beach-to-feed-people/

    The City of Dallas: Stop
    threatening people for feeding the homeless
    http://www.change.org/petitions/the-city-of-dallas-stop-threatening-people-for-feeding-the-homeless

    NEW REPORTS ON EFFORTS TO LIMIT THE SHARING OF MEALS

    SANTA MONICA
    Santa Monica City Council plans to vote on a new law requiring groups to get a permit to share meals with 75 or more people. At the same time they a similar Community Bill of Rights ordinance that we are using to support the right to share food without regulation. The community is encouraged to contact the Santa Monica City Council before the Tuesday, February 21, 2012 meeting and ask them not to pass the Gathering Permits law. Thanks

    Gathering permits
    Gatherings including more than 75 people on the Third Street Promenade will need to get a permit in the future after the City Council took its first vote on an ordinance changing the permitting rules. Staff cited space constraints and safety as reasons for the change.
    Previously, it took over 150 people to require a permit.
    http://www.smdp.com/Articles-local-news-c-2012-02-15-73480.113116-Council-wrap-More-eateries-on-Main-development-sees-changes.html

    Feeding homeless in public raising concerns yet again
    http://www.smdp.com/Articles-local-news-c-2011-11-22-72994.113116-Feeding-homeless-in-public-raising-concerns-yet-again.html

    PHILADELPHIA
    Philadelphia may start requiring permits for those who feed the homeless
    February 10, 2012
    http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/health-science-multimedia/item/33820-philadelphia-may-start-requiring-permits-for-those-who-feed-the-homeless

    Proposed rules for feeding homeless on Parkway assailed February 9, 2012
    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/139063949.html

    Proposed rules for feeding homeless on Parkway assailed
    http://articles.philly.com/2012-02-09/news/31042407_1_regulation-bad-policy-shelters

    Ronnie Polaneczky: Dinner for the homeless, with a side of dignity
    http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/ronnie_polaneczky/20120214_Ronnie_Polaneczky__Dinner_for_the_homeless__with_a_side_of_dignity.html

    Let Donald F. Schwarz, know there should be no restrictions to the sharing of food in Philadelphia

    Donald F. Schwarz, MD, MPH
    Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity and
    Health Commissioner
    1401 JFK Blvd, Room 600
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
    Telephone: 215-686-5000
    Fax: 215-686-5212
    healthdept@phila.gov

    MYRTLE BEACH

    WMBF Special Report: Homeless Bound
    http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/10779717/wmbf-special-report-homeless-bound

    Myrtle Beach Deals With Homeless, Or Do They?
    http://www.nowpublic.com/health/myrtle-beach-deals-homeless-or-do-they

    Please Don’t Feed Our Homeless, Many Cities Say
    http://news.change.org/stories/please-dont-feed-our-homeless-many-cities-say

    DETAILS ON THE DIGGERS

    Our movement started when the “Diggers” occupied St George’s Hill in Surrey, England on April 1, 1649 in a protest for the right of landless people to feed themselves. Consider preforming the World Turned Upside Down at your meal on April 1, 2012.

    The English Diggers
    http://www.diggers.org/english_diggers.htm

    ‪The World Turned Upside Down – The Diggers – Leon Rosselson‬ text
    http://www.diggers.org/english_diggers.htm#worl

    ‪The World Turned Upside Down – The Diggers – Leon Rosselson‬ music video

    GET INVOLVED, PASS THE NEWS, CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MEDIA AND ORGANIZE AN ACTION IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

    PRINT OUT FLYER
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/food is a right day of compassion flyer.pdf

    PRINT OUT FLYER ANNOUNCING THE TIME AND LOCATION OF YOUR CELEBRATION
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/food is a right diggers
    flyer.pdf

    PRINT OUT A SAMPLE COPY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS TO SHARE FOOD
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/Bill of Rights to Share Food.pdf

    FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/food_is_a_right.html

    FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry on blog.foodnotbombs.net
    http://blog.foodnotbombs.net/food-is-a-right-not-a-privilege-end-all-efforts-to-stop-people-from-feeding-the-hungry/

    You can invite the Cooking for the Occupations – ELECT TO END HUNGER AND POVERTY TOUR to visit you community. A presentation on the occupations and the global effort against economic austerity!
    http://www.foodnotbombs.net/speaker.html

    We try to make every effort to remove all unwanted email addresses so if you would like to be removed please email us at menu@foodnotbombs.net

    Consider organizing a local celebration, contact your local media about your event and PLEASE FORWARD- thanks!

  2. Mark Haim says:

    Thanks to P&J Online for sharing this important message.

    We just did a public screening of Michael Moore’s “Capitalism, A Love Story” last night. Again, important information that needs to be shared more widely. I say get your friends and neighbors, cousins and other family together to watch and discuss informative films that raise these concerns.

    Next week, we screen “The Corporation.” the following week “The End of Poverty?”

    We need to reach folks on-line, in classrooms, in church basements, in our communities, etc. Thanks for your work on this.

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