One-Third of US Children Live in Poverty

After a decade of decline, the rate of children living in low-income families is rising again, a trend that began in 2000.

Now there’s a surprise. The statistics are shameful. Iceland would be ashamed of them. But the richest country in the world has a government more concerned about the capital gains tax than about starving kids and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with that. According to The National Center for Children in Poverty:

# 16% of American children—more than 11 million—lived in poor families in 2002, meaning their parents’ income was at or below the federal poverty level. These parents are typically unable to provide their families with basic necessities like stable housing and reliable child care.# 37% of American children—more than 26 million—lived in low-income families in 2002. Their parents made less than 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL). These families often face material hardships and financial pressures similar to those families who are officially counted as poor.

Thirty-seven percent. More than a third. And most of them–more than half–are under grade-school age.

# 42% of infants/toddlers—4.8 million—live in low-income families (poor: 2.2 million).
# 40% of preschool children—3.2 million (poor: 1.4 million)
# 40% of kindergarteners—1.5 million (poor: 0.6 million)
# 38% of school-age children—10.5 million (poor: 4.6 million)
# 32% of adolescents—6.2 million (poor: 2.4 million)

Fifteen million kids under 18 live in poverty in the United States of America. 15 million. Say it with me one time: ‘Fifteen million.’ 12.5 million under 12 yrs old. 9 out of the 15 under 6 years old.

The richest country in the world, the 21st Century Empire, the No-Child-Left-Behind country, has 9 million little kids living in poverty, not sure where their next meal is coming from, and it’s paying Ahmad Chalabi $350,000/month to tell it lies that wouldn’t fool the rankest rube in the wilds of Wyoming, it’s paying $20,000/month to 11,000 mercenaries (‘contractors’) in Iraq, and over a $BILLION in hand-outs, tax breaks, and program support to some of the most profitable corporations in the land. Aren’t we proud now, ay?

It’s hard not to be bitterly sarcastic about the way American values have become hopelessly screwed up the last three years when you see numbers like these and read about the joy on Wall Street as they celebrate the latest uptick in the Dow. How did it happen? It happened because the radical conservatives who took control of the Republican Party used the Mighty Wurlitzer to convince the Larry Paquettes of this country that those kids really weren’t poor and if they were it was none of his business and anyway their parents were trying to rob him blind, the shiftless, lazy, good-for-nothing thieves.

Who’s Larry Paquette? Oh, that’s right–you’re not from around here. Well, in this neck of the woods, Larry Paquette’s kind of famous–infamous almost. More than a year ago, he wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Boston Globe in which he managed to smash together almost every far-right cliche on the books in the process of explaining why there was no reason for him to feel guilty about making his money, and about how it was his God-given right to keep that precious loot safe from the clutches of those lazy bums on Welfare who were out to steal it. You know–all those greedy, unprincipled 6-yr-olds. THEM.

#Larry Paquette is living proof of the success of the unholy alliance between an extremist conservative government, rapacious corporations, and the Mighty Wurlitzer Media Moguls in using relentless propaganda to turn otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people into raving, frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics.

#Larry Paquette is where all the strands we’ve talked about so far collide.

#Larry Paquette is a one-man 20-car pile-up at that corner on Storrow Drive where the hospital is.

#Larry Paquette is what happens to your brain when you watch FoxTV and listen to Rush every day. (That’s Rush ‘I Turn Brains To Mush’ Limbaugh, in case you didn’t know.)

Yes, that Larry Paquette.

Next Up: From the Hall of Shame–The Paquette Column and One Man’s Response To It

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