North America

37 million poor people hidden in United States

In a country that prides itself on a culture of rugged individualism, hard work and self-sufficiency, it is no surprise that poverty and the poor do not have a central place in America’s cultural psyche. But the fact remains that Americans are now facing the worst economic crisis.

In united states, we see an America that is largely  divided by the Have’s and Have not. American politicians are afraid to loose their status in the world so they continue to live on a  borrowed money keeping their future generation in big risk. Currently, 

· There are 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. That figure has increased by five million since President George W. Bush came to power.

· The United States has 269 billionaires, the highest number in the world.

· Almost a quarter of all black Americans live below the poverty line; 22 per cent of Hispanics fall below it. But for whites the figure is just 8.6 per cent.

· There are 46 million Americans without health insurance.

· There are 82,000 homeless people in Los Angeles alone.

· In 2004 the poorest community in America was Pine Ridge Indian reservation. Unemployment is over 80 per cent, 69 per cent of people live in poverty and male life expectancy is 57 years. In the Western hemisphere only Haiti has a lower number.

· The richest town in America is Rancho Santa Fe in California. Average incomes are more than $100,000 a year; the average house price is $1.7m.

American poverty has sometimes been portrayed with searing honest  in art, films and books. John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, which was made into a John Ford movie, is the most famous example. It was an unflinching account of the travails of a poor Oklahoma family forced to flee the Dust Bowl during the 1930s Depression. Its portrait of Tom Joad and his family’s life on the road as they sought work was a nod to wider issues of social justice in America.

Another ground-breaking work of that time was James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a non-fiction book about time spent among poor white farmers in the Deep South. It practically disappeared upon its first publication in 1940 but in the Sixties was hailed as a masterpiece. In mainstream American culture, poverty often lurks in the background. Or it is portrayed – as in Sergio Leone’s crime epic Once Upon A Time In America – as the basis for a tale of rags to riches.

One notable, yet often overlooked, exception was the great success of the sitcom Roseanne. The show depicted the realities of working-class Middle American life with a grit and humour that is a world away from the usual sitcom settings in a sunlit suburbia, most often in New York or California. The biggest sitcoms of the past decade – Friends, Frasier or Will and Grace – all deal with aspirational middle-class foibles that have little relevance to America’s millions of working poor.

Guardian.co.uk

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