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A Scathing Report on Poverty and its Ramifications in the United States

"The proposed tax reform package stakes out America's bid to become the most unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1-percent and the poorest 50-percent of Americans."

This is the conclusion of United Nations(UN) Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, in a summary report on poverty in America and whether or not it undermines the human rights of Americans, released yesterday in Washington, DC. The full report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council at Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2018.

After encountering people barely surviving on Skid Row, in Los Angeles, California; police herding the homeless to pasture less places in San Francisco, California; sewage-filled yards in States where governments do not consider sanitation facilities their responsibility; toothless adults shut out of dental access to care; soaring death rates and family and community destruction wrought by opioids; and people living next to a mountain of completely unprotected coal ash which rains down upon them bringing illness, disability and death, Alston concluded that: "The dramatic cuts in welfare...already beginning to be implemented by the (Trump) administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes."

Alston toured California, Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Washington, DC. He spoke with senior State and Federal officials along with experts, civil society groups, the homeless and people living in deep poverty.

"The United States," the Alston wrote: "is one of the world's richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries, but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty."

The UN expert observed: "American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders' admirable commitments, today's United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound."

He concluded: "The foundation stone of American society is democracy, but it is being steadily undermined. The principle of one person one vote applies in theory, but it is far from the reality."

[The summary report has been posted @www.ohchr.org]