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The Prevalence of Poverty - from the American Dream to the American Illusion

That 40 million people - 12.7 percent of the population in the United States(US) - the richest nation on the planet, live in poverty, is preposterous. And that almost half of the poor, 18.5 million, live in deep poverty with reported income below one-half of the poverty threshold, is even more absurd and unacceptable for a First World nation.

In the just concluded summary report on poverty and human rights in the US by the United Nations(UN) Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, it concluded: "Automation and robotization are already throwing many middle-aged workers out of jobs in which they once believed themselves to be secure..." 

As a result, the UN report added: "The American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion in the US since the US now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries."

But who are America's poor? Included in the data of the US Census Bureau that counts the poor, Alston found that the poor are "...overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market."

The UN report cited that there are eight million more poor Whites than Blacks in America. "The face of poverty in America is not only Black, or Hispanic", the report confirmed, "but also White, Asian and many other colors. Nor is it confined to a particular age group."

Addressing the connection between human rights and poverty, the UN report castigated the US hypocritical stance on rights: "In practice", the report noted, "the United States is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access to affordable health care, or growing up in a context of total deprivation."

But recognition and protection of all human rights are fundamental to sustaining peace, security, liberty and happiness. If the present administration in Washington, DC, fails to admit and to protect the rights for all Americans, then the American Dream would become the American Illusion for quite some time.