The United States of Poverty

In June of 2022, I had something happen to me that’s never like before. An older woman arrived at my front door. At first, my wife thought it was a Jehovah’s Witness. Well, the woman wasn’t trying to share a Watchtower magazine and save our souls from damnation. She told us she’d just buried a son, had no money to pay for gas, and was hungry. 

My wife and I gave her a few dollars and some food out of our fridge. A couple of my other neighbors helped the elderly woman out too. Finally, I pointed her toward a local church that hosted a food assistance program. This is a capstone to a more troubling trend I’ve seen in my newish home of Atlanta, Georgia. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only left over a million-plus U.S citizens dead, millions dealing with the horrid effects of long COVID, and we’ve also seen a stark rise in poverty. Tent cities near the state capital building, panhandlers at every intersection, including in Atlanta’s most affluent neighborhoods like Buckhead, and people living out of their cars in my community. 

I had the misfortune of graduating college during the Great Recession in 2008. It was a pain in the ass to find a job from 2008 through 2011. Total Hunger Games shit during interviews in those days, I tell you! However, I have not seen poverty and homelessness like in the COVID era. It seems the Great Recession never ended at least for the working class. Good luck, Class of 2022! Welcome to student loan debt. Cause Biden ain’t canceling shit!

Some conspiracy theorists and Reddit enthusiasts feel the pandemic is the start of the Great Reset. I’d contend that’s it just a continuation of the never-ending Great American Rip-Off. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. It’s a tale as old as capitalism. During the pandemic, we’ve seen the greatest transfer of wealth in modern history. All while millions of workers have been laid off or lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Evictions are up, and more and more people are slipping into utter poverty. The comfortable and ever-shrinking middle class can work safely from home in the United States. The working class must struggle to survive and work on-site throughout the pandemic. Despite minimum wage not being raised since the Bush Era. We quickly went from ‘thank an essential worker’ to fuck the poor.

At the same time, we’ve seen billionaires become far more prosperous than ever before. Companies are raking in record profits, and the stock market is doing just fucking dandy! While even middle-class people must admit that things are getting out of hand when it comes to affording the basics. Just imagine how it is for the working class and those with unstable housing. 

The Biden Administration and the Democratic party paused or ended many COVID relief programs that helped millions in this crisis. All because the “brunch brigade” wanted to go back to normal. So did the corporate sponsors of both U.S. political parties want the same return to normal. Sorry, folks, no more stimmy’s for your broke asses! 

Food costs are through the roof, gas prices are at record highs, and as I mentioned earlier, homelessness is at levels I’ve never seen in Atlanta. I’m sure people across the country see the same thing too in their communities. Masses of people are struggling at the moment. It seems that there’s no relief in sight. Too bad many liberals will tell me to vote harder in November, while conservatives will call me a snowflake for caring about the plight of my fellow Americans. I wish we had the will as a nation to end economic inequality. Not just homeless people out on the streets but the millions more stuck in a constant state of economic instability.

I want to end this post on a more hopeful note and outline ways to turn the tide of rising inequality that plagues the most advanced backward nation on earth, the United States of America. First and foremost, fuck those economists who claim it’s necessary to have a critical number of unemployed people. This goes to George Carlin’s quote,” The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class.

There are some real solutions possible if we lived in a society that cared about people in the lowest tax bracket versus those in the highest tax brackets. But we are a nation of sociopaths. So good luck!

First, we can raise the minimum wage instead of making it a minimum wage. We can do a wage that ebbs and flows with inflation which is running wild nowadays. Let’s call it the maximum wage. We demand Congress pass the ProAct to ensure that workers can benefit from unionizing without retaliation from their employers. Shout out to the Amazon workers! Also, give working people paid maternity leave no matter if they’re white-collar or blue-collar. Fight for real affordable housing in the United States. One organization in New York City is already taking the right steps in this fight. Gentrification and a bloated housing market are making living costs unaffordable for most people.

Medicare for all and student loan cancellation will ease the financial burdens for millions overnight. With that, the U.S. medical debt must be canceled, and all public colleges and trade schools must be free. This will prevent future generations from acquiring debt for getting sick or furthering their education. 

Medicare for All would also allow people who usually can’t afford mental health services to access life-saving help. Think of the Veteran Affairs Hospitals as a model for the whole country. You shouldn’t have to serve in the Armed Forces to get access to basic medical services. We have no problem with the Government handling the fire department, so why not healthcare. What the hell do you think the VA Healthcare system is? You’re right! It’s an evil socialist government healthcare program!

For those who will argue, but Lornett! How would we pay for such massive programs? We can’t afford it. Nope, we can. First, I would rather my tax dollars go to benefit society versus the U.S. bloated Defense Budget. Also, we could tax those rich assholes who have made trillions during the pandemic. 

We know the solutions that can solve many of our problems as a nation. I no longer want to live in the United States of Poverty. And you shouldn’t either! I think of the words from the legendary activist Malcolm X. Only a privileged few live the American Dream; far too many are living the American nightmare.

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