Losing war on poverty

We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the war on poverty.

If you look around our little section of paradise here in Pennsylvania, you can see we are losing that war miserably. I think there are two main reasons: millionaire and billionaire company owners that treat their employees like crap and politicians who only serve rich people.

The six Walton family members own as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of the country. That is as much wealth as over 120 million people. They pay themselves as much each year as all 1.4 million of their employees combined.

Sheldon Addelson contributed $160 million to politicians who would legislate favorably towards his businesses in the 2012 election cycle, but he can’t pay his employees a living wage.

The Koch brothers, who own the PAC Americans For Prosperity, sit on wealth of more than $50 billion. For years they were paid billions of dollars a year in federal subsidies for their ethanol industry and yet they lobby against welfare. Why are these people and so many more industry leaders so reluctant to treat their employees better and pay them a living wage?

Congressman Bill Shuster is typical of many politicians. I received a nice glossy mailing listing his accomplishments. They included opposing Obamacare, which he has voted to repeal many times, and opposing the stimulus.

Does he therefore favor continuing to deny access to health care to people who otherwise can’t afford health insurance and does he favor continued recession? He also wants to cut Social Security and Medicare. These are two programs that greatly benefit low-income people.

If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since it was first passed it would be about $15 an hour. If you think $15 an hour is a good income, try living on it.

That is about $30,000 a year. Is that a lot? To millions of Americans it is, because they live deep in poverty at half of that.

If we want win the war on poverty, we need to treat low income people better.

Richard Parker