Of the seventeen sustainable development goals set by the UN, poverty was first on it’s list. We traditionally think of poverty as being an issue for third-world countries. However, the US has it’s own problems.
Peace and Justice do not stand alone, which is why I am asking you to consider the other societal issues that affect the overall picture of life today.
The official poverty rate is 13.5 percent, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 estimates. That year, an estimated 43.1 million Americans lived in poverty according to the official measure. According to supplemental poverty measure, the poverty rate was 14.3 percent.
The top 10% of earners have seen their wealth grow, while the rest get a smaller share of the pie. The top 1% has seen its wealth grow from 7% to 22% in recent years. Administration after administration placates the corporate rich with tax cut after tax cut, the average CEO now earn 300 times more than his or her workforce.
America’s infrastructure is old and dilapidated. Our roads are full of holes; cities are rust heaps of use to be, and our coastal regions vulnerable to rising sea levels. Any future hope of glory will require extensive financial input into the infrastructure of America. The nation continues to maintain an imperial military with bases all over the world. Including the Pentagon and the VA system, America spends 4.9% of it’s GDP, or $900 billion each year.
Keys to our success, as Jeffery Sachs reminds us, should be ‘smart, fair and sustainable.’
If we fool ourselves into believing we are the greatest nation in the world, we need to consider Scandinavia and Denmark. Though these countries have higher taxation, the average person get’s more for their money with free healthcare, free college, paid maternity and sick leave, and longer paid vacations, making them the happiest countries in the world. On the 2016 ranking of countries where the people are happy with their lot, America came in at number 13.
At the end of this seventeen part series I will make some suggestions to tie them together, offer a solution, and a plan for the future.
Dr. Terrence Threadwell.
Dr. Terrence Threadwell is Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies, American Public University. Director of the Institute for Progressive Pentecostal Studies and Board Member Pax Pneuma, Pentecostal Peace Fellowship.