Green Line By Brenda Johnson Kame’enui

FCC’s Good Samaritan Fund is used widely every week of the year. Many of us don’t know much about it, but by luck and by golly, the church office often has enough to support those who walk into the office with a request for anything from baby formula to tuition for Boys & Girls Club. Poverty requires a series of stopping gaps, and FCC is a stop on the way.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate in 2022 was 12.4%, an increase of 4.6 since 2021. Most significantly, the child poverty rate more than doubled in that time, from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. Social Security continued to be the most important antipoverty program in 2022, moving 28.9 million people out of SPM poverty. Refundable tax credits moved 6.4 million people out of poverty, compared to 9.6 million people in 2021. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2023/demo/p60-280.html#Highlights

Pulitzer Prize winning sociologist and New York Times writer, Matthew Desmond, writes in “Why Poverty Persists in America”: “In the last 50 years, scientists have mapped the entire human genome and eradicated smallpox. Infant mortality rates and deaths from heart disease have fallen nearly 70 percent…. On the problem of poverty, though, there has been no real improvement – just a long stasis.”

Some say the poor couldn’t be that poor if they can buy big-screen TVs and cell phones. The poor have access to cheap, mass-produced electronics, but the cost of most of life’s necessities, like health care and rent, have increased dramatically. Median rent rose from $483 in 2000 to $1,216 in 2021. Renter exploitation is common and lucrative in slums. Workers with a high school diploma made 2.7 percent less in 2017 than they would have in 1979, adjusting for inflation. 23% of American workers labor in low-paying jobs, compared to 11% in Japan and 5% in Italy.

In the heyday of unions in America, from the 1950s well into the 70s, workers fought for better pay, safer working conditions, and antipoverty programs. Early unions, however, were a white man’s benefit and some enforced segregation.

Canada and Belgium and many other nations have faced the same world changes as America, but not the wage stagnation and surge in income inequality of America. The biggest difference seems to be that their labor unions have remained strong. (Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/09/magazine/poverty-by-americamatthew-desmond.html)

It’s no wonder FCC receives frequent visits from people who need a hand to stop the gap. Cari Lyn invites her yoga followers to give to the Good Samaritan Fund. You can do the same!