Dreams of abundance, security still not realized for many Americans

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Though we might not want to admit it, poverty is still on the rise in our land of opportunity.

    The United States Census Bureau defines the povery line as an income $10,587 or less annually for an individual, or $16,537 or less annually  for a family of three. According to the bureau, 4.4 million more people are living in these conditions in the United States now than were in 2000.

    American families are faring much worse than they have in past decades. In 2004, 7.6 million American families — 10 percent of all U.S. families — lived in poverty, a huge jump from 2000.
    As if that wasn’t bad enough, a recent survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed 11.2 percent of American households now struggle to feed themselves each day. 

    This should be unacceptable in one of the richest countries on Earth.

    Our nation is undeniably one of the most powerful to ever exist and we are still the only true superpower, yet so many of our citizens struggle to obtain the most basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing.

    While some might argue it is the American way to allow individuals to fail or triumph based upon personal achievement and perseverance, we must ask ourselves: Is it not also America’s promise to look after those who live here?

    Welfare programs and the minimum wage have been debated ad nauseum by politicians, pundits and television personalities, but no matter their position on these issues, surely we can all agree that the system is broken.

    When the minimum wage is no longer a living wage, the system needs to be repaired. When millions of people in our hometowns are unable to feed themselves, something is wrong.

    We as a society must agree to look for a solution. It most certainly will not be as easy as we might hope, but it is our responsibility as humans to care for those who are unable to care for themselves.
 
    We can start small with something as simple as making a donation to a local food bank, something which we cannot do enough.

    According to CNN.com, Northwest Harvest, an organization that provides food to about 300 food banks, reported that donations are down almost 40 percent. 

    It may be difficult in this time of rising gas and food prices and this time of war — when both danger and hardship seem to be all around us — to think of responsibility to others, but we must.

    It is the mark of our society that we strive to make things better for the next generation, and it is the promise of our nation that we will make things better for our fellow Americans.

Jessica Hensley is a sophomore in political science. Please send comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.

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