Poverty is smearing the American Dream

We have all heard the phrase, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” but now it’s not just a phrase, it’s a reality. Thanks to the Census Bureau, the proof is staring us all in the face. In 2010, one in six Americans was living below the Federal poverty line, which is currently defined as less than $22,113 for a family of four. 16 percent of California residents fall into this category, while 20 percent lack health insurance.

These are terrifying numbers for a population already at the mercy of a childish government and an unsteady economy.

Among all the job packages rolled out by Congress and President Obama, very few of them do much to help families struggling with mortgages, student debt and rising healthcare costs.

America is caught in a vicious cycle of debt and taxes, exacerbated by extremist-driven politics, and a government made up of people concerned with little more than staying in office.

Desperate for campaign funds, congressmen are cutting horrific deals with any corporation willing to play crazy lobbyist with American legislation; with disastrous results for the rest of America.

Large businesses are getting off scot-free with tax breaks and bail-outs, while the increasingly unemployed Americans are bearing the brunt of the damage.

Congress is admitting to news groups all over the country that the political bickering is both embarrassing and harmful, but no one knows what to do about it.

A battle is being waged between political parties in Sacramento and Washington D.C., but those fighting are forcing the costs onto helpless Americans, shredding any potential aid into confetti and leaving us out in the cold.

“They really only help you if nothing is wrong,” said Jonathon, an older SMC student who declined to provide his last name. Jonathon is studying for technical certification and raising two children. “I have a family, and if anyone gets sick, we have trouble making ends meet.”

Health insurance is perhaps one of the biggest issues, especially as medical care is the number one cause of debt in America.

When going to the doctor for a cold or flu, it can cost $150 for a check-up, let alone treatment for any illness. It’s easy to see why this is a huge problem in America.

Conservatives whine about how ‘socialist’ governments that provide national healthcare for all citizens are all in debt; however, they seem to have completely missed out on the fact that rather than debt disappearing in a privatized health care system, it’s simply shifted to the unemployed—or under-employed—Americans, often killing them as well.

Other big causes of debt include student loans. These loans can bring even the healthiest of financial packages to their knees.

This is something SMC students can easily relate to, since most of us are here as an alternative of going directly to a university to reduce tuition costs.

While there is financial aid even at the community-college level, it often isn’t very helpful.

“We’re not poor enough to get financial aid and we’re not rich enough to go without it,” said Amy Sales, mother of SMC student Josh Sales, who was standing in line with her son for the Financial Aid office.

Her son adds, “I’ve been here three years because we can only afford a few classes at a time.”

Stuck in piles of debt, most Americans are suffering due to lack of employment to make what little payments they can on their debt.

President Obama has been urging Congress into action, referencing a new job plan he has rolled out, which is largely made up of tax credits and hiring incentives. Unfortunately, the plan is also expensive.

We are already so low on helpful options, that by the time Congress is through with it, the plan will be little more than a band-aid on an infected bullet wound.

With the California unemployment rate hitting 12 percent, it doesn’t look like things are getting much better locally or statewide.