Published by The Black Commentator, September 28, 2023
Most of the family-centered legislation that Congress passes is not based upon its grace and empathy. It is usually pressured to do so by citizens organized to advocate for families and communities
If ever there was a clear case of capitalists’ disdain for the plight of poor and working-class people, it came with the latest statistics for the U.S. poverty rate. According to the Census Bureau, it was the greatest one-year jump on record. This sharp increase was due to end of the government payouts that buffered the financial suffering during the pandemic. At the same time that these federal programs were expiring, the costs of living were rising.
Poverty always increases when capitalism is in crisis. We can count on the masses of people being forced to make the sacrifices so that the super profits keep coming for the ruling elite. Poverty is a natural by-product of capitalism so any relief will be minuscule and temporary for the estimated 50 million Americans who hang on under the poverty line.
The decline in poverty for the previous couple of years was based upon the bundle of benefits from the American Rescue Plan Act. This included extra food stamps, emergency rental assistance, direct payments to families and most important, the child tax credits. Many families were in crisis and the totality of these benefits helped to significantly ease the financial burdens presented by COVID-19. This made good common sense not just for the tumultuous period of the pandemic, but for life beyond it.
If the nation was able to put a dent in the poverty rate because of this concentration of funds, why can’t those benefits be extended – and expanded – to make a long-term difference in the lives of these families?
At the same time legislators were cutting off these essential benefits, they were making deep cuts in corporate taxes. Capitalism will always favor capital over people. Even children.
The poverty rate among children more than doubled last year which means the rates for Black and Brown children were off the charts. The expanded child tax credit played a big part in improving the outcomes of children because it briefly provided a guaranteed income to families with children.
Most of the family-centered legislation that Congress passes is not based upon its grace and empathy. It is usually pressured to do so by citizens organized to advocate for families and communities. Most Congresspeople are far removed from the living conditions faced by poor and working-class families. These corporate-loving lawmakers are millionaires with the lifestyles that go along with it.
The economic system must be completely restructured if the human needs of the majority are to be fully met. Living wages with automatic built-in inflation adjustments, subsidized childcare and other subsidies could definitely stabilize a working family’s uncertain financial situation.
It has been encouraging to see workers in organized struggles for higher wages and better working conditions, such as Amazon and Starbucks. The historic strike of autoworkers is also unfolding across the country. As we support these workers’ demands, it is an ideal time to talk about the vision beyond the economic struggles. It’s time for us to get off the capitalist treadmill and make some real headway for working people in this country.