Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The sense of poverty--especially in the rural areas is pretty strong for a first world nation.

I don't know where BritGuy toured and that would be interesting to find out, but I do know from personal experience that great swaths of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma are incredibly poor at --yes --third world levels: tin shack homes or trailers dot the landscape and if you get into the nuts and bolts you find third world type problems with infant mortality or things like ringworm, head lice, etc.

Many of these states form our 'Bible belt'. I think Marx observed something once about religion being the opiate of the masses. The reason he put it that way is because religiosity was used (typically by the church heirarchy or the state) to make individuals forget their actual material needs. Didn't always work, but that was the game plan.

Out of this waste land, literarily, has sprung many of our most 'famous' televangelists.

Our Jimmy Swaggarts and Tammy Fayes don't hail from NYC, they come from coal country, from the red clay parts of the south where you are as likely to get bit by a fire ant as a honey bee.

And they grew up poor as dirt: and many of the areas are still that way. Obviously immigrants come up from the South to make a buck on agri-business or domestic help or construction labor--but I suspect if jobs were available in their local economy not many would make the trek North. It's all about employment opportunity --because here you can eat, down South, you starve--and one suspects things have been arranged that way for a reason.

So it's certainly true that we aren't third world at it's worst. We are not at Bangladesh levels or Sudan, yet. No stories of mothers selling their eye as organ donors to middle men for money to feed their kids; but there's a lot of incidental information out there that indicates we aren't that far away either.

We've worked 'very hard' as Bush might say, to destroy our safety net. We have no nationalized healthcare worth talking about, no nationalized employment or retirement scheme.Our public education levels stop effectively at highschool. No labor laws regarding unions or right to organize that are enforced. Our food inspections are spotty at best and we've just recently had a scare because we imported poisoned feed from China.

Then occasionally you hear horror stories not more than a mile from the WhiteHouse --that come straight from third world level poverty -- a boy dies from tooth decay because he couldn't afford a dentist visit:

Not the norm, true, but we're working on it.

So I guess our new motto might be: 'Come to the US, because we're not third world--yet!'

by delicatemonster (delicatemons@delicatemonster.com) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 10:44:47 PM EST
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There is extreme poverty in the US and a lack of a social safety net for many.  Probably more than any other developed country in the world, the US doesn't take care of its own.  But, the US remains a magnet for employment for much of the world's unskilled population from China and Africa to Latin America.  US business thrives on poverty - or at least the poor, be it at home or abroad, and if some political interests get their way with the new immigration bill and trade agreements that trend will worsen.

I don't see religion playing as much a role in this trend as simple greed.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 11:15:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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