Credit Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for using a word during his Democratic National Convention speech last week that President Barack Obama seemingly has purged from his public vocabulary: poverty.
Nutter, just four full sentences into his DNC speech delivered the same night that President Obama spoke, used that “P” word that has practically disappeared from public political discourse among America’s elected leaders and leading media pundits.
Poverty grew by 27 percent increase across America from 2006-2010 according to an Indiana University study released earlier this year.
Poverty in America is “remarkably widespread” that study concluded.
Over fifty-million Americans are living in poverty the IU study stated.
That crushing condition guts over one-third of Philadelphia’s residents daily… the highest among American large cities.
And little surprise, that IU study noted that the largest increases in poverty afflicted Hispanics, African-Americans, children and households headed by women.
America’s child poverty ranks second-highest among 35 developed nations. (A three-person household with $17,900 annual income lives in poverty according to the federal government.)
It’s outrageously ironic that while poverty soars across America critically wounded by the wealth-greed enflamed Great Recession, anti-poverty discourse disappears from policy initiatives advanced by Democratic and Republican leaders.
Conservatives, especially Republicans, have long pushed the falsehood that America’s impoverished are solely responsible for their impoverishment.
That falsehood fudges foundational facts fanning impoverishment like what Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders castigates as America’s “grotesquely unfair distribution of wealth” — were the top 1 percent controls 41 percent of all wealth compared to the bottom 60 percent controlling just 2 percent of America’s wealth.
Irrespective of conflicted understandings about poverty’s root causes, at least one observable certainty exists about those tens of millions of Americans living in poverty or living near falling into poverty.
Not one among the tens-of-millions of impoverished were among the scores of millionaires/billionaires that recently paid a $1-million apiece for a private audience in Tampa Bay with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney aboard the ritzy 150’ yacht “Cracker Bay” that flew the flag of the Cayman Islands where the wealthy often off-shore income to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Mayor Nutter referenced the word poverty when extolling the necessity of all people acquiring solid educations. Nutter scored Republicans for slashing educational funding from kindergarten to college.
Nutter stated that education was essential for achieving his goals in Philadelphia that included reducing poverty.
“In Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “Our public safety, poverty reduction, health and economic development all start with education.”
Obama’s rare referencing of poverty, either from political reticence or refusal, has sparked criticism from within his political constituency.
“This year, both Governor Romney and President Obama at least mentioned the ‘P’ word in their convention speeches, but neither pledged to make the alleviation of poverty in America a priority,” Obama critic Tavis Smiley wrote recently.
It speaks volumes that self-applauded businessman Romney doesn’t practice what he preaches about the virtues of private enterprise generating paycheck producing jobs that keep people from falling into unemployment induced poverty.
Very few Black businesses around Tampa Bay, Fla., received any revenue from the millions of dollars expended on and generated by the RNC that recently anointed Romney.
The presidents of the Tampa Bay Black Chamber of Commerce and the Sun Coast African American Chamber of Commerce both said economic exclusion ruled at Tampa’s RNC.
“There was not big tent of inclusion,” said Tampa Bay Black Chamber head Willis Bowick. “The RNC had no real outreach to Black businesses here.”
Before dismissing this Tampa Bay Black business criticism of GOP exclusion as partisan soar-grapes recognize that Bowick is the president of the African-American Republican Club of Hillsborough County that includes Tampa Bay.
Shortly before the Tampa Bay RNC, a leading Republican activist in that city, Joseph Robinson, resigned from the GOP citing frustrations with the GOP’s persistent lack of response to issues important to African Americans including the lack of Black business inclusion at the RNC.
Robinson, who owns an engineering consulting firm, said things for blacks worsened within the GOP during the past few years paralleling the ascendancy of Tea Party influence.
“With the GOP they do not even give us trickle-down crumbs,” Robinson said.
In contrast to the black business exclusion at Tampa’s RNC, Black business received more equitable access to economic opportunities generated at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
Dr. Renae Sanders, chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce, said “several” Black owned companies received DNC related contracts including construction firms and event planners.
That Black business inclusion during the DNC, while commendable, does not off-set the exclusion Black businesses experienced in federal contracting from Obama’s ARRA stimulus.
Between Feb. 2009 and November 2010 black businesses received a paltry 3.5 percent of stimulus contracting compared to white firms receiving 81.3 percent of stimulus-funded contracts.
While the Democrat and Republican parties again pledged to protect Israel from external violence (increasingly exacerbated by Israel’s increasingly intransigent government) neither Obama nor Romney are addressing the urban violence epidemic wrecking America, as noted in a recent article by Philadelphia Tribune reporter Larry Miller.
Miller’s article quoted attorney/activist Michael Coard observing that neither Obama nor Romney address urban violence because “Romney doesn’t give a damn and Obama is afraid to give a damn.”
Civil Rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson recently said Obama “must address poverty and violence in a different way.”
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Fellowship Program.