When you think about extreme poverty I’m sure you mostly think of third world countries. It is hard to imagine that over 3 million people in the US live on less than $2 per day.
According to the World Bank, 769 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013; they are the world’s very poorest. Of these, 3.2 million live in the United States, and 3.3 million in other high-income countries (most in Italy, Japan and Spain)…
Even for the whole population, life expectancy in the United States is lower than we would expect given its national income, and there are places — the Mississippi Delta and much of Appalachia — where life expectancy is lower than in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
Source: The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem – The New York Times
What can be done with areas like Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta? Or maybe even more importantly what should be done? I don’t pretend to have an answer to these questions but I do have more questions about the topic. I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination in this topic so I am only speaking from logic or maybe from my heart. Empathy drives much of what I am especially at this period in my life.
Although I have not experienced being in either of these two regions to any extent, I have heard the stories and legends about them. They both seem to be areas that are totally lost in time. When I was growing up with a single parent low wage dad I was poor but I didn’t really know that for a fact. We ate a lot of spaghetti and such and usually only had meat a couple of times a week but that was normal for me and I assumed for most others.
I recently went to the Museum of Appalachia in eastern Tennessee and it proved to be an enlightening experience. I was made aware of the extreme pride some from that region have in their existence. But I also imagine that there are those who feel trapped in a lifestyle they were born into and can’t wait or more sadly figure out how to leave it.
Getting to the point of this post, what can or maybe should we do about the extreme poverty in those particular regions? Since we are a capitalist country we can’t dictate that businesses open up factories and stores in the region to give the folks there more opportunities. Simply handing out money is not an option that many there would likely accept? Without a lot of thought, I’m not sure there is much to be done.
Somehow we need to make sure that those who live in these regions know that there are opportunities outside their area if they have the will to leave. Beyond that, I’m not sure that there is an answer to my original questions.