Frosty Wooldridge
Our Troubled Country: Poverty in America  

“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from the microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

                                Dr. Albert Bartlett

            While attending a conference in Denver, Colorado, I noticed dozens of beggars on the streets.  They stood at intersections carrying cardboard signs that read, “Homeless, anything will help, God bless.”

          As I walked out of the Colorado Convention Center, one man, wrapped in rags, curled himself around a steam vent on the sidewalk.   A cardboard box served as a pillow.  Cement served as his mattress.  I sickened at the thought of his night in 15 degree freezing cold.  Along Colfax Avenue, hundreds of homeless begged for food or money.  They slept in huddled misery under the loading docks and in doorways.

The poor will always be with us; just more of them!

The National Coalition for the Homeless, www.nationalhomeless.org reported 3.5 million homeless people struggled for survival in the streets of America in 2006.  Of that number, 1.35 million consist of homeless children.  Reports show 13 million American children suffer daily from malnutrition and hunger in America.  A shocking 37 million Americans live below the poverty line, which is 12.7 percent of our population.

          Educational experts estimate over 30 million people in America suffer functional illiteracy.  They cannot read, write or perform simple math.  They offer no skills other than the labor of their hands.

          Twenty million illegal aliens residing in America make up the largest high school dropout population in the history of the nation.

          Over half of all black and Hispanic babies originate from unmarried mothers that lack high school diplomas.   Fifty to 70 percent of blacks and Hispanics do not graduate from high school.  Thirty percent of whites do not graduate from high school. 

          In the last century, Mexico grew from 50 to 104 million people.  Current demographic figures show Mexico growing to 153 million by mid century.  Since 85 percent of all immigration into the United States originates from Mexico, we face a striking dilemma. 

          Can we incorporate a massive and growing illiterate population?  How will we contend with the next added 100 million Americans featuring scant educational skills?  How will we deal with millions of babies from their ranks?  If we cannot educate half of current American minorities, how will we educate this massive overload of humanity?

          If Mexico cannot maintain a successful society with 104 million people, how do you suppose they will sustain their country with 50 million more?

          To give you a harsh view of our future, I offer an eye-witness account from my bicycle seat traveling through Mexico.  On the outskirts of Mexico City with 22 million people, in excess of two million people live in cardboard shacks.  They squat for their morning constitutional with their chickens.  They live in abject misery, filth, disease and hopelessness.

 Guess what?  They’re moving to America.  Millions of them!

 Third world slums began appearing along our borders from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California in the 80s.  Called “Colonias,” which in Spanish means “new neighborhoods,” they feature shacks, no sewers, no streets, no running water, no electricity, toilet facilities or waste pickup. 

          The New York Times, March 3, 1988, “Along the US Border, a Third World is Reborn,” reported, “Colonias are rusted trailers and shacks nailed together from tar paper and packing pallets without indoor toilets…with mounds of uncollected trash that attract rats…the lack of sanitation has polluted the ground water to the point where many residents drink their own waste…the colonias feature third world levels of hepatitis, dysentery, diarrhea, skin rashes, cholera and tuberculosis…they are contaminated, explosive, fecal, filthy, illegal, miserable, polluted, powder kegs, putrid, shocking, sick, stench filled, suffering and wrenching.”

          Since their appearance in the early 80s, according to the Times, the 1988 population totaled 185,000; the 1995 population exceeded 500,000; the 2005 population exceeded 1.5 million.  At the current rate of growth, the New York Times predicted those human misery settlements would reach 20 million by 2021.

          While filming colonias in Texas, I haven’t been as sickened to my stomach since my travels in Asia or countries like Haiti. It’s worse than any description the New York Times or I could give you.  Colonias represent human misery at its disturbing worst levels.

          These slums represent a health hazard of unprecedented dimensions.  Given enough time, large areas of southern California will resemble the outskirts of Mexico City.  Two decades of denial continues the expansion of American colonias. 

          We cannot import millions of desperately poor, illiterate and hard working people from third world countries and think they will become functioning, positive aspects in a first world country.  France, Holland and England’s failed immigration policies offer proof.  Ours fails, too!

          What about our working poor?  How about degraded educational opportunities for our children?

          As we choke on millions of people from other countries, they displace our working poor as immigrants depress wages.  Our educational systems sink in academic excellence, creating millions of added poor.  

          As it stands today, millions of Americans can’t pay for heating and electricity bills.  They rely on donations by other Americans to cover those bills.  At some point, as this new poor class expands into millions upon millions"something else will fail.  What is that?  Our ability to deal with it or solve it!

          Anyone with an ounce of common sense or economic intelligence knows that prices in the coming years will rise as oil becomes more expensive.  This translates into diesel that drives trains that bring coal to the electrical plants. Thus energy at every level will become more expensive.  The caveat enters the picture as these millions of poor cannot and will not be able to command higher wages.

 The American Dream degrades into the American Nightmare

  On the world stage, 57 million people died in 2005.  According to Time Magazine, eight million starved to death.  Of the total number of deaths, 10.5 million children under the age of 12 years old died from starvation and related diseases.

          To bring it into sharper focus, current world population at 6.7 billion will hit between 9.2 and 9.8 billion at mid century.   That’s 77 million people added annually.  They multiply so fast, they cannot be educated.  However, they flood into first world countries.

          No one, I repeat, no world leader addresses this “human dilemma.”  The Catholic Church won’t allow or talk about life-enabling birth control"though it correlates to accelerating poverty.  Church leaders of all the major religions deny any problem.  It’s almost as if, in the 21st century, they prefer remaining in the 1st century.  But, via their actions, millions of adults and children starve to death annually.

          We better deal with it: today!  To continue on our current path proves as inept as the captain of the Titanic.

Take action: www.numbersuda.com and www.thesocialcontract.com