Hurricanes, Poverty, and Neglected Infections
This week, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, is always a time for me for reflection on poverty and justice in America. Katrina brought focus to our country’s disparities and the response—or lack thereof—to disasters. And now, ironically on the anniversary of Katrina, Hurricane Isaac struck New Orleans again.
Even prior to the Hurricane, in 2005, the Gulf States (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) had a high level of poverty, as did large pockets in Texas.
The figures on poverty in the U.S. are staggering. In America, 20 million people live in extreme poverty, defined as families with incomes that are less than half of the federal poverty level, and “2.8 million children are living in households with incomes of less that $2 per person per day.” This seems to be a dramatic failure of “compassionate conservatism”, as well as of subsequent public policy. Income levels like these are what are found in “Fifth-World” countries - countries that lack the resources to provide for their citizens and that often have extreme disease burdens in their citizenry.