America is home to a very active pro-life movement founded on the concept that all life is precious, and is synonymous with the concepts of right-to-life and culture-of-life the religious right and Republicans spend undue time on attempting to control women and protect single-celled organisms. However, at the end of gestation, the same movement spends unwarranted amounts of time and energy abandoning infants and children to poverty, hunger, and ill-health in a never-ending crusade to cut programs that ensure babies and children are mired in poverty and lack basic necessities of life making a mockery of their pro-life moniker.
Republicans have developed a stellar record of perpetuating poverty, and are renowned for cutting safety nets for the poorest Americans while taking particular delight in promoting their cuts as common sense and crucial to protect future generations from crushing deficits. However, at the rate poverty among children is rising, future generations will be hard-pressed to survive, much less contribute to paying off Republicans’ debts. In a new study from First Focus and the Urban Institute, there are 6.2 million children living in poverty where at least one parent is unemployed, and the number rises to 12.1 million when considering that most of the parents are underemployed. Obviously, when parents are under, or unemployed, children are bound to live in stark poverty and suffer the effects of hunger, ill-health, and the likelihood of never escaping poverty in their lifetime.
The report shows that instability of home life accompanying long-term unemployment, and the inability to stay situated in one place very long predicts children have poor school attendance, lower math scores, and increased chances of being held back in school by 15%, and are unlikely to pursue or afford higher education. The pro-life Republicans exacerbate children’s plight by perpetually cutting funding from safety nets that are the worst in the industrialized world, and it has reached a point that more families qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – food stamps) than unemployment insurance.
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SNAP benefits average $278 per month per household, and the average unemployment benefits are $299 per week ($1,286 month). In at least eight states with the highest child poverty rates, they have cut or reduced the length of unemployment programs from 26 down to 12 weeks according to a new report from the National Employment Law project. Unfortunately for children with unemployed parents, federal benefits are dependent on a state’s unemployment offerings that prevent the poor from having access to federal programs. In 2011, between federal and state unemployment insurance programs, 2.3 million Americans avoided falling into poverty, but when red states slash unemployment programs, the unemployed lose federal unemployment insurance that all but assures a drastic rise in children living in poverty. Cutting unemployment benefits also has a deleterious effect on the economy and other Americans because according to the Congressional Budget Office, cuts to unemployment benefits cost Americans at least 300,000 jobs in a year leading to more children living in poverty.
As it is now, America has the second highest child poverty rate in the developed world behind Romania, and the rate will only increase as Republican sequestration cuts keep 70,000 children out of the Head Start program as well as tens-of-thousands more losing access to healthcare coverage. The Republican budget slashes billions from anti-poverty programs and it leads one to wonder how Republicans claim to be pro-life when their policies are detrimental to children living in poverty’s lives. They are pro-life as long as life is a zygote, embryo, or fetus in a poor mothers’ womb for nine months, and then their culture of life becomes a culture of hunger, ill-health, and eventually death
Republicans could improve the lives of children and lift them and their parents out of poverty if they spent one tenth the time creating jobs as they do protecting zygotes, embryos, and fetuses. It has been two years and three months since Republicans took control of the House promising to focus on creating jobs, and yet they began the 112th Congress protecting zygote-life and cutting assistance to real live children and killing jobs ever since. They rejected all of President Obama’s jobs plans at the same time they deliberately killed jobs, and rejected raising the minimum wage that would keep some Americans just above the poverty line. Just their sequester cuts alone will kill a million jobs and send tens-of-thousands of middle class Americans into poverty with mandatory unpaid furlough days.
In the poorest red states, 20-32% of children live in poverty, and nationwide the rate is over 23% and climbing, and integral to high poverty rates are the lack of decent jobs. Many Americans who are fortunate enough to find jobs are offered part-time work at minimum wages at corporate-owned businesses, and even if they worked full-time at minimum wage they could not afford a place to live in any state in the Union. Many, many American families are nearly homeless and bounce around between shelters, motels, and live in cars to save what little they have to feed their children. There are millions of Americans who were in the middle class, but because of outsourcing and public sector layoffs slipped into poverty, and as their unemployment benefits run out and Republicans cut spending on safety nets, they have little opportunity of ever returning to the middle class in their lifetimes.
Republicans in Congress and statehouses have made every attempt to create a permanent underclass living in poverty, and they are unfazed at the devastation they are creating for children whose parents cannot find a job, or are severely under-employed at part time, minimum wage jobs. The key to lifting Americans and their children out of poverty, growing the economy, and reducing the deficit is creating jobs that generate a vibrant economy and a culture of life all Americans deserve, even children. If Republicans cared a fraction about children’s lives as they do a zygote’s, maybe they could wear the pro-life label with pride, but they care about children’s lives about as much as they do jobs, and as they are killing Americans’ jobs, they are killing America’s children; and they are barely getting started.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.
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