U.N. Investigator on Extreme Poverty Issues a Grim Report

NPR’s Goats and Soda reports that Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has just released his preliminary findings on poverty in the U.S. According to Alston, “[p]eople in the U.S. seem particularly unable to stomach the sight of homeless, yet are unwilling to enact policies to help them.” Addressing the notion of America as a meritocracy (a myth taken as gospel by the Fox News set), Alston reminds us that “[t]he reality is that the United States now has probably the lowest degree of social mobility among all the rich countries. And if you are born poor, guess where you’re going to end up—poor.” Echoing one of the core beliefs of Chico Friends on the Street—namely, that poverty and homelessness are primarily systemic, structural, and institutional—Alston makes clear that “in a rich country like the USA, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power.” Something tells me that the Chico City Council will pass on reading Alston’s report.

Read the article here.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister: Homelessness proves capitalism is a “blatant failure”

In her first interview since the October 19th election, New Zealand’s 37-year-old Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern states unequivocally that capitalism is a “blatant failure” when it comes to housing the poor. It’s refreshing and perhaps even hopeful to read that a world leader understands and courageously speaks publicly about the systemic roots of homelessness, a point reflected in item 12 of Chico Friends on the Street’s Core Beliefs.

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