Mid-September not only means fall is in the air but also the annual rediscovery of poverty in America. The 2011 Census Bureau figures released yesterday paint a bleak picture. There are now more poor people in this country than at any time during the 52 years this information has been tracked, and the poverty rate – at 15.1 percent – matches the highest it has been since before the war on poverty during the 1960s.
This rediscovery of poverty usually doesn’t last and is long gone by October. The poor may reenter our consciousness toward the end of the year, as their struggles become a source of compassion for those inspired by the giving season. Then, by mid-January the poor are largely forgotten again.
If knowledge is power, then we will see the latest Census Bureau numbers as cause for taking action – not just today because the poor occupy the headlines, but throughout the year. We need to place greater priority on mitigating the poverty in our midst, despite the fact that most of the year we are led to believe this problem doesn’t exist. Just because the poor are typically absent from the news and from political speeches doesn’t mean we should diminish the importance of helping them.
And there is much we can do to effect change. Lots of nonprofits across the country are successfully creating opportunity for low-income Americans. They just need your support – whether that means giving money or volunteering your time. These are the sorts of organizations featured on this blog, so please return to learn more about them and how you can help.