On Dec. 23, 2017 NPR’s Sasha Ingber reported “U.N. Investigator On Extreme Poverty Issues A Grim Report — On The U.S.” Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights recently issued his report. Poverty exists mainly with women and children of all races. “Contrasts between the rich and poor abound. While funding for the IRS to audit wealthy taxpayers has been reduced, efforts to identify welfare fraud are being greatly intensified,” he says. The wealthy also stand to benefit from advances in technology, while robots and automation threaten to take away jobs from people in low-skill labor positions, he says.
Meanwhile, the poor may not even be able to use the Internet. Alston states that nearly half of all people living in West Virginia lack access to high speed Internet. “When I asked the governor’s office in West Virginia about efforts to expand broadband access in poor, rural communities, it could only point to a 2010 broadband expansion effort,” he says in the statement. It’s not that they don’t want it; half of the state’s counties have reportedly applied for broadband assistance. The U.N. considers the Internet to be a human right for its ability to support education, drive development and foster citizen engagement, among other things.
“In 2016, 40 million people — more than one in eight citizens — lived in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. “The reality is that the United States now has probably the lowest degree of social mobility among all the rich countries,” Alston says. “And if you are born poor, guess where you’re going to end up —- poor.”
Alston also criticized the Republican tax reform bill that just passed in Congress. He says it “stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world.”
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