Has the United States conned the rest of the world?
We broadcast how amazingly wealthy we are. Our beaches are splendid (doesn’t everyone live like Laguna Beach?), our kids are spoiled (how about “rich kids of Instagram”?), our houses are insanely gigantic, and anyone can become a billionaire by the age of 23!
Isn’t this why the rest of the world tries to come to our country, legally or not? They fly, drive, swim across rivers, hike across desert borders…any way they can to enter our gold-paved land of opportunity.
Granted, we certainly have the world’s largest number of rich people. We have more billionaires than any other county. This group of 500 or so ultra-rich moguls, whose assets are valued at more than 10 figures, could probably end world hunger. They certainly have enough money to do it.
These 500 billionaires also live in a country where 20 percent of children live in poverty. If they can’t prevent our own children from falling into poverty, they certainly don’t have the will to end world hunger.
Of course, the responsibility to address poverty, hunger, and homelessness should not fall solely on the shoulders of the mega-rich. Our whole society should be obligated to contribute.
Instead, we perpetuate the con. We highlight the positive, and ignore the negative.
Show off to the rest of the world that we have 500 billionaires who live in mansions, and young adults who describe themselves as “funemployed.” Don’t mention that one in five of our children live in poverty, and hundreds of thousands of our people live like animals on the streets.
Image is everything, right?
We have billionaires and millionaires in our country. Who cares that one-fifth of our children are floundering in poverty? Who needs to know that most cities in America have people living on their streets?
We roll out the red carpet and clean up our streets whenever there is a Super Bowl or an Olympic Games. We have to look our best.
And if people accuse us of allowing our children to fall into poverty, we respond like everyone else. We deny it!
“Don’t believe the statistics about child poverty in America!” people say. Isn’t denial part of the American way of life?
So, we continue to export our television shows and movies that show our nation as a place of extraordinary wealth, even though we have one of the highest rates of child poverty among developed nations.
Because we need to maintain our reputation as the richest, most powerful nation in the world. No matter what.