Letter: Bottom of the Heap
We are living in a time of unrest and division. We wish it were not so. The latest occurrence to divide us is the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. Some of us support the movement, some of us are against it. I do think, however, that most of us understand that the movement is seeking to focus attention on the 30-year growth of the unequal distribution of wealth and power in our country. It also seems to be focusing on a lack of accountability for those who are primarily responsible for our current conditions.
That is why I was interested in the latest international rating (this time from the Bertelsmann Foundation in Brussels) of social justice in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. I was surprised over the weekend to read an editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/10/29/opinion/29blow-ch.html?ref=...) defining our country as being on the "Bottom of the Heap." It turns out that the USA is ranked 27th out of 31 in social justice, with only Mexico, Turkey, Chile, and Greece ranked slightly below us.
Countries were evaluated for an overall social justice rating based on 1) overall poverty prevention, 2) overall poverty rate, 3)child poverty, 4) senior citizen poverty, 5) income inequality, 6) pre-primary education, and 7) health rating. Our country's numbers are stunning and embarrassing. What you think of "Occupy Wall Street" is surely your business, but what has happened to our country in terms of how it treats our citizens is everyone's concern and responsibility.
We are our government, and while many of us tend to be insulated from both local and national poverty, we all suffer when "liberty and justice for all" become hollow words. B. Colby once said that "The social and industrial structure of America is founded upon an enlightened citizenship."
As we all work to become objectively informed about the causes of our current social unrest, may we also be energized toward accomplishing the continuing cultural values of peace, equality, and social justice in our land.
Dan Bruch, Hudson