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January, 2007

Spirit of the Revolution:
How to end poverty

To end poverty, we are going to have to take back our government from the corporations.

In recent years a powerful movement for economic justice has emerged in America's churches and places of worship. More and more, we are realizing that our sacred texts call on us to go beyond charity. As one document from the Disciples of Christ states, "Our voices of justice, mercy, and peace must be boldly spoken to those powers that would stand in the way of God's resources being shared equally."

The most active faith-based social justice organizations (Call to Renewal, PICO, ICWJ, etc.) identify poverty as the central front in the battle for economic justice. Poverty underlies and largely determines all the diverse other forms of economic and social injustice in America. However, addressing this issue requires an accurate understanding of its causes and a strategy to end it.

Is poverty an aberration or incidental malfunction in a market system that otherwise effectively provides for human needs? Or is poverty an inevitable product of the capitalist system itself? Is the solution a set of incremental reforms, or an entirely new way of distributing wealth?

Revolutionaries have long argued that the problem is systemic, not partial. Capitalism--the system of hired labor -- cannot exist without the poverty that forces some people to work for others. Modern enterprise and its products could not exist, and wealth could be neither accumulated nor enjoyed. Therefore, as Gandhi wrote, "the art of becoming 'rich' in the common sense is not only the art of accumulating much money for ourselves, but also of contriving that our neighbors shall have less."

However, under certain conditions in the past, poverty can and has been ameliorated through Keynesian reforms as was done in Europe and America in the mid-20th century. At that time, the integration of the neocolonial poor into the system for a while resulted in less poverty in the advanced countries.

Today partial reforms are no longer possible. As computers and robots increasingly replace human labor, fewer and fewer workers are required. Decreased demand for workers depresses wages, exacerbated by global competition with workers in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. One recent example is the "export" of patients to other countries for operations and medical procedures by low-wage overseas health care workers. Unemployment, poverty wages, and destitution are expanding geometrically right here, right now in America.

Keynesian reforms are no longer viable today because a) with globalization there is no longer a separate national market for them to impact, and b) governments are no longer even nominally independent from corporations, so they no longer have any interest in the general welfare, and will not enact these measures.

What is needed today is revolutionary change. We need to educate and organize the economic justice movement to prepare to seize back government from the corporations and use it to distribute wealth to everyone based on need. An economy based on private property no longer serves us. The time has come to fight for the cooperative society envisioned by the prophets and sages in all of our sacred traditions.

Sandy Peery is available to speak through Speakers for a New America. Call 800-691-6888 or email info@speakersforanewamerica.com.

U.S. Government Stops Describing Americans as 'Hungry'

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 12 percent of Americans, or 35 million people, could not put food on the table at least part of last year. So at some point each year, 35 million people in the U.S. have no food to eat, no food for their kids, but hey, not to worry--according to the USDA, they're not suffering from hunger. The government has announced it has stopped using the words "hunger" or "hungry" when describing the millions of Americans who can't afford to eat. Instead of suffering from hunger, the Agriculture Department now says these people are experiencing "very low food security." Problem solved!

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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