“American Dream is rapidly becoming American Illusion,” warns UN rights expert on poverty
You knew it was happening, and so did I, but now it is official … Trump is turning this nation into the “world champion of extreme inequality”, according to a new report by the United Nations (UN). Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, recently completed a two-week official tour of the US and reported on his findings.
“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound.”
A bit about Philip Alston, so you know he is knowledgeable and qualified to speak on this subject:
Philip Alston teaches international law, international criminal law, and a range of human rights subjects. He has degrees in law and economics from the University of Melbourne and a JSD from Berkeley. He previously taught at the European University Institute, the Australian National University, Harvard Law School, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He was one of the founders of both the European and the Australian and New Zealand societies of international law and was editor-in-chief of the European Journal of International Law from 1996 through 2007. In 2014, he was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as its Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. From 2004 to 2010, he was UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, undertaking official missions to Sri Lanka, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Israel, Lebanon, Albania, Kenya, Brazil, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and the United States. He has also been on the Independent International Commission on Kyrgyzstan (2011) and the UN Group of Experts on Darfur (2007) and served as Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals (2002-07); chairperson (1991-98) and rapporteur (1987-91) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and UNICEF’s Senior Legal Adviser on children’s rights (1986-92). – New York University, School of Law, faculty bio.
Need I say more?
During his time touring and researching for his report, Mr. Alston spent time with a wide variety of people, including Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who opined that as the “wealthiest country in the history of the world” the US should be providing a model in how to treat all of its citizens with dignity. “Sadly that is not the case. We are moving into 2018 – we should not be living in a country with 41 million people living in poverty and so many more in extreme poverty, and nobody even talks about it.”
Alston requested a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, but Ryan could not make time in his busy schedule to meet with him. Says something, don’t you think?
“The US is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in a context of total deprivation. But denial does not eliminate responsibility or negate obligations.”
Alston was disturbed to find that some of the politicians with whom he met referred to poor people as “wasters, losers and scammers”, and says he wonders if these politicians have ever actually even visited areas of poverty.
This week, our not-so-illustrious Congress apparently reconciled the two tax bills and plan on what could be a final vote next week. It appears that both chambers have the necessary votes to send the bill to Trump’s desk for his signature. Let us see what Mr. Alston has to say about that bill:
“The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, [emphasis added] and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans. The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”
I urge you, dear readers, to read Mr. Alston’s full report, the final version of which will be officially issued in May 2018. It is a scathing report, and proves what some of us have been saying for nearly 11 months now: Donald Trump and his minions are putting this nation on a collision course, on a path to the destruction of the very things in which we have taken pride for 230 years now. This report was a wake up call, even for me, who has seen the destruction since January 20th. We are no longer the “leader of the free world”. In time, if Trump continues to have nearly free reign, we may no longer even be a part of the ‘free world”. Think about it.