Even as President Trump is attempting to turn the Wall on the southern border into the main issue of the 2020 campaign, he, his followers, and the leadership of the GOP are ignoring one of the most important issues of our time: hunger. Millions of people go hungry in the richest country in the world and in every county of the United States, not just in the crowded urban centers. Angus Deaton, a professor of economics and international affairs emeritus at Princeton University and the 2015 Nobel laureate in economics tells us that “41 million Americans struggle with hunger, a number nearly equal to the 40.6 million officially living in poverty.”
One of his main arguments is that the way the World Bank ranks poverty from country to country ignores one of the realities of poverty: geography. It is undeniable that living conditions are different in the tropical countries compared to the needs of the poor in harsh northern countries and other places where living conditions are harsh. There is poverty in Spain and Italy, but the needs of the poor there are different form the poor in Brazil or Mexico. And the professor is not alone: Anand Giridharadas author of Winners Take All writes that billionaires are trying to monopolize the fruits of progress–82 % of new wealth created in 2017 went to the top 1 percent. Instead of paying their taxes they are trying to help are offering symbolic scraps. He also says that billionaires who are mulling a presidential run are opposed to tax the top earners. In the United States, a median household income of 9,175, well below the poverty level by U.S. standards is clearly not enough for families or individuals to have a decent standard of living when childcare, clothing, and transportation can be the main necessities.
It used to be that this country looked to the poor across the world trying to figure out how to assist hunger in Africa or Latin America while ignoring the pockets of deep poverty at home. But new reports issued by the World Bank that include industrialized nations and points out that poverty exists in wealthy countries, and that the governments in those countries have an obligation to deal with the problem. The report tells us that 769 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013; they are the world’s very poorest. 3.2 million live in the United States, the world’s greatest food-producing nation. The new Congress will have to deal with those facts as they look at new ways to tax the top income earners and define new priorities for the next decade. One way to force Donald Trump to face the reality of his misdirected interest in building a wall, is to point out at every opportunity that we have millions living in poverty and that a high percentage of the poor are children who experience hunger every day. Immigration is a real issue for our time, but poverty and hunger, are staring us in the face.