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How Can You Deny Housing and Healthcare ( and so much more.)


Poverty from Policy


All February, in honor of our coalition partners at the Poor People's Campaign, we're focusing on the intersectional issue of poverty affecting so many Americans. Poverty is such a pernicious issue despite, or perhaps because, our society is one which caters to the wealthy first, attempting to sate their endless appetites with a plethora of delights. The institutions and official power structures write policies in service to protecting this wealth, with loopholes, and tax breaks while swathes of working class and the poor in America are left out in the cold, working harder than ever for crumbs, unnoticed and often ignored by the elites.


It doesn’t have to be this way. Th​e Poor People's Campaign is looking to mobilize the untapped power of poor and working people, uniting this economic class in the grand struggle for equal rights, equal representation, and equal opportunities. It is all too easy, however, to become disinvested and disinterested in the political process, especially when one sees oneself continually shut out and ignored by a system claiming to represent the needs of its people. Yet despite the barriers to engagement, we know that the latent power (voting and otherwise) residing within the American people is enough to change the course of this nation, if they are activated and united.


Check out our two Zoomside Chats from last week and this week (passcode: @3@lJ.wJ) with MD-PPC to learn more.



Poverty is such a powerful and uniting issue not just because it affects so many people (140+ million), but because it sits at the intersection of, and arises from, so many economic and political challenges facing our country. Many of the core drivers of poverty, are issues that the American people want the government to act on. Foremost among these are the injustices of unaffordable housing costs, the growing prices essential health services like Medicare, and the right to clean air and water. The urgency of these issues hits close to home, as we learned during last week’s Zoomside chat with MD-PPC, that in my home state of Maryland is the epicenter for rent evictions in America. A phenomenon that has only trebled in recent months with the lifting of the moratorium on evictions put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. And this is happening under a supposedly “liberal” government, emphasizing the ruling class’s bipartisan antipathy to the poor.


 


The American, however, don’t prescribe to these inhumane policies. In fact, they support multiple policies including caps on increasing rent prices, expanding of government controlled housing among other rent control measures to bring housing prices under control and back within reach of the average American. Not all rent controls are created equal, though, as David Mott from MD-PPC points out, the devil can lurk in the details of written policy. For instance, recent “rent control” legislation in Maryland allows landlords to legally increase rates by 15% every year, which can double rental prices in less than 5 years! This is clearly “rent control” written to favor building and property owners not renters, seeking to control the rate of American immiseration, not make housing affordable.


 


Coupled with this sheltering crisis, is the ongoing explosion of medical debt, and the general unaffordability of medical care. Transformative policies providing universal healthcare seem beyond consideration by the ruling elites, despite massive support for programs like Medicare and Medicaid among Americans. Even more discrete interventions, like medical debt relief supported by over 2/3 of the country seem off the table in our current political system.


Dual crises like these are just two of the reasons that nearly half of this country is officially living in poverty, with many more living precariously only one paycheck or emergency away from disaster. This is not sustainable, it is not humane, and it is not right, especially in the richest country in the history of the world! The American people need a country that looks after everyone not just the wealthy few, but as all those who struggle on behalf of the disenfranchised know, the powers that be will concede nothing without demand. The donor class and their political lackeys will not pursue an agenda of transformative justice themselves; it's only if we the people, united can come together to demand action that we will get change. We must organize our political and economic power over the coming weeks and months to make sure that the voices of the poor and working classes cannot be ignored. So, join us each Tuesday in growing solidarity and join the Poor People's campaign on March 2nd in Annapolis and in capitols across the country. Forward together, and not one step back, and until next week, don't shop on Tuesday!










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