So, where do the homeless people live? Society needs to address the problems and causes of poverty

By By Jay Richards

By Jay Richards

Despite accumulating an $11 trillion gross domestic product and masses of wealth and prosperity, the United States has more than 33 million poor people. This number is unacceptable in a country that owns so much wealth.

Nothing can be more important than for us to tackle the issue of poverty and seek solutions to end it. It is not enough to simply give food and clothing to the poor. We must find the causes of poverty and eliminate them.

Dom Helder, former Arch Bishop of Recife Brazil and progressive activist, once said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Many of us feel satisfied and content when we give money and clothing to the poor, and we should. It is a noble thing to give to the less fortunate. Yet many of us, despite our benevolence, fail to address the larger question asked by Bishop Helder-why is it that the poor have no food?

We need to answer this question if we are ever going to solve the disastrous effects poverty has on the human spirit and society as a whole.

Utah is hardly removed from the tragedy of poverty. The 2000 Census estimated that roughly 10 percent of our population is poor-71,765 of which are children.

Salt Lake County has the largest numbers of poor people, coming in at 70,714.

If you wish to see the reality of poverty in Salt Lake City, you don’t need to travel far. Many of us shop and go to movies at the Gateway complex. To the south end of the Gateway lies one of the busiest homeless shelters in Salt Lake City.

One day as you are filling up shopping bags with clothes and shoes, step over to the shelter and see the realities of poverty.

It is ironic that a homeless shelter is located just beside a conglomerate of multi-million dollar corporations.

The CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch is bringing in close to $2 million in direct compensation this year alone.

Yet a block away from the Gateway Abercrombie, a single mother and her children can’t afford to purchase a meal for the night.

Why does such inequality exist in a nation dedicated to equality and justice? Although the question cannot be summed up in a newspaper column, it is not difficult to figure out a brief answer.

Inequality exists because our economic system rewards the values of profit and greed over human needs.

If we are ever to achieve the goals that our country claims to strive for, our system of production and distribution must be drastically changed. If peace and prosperity are to prevail over war and poverty, we need to create a system that no longer values profit above all else.

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