Faith leaders work to end hunger in America
Rev. Michael Livingston discusses the efforts
- Duration 9:29
- Date Apr 13, 2012
Rev. Michael Livingston discusses the efforts
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Well TVs in these depressed economic times America is still the land of abundance an opportunity.
But still nearly fifty million Americans or 16% live in poverty.
And for that reason the -- -- leaders are challenging the faithful to work to end hunger in America.
Is enough being done and what more needs to happen.
Reverend Michael Livingston is the former president of the national council of churches and joins me now from the nation's capital welcome.
Thank you very much and much to be here.
Very it's very nice is very nice to see -- you -- -- usually hear about poverty in America and -- the poor the hungry in the Portland the United States -- usually talk about that Andrew has the Third World country.
-- where the most poverty stricken area areas and in America.
Our urban areas would of course be where there are large concentrations of four people.
But rural areas as well suffered.
Depressing conditions of poverty.
You know I want to put that does staggering statistic that I said earlier in the introduction because it says.
You know how many Americans live in poverty 49 point 1% that is 16% of the US population.
Child poverty 22%.
So clearly the children are may have a great deal of that number of of the poverty.
Particularly children because children are still vulnerable and because they're not the ones are actually going -- working so we assume it's because of their parents poverty -- is not the case there's 22%.
The child poverty and I was actually gone up.
What is it what creates a situation for children to live in poverty.
I think the overall economic conditions especially since 2008.
When these numbers have been growing.
And by the way it's about sixteen million children.
Living in poverty.
Most of them are in families with parents who are working.
That's a part of the tragedy of this situation the parents simply aren't earning enough.
In order to be able to support their families.
And this will only worsen if the budget at the house just passed the Ryan budget that the house just -- is actually enacted.
You know make things worse for children and for working for -- -- how great things -- out.
Well this budget decade undermines programs that are designed to help people who are the most vulnerable.
In our society that would represent the largest redistribution of wealth in modern US history from the bottom.
To the top.
It would decimate programs and -- helps people and and that's how it would do it would harm us.
It -- and I think a lot of -- -- meal your focus is really on the people of faith and how are the churches.
Hoping in this situation.
Are we doing enough.
Or what else needs to be done.
I think churches are doing extraordinary amount both.
Across state lines and individual churches who have ministries that support.
People who are living in poverty.
But so much more needs to be done well beyond the ability of churches and other nonprofit organizations.
And the government has a role to play in this and must play a role in this along with the private sector or will -- be able to make a dent in this problem at all.
One of the problems -- it is there's always a sort of a social aspect.
I'll aspect to why people are living in poverty and I don't want it to chastise anyone in particular but a lot of is staggering statistics out there is of the number one.
Whether it's a little properties -- there's a father and a household.
And one of the things that we've seen in the black community is that 70% of the children are born out of wedlock there's no father there.
Isn't that an issue that needs to be attached as well.
It is an issue.
And while it has an individual dimension to it I think that we have to look at it in a much broader and deeper context.
These are children whose parents haven't had.
And quality education in many cases just as these children themselves will not.
Public schools and many of our urban areas are feeling the children who attend them.
And unless we attack that problem this other problem we'll continue.
Yes that mean there's it was a great deal of money that has been put it those schools.
I'm let me bring up a statistic because particular product they -- children are living improper that by race it's even.
More staggering in terms of -- rate among ethnic groups blacks 27 point 4%.
Hispanics -- six point 6% whites nine point 9% clearly it is an ethnic minority issue.
And I want to bring up that problem too because -- see black -- highest rate of poverty and here we have a situation where blacks of course.
We have with the largest number of children being born out of -- That's gotta be an issue that that the government can attack as well and it shouldn't it be.
Well I think you should I I just don't think that the answer is going to be found.
Looking at the sociological.
Behavior let -- -- of individuals.
These are structural problems employment incarceration.
And it's it's the government that has the ability to address these issues.
Not just a couple numbers I'd like to share with you.
In the house proposed budget there is one point four point one trillion proposed cuts all from.
And the area of non defense discretionary spending which represents only 4% of the federal budget.
And contrast that with a four point six trillion.
In tax breaks that will go to the wealthiest Americans among us and we have choices very hard choices to make here and we can't do both -- these.
And to expect that all of them.
Attention that we focus on addressing the deficit can be.
Done by cuts to these kinds of programs.
Is just stem morally indefensible.
I think it's it is in a legal reason really really important point because it's there are moral issues that are that are bouncing all of them all over the place in the statistics you just raised.
The good four point one trillions of non defense discretionary spending out obviously is gonna affect the -- and you've got six trillion in tax breaks for people actually could afford it.
One of the problems though is that.
The people were making -- -- -- making these jobs.
When you cut that kind of money from there.
Bank accounts they will find a way to make it out or cut back which means it's going to affect the jobs which means it's going to affect those people who.
Are now going to be looking for jobs how do you then create a moral -- -- Four and then not to do that for them to stick with the jobs they haven't even hire more.
I don't believe it's been firmly established that.
Class of people that we are talking about.
Are actually creating jobs.
And it certainly isn't true that made enormous wealth.
Generated by big corporations in our country.
He's being shared with the people who actually helped to create that wealth from the workers themselves are so I think.
Who really need me the answer.
Isn't that we should.
The kinds of progress we can make toward reconciling some of these gross disparities in income and wealth.
By not asking the wealthiest among us individuals and corporations.
Bear in their share of the burden.
In order to spread around the abundance that's available really for all of us and not just for a few of us.
I bet that would be utopia where people would actually to share their wealth because it was a -- thing to do.
But that's the wake up the economy where access not the way AM.
AM you know big market based economy kind of -- -- and I think that's going to be an issue and it's going to be a problem.
Just -- last -- about just where you go from now what kind of programs do you wanna pass what what's the best path to take right now.
I'd like to encourage viewers to take a look at that -- budget which.
The interface advocacy community here in Washington DC developed.
It does try to say this is what -- faithful budget would look like this is what a -- budget.
Would look like.
And I think that's a good place and to start I wish that people of faith.
In all of them face across our great land.
I would invest themselves in getting to know their representatives.
And in telling them what their faith compels them to do.
And too many decisions are being made that don't really reflect core.
Speaking as a Christian I would say core Christian values.
Jesus cared about the poor and the least among us and our.
Budget ought to reflect that at least from my perspective as a Christian and a personal thing.
Thank you very much reverend Michael Livingston the former president of national council of churches thank you very much.
Or thank you being my discussion.