Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Old favorites, the gumdrop trees.

International Human Rights Day

Yesterday, December 10, was International Human Rights Day, celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948 by the UN General Assembly.

Since that time, nearly all of the world’s developed nations have established social welfare programs ensuring that their citizens enjoy the fundamental necessities prescribed in Article 25 of the Declaration:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care …
But that is not the case in the United States.  If you are a low income person in America, good luck finding adequate food, clothing, housing, and medical care. 

Medical care?  The Affordable Care act places basic health insurance within the budgets of millions more Americans, but it is far from universal medical care.  Of course, right wing extremists in Congress are laboring hard to undermine and reverse even the ACA and take that coverage away.

Housing?  HUD’s latest report estimates that 1.48 million people used a homeless shelter during 2012, but about a third of homeless people were not in shelters.  At least 1.1 million American children and youth were homeless for part of the 2011-2012 school year.

Food?  Even with present funding levels, it’s impossible for many families on food stamps to stretch their food budgets to last over an entire month.

Now, Republicans in the House of Representatives have been working hard for major reductions in the budget of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), as part of their negotiations over the farm bill.  About four million people would suffer if Republicans succeed in cutting their goal of $40 billion from the budget over the next decade. 

Four in five SNAP families have incomes below the poverty line, and two in five have incomes less than half that much.  There will be no way for these families to make up the difference.

Health and well-being have much improved as standards of living have advanced since the adoption of the Universal Declaration, but let’s not forget that millions still lack these basic human rights.

Sunday, December 8, 2013