This was one of the worst weeks yet in this financial crisis. I also got a chance to watch the terrifying February 17 Frontline on the making of the economic crisis, which may have tainted my view of last week. The announcement of job losses in February was stunning, and captured the attention of the country. The decline in the stock market was hard to watch. I have to wonder how much impact CNBC has on fanning the flames of this crisis. I mean they did not see the economy crumbling in 2007, but now everything they report is labeled a sign of further decline. They seem to have gone from one extreme of idolizing the CEO to the other extreme of screaming fire in a crowded theater every day. But it must be impossible for the administration to focus on poverty with the economy in free fall.
There were a couple of things done this week that kept the administration out of the land of the "F." The christening of the drive to reform of health care is important. This is a huge problem that contributes to poverty. We must get a handle on health care costs if we are going to reduce poverty. We must get close to universal access to free and affordable health care or homelessness will continue to increase. Again, this was only an opening discussion so the administration only gets a few points for beginning the dialogue. The real points are on implementing health care reform.
The only other positive that I saw last week was Michelle Obama serving lunch at Miriam's Kitchen in DC. I know that it is only a symbol, but I think that it is an important symbol. Volunteering is critical to addressing poverty. Every American should spend some time on the food line to see that poverty touches all of us. Serving food to older white men, young women with babies in their arms, and middle aged black men who worked all night, but cannot afford housing is important. Having the First Lady volunteering may prompt others to do the same.
Another review of the items that they need to work on to improve that grade:
- No work on Katrina recovery.
- No jobs created--we have lost 600,000 jobs in fact.
- No health insurance improvement.
- No school system was improved.
- No additional assistance was provided so that young people could go to college.
- No further details or action on a rural or urban agenda.
- No one has been hired to end homelessness in America.
- No civil rights agenda was proposed.
- Nothing on the extreme debt facing poor people was discussed.
- We need to call a halt to all foreclosures while we stabilize housing.
- Still no action on all the toxic assets being held by banks.
- There is very little change with the HUD, HHS, and Department of Labor websites. The other cabinet officers have not put their goals or agendas on their agency websites yet.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.