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I need 3 answers for based on 3 articles that I will attach here are the questions and guidelines;Please note carefully the following guidelines for responding to the questions:1. I will be grading for grammar and syntax, so please proof-read your work. Any sloppy or non-professional writing will result in an immediate grade reduction.2. You may paraphrase (and cite) text from this week’s readings, but please do NOT use any direct quotations. 3. Your responses must be at least 100 words per question.HERE ARE THIS WEEK’S READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS: 1. Philip Alston is an Australian U.N. official and long-time law professor at New York University. To use an idea of Joseph Lo’s, he certainly has “local knowledge” about the human-rights situation in the U.S. Along these lines, please discuss two of the major findings in his report (other than the four mentioned in the 3/24 lesson plan). Furthermore, how does he discuss these findings in terms of human-rights violations? 2. Michael Ignatieff outlines three strategies of U.S. exceptionalism – exemptionalism, legal isolationism, and double standards – that he argues leads to the U.S. committing so many human-rights violations. Please provide an example of each of these strategies – that is, where do we see them taking place in the U.S.? Furthermore, discuss which of one of the above three strategies you think leads to the greatest number of violations. 3. The reading for today, by Jonathan Power, was about Amnesty International’s campaigns for human rights in the United States, starting in the 1990s. Some of these have yielded results, while others have not. If you were an Amnesty executive, what you would advise to this organization to make its campaigns more effective? What would you change about its strategies, messaging, or operations?Go to navigation | Go to content
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Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations
Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights*
Washington, December 15, 2017
I. Introduction
1. I have spent the past two weeks visiting the United States, at the invitation of the federal
government, to look at whether the persistence of extreme poverty in America undermines the
enjoyment of human rights by its citizens. In my travels through California, Alabama, Georgia, Puerto
Rico, West Virginia, and Washington DC I have spoken with dozens of experts and civil society groups,
met with senior state and federal government officials and talked with many people who are homeless
or living in deep poverty. I am grateful to the Trump Administration for facilitating my visit and for its
continuing cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council’s accountability mechanisms that apply to
all states.
2. My visit coincides with a dramatic change of direction in US policies relating to inequality and
extreme poverty. The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most
unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income
inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans. The dramatic cuts in welfare,
foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the
administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes. It
is against this background that my report is presented.
3. The United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful and technologically innovative
countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the
situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.
4. I have seen and heard a lot over the past two weeks. I met with many people barely surviving on
Skid Row in Los Angeles, I witnessed a San Francisco police officer telling a group of homeless people
to move on but having no answer when asked where they could move to, I heard how thousands of
poor people get minor infraction notices which seem to be intentionally designed to quickly explode
into unpayable debt, incarceration, and the replenishment of municipal coffers, I saw sewage filled
yards in states where governments don’t consider sanitation facilities to be their responsibility, I saw
people who had lost all of their teeth because adult dental care is not covered by the vast majority of
programs available to the very poor, I heard about soaring death rates and family and community
destruction wrought by prescription and other drug addiction, and I met with people in the South of
Puerto Rico living next to a mountain of completely unprotected coal ash which rains down upon them
bringing illness, disability and death.
5. Of course, that is not the whole story. I also saw much that is positive. I met with State and
especially municipal officials who are determined to improve social protection for the poorest 20% of
their communities, I saw an energized civil society in many places, I visited a Catholic Church in San
Francisco (St Boniface – the Gubbio Project) that opens its pews to the homeless every day between
services, I saw extraordinary resilience and community solidarity in Puerto Rico, I toured an amazing
community health initiative in Charleston (West Virginia) that serves 21,000 patients with free
medical, dental, pharmaceutical and other services, overseen by local volunteer physicians, dentists
and others (WV Health Right), and indigenous communities presenting at a US­Human Rights Network
conference in Atlanta lauded Alaska’s advanced health care system for indigenous peoples, designed
with direct participation of the target group.
6. American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its
founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far
more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding
commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor
7. In talking with people in the different states and territories I was frequently asked how the US
compares with other states. While such comparisons are not always perfect, a cross­section of
statistical comparisons provides a relatively clear picture of the contrast between the wealth,
innovative capacity, and work ethic of the US, and the social and other outcomes that have been
By most indicators, the US is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. It spends more on national
defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined.
US health care expenditures per capita are double the OECD average and much higher than in all
other countries. But there are many fewer doctors and hospital beds per person than the OECD
US infant mortality rates in 2013 were the highest in the developed world.
Americans can expect to live shorter and sicker lives, compared to people living in any other rich
democracy, and the “health gap” between the U.S. and its peer countries continues to grow.
U.S. inequality levels are far higher than those in most European countries
Neglected tropical diseases, including Zika, are increasingly common in the USA. It has been
estimated that 12 million Americans live with a neglected parasitic infection. A 2017 report
documents the prevalence of hookworm in Lowndes County, Alabama.
The US has the highest prevalence of obesity in the developed world.
In terms of access to water and sanitation the US ranks 36th in the world.
America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, ahead of Turkmenistan, El Salvador, Cuba,
Thailand and the Russian Federation. Its rate is nearly 5 times the OECD average.
The youth poverty rate in the United States is the highest across the OECD with one quarter of
youth living in poverty compared to less than 14% across the OECD.
The Stanford Center on Inequality and Poverty ranks the most well­off countries in terms of labor
markets, poverty, safety net, wealth inequality, and economic mobility. The US comes in last of
the top 10 most well­off countries, and 18th amongst the top 21.
In the OECD the US ranks 35th out of 37 in terms of poverty and inequality.
According to the World Income Inequality Database, the US has the highest Gini rate (measuring
inequality) of all Western Countries
The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality characterizes the US as “a clear and constant
outlier in the child poverty league.” US child poverty rates are the highest amongst the six richest
countries – Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden and Norway.
About 55.7% of the U.S. voting­age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. In
the OECD, the U.S. placed 28th in voter turnout, compared with an OECD average of 75%.
Registered voters represent a much smaller share of potential voters in the U.S. than just about
any other OECD country. Only about 64% of the U.S. voting­age population (and 70% of voting­
age citizens) was registered in 2016, compared with 91% in Canada (2015) and the UK (2016),
96% in Sweden (2014), and nearly 99% in Japan (2014).
II. The human rights dimension
8. Successive administrations, including the present one, have determinedly rejected the idea that
economic and social rights are full­fledged human rights, despite their clear recognition not only in key
treaties that the US has ratified (such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination), and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the US has long insisted other
countries must respect. But denial does not eliminate responsibility, nor does it negate obligations.
International human rights law recognizes a right to education, a right to healthcare, a right to social
protection for those in need, and a right to an adequate standard of living. In practice, the United
States is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental
importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access
to affordable healthcare, or growing up in a context of total deprivation.
9. Since the US has refused to recognize economic and social rights agreed by most other states
(except for the right to education in state constitutions), the primary focus of the present report is on
those civil and political rights reflected in the US Bill of Rights and in the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights which the US has ratified.
III. Who are ‘the poor’?
10. I have been struck by the extent to which caricatured narratives about the purported innate
differences between rich and poor have been sold to the electorate by some politicians and media, and
have been allowed to define the debate. The rich are industrious, entrepreneurial, patriotic, and the
drivers of economic success. The poor are wasters, losers, and scammers. As a result, money spent
on welfare is money down the drain. To complete the picture we are also told that the poor who want
to make it in America can easily do so: they really can achieve the American dream if only they work
hard enough.
11. The reality that I have seen, however, is very different. It is a fact that many of the wealthiest
citizens do not pay taxes at the rates that others do, hoard much of their wealth off­shore, and often
make their profits purely from speculation rather than contributing to the overall wealth of the
American community. Who then are the poor? Racist stereotypes are usually not far beneath the
surface. The poor are overwhelmingly assumed to be people of color, whether African Americans or
Hispanic ‘immigrants’. The reality is that there are 8 million more poor Whites than there are Blacks.
Similarly, large numbers of welfare recipients are assumed to be living high on the hog. Some
politicians and political appointees with whom I spoke were completely sold on the narrative of such
scammers sitting on comfortable sofas, watching color TVs, while surfing on their smart phones, all
paid for by welfare. I wonder how many of these politicians have ever visited poor areas, let alone
spoken to those who dwell there. There are anecdotes aplenty, but evidence is nowhere to be seen.
In every society, there are those who abuse the system, as much in the upper income levels, as in the
lower. But the poor people I met from among the 40 million living in poverty were overwhelmingly
either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances
largely beyond their control such as physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness,
old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market.
12. The face of poverty in America is not only Black, or Hispanic, but also White, Asian, and many
other colors. Nor is it confined to a particular age group. Automation and robotization are already
throwing many middle­aged workers out of jobs in which they once believed themselves to be secure.
In the economy of the twenty­first century, only a tiny percentage of the population is immune from
the possibility that they could fall into poverty as a result of bad breaks beyond their own control. The
American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion as the US since the US now has the lowest
rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries.
IV. The current extent of poverty in the US
13. There is considerable debate over the extent of poverty in the US, but for the purposes of this
report principal reliance is placed upon the official government statistics, drawn up primarily by the US
Census Bureau.
14. In order to define and quantify poverty in America, the Census Bureau uses ‘poverty thresholds’ or
Official Poverty Measures (OPM), updated each year. In September 2017, more than one in every
eight Americans were living in poverty (40 million, equal to 12.7% of the population). And almost half
of those (18.5 million) were living in deep poverty, 3
with reported family income below one­half of the
poverty threshold.
V. Problems with existing policies
15. There is no magic recipe for eliminating extreme poverty, and each level of government must
make its own good faith decisions. But at the end of the day, particularly in a rich country like the
USA, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. With political
will, it could readily be eliminated.
16. What is known, from long experience and in light of the government’s human rights obligations, is
that there are indispensable ingredients for a set of policies designed to eliminate poverty. They
include: democratic decision­making, full employment policies, social protection for the vulnerable, a
fair and effective justice system, gender and racial equality and respect for human dignity, responsible
fiscal policies, and environmental justice.
17. Currently, the United States falls far short on each of these issues.
1. The undermining of democracy
18. The foundation stone of American society is democracy, but it is being steadily undermined. The
principle of one person one vote applies in theory, but it is far from the reality. In a democracy, the
task of government should be to facilitate political participation by ensuring that all citizens can vote
and that their votes will count equally. In the US there is overt disenfranchisement of vast numbers of
felons, a rule which predominantly affects Black citizens since they are the ones whose conduct is
often specifically targeted for criminalization. In addition, there are often requirement that persons
who have paid their debt to society still cannot regain their right to vote until they paid off all
outstanding fines and fees. Then there is covert disenfranchisement, which includes the dramatic
gerrymandering of electoral districts to privilege particular groups of voters, the imposition of artificial
and unnecessary voter ID requirements, the blatant manipulation of polling station locations, the
relocating of DMVs to make it more difficult for certain groups to obtain IDs, and the general ramping
up of obstacles to voting especially by those without resources. The net result is that people living in
poverty, minorities, and other disfavored groups are being systematically deprived of their voting
19. A common explanation is that people see no improvement in their well­being regardless of who
they elect, so that voting is pointless. But the most compelling and dispiriting explanation I received
came in answer to my question as to why voting rates are so extraordinarily low in West Virginia. A
state official pointed to apathy, which he explained by saying that “when people are poor they just
give up on the electoral system.” If this is the case, as seems likely, some political elites have a
strong self­interest in keeping people in poverty. As one politician remarked to me, it would be
instructive to undertake a survey of the campaign appearances of politicians in overwhelmingly poor
2. An illusory emphasis on employment
20. Proposals to slash the meager welfare arrangements that currently exist are now sold primarily on
the basis that the poor need to get off welfare and back to work. The assumption is that there are a
great many jobs out there waiting to be filled by individuals with low educational standards, often
suffering disabilities of one kind or another, sometimes burdened with a criminal record (perhaps for
the crime of homelessness or not being able to pay a traffic ticket), and with no training or meaningful
assistance to obtain employment. It also assumes that the jobs they could get will make them
independent of state assistance. Yet I spoke to workers from Walmart and other large stores who
could not survive on a full­time wage without also relying on food stamps. It has been estimated that
as much as $6 billion dollars go from the SNAP program to support such workers, thus providing a
huge virtual subsidy to the relevant corporations.
21. In terms of the employment market, the reality is very different from that portrayed by the
welfare to work proponents. There has been a long­term decline in employment rates. For example,
by 2017, only 89% of males from 25 to 54 years were employed. While ‘supply’ factors such as
growing rates of disability, increasing geographic immobility, and higher incarceration rates are
relevant, a 2016 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors concluded that reductions in
labor supply are far less important than reductions in labor demand in accounting for the long­run
trend1. Factors such as automation and new technologies such as self­driving cars, 3D printers, and
robot­staffed factories and warehouses will see a continuing decline in demand for low­skilled labor.
22. Reflecting on these developments, leading poverty experts have concluded that:
Because of this rising joblessness, the U.S. poverty population is becoming a more deprived and
destitute class, one that’s disconnected from the economy and unable to meet basic needs. … 40
percent of the 1999 poverty population was in deep poverty … [compared to 46 percent of the 2015
poverty population … . Likewise, rates of extreme poverty (i.e., living on less than $2 per day per
person) are also increasing, again because of declining employment as well as growing “disconnection”
from the safety net2.
3. Shortcomings in basic social protection
23. There are a great many issues that could be covered under this heading. In view of space
limitations I will focus on three major concerns.
(i) Indigenous peoples
24. Chiefs and representatives from both recognized and non­recognized tribes presented me with
evidence of widespread extreme poverty in indigenous communities in the USA. They called for
federal recognition as an essential first step to address poverty, indicating that without it their way of
life is criminalised, they are disempowered, and their culture is destroyed – all of which perpetuate
poverty, poor health, and shockingly high suicide rates. Living conditions in Pine Ridge, Lakota, were
described as comparable to Haiti, with annual incomes of less than $12 000 and infant mortality rates
three times higher than the national rate. Nine lives have been lost there to suicide in the last three
months, including one six year old. Nevertheless, federally funded programmes aimed at suicide
prevention have been de­funded.
25. Testimony also revealed an urgent need for data collection on poverty in all indigenous
communities, greater access to healthcare, and stronger protection from private and corporate abuse.
The Red Water Pond Navajo tribe spoke about predatory loans involving 400% interest rates, and a
high incidence of kidney, liver and pancreatic cancers.
(ii) Children in poverty
25. A shockingly high number of children in the US live in poverty. In 2016, 18% of children – some
13.3 million – were living in poverty, with children comprising 32.6% of all people in poverty. Child
poverty rates are highest in the southern states, with Mississippi, New Mexico at 30% and Louisiana at
26. Contrary to the stereotypical assumptions, 31% of poor children are White, 24% are Black, 36%
are Hispanic, and 1% are indigenous. When looking at toddlers and infants, 42% of all Black children
are poor, 32% of Hispanics, …
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