By Tom Quiner
I was discussing my Des Moines Register essay on poverty (“Obama puts the poor at risk”) with friends.
My piece contrasted poverty conditions in Gugulethu, South Africa, with American poverty.
These friends related two stories. One was about a Mexican man living in town. He is an illegal immigrant, or to be politically-correct, an undocumented worker. He volunteers in a local food pantry along with a Catholic acquaintance of ours.
This Mexican man watched in amazement as people drove up, came into the food pantry, and walked out with free food and clothes. After a day of this, he turned to our acquaintance and asked, “Where are the poor people? I thought we were here to serve the poor.”
By Mexican standards, our poor are well-off. The Mexican gentlemen observed the cars they were driving, the cell phones they carried, the clothes they wore, and could see they were much better off materially than where he had come from.
My friends told me another story, of refugees from Rwanda who moved into their neighborhood into a tiny house. They have become citizens. He has one of those really tough jobs, working in a meat packing plant. He and his wife can’t believe their good fortune to be living in America. They feel like they’re kings in contrast to what they had, or ever could have, in Rwanda.
America has much poverty, but material poverty isn’t our worst kind of poverty. We have a poverty of fathers. Too many kids grow up without fathers. Interestingly, illegitimacy began to skyrocket after the “Great Society” poverty programs were launched.
We have growing spiritual poverty in America as our youth move away from God and embrace the Culture as their guiding light.
We have growing cultural poverty as our entertainment promotes the basest of values and turns its back on our rich American heritage.
Where are the poor? They are everywhere if you closely. It may even be the guy driving that Lexus.