Home > Uncategorized > The Poor People’s Campaign Prepares a “Moral Budget” That Asks the Right Questions

The Poor People’s Campaign Prepares a “Moral Budget” That Asks the Right Questions

June 27, 2019

Common Dreams Valerie Vande Penne’s post describes a report prepared by the Poor People’s Campaign along with the Institute for Policy Studies released a “Moral Budget”:

Poor People’s Moral Budget: Everybody Has the Right to Live,” details how we can extract ourselves from harmful systems, and invest in rebuilding our failing infrastructure, create jobs, provide health care and housing, and alleviate poverty—simply by making some basic moral choices on how we distribute the federal budget.

Her post, which describes the work done by the Poor People’s Campaign leaders Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, describes what Rev. Barber calls the “five interlocking injustices” that create poverty:

  1. Systemic racism, which includes systemic poverty and voter suppression, oppression of people of color and Native Americans, mass incarceration and the re-segregation of public schools.
  2. Systemic economic inequality.
  3. Ecological devastation and the refusal to properly use our resources.
  4. War economy and militarism.
  5. The distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.

Barber says these injustices are all connected, so when looking to solutions, they all need to be addressed together. Rev. Barber stresses that poverty affects people of all races in this country, a fact that is often overlooked:

…the Poor People’s Campaign isn’t divisive on race lines. Rather, he says, “This movement is made up of people from every corner of this country… We’ve met people from eastern Kentucky to the Carolinas… Massachusetts to the lowlands of Alabama.” There are poor people everywhere in this country. With 140 million poor people in the United States, there are likely poor people where you live.

Ms. Vande Penne describes the steps required to address the interlocking injustices, emphasizing that the funds are available, they are just being mis-allocated.

“We’ve found $350 billion in military budget cuts,” says report author Lindsay Koshgarian. “Half the Pentagon budget goes to corporate contractors. It’s a sign of corruption in our democracy.”

“We’ve looked at a wide range of economic research,” she says, calling for “Fair taxes on the wealthy corporations and Wall Street.”

It is possible to meet the demands of the 140 million poor people in the United States, says report author Shailly Gupta Barnes. “But it’s only possible when you do it all together. There is enough for everything, because we’re looking at the whole system.”

“So often the response is to pity the poor and believe poverty is the fault of the poor,” she continues. “When we follow the direction that poor people are revealing—we need housing, food, and water—we can make things better for the whole country.”

“We believe in bottom-up organizing,” says Barber. “It is critical we build from the bottom up.”

The Poor People’s Campaign will embark on a nine-month nationwide campaign of raising awareness and voter registration beginning in September and culminating with a June 2020 Moral March on Washington.

Near the end of the post, Ms. Vande Penne writes:

The group has also made a plea to the media, asking them to do more in-depth stories about poverty. Rather, noted one speaker at the report’s press event, “You’re covering the circus on Capitol Hill.”

I will be on the lookout for reports on this “Moral Budget” and the “nine-month nationwide campaign of raising awareness and voter registration” in the mainstream media… but expect if I find it at all it will be buried in the middle of the newspaper while our POTUS’s tweets and misbehavior continue to dominate our national discourse. As long as the circus is in town and the news cycle must be fed entertainment will displace conversations about morality.

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