Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie are about to get a new friend. This new character comes from a family that is poverty-stricken and that struggles to get enough food. She is going to teach the other residents of Sesame Street the facts about hunger in America. Her name is Lily, and she will be appearing on a special one hour primetime special of Sesame Street that will focus on the plight of hungry children all over the nation. You can see video of this new Sesame Street character right here. This is yet another sign that things are so bad in America that nobody can really deny the reality of what is happening anymore. When you have more than one out of every five children living in poverty and one out of every four children on food stamps, it would be an injustice to call it anything less than a national crisis. Our economy is dying because of our foolishness and our children are paying the price.
But a new Sesame Street character that is poverty-stricken and hungry is not the only unusual sign that things have changed in America.
-Things are so bad in America that now Hallmark is actually offering a 6 card line of “job loss” greeting cards.
-Things are so bad in America that now gangster rappers are actually making rap videos about using food stamps.
-Things are so bad in America that the number of Americans that are submitting applications for temporary work visas in Canada has approximately doubled since 2008.
-Things are so bad in America that thieves are now stealing air conditioners, drain covers, hair extensions and even embalming fluid.
But things are especially bad for children.
The following are some jaw-dropping statistics about how children are faring in our declining economy….
*The poverty rate for children living in the United States increased to 22% in 2010. That means that tonight more than one out of every five U.S. children is living in poverty.
*Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
*There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30% of the children are facing food insecurity.
*In Washington D.C., the “child food insecurity rate” is 32.3%.
*More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.
*Approximately one-third of the entire population of Alabama is now on food stamps.
*The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.
*It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18.
*Last year, the number of Americans living in poverty increased by an all-time record 2.6 million.
*It is estimated that up to half a million children may currently be homeless in the United States.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that this is still the United States of America.
Aren’t we supposed to be the most prosperous nation on the planet?
It is almost as if we are under some sort of a curse.
As I have written about previously, the average American family is having a harder and harder time surviving in this economy.
Unemployment is rampant, and the number of good jobs continues to decrease.
Right now, there are actually fewer payroll jobs in the United States than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.
Sadly, it looks like things are starting to take a turn for the worse once again. U.S. employers announced 212 percent more job cuts this September than they did last September.
That is not a good sign.
Also, everywhere you look the cost of living is going up.
For example, according to the Daily Beast utility bills across the country are about to go up significantly….
Already weary of high gas prices and 9.1 percent unemployment, many Americans are about to get another kick in the wallet thanks to large increases in their electricity bills.
From Alaska to Georgia and Wyoming to Florida, utilities are seeking permission to pass on hundreds of millions of dollars in new charges to customers to help upgrade aging infrastructure and build new or retrofitted power plants that comply with tougher environmental regulations, a Daily Beast review of regulatory filings has found.
Another example is the rising cost of health insurance. The cost of a health insurance policy for the average American family rose by a whopping 9 percent last year.
But those that actually still do have health insurance should consider themselves to be fortunate. Things have gotten so bad that an all-time record 49.9 million Americans do not have any health insurance at all at this point. Not only that, the percentage of Americans covered by employer-based health plans has fallen for 11 years in a row.
So what is Barack Obama doing about all this?
Actually, one thing that Barack Obama is doing is that he is pressuring Congress to pass legislation that will make it much easier for private debt collectors to badger people on their cellphones about delinquent student loans.
According to the Obama administration, this change “is expected to provide substantial increases in collections, particularly as an increasing share of households no longer have landlines and rely instead on cellphones”.
Instead of focusing on ways to make it easier for debt collectors to bug us, perhaps he should start thinking about ways to get the economy moving in the right direction.
Up to this point, Obama’s economic proposals have been a bad joke.
Right now, millions of Americans are incredibly frustrated with the economy. People want to be able to feed their children and pay their bills. When you don’t have enough money you start to think about it constantly. Tonight, millions of Americans will lay in bed and stare at the ceiling and wonder where their lives went wrong.
As the economy continues to crumble, we are going to see millions more Americans fall into poverty and struggle with hunger.
Hopefully the rest of us will be kind, compassionate and generous. The truth is that any of us could catch a bad break and end up without any money. We should remember to treat others the way that we would like to be treated if we were in desperate circumstances.
America is changing, and not for the better.
Unless fundamental changes are made, our economy is going to continue to deteriorate and a lot more people are going to suffer.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.