Letter to the editor: Citizens must become more involved in national affairs

The U.N. Human Rights Council just released a report on Poverty in America.
Some conclusions:
In America “40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”
The U.S. has the “highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States.”
Americans “live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world.”
And something we all know, “The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries.”
These problems did not happen overnight — they have been decades in the making. How has the Trump administration responded to these conditions? The U.N. reports, “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”
Who commissioned this report? The Trump administration. How did the Trump administration respond? They withdrew from the Council and the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said the report was politically motivated and it was “patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America.”
These conditions are not what I, nor, I suspect, most Vermonters, want for our country or our state. I believe only an increased involvement of “we, the people” in our government, our democracy and our political process will turn around the slow slide America is headed in to become a fully third world country. Prior Democratic and Republican Presidents had it right:
“Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free men.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“If you have a plan, we want to hear it. Tell your community leaders, your local officials, your governor, and your team in Washington. Believe me, your ideas count. An individual can make a difference.” — George Herbert Walker Bush.
“A government can be no better than the public opinion that sustains it.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt.
I invite you to find as many ways as possible to become involved in our local communities, our state government and our national democracy.
Paul Forlenza

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