Cong. Hearing: US Poverty = Human Rights Abuse/UU Service

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 5 Nov 1998 08:20:33 -0400


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FWD  1998/11/04
Ted Steege, Washington Associate for U.S. Programs
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
2000 P St.,NW, Suite 505 - Washington, DC 20036
202/466-7400  fax 202/775-2636  email: <tsteege@uuscdc.org>


HEARING SHOWS HUNGER IN U.S. AS ABUSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS


Despite a booming economy, Census Bureau figures show that 35.6 million
Americans lived in poverty in 1997 -- 40 percent of them children, only a
slight decline.  Witnesses at a recent congressional "Economic Human
Rights" hearing contended that such high levels of hunger and poverty in
such a wealthy nation violate basic human rights.

Among the members of Congress hearing testimony of the high human cost of
indiscriminate cuts in  the social safety net were Reps. Earl Hilliard
(D-AL), George Miller (D- CA), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D- CA).
The September 23 event was co-hosted by Food First,  the Progressive
Challenge out of Institute for Policy Studies, and by the Congressional
Progressive Caucus.  The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee signed on
as a sponsor of the event.

The panel heard testimony from 17 people who have experienced the downward
spiral of increasing hunger, poverty, unemployment and homelessness. "It
isn't that I never worked," said a grandmother, Katherine Engels. "I worked
since I was 14 years old. [With] the jobs that are out there you are not
making enough to live. Mothers go hungry at night so their children can
eat."

The essence of the testimony was that while America criticizes other
countries on their human rights records, our country is not meeting the
minimum economic human rights standards spelled out fifty years ago in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Among the facts presented:
*  Thirty million Americans are hungry;
*  five to seven million are homeless;
*  43.7 million have no health insurance.

One witness estimated that one in every eight Americans is denied the basic
human right to the UDHR's "standard of living adequate for the health and
well-being of themselves and their families."

Rep. Barbara Lee declared the stories "scandalous."  Rep. George Miller
called for treating the U.N. Declaration as "the law of our land,"
declaring that until it is, "working men and women and their families will
always have to fight for the basic necessities." The removal of the welfare
safety net, said Miller, makes President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's
promise of "Freedom from Want" ring hollow to the millions of Americans
whose families are hungry or homeless.

The hearing culminated the second phase of the campaign "Economic Human
Rights: The Time Has Come!," which  marks the 50th anniversary of the UDHR.

The campaign asks the U.S. to reaffirm its weight in law by ratifying and
implementing the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights.  Videotape of a documentary film "America Needs Human Rights",
based on an earlier Congressional hearing in Oakland, CA, is available from
Food First (398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618; Phone: 510/654-4400  Fax:
510/654-4551; http://www.foodfirst.org).

The campaign's main theme is in harmony with UUSC's U.S. program emphasis:
the same human rights standards should apply to the U.S. as to the rest of
the world.  Food First Policy Director Anuradha Mittal encouraged advocates
to work with city councils to follow the lead of Berkeley, Oakland and San
Francisco by passing resolutions declaring themselves "human rights cities"
and adopting the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR).  They have pledged to oppose any legislation or action
that impinges on fundamental human rights as stated in the UDHR or ICESCR,
said Mittal.

Ted Steege, Washington Associate for U.S. Programs
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
2000 P St.,NW, Suite 505 - Washington, DC 20036
202/466-7400  fax 202/775-2636  email: <tsteege@uuscdc.org>

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FWD  1998/11/04

<paraindent><param>right,left</param>Ted Steege, Washington Associate
for U.S. Programs

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

2000 P St.,NW, Suite 505 - Washington, DC 20036

202/466-7400  fax 202/775-2636  email: <<tsteege@uuscdc.org> 


 

HEARING SHOWS HUNGER IN U.S. AS ABUSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

</paraindent>


Despite a booming economy, Census Bureau figures show that 35.6 million
Americans lived in poverty in 1997 -- 40 percent of them children, only
a slight decline.  Witnesses at a recent congressional "Economic Human
Rights" hearing contended that such high levels of hunger and poverty
in such a wealthy nation violate basic human rights.


Among the members of Congress hearing testimony of the high human cost
of indiscriminate cuts in  the social safety net were Reps. Earl
Hilliard (D-AL), George Miller (D- CA), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Barbara
Lee (D- CA). The September 23 event was co-hosted by Food First,  the
Progressive Challenge out of Institute for Policy Studies, and by the
Congressional

Progressive Caucus.  The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
signed on as a sponsor of the event.


The panel heard testimony from 17 people who have experienced the
downward spiral of increasing hunger, poverty, unemployment and
homelessness. "It isn't that I never worked," said a grandmother,
Katherine Engels. "I worked since I was 14 years old. [With] the jobs
that are out there you are not making enough to live. Mothers go hungry
at night so their children can eat."


The essence of the testimony was that while America criticizes other
countries on their human rights records, our country is not meeting the
minimum economic human rights standards spelled out fifty years ago in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).


Among the facts presented:

*  Thirty million Americans are hungry;

*  five to seven million are homeless;

*  43.7 million have no health insurance. 


One witness estimated that one in every eight Americans is denied the
basic human right to the UDHR's "standard of living adequate for the
health and well-being of themselves and their families."


Rep. Barbara Lee declared the stories "scandalous."  Rep. George Miller
called for treating the U.N. Declaration as "the law of our land,"
declaring that until it is, "working men and women and their families
will always have to fight for the basic necessities." The removal of
the welfare safety net, said Miller, makes President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt's promise of "Freedom from Want" ring hollow to the millions
of Americans whose families are hungry or homeless.


The hearing culminated the second phase of the campaign "Economic Human
Rights: The Time Has Come!," which  marks the 50th anniversary of the
UDHR.


The campaign asks the U.S. to reaffirm its weight in law by ratifying
and implementing the International Covenant for Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights.  Videotape of a documentary film "America Needs Human
Rights", based on an earlier Congressional hearing in Oakland, CA, is
available from Food First (398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618; Phone:
510/654-4400  Fax: 510/654-4551; http://www.foodfirst.org). 


The campaign's main theme is in harmony with UUSC's U.S. program
emphasis: the same human rights standards should apply to the U.S. as
to the rest of the world.  Food First Policy Director Anuradha Mittal
encouraged advocates to work with city councils to follow the lead of
Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco by passing resolutions declaring
themselves "human rights cities" and adopting the International
Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).  They have
pledged to oppose any legislation or action that impinges on
fundamental human rights as stated in the UDHR or ICESCR, said Mittal.


Ted Steege, Washington Associate for U.S. Programs

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

2000 P St.,NW, Suite 505 - Washington, DC 20036

202/466-7400  fax 202/775-2636  email: <<tsteege@uuscdc.org>


END FORWARD

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

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