With reports of poverty reaching its highest level since 1965, CBS News contributor Tavis Smiley on Sunday compared the growing wealth inequality to slavery in the United States.
“Throughout American history there have been proud moments of revolution that forced the elite to remove their blinders of greed, tyranny and domination,” he said. “America has, of course, made great strides for freedom in regard to all of its citizens. But now America has regressed, and poverty is the new slavery.”
Smiley said that U.S. economic policies favored the wealthy and ignored the plight of the poor.
“Poverty threatens our democracy, a democracy with a deficit dilemma that the poor are not responsible for, yet they pay the price,” he continued. “There are nearly 150 million poor and near-poor people in America who are not responsible for the damage done by the Great Recession… The magnitude of the Great Recession confirms that poverty is no longer a personal calamity; it is, rather, a societal crisis.”
“The time is now to once again reawaken American democracy,” Smiley concluded. “It is time for righteous indignation against the fleecing of America’s poor, given the indifference toward the poor that has infected our social, political and economic discourse. In short, it’s time to make poverty a priority.”
The poverty rate in the United States is expected to rise from 15.1 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2012, according a report by the Associated Press.
Watch video, courtesy of CBS News, below: