The United Nations has released a scathing report on poverty and inequality in the United States. The findings, which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on June 21, follow an official visit to the United States by Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, to investigate whether economic insecurity in the country undermines human rights.
The conclusions are damning. “The United States already leads the developed world in income and wealth inequality, and it is now moving full steam ahead to make itself even more unequal,” the report concludes. “High child and youth poverty rates perpetuate the intergenerational transmission of poverty very effectively, and ensure that the American dream is rapidly becoming the American illusion.”
The UN explicitly lays blame with the Trump administration for policies that actively increase poverty and inequality in the country. “The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality. The consequences of neglecting poverty and promoting inequality are clear,” it concludes. “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.”
In December, Alston visited seven locations throughout the country—ranging from Los Angeles’s Skid Row neighborhood to rural Alabama, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico—to meet with people experiencing deep poverty, along with experts and civil society groups.
In an interview with TalkPoverty ahead of the release, Alston characterized the United States as an outlier among the developed world.
“If you said to most Americans, ‘Look at what country X does to its ethnic minority or to a particular religious minority’ … your average American with any knowledge of that situation…