George Graham

The Hidden Horror of Poverty in the Midst of Wealth

On a morning where the news includes the launching of a privately owned yacht nearly 600 feet long and costing who knows how many millions of dollars, there’s a brief item about homeless people in Kansas City living in underground tunnels.

You can also read about Justin Bieber’s hair and who’s likely o get chosen in the NFL draft. More concerned readers can obtain enlightenment on President Obama’s budget (proposing cuts to the meager benefits on which most old people survive), the struggle to keep military weapons out of the hands of criminals and homicidal maniacs, and the pros and cons of same-sex marriage.

Not much about the most important issue of our time: poverty.

Swept under the rug by the media, the horror of human destitution – even in the midst of plenty – grows more frightening every day.

How is it possible, I ask myself, for such callous neglect to exist? Especially in a “Christian” country like the United States?

True, the yacht is supposedly owned by the Abu Dhabi  royal family, not by some American billionaire. But it could have been. For there is no dearth of the super wealthy in America. Billionaires abound while the shadowy legion of the abandoned poor swells.

What I found most chilling in the story about the Kansas City underground colony was this offhand observation:

 Officers became concerned when they noticed piles of soiled diapers, indicating that some of the homeless residents may have had children living in the unclean conditions.

Of course there were kids! It’s the kids who are bearing the brunt of prevailing – and dangerously misguided – economic policies.

So how did the authorities deal with their horrifying discovery? They evicted the squatters and bulldozed the tunnels. No word on what was done to find the residents another place to call home. But a local charity was there to help. Carla Brewer of Hope Faith Ministries reportedly offered them “a place to shower and sleep away from the camp.”

And the authorities? What did they do for these wretched folks? Apparently nothing.

The powers that be are actually cutting services to people like these. It’s “austerity” time, remember? There’s a “sequester” going on.

According to one account, the authorities’  became concerned about the homeless colony because of thefts of grain from a nearby mill.

Does this remind you of “Les Miserables”?

We seem to be heading back to the days when it was up to “charities” to feed the poor. And I’m sure you know how well that worked

Did you ever think this kind of heartlessness could exist in a country like America? In 2013?

I know I didn’t.

Click here to read about the world’s largest yacht.

Click here to read about homeless living underground.

Click here for more on poverty in America.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for