For those of us in the UK the USA is often portrayed as a golden opportunity for all concerned. It is the Land of the Free and a place where anyone can achieve their dreams. That is it is if you believe the hype. In truth, just like so many other countries around the world right now, it is hurting. It has its own set of problems and financial strains.
You can blame what you will for the cause of America's economic problems but that will not help those on the receiving end. The children and young people with a sorry childhood and an uncertain future.
In the UK one current affairs program has offered intelligent viewing on a myriad of subjects down the years and that is the BBC's Panorama. Tonight, Monday February13, 2012, at 20.30pm GMT, Panorama will be on air and the subject is going to be "America's homeless resort to tent cities"
BBC News on-line has a review of the show. The review begins :"Panorama's Hilary Andersson comes face to face with the reality of poverty in America and finds that, for some, the last resort has become life in a tented encampment. Just off the side of a motorway on the fringes of the picturesque town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a mismatched collection of 30 tents tucked in the woods has become home - home to those who are either unemployed, or whose wages are so low that they can no longer afford to pay rent.
Conditions are unhygienic. There are no toilets and electricity is only available in the one communal tent where the campers huddle around a wood stove for warmth in the heart of winter. Ice weighs down the roofs of tents, and rain regularly drips onto the sleeping campers' faces. Tent cities have sprung up in and around at least 55 American cities - they represent the bleak reality of America's poverty crisis.
According to census data, 47 million Americans now live below the poverty line - the most in half a century - fuelled by several years of high unemployment. One of the largest tented camps is in Florida and is now home to around 300 people. Others have sprung up in New Jersey and Portland. In the Ann Arbor camp, Alana Gehringer, 23, has had a hacking cough for the last four months. "The black mold - it was on our pillows, it was on our blankets, we were literally rubbing our faces in it sleeping every night," she said of wintering in a tent. The camp is run by the residents themselves, with the help of a local charity group. Calls have come in from the hospital emergency room, the local police and the local homeless shelter to see if they can send in more"
Panorama will as always be well worth watching tonight but what a sad state of affairs for those people involved. It seems that as Michigan's Republican-controlled state government tries to balance its books cuts are the order of the day. Other States are in a similar position. As usual it will be the poor that feel the brunt if such cuts.
There are reports that 5,000 people are living in dozens of these camps that have sprung up across America. That is 5,000 people too many. The camps are partially funded by religious charities, which is all well and good, but neither reliable nor the way to go. It is too hit and miss.
Conditions in the camps vary greatly. It all sounds reminiscent of America during the Great Depression. Have we come such a little way in the last 70 years or so? The fact is that, blame who you like, there are now 13 million unemployed Americans. This is three million more than when President Barack Obama was first elected.
You can choose to simply blame his administration but you know that is not true. In the UK the Tory Lib Dem coalition continue to blame their ills on the previous Labour Government. Obama could do that about Bush in the US. However in reality unemployment and poverty world wide is growing because of many factors.
What continues to gall is the amount of money that is still available for the wrong things. For ridiculous election campaigns, for conflict, for espionage, for terror, for war, for keeping people down, for propping up governments, for bureaucracy, for State occasions and more, funding is always available
.For 5,000 US citizens with no home, no work and little chance of a better future there is nothing. Shame on you all.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog