Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Poverty and National Security

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has found that a majority of Americans believe an increase in poverty would threaten national security.
Most Americans – 62 percent – think an increase in poverty in the United States would threaten national security, according to the latest Poverty Pulse survey by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

The survey also found that 91 percent of the public is concerned about health care, that 62 percent think there are more people “living in poverty today than there were a year ago” while 60 percent think the ranks of poverty will grow further by next year; and that many believe federal support for health and education should take priority over spending on national defense, fighting terrorism, and war, combined.

When asked whether “an increase in poverty will hurt our national security,” 24 percent said they “strongly agree” that it will, while 38 percent said they “agree,” for a total of 62 percent. Another 24 percent were neutral, neither agreeing nor disagreeing; 12 percent said they disagree with the statement and 2 percent said they strongly disagree.

When questioned about their choice for “the federal government’s highest priority in terms of spending,” 22 percent of respondents said “education,” the top answer, and 21 percent replied “healthcare.” But “health insurance” and “affordable healthcare” and other health-related comments accounted for an additional 5 percent, bringing the total choosing health and medical spending to 26 percent, outpolling even education. Fifteen percent of respondents cited “national defense,” while “fighting terrorism,” “war,” and “other security-defense” options were each mentioned by 1 percent. The fourth-highest response, spending money “on the nation, not on foreign countries,” was favored by 5 percent while 4 percent chose “helping the needy-poor people,” which was the fifth-highest response. Various comments on social concerns (including Social Security, social programs, welfare, seniors/elders and fighting drugs and alcohol abuse -- in addition to helping the needy/poor people) when combined represented the views of 8 percent of respondents.
. . .
“As I reflect on the public response to this survey, I believe that people see societal problems as interrelated, not isolated”, said Bishop Howard Hubbard, Chairman of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the national anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We inherently strive as a society to achieve a healthy condition for all. Of course, within CCHD and the Catholic Church, there is always a focus on achieving the common good for the full community. In this context, I also see that respondents are stressing that if all of society is not healthy and vibrant, but lives in a depressed state of poverty, it follows that unhealthy social conditions will increase and multiply. I believe the time has come for all who are not poor to recognize the needs of our nation’s poor and support efforts to permanently break the cycle of poverty and build strong and healthy communities that repel crime, terrorism and social injustice,” he added.

The news release on this topic is here.