06/04/2012 02:08 pm ET Updated Aug 04, 2012

The Candidates and Poverty

With election campaigning in full swing now, many of the us from the 99% made famous by the Occupy Wall Street protests, are concerned that neither candidate is paying adequate attention to the issue of poverty. We are concerned that, while much is being made of impending debt ceiling debates, and geopolitics, the plight of a large percentage of the people living in the American heartland is being almost completely ignored.

The concern runs deep among many of us that, as our economic circumstances continue to worsen, without any input from either campaign, the issue of poverty abatement will continue to be ignored by lawmakers and executive branch members alike for the foreseeable future. That being the case, what hope is there for those suffering the worst effects of poverty currently?

For those of us frequently in contact with people suffering through the worst consequences of the current economic downturn, we are hearing many of them asking if anyone in the country is actually paying attention. They are communicating to us their concerns that this election cycle will pass with no new efforts to improve circumstances for the poor and homeless. They are wondering why, with so many people living under economic distress, there is not a louder public outcry for more vigorous efforts to assist those living in poverty?

Without ongoing discussion of this issue, there is a real possibility that it will be subordinated to any number of issues, that while important, may not be as urgent and life-threatening as poverty is. There is a lack of understanding of just how dire the situation is for many people living in poverty. Federal programs aimed at easing homelessness have helped some, but have failed to address its underlying causes. There is genuine concern that homelessness is set to rise again as economic conditions worsen.

The lack of food, health care and safe shelter can and does contribute to the number of deaths seen across the United States on an ongoing basis. That they are not officially listed as such does not negate this claim. When someone dies as a victim of crime because they have no safe housing to live in, or dies from a commonly preventable disease because lack of access to healthcare, or dies from malnutrition -- and yes, people actually do die from malnutrition in the United States -- poverty is usually a causal factor.

It is unfortunate that the United States government does not employ more comprehensive metrics to measure the impacts of poverty. Most of the information is collected and analyzed either as part of academic studies or privately funded research. There are governmental agencies that keep records of income and overall levels of poverty in our population, but those efforts are not generally extended to seeking out information on the results of ongoing poverty on various populations.

For our part, we would also like to know if there is widespread concern among our citizens that poverty is not being adequately addressed by either presidential campaign. As we work to create opportunities, we would like to know if readers of this post are satisfied with the manner in which the issue poverty is being addressed by the two major presidential candidates.

We would encourage everyone reading this to answer the quick poll below. We further encourage those who feel strongly about the issue to contact the respective campaigns of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to share those concerns with the candidates directly.