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Opinion

Readers React: A U.N. report on extreme poverty in the U.S. ought to serve as a wake-up call to vote

LOS ANGELES, CA--DECEMBER 08, 2017: UN Rapporteur Philip Alston gets a tour of skid row with Genera
U.N. Rapporteur Philip Alston gets a tour of skid row with General Dogon on Dec. 5, 2017.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I found it increasingly hard to breathe while reading portions of the report on poverty in the U.S. by Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

To read so glaringly from an international source that the United States has the highest inequality of the richest nations, the highest incarceration rate and the lowest levels of voter registration raises the question: Who are we, as a people, when we tolerate the conditions that keep so many so devastated?

This report needs to be a clarion call to each of us not only to demand campaign finance reform, but also to be citizens who are deaf to the noise of politicians. We must study thoroughly the candidates and issues, believe that each voice counts, and then actually go out and vote.

Mary Leah Plante, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The print version of this article ran directly adjacent to an advertisement for Rolex watches.

The article itself illuminates the growing economic disparities in the U.S. and the squalor many people endure on Los Angeles’ skid row, which Alston toured before unveiling his report. The ad obliviously emphasizes the growing wealth at the top with an example of that ultimate materialistic emblem of high-end status vacuity, probably worn by many corporate executives up in the gleaming skyscrapers on Bunker Hill that look down on skid row.

This reminds me a bit of the revolutionary attitude and atmosphere under the surface in that old “Star Trek” episode, “The Cloud Minders.” In that show, the aloofness of the aristocratic cloud dwellers stood in stark contrast to the reality of the toiling troglodytes on the surface below.

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Todd Smilovitz, Los Angeles

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