III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

American people's economic, social and cultural rights are not properly protected.

There is a wide wealth gap in the American society. According to a New York Times report on October 5, 2008, the United States developed the most unequal distribution of income and wages of any high-income country over the past 30 years. The richest fifth of the Americans earn an average of 168,170 U.S. dollars a year, about fifteen times the figure for the bottom fifth -- 11,352 U.S. dollars. The top one percent of New York City tax filers received 37 percent of the city's adjusted gross income-- which includes wages, business income and capital gains, among other earnings (The New York Times, April 9, 2008). There are 64 billionaires in New York City with a combined net worth of 344 billion U.S. dollars, 469 percent more than the collective worth of the city's billionaires two years ago (The Washington Post, September 29, 2008). A UN report released on October, 22, 2008 showed that the wealth gap in big American cities, including New York, Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans, was almost as wide as some African cities, and the ratio of income inequality in American cities was very high.

The number of people who are homeless, in poverty and hunger increased in the United States in 2007. Figures released in August 2008 by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that 12.5 percent of Americans, or 37.3 million people, were living in poverty in 2007, up from 36.5 million in 2006. Eighteen percent of children (13.3 million) were impoverished in 2007, up from 17.4 percent (12.8 million) in 2006 (Reuters, August 27, 2008). Some 7.6 million American families, or 9.8 percent of the total, were living in poverty. In 2007, the annual income of 1.56 million American people, 41.8 percent of the country's population in poverty, reached only half of the poverty threshold. In New York City, latest study shows 23 percent of the people are living in poverty (The Washington Post, July 14, 2008).

According to a nationwide survey jointly conducted by the Washington Post, Harvard University and others in 2008, about 80 percent of low-income workers could not afford to buy fuel or save for pension insurance under the influence of the financial crisis. More than 60 percent of them could not afford medical insurance and 50 percent could not pay for food or housing. The Reuters reported that food stamps, the main U.S. anti-hunger program which helps the needy buy food, set a record in September 2008, as more than 31.5 million Americans used the program, a year-on-year increase of 17 percent (Reuters, December 3, 2008). About 48 percent of New York City residents, had difficulty affording food for themselves and their families in 2008, doubling that of 2003. Already, 1.3 million New York City residents rely on emergency food organizations, up 24 percent from 1 million in 2004 (The NYC Hunger Experience 2008 Update: Food Poverty Soars as Recession Hits Home). Some 68.8 percent of emergency food agencies reported that they did not have enough food to fulfill demand (Survey shows impact of hunger crisis, More than 2 million American families were unable to pay back house loans. Statistics released on November 13, 2008 showed that foreclosure filings grew 25 percent nationally in October 2008 over the same month in 2007. More than 84,000 properties were repossessed by banks in October (China Press, November 14, 2008).

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