Letter: The American nightmare

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Sir: I don't understand. The news recently, including your leading article of 19 July, talks of "the amazing performance of the United States economy - prices are stable, unemployment is dropping and productivity climbs ever upwards".

This is not the US which I know. In Seattle, one of the best cities for social services, the demand for public shelter from homeless people is higher than the supply of beds. One regularly sees people sleeping under the freeway bridges and in the parks. On the opposite coast, in my home city of Baltimore, walking through the city in the middle of a weekday, one sees the young men sitting on their front stoops idle, as the children attempt to play on the nearby play areas where all the equipment is rusted or with nails protruding.

A year ago President Clinton signed a bill to end federal help for poverty - passing the responsibility on to the individual states, themselves with inadequate resources. A child in the inner city has the same chances for life and literacy as a child in the Third World. In the rural areas, harvesting work is still done largely by migrant families whose children receive minimal or no health care or education.

Where have all these people gone in the new statistics? Has the bottom tier of society simply been dropped?

CARRIE FOX

Ceredigion, Dyfed

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