By Nancy Tannler

Mia Birdsong spoke at a public conversation/Happy Hour in the newly opened Apano building on 82nd & SE Division St.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Human Solutions Board of Director for nine years, and Andy Miller, Executive Director of Human Solutions, co-hosted the evening. 

Birdsong spoke about the way we see poverty in this nation and why it matters. 

In 2015 she presented a TED talk titled, The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True. She presented some rather harsh truths about privilege here in America.

The beautiful story we have heard over the years is about people who have come from nothing and achieved the American Dream – a house, car, money in the bank and stability.  

The story goes that through hard work and determination this can be for you too. Unfortunately this opportunity is something that does not always exist for people of color, women and the poor, Birdsong said.

Mia Birdson and Andy Miller

She asks the audience “Why is this, what have they done wrong that they can’t rise up and live comfortably in one of the wealthiest economies in the world?” 

“The system is broke but not broken,” Birdsong said. The questions we need to ask ourselves is why there are so many billionaires and even more millionaires. 

“I tried to calculate how  a person could spend a billion dollars and I couldn’t.” Then she asked the question: “Why have systems where people become billionaires when there is no way they can even spend it all?”

One thing she discovered in researching this economic crisis is that cross class sharing isn’t the  solution. The poor tend to help each other. What she said has been proven to work in a system called  Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI).

With automation taking away jobs and minimum wage barely covering the cost of living, this steady stream of money would allow unemployed underemployed people to focus on education or finding other lines of work.

Since everyone in the country would receive a set sum, people with better paying jobs or the rich couldn’t complain about being used to support those who aren’t working. 

George McGovern ran for President on this policy back in 1972. There are mixed reviews on the internet, though it is an interesting premise.

Birdsong speaks to the heart of the matter. “Many people don’t have enough because some people have too much.” 

As a society, it is important to learn how to share wealth and to build economic security projects for others.

Human Solutions has served in this capacity for the past thirty years. Director Andy Miller told how they help people and communities in poverty connect to services available. Their goal is to help people achieve their income and career goals.

See HumanSolutions.org or call 503.548.0282