"There's a popular narrative about poor families and fast food: They eat more of it than anybody else. It’s dangled as evidence for the high rate of obesity among poorer Americans -- and talked about even by some of the country’s foremost voices on food. "[J]unk food is cheaper when measured by the calorie, and that this makes fast food essential for the poor because they need cheap calories," wrote Mark Bittman for The New York Times in 2011 But there’s a problem with saying that poor people like fast food better than others. It’s not true."
Broke: A moving essay about poverty, fairness, and college football.
How over a million American families live on $2 per day, by Dylan Matthews, VOX [more inside]
Former Vancouver Police detective Lori Shenher's book, That Lonely Section of Hell: The Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer who Almost Got Away, is a memoir about investigating the disappearances of women who would turn out to have been murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton. The Globe and Mail has published an excerpt here. [more inside]
Over five decades of economic decline and racial conflict, a Western Pennsylvania mill town has found unity and hope on the football field. "There is no drug dealing at the Pit, and rarely any violence," Walker says. "It really is sacred ground; it's like a miracle. You've got guys that, any other time of the day, they're going to try and rip each other's throats out, but they just walk past each other in the Pit. They're there to watch those kids play."
"The hurricane lives in a complicated place. Everyone's experience is both communal and personal, obvious and hidden. The memory of the death is everywhere, buried in shallow and temporary graves." (SL Longform ESPN)
To improve poor neighborhoods, the people who live there must have a hand in deciding their own fate. That approach works well in Houston, where one program has enabled hundreds of thousands of poor residents, many of them immigrants, to move up the ladder of economic and educational opportunity each year. It’s a strategy that can — and should — be implemented nationwide. [more inside]
Only a few weeks after becoming an independent media company, This American Life covers "The Problem We All Live With" -- namely, why desegregation is still the only proven way to improve bad schools, and what happens when one school district accidentally has to attempt it.
This is an extract from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. Here are some of the early analyses.
If black lives were as long lived as those of whites, some major elections may have turned out differently. From the article: "The unspoken suggestion is that Republicans know this and will oppose programs that increase Black health and decrease Black poverty in part for the same reasons that they have favored incarceration and permanent disenfranchisement of people convicted of felonies."
How do they make such a decision? By engaging The American tradition of separating the poor into two, mutually exclusive categories: those who deserve to be poor, and those who don't. More here, here, and here. [more inside]
How Mountain Dew Came to Perpetuate a Deep-Seated Appalachian Stereotype As Mountain Dew taps into tropes of corn-syrup-free authenticity and nostalgia for "backwoods" "renegades" and "rebels" with its throwback drink Dewshine, a daughter of Appalachia considers how the beverage reflects cultural stereotypes. [more inside]
"They don’t know — here he lowers his voice — that even if they get the money and they left, they could always come back. They don’t know that part. And it’s so scary sometimes because they could come up in the middle of construction and say, “It’s my property, I didn’t understand what I was signing, and I want to come back.” -- DW Gibson interviews a Brooklyn landlord about how they push poor black residents out in favor of affluent whites.
The Washington Post reports what the rich and poor actually spend their money on, and where [more inside]
12 minute video on India’s Experiment in Basic Income Grants "cash transfers given to all citizens to ensure that they have a minimal income". [more inside]
The spikes installed outside Selfridges in Manchester are the latest front in the spread of ‘defensive architecture’. Is such open hostility towards the destitute making all our lives uglier?
75 million Americans don’t have internet. Here’s what it’s like.
The Rat Tribe of Beijing. A photo-essay about diverse folks who live in former bomb shelters turned into private apartments underneath the streets of Beijing. By Al-Jazeera America.
A new approach to assisting the "ultra-poor" – the poorest people on the planet – is showing promising results. In up to 95% of cases, the approach has been shown to help people exit the category of ultra-poverty, defined as living on less than 50 cents per day. [more inside]
Household mentoring "is an innovative extension methodology used to work with poorer households. The specificity of this approach is that all adult members of a household, including both women and men farmers, are visited and assisted by a trained mentor selected from the local community. During these visits, men and women in a household learn how to better plan their livelihoods together, work together to improve their food security and income, and to share the benefits equally." [more inside]
The Kiss of Desperation: A Disgusting Practice Vanishes With the Token/A Lewis Grizzard take on the subject from 1991
Being held up as “beating the odds”, “done good”, or “escaped” does not make me happy. (slTheGrauniad)
What do poor people buy that no one else does? [askreddit post]
It's no longer just teenagers and students who seem to be running away from real life, it's people in their twenties and thirties, too. People who should really know better, but don't seem to know how to do much else. Fully grown, semi-functioning adults who are unwilling to surrender those endless nights spent staring at their own harrowed reflections in club toilet cisterns, and can't find much reason to give them up, either. People like me. This is my generation; the generation who have no real incentive to grow up. No kids to feel guilty about, no mortgages to pay off, decent enough healthcare to keep them alive, jobs that let them scrape the money they need to feed, house and wash themselves, and only the screams of their bosses and the worried phone calls of their families to tear them away from the noble pursuit of getting on one. An army of first-world wasters trapped in an Escher maze of immaturity.
Vidal Reyna is a waiter at El Arco Iris, one of Highland Park’s oldest Mexican restaurants, owned by his wife’s family. He grew up here. He says the moment he understood that his neighborhood was becoming a different place happened on a drive with his father. Reyna recalls, 'He turns around and tells me in Spanish, ‘Hay muchos gueros mal vestidos por aqui.’” Loosely translated, that means “around here, there are a lot of badly dressed white people.” In August Marketplace's Wealth & Poverty Desk opened an office in Highland Park, Los Angeles, to get a view of gentrification from their new neighbours.
Tampa homeless program uses unpaid, destitute residents as steady labor force, revenue source [more inside]
Aunt Bertha is a web-based platform that connects Americans in need to locally available government programs, non-profit organizations, and community-based resources that offer free or low-cost assistance with health and dental care, job placement, emergency and long-term shelter, clothing and household goods, child and elder care, legal aid, assistance with navigating the social safety net, and much more. All programs are searchable and sortable by ZIP code, city, or eligibility. Find food, health, housing, job training programs and more, anywhere. [more inside]
"It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that giving them money is a great way to reduce that problem." Giving small amounts of money to poor people works more efficiently than any other anti-poverty approach, doesn't lead to "laziness," improves health and happiness, fights crime and addiction, and just might lead to the kind of minimized consumption needed to prevent ecological crisis. (Works even better when it's enshrined as a right, as a few real life examples have shown.)
William McPherson was the editor of the Washington Post Book World and won a Pulitzer Prize. He retired early to explore and document Eastern Europe just after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Now he is poor and living in a welfare-subsidized housing project. His article in The Hedgehog Review is a clear-eyed personal look at surviving on an economic knife's-edge in America.
If you feel "stuck," "isolated," and "unable to see the future," then a giant, publicly subsidized machine is hungry to prey on your dreams. Politically connected executives suck up billions in taxpayer grants and saddle tens of thousands of already poor students with a lifetime of debt for worthless degrees. Despite lawsuits, the scam continues.
An article from The Atlantic's Olga Khazan discusses the invention of a $1 fresh salad vending machine in order to make healthier food options available in lower socioeconomic communities like East Garfield Park in Chicago's West side. [more inside]
In a wide-ranging discussion about democracy, capitalism, and the American body politic; Chris Hedges interviews political theorist Sheldon Wolin in eight parts. (via) (previously) [more inside]
"But it wasn’t sugar, heaps of which are sucked down daily by the middle and upper classes, that guided his and my grandma’s dental fates. And it wasn’t meth. It was lack of insurance, lack of knowledge, lack of good nutrition – poverties into which much of the country was born." Sarah Smarsh in Aeon on the sociological, political, and medical intersection of bad teeth.
After seven years of litigation, the New York Civil Liberties Union has announced a settlement in Hurrell-Harring v. New York, which will reform the way in which low income criminal defendants are represented in court. [more inside]
Tour the mega-slum Dharavi, one of the most materially deprived places on earth, transformed by TED-like pundits into a "most inspiring economic model" that gels quite well with their vision of a world without public aid and guarantees to needy.
Guernica: In propagating a vision of life that's about wealth in the individual, perhaps the influence of these churches lies in what they obscure.Meara Sharma at Guernica talks to Anthony Pinn about the ongoing embrace of prosperity gospel by preachers and parishioners at black megachurches across America: Divine Acquisition. [more inside]
Anthony Pinn: Right. It hides the larger problem. The problem is poverty. And it hides the problem. We often associate black churches with a history of protest. But prosperity gospel and megachurches tend to be rather soft on political issues. T.D. Jakes doesn't take a major stand on political issues. Creflo Dollar certainly doesn't.
But it's the American way. So it seems to me that what they are doing is training black people to be even more American. To buy into this system rather than critique it. And if you're not gaining from it, to assume that the problem's with you. It provides a spiritual lesson that's very similar to the idea of "poor people want to be poor; if they just worked harder they could have more." Here, spiritual people could have more if they were just more spiritual and lived out scripture more authentically. So the prosperity preachers are training people to be better US citizens [laughs].
Three North Carolina researchers spend 18 months learning about the food and cooking choices of almost 200 households. They learned, perhaps unsurprisingly, that simply encouraging households to cook healthier meals at home was unlikely to address the challenges to healthy eating most families face. [more inside]
"We were homeless; that’s why we were in the hostel in the first place. We didn’t have anywhere else to go. There were 210 other young women living there. Now it’s luxury flats."A group of young, homeless mothers have taken over an empty council house in Newham, East London, in protest over the council's plans to rehome them to other parts of the country while selling off social housing and closing the specialist hostel where they were living. The Guardian reports: "For real politics, don't look to Parliament but to an empty London housing estate." [more inside]
"Why do so many poor people eat junk food, fail to budget properly, show no ambition? Linda Tirado knew exactly why… because she was one of them. [more inside]
Drive along an approximately 10-mile stretch along the east-west Route 115 (also known as the Natural Bridge Road), and you’ll cross through sixteen different municipalities. “Theoretically, you could be driving home from work on this road, and if you have expired tags or no inspection sticker, you could get pulled over 16 different times in 16 different towns, and written up for the same violations each time”. How St. Louis County, Missouri profits from poverty.
"The protesters say they're opposed to abortion because they're Christian," Parker says. "It's hard for them to accept that I *do* abortions because I'm a Christian."