Rethink Homelessness asked a bunch of homeless people from Orlando to write down something about themselves that people who walk by them wouldn't otherwise know.
Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in The Atlantic:The Effects of Housing Segregation on Black Wealth. As the wealth gap widens between whites and blacks in America, and after reading this list and this list, he concludes The Ghetto Is Public Policy. [more inside]
"The American homeland is the planet" Not content with a militarized southern border, the U.S. is now militarizing borders around the world (slsa)
"If you are poor, why do you spend money on useless status symbols like handbags and belts and clothes and shoes and televisions and cars? One thing I’ve learned is that one person’s illogical belief is another person’s survival skill."
"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat, an essay by Chris Hedges of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
The poor in America: In need of help Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does. You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families’ basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing. Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation’s promise”. No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama’s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word.
"When the lights go out for good, my people will still be here. We have our ancient ways. We will remain."
In the Shadow of Wounded Knee. Along the southwestern border of South Dakota is one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States—the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. After 150 years of broken promises, they are still nurturing their tribal customs, language and beliefs. Via [more inside]
Paul Ryan. Seven-term congressman for Wisconsin's 1st District. Chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee. Architect of the controversial Ryan Budget -- a "Path to Prosperity" [PDF - video - CBO] that would slash trillions from the federal budget, sharply curtail taxes on the wealthy, and transform Medicare into a private voucher system. Proponent (vid) -- and renouncer -- of Ayn Rand 's Objectivism. Social Security beneficiary. Hunter. Weinermobile driver. And as of this morning, the 2012 Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States of America. [more inside]
Marriage is a luxury good [NYT] After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage. [more inside]
"Internet Essentials" is a $10/month internet plan available to any family with one child eligible for free lunches at American public schools. [more inside]
U.S. Poverty Rate, 1 in 6, at Highest Level in Years (NYT) - An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch. That represented 15.1 percent of the country. The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four. (related)
"Customers wanting a RAL paid Jackson Hewitt a $24 application fee, a $25 processing fee, and a $2 electronic-filing fee, plus 4 percent of the loan amount. On a $2,000 refund, that meant $131 in charges—equivalent to an annual interest rate of about 170 percent—not to mention the few hundred bucks you might spend for tax preparation."
Anyone who wishes to understand American society must be aware that explanations focusing on the cultural traits of inner-city residents are likely to draw far more attention from policy makers and the general public than structural explanations will. It is an unavoidable fact that Americans tend to de-emphasize the structural origins and social significance of poverty and welfare ... If, in America, you can grow up to be anything you want to be, then any destiny—even poverty—can be viewed through the lens of personal achievement or failure. William Julius Wilson on the political and academic failure to recognize structural causes of inner-city poverty. Wilson interviewed in conjunction with the article. [more inside]
Almost 15 percent of US households are "food insecure". Last year, nearly 17 million children, or 22.5 per cent, lived in households in which food at times was scarce - 4 million children more than the year before. And the number of youngsters who sometimes went hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million. [more inside]
Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickel and Dimed, has for the past two months been writing a series of opinion essays in the New York Times that discuss poverty, both new and entrenched. The pieces, so far, are "Too Poor to Make the News," "A Homespun Safety Net," and "Is It Now A Crime to Be Poor?" [more inside]
"In a test of the American Dream, Adam Shepard started life from scratch with the clothes on his back and twenty-five dollars. Ten months later, he had an apartment, a car, and a small savings." Introduction to the book which arose from his "journey", which was inspired by Barbara Ehrenreich. [more inside]
Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression. During the Great Depression over 250,000 young people left home and began riding freight trains or hitchhiking across America. Most of them were between 16 and 25 years of age. Many finally found work and shelter through the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government relief project that Franklin D. Roosevelt established in 1933 as part of the New Deal. From 1933 to 1942, CCC enrollees built new roads, strung telephone wires, erected fire towers, and planted approximately 3 billion trees. By 1935, the program was providing employment for more than 500,000 young men.
Bush's latest accomplishment may not be one that he's willing to brag about. The Census Bureau is reporting that an additional 1.3 million Americans are now living in poverty. They also offer a number of pretty graphs (all in pdf).
US income distribution moves towards 3rd world profile? - US Census Bureau data on growing family income inequality, 1947 to 2001. Also see: The "L Curve" (for a graphic depiction of current US wealth distribution). "The most egalitarian countries have a Gini index in the 20s. European countries like Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Norway, and Sweden all fall in that range, according to World Bank figures. Canada and Australia are just over 30. The United States is around 40...Once inequality reaches 50 percent, disparities become glaringly obvious, to the point where they undermine a society's sense of unity and common purpose....Sierra Leone takes the prize. At 63 percent, it offers the world's most extreme example of inequality." By multiple measures, income inequality in the US is rapidly increasing, and a substantial percentage of middle class Americans may be gradually sliding into poverty..
Iraq to Donate $94 Million to Poor Americans Interesting propaganda. But more interestingly - disregarding the donor, would the US ever accept such a donation? (How could we admit a need for charity at home when we send billions in aid abroad?) And what's next? We're not of a mindset to accept foreign meddling. What about UN relief efforts? International peacekeeping forces?