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."
“This is not your grandmother’s hunger,” says Janet Poppendieck, a sociologist at the City University of New York. “Today more working people and their families are hungry because wages have declined.”
Bill Moyers: Question? A major finding of your research was that many of the 106 million Americans living at 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line ignore political debates about them because they do not identify with the language used by policy makers, the media and others to describe them. What does this tell you about our messaging?. And stop talking about the economy as if it was the weather.
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.
Sarah McKinley and Violeta Duncan for Community Wealth: Worker Cooperatives Address Low-Wage Work and the Feminization of Poverty.
Women of color working low-wage jobs must often navigate unregulated work conditions, as much of their work is domestic labor—caregiving, house cleaning, child care—an industry that, historically, is not only low-paid but also exploitative. The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), a 10,000 membership-based organization for nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers, describes, in its 2012 Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work [PDF] report, the substandard conditions of domestic work, including lack of employment benefits, meager wages, exposure to toxic chemicals, and physical abuse.[more inside]
Such unhealthy work environments and insufficient pay have led a number of these low-wage women to take matters in to their own hands. Many have formed women-owned worker cooperatives that ensure good pay and healthy working conditions, help women overcome the isolation and vulnerability of domestic work, and empower women to build wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Slate's article on the photojournalist Brenda Ann Kenneally's Upstate Girls project article sparks huge internet backlash. Brenda spent ten years documenting the lives of five women in Troy through photography. Slate published an article about the project and then the Facebook comments rolled in. For perspective, take a look at the interview with Brenda about the project and New York Times original showcase of the project.
Meredith Broussard at The Atlantic discusses another way the system of standardized testing is rigged against the underclass - thanks to the incestuous relationship between testmakers and textbook manufacturers, the tests are easy to pass - if the students are taught from the right textbooks, which many poorer districts simply cannot afford. [more inside]
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]
"...writing for The Daily Beast, Roland Martin proposed a solution to the surging violence on Chicago's South and West Sides: Send the National Guard to Chicago." "This idea of the powerful causing the problem and then swooping in to benevolently gift us the "solution" is offensive. You can't make up for systemic deprivation through law enforcement. Law enforcement doesn't have the nuance, it doesn't have the tools, and it doesn't actually work." - Josie Duffy in conversation with Ernest Wilkins, Jamilah Lemieux, Jason Parham, and Kiese Laymon. [more inside]
Over the past few decades, urban policy has focused on breaking up clusters of poverty, planning cities so that poor residents could live in areas that also had middle-class people. Does this new research mean projects like MTO are actually a bad thing? “When we first showed these results, somebody said, ‘Well, don’t send them to new neighborhoods,’” says Kessler. “Well wait a second, you’re now dealing the girls some pretty bad outcomes. But if you do send them, the boys are getting bad outcomes. What if you have one boy and one girl?”
"When our donors met the actual people they were helping they often didn’t like them. During our Secret Santa drive, volunteers sometimes refused to drop gifts at houses with TVs inside. They got angry when clients had cell phones or in some other way didn’t match their expectations. Other times, the donations we got were too disgusting to pass along—soup cans that bulged with botulism and diapers so dry rotted they crumbled in our hands. One Thanksgiving, a board member called from the parking lot, requesting help carrying a frozen turkey from her trunk to our office. “Can you find a deserving family?” she asked. I lugged the bird up three flights of stairs. Somewhere near the top, I noticed the expiration date. It was seventeen years old." Anya Groner talks about working for Hudson Outreach in up-state New York and the sobering, chilling effect it had on her idealism.
What was the average American college graduate's college-related debt in 2013? What state has the highest rate of poverty in the United States? Answer these and other depressing questions (or submit your own) at How Wrong You Are.
“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation.” [more inside]
Brazil has spared no expense for the upcoming World Cup. The month-long competition will feature 64 matches in 12 cities across the country. Refurbishing old stadiums and building new ones has cost Brazil $3.6bn. Several of the new stadiums will seldom be used after the World Cup, and Brasilia's World Cup stadium is estimated to have cost taxpayers $900m. [more inside]
Amos Barshad of Grantland talks to Darcy Frey and the basketball players featured in the classic book The Last Shot 20 years after the book's release.
What the anti-poverty debate in Canada looks like. Conservative Senator Hugh Segal proposes a Guaranteed Annual Income: Scrapping Welfare. Jonathan Rhys Kesselman, a prominent Canadian economist and public policy analyst, analyzes the cost of three Guaranteed Annual Income options and concludes that they're not workable: A Dubious Anti-Poverty Strategy (full text). Armine Yalnizyan, an economist at the progressive Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, comments. [more inside]
The Tower of David skyscraper in Caracas was abandoned in 1994, and remained vacant until 2007 when squatters moved in. There is now a vibrant community living within its walls.
"A sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, Edin is one of the nation's preeminent poverty researchers. She has spent much of the past several decades studying some of the country's most dangerous, impoverished neighborhoods. But unlike academics who draw conclusions about poverty from the ivory tower, Edin has gotten up close and personal with the people she studies—and in the process has shattered many myths about the poor, rocking sociology and public-policy circles. [more inside]
Increasing the accessibility of cultural capital: "In New York, a place whose cultural institutions attract people from around the world, there are residents who not only have never visited those institutions but also some who have never even been uptown."
In the first two parts of a five-part series, The Atlantic looks at US cities with the highest levels of income segregation and US cities where the poor are segregated from everyone else. (dlTheAtlantic)
"I say “you” deliberately here, because much of the writing about low-wage workers tends to obscure just that fact — that these stories could well be about you. Too much writing on the left and the right has tended to treat the people in some of the nation’s most common jobs as if they are some exotic Other rather than our neighbors, our family members and ourselves. " --Sarah Jaffe on the media's strange ways of talking about low-wage workers.
"If you want to be cosmopolitan, you’ll buy star anise, kimchi, and coconut oil. If you want to prevent cancer, buy collard greens, blueberries, and omega-3 eggs. If you want to eat food free of pesticides and high fructose corn syrup, buy organic meat, flour, and dairy. Compound all of these seemingly innocuous exercises in American Dreaming with diet fads like “clean” eating, Westernized veganism, or the paleo diet, and you’ll get a supermarket full of people staring at labels, searching the copy for proof of ideological and medical purity. I need to buy this if I want to be good, if I really want to take care of myself and my family. As it turns out, this moralistic way of framing choice is extremely profitable for food processors, restaurants, and produce retailers: we’ve been effectively held captive by our own consciences."(slBitchMagazine)
"I will be honest," says Muruganantham. "I would not even use it to clean my scooter." The incredible and funny story of a man who set out to change the way sanitary pads are viewed and made in India.
What if poor people capitalized on their own natural resource, poverty? This is the central question of Renzo Martens' 2008 documentary, Episode III - Enjoy Poverty, the second film in a triptych exploring power relations between photographers and their subjects. [more inside]