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Why Not a Negative Income Tax?

Why Not a Negative Income Tax? "What kind of program could help protect every citizen from destitution without granting excessive power to bureaucrats, creating disincentives to work, and clogging up the free-market economy, as the modern welfare state has done? [Nobel-prize winning economist Milton] Friedman’s answer was the negative income tax, or NIT."
posted by shivohum on Mar 14, 2011 - 106 comments

Beautiful photo essay.

AP photographer Kevin Frayer moved to New Delhi in 2009. Here he captures a community of coal scavengers who live and collect coal illegally for a few dollars a day in the village of Bokapahari, India
posted by maiamaia on Feb 17, 2011 - 13 comments

Can you make it through the month?

SPENT is a flash game (or an immersive online experience depending on who you ask) that challenges players to survive poverty and see first-hand that homelessness is just a shortfall away. Created in partnership with Urban Ministries of Durham and containing scenarios commonly faced (pdf) by the working poor, it may not tell people anything they don't already know, but is a creative use of gaming and social media to raise awareness and bring in donors.
posted by ND¢ on Feb 15, 2011 - 47 comments

Foster Care Re-Imagined

Foster Care: Extreme Edition Pioneered by a 23-person St. Louis — based agency called the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, Extreme Recruitment seeks out the foster children who are the hardest to find homes for. Via the You Gotta Believe! Adopting Teens and Tweens radio forum.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero on Feb 3, 2011 - 3 comments

entrepreneurial paradise

In Norway, Start-ups Say Ja to Socialism - We venture to the very heart of the hell that is Scandinavian socialism—and find out that it's not so bad. Pricey, yes, but a good place to start and run a company. What exactly does that suggest about the link between taxes and entrepreneurship?
posted by kliuless on Jan 20, 2011 - 52 comments

Culture of Poverty Makes a Comeback

Indeed, the comeback of the culture of poverty, albeit in new rhetorical guise, signifies a reversion to the status quo ante: to the discourses and concomitant policy agenda that existed before the black protest movement forced the nation to confront its collective guilt and responsibility for two centuries of slavery and a century of Jim Crow—racism that pervaded all major institutions of our society, North and South. Such momentous issues are brushed away as a new generation of sociologists delves into deliberately myopic examinations of a small sphere where culture makes some measurable difference—to prove that “culture matters.”
Stephen Steinberg on culture and poverty
posted by AceRock on Jan 19, 2011 - 25 comments

Farmers of the Poor

For all the faults of the poorhouse, the system it replaced was perceived to be even worse. In post-Revolution America, if you were poor, you could be "farmed out" at public auction to the lowest bidder. [more inside]
posted by Knappster on Dec 30, 2010 - 8 comments

Million Dollar Blocks

"In many places the concentration [of convicted residents] is so dense that states are spending in excess of a million dollars a year to incarcerate the residents of single city blocks."
Using rarely accessible data from the criminal justice system, the Spatial Information Design Lab and the Justice Mapping Center have created maps of these “million dollar blocks” and of the city-prison-city-prison migration flow for five of the nation’s cities. The maps suggest that the criminal justice system has become the predominant government institution in these communities and that public investment in this system has resulted in significant costs to other elements of our civic infrastructure — education, housing, health, and family. Prisons and jails form the distant exostructure of many American cities today.
See the several linked pdfs.
posted by OmieWise on Dec 28, 2010 - 59 comments

Giving What We Can

Giving What We Can is a movement founded by Toby Ord , a 31 year old Oxford academic on slightly more than average income who plans to give away a million pounds during his lifetime. [more inside]
posted by philipy on Dec 13, 2010 - 52 comments

Some weeks I'm lucky to make £500

As the UK coalition government plans swingeing cuts and students take to the streets to protest, one mother asks us to remember the 'Nouveau Pauvre'. Some commentators react unfavourably to her impending 'austerity Christmas'. [more inside]
posted by mippy on Dec 5, 2010 - 58 comments

counter-counterintuitive

Just Give Money to the Poor: bypass governments and NGOs and let the poor decide how to use their money? Should recipients be asked to satisfy conditions? Does it only work well in rural areas of developing countries? Found via this socialist rag; mentioned here first by this puny human.
posted by vertriebskonzept on Nov 30, 2010 - 30 comments

A Portrait of Hunger

A Portrait of Hunger. A look at poverty and hunger in Philadelphia.
posted by chunking express on Oct 14, 2010 - 12 comments

The Gentle Art of Poverty

A former magazine writer in his late fifties moves to San Diego and lives on very little money indeed. In the October 1977 issue of The Atlantic, he describes the stratagems behind his thriftiness. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Oct 7, 2010 - 23 comments

The Midnight Baby Food Bread Line

"And if you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they've been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours -- come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason."
posted by jefficator on Sep 22, 2010 - 133 comments

Beating the Odds - Homelessness in Sydney

An ABC Investigative Unit team hit the streets of western Sydney, where young people are struggling to break a vicious cycle of unemployment and family breakdown, to find out what's being done to stop them from falling through the cracks. In a great article by ABC reporters Eleanor Bell and Ed Giles, they found that the lack of resources, infrastructure and support for families in these communities is getting worse, not better but that despite this, many locals are still proud of their community.
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 8, 2010 - 18 comments

How Social Science Treats Inner-City Poverty

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]
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Aug 5, 2010 - 12 comments

America Doesn't Have Social Classes

"[Bank robber Peter Barry] Lawrence, 71, made his getaway in his wheelchair, with $2,000 in cash on his lap... he took a meandering route down Seventh Avenue until the police caught up with him five minutes later. But that was all part of the plan." And an embedded reporter in Afghanistan notes that "many young soldiers told me that they actually live better in the army, even when deployed, than they did in civilian life, where they couldn't make ends meet, especially when they were trying to pay for college or raise a family by working one or two low-wage jobs" (p. 1). Meanwhile, "parents of means are now resorting to buying franchise businesses to keep their adult children employed." Economic life in contemporary America.
posted by rkent on Aug 3, 2010 - 48 comments

Die Young, Live Fast: The Evolution of an Underclass

Die young, live fast: the evolution of an underclass [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Jul 23, 2010 - 78 comments

mad as hell

Dylan Ratigan's Howard Beale Moment (via se) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 19, 2010 - 35 comments

The storm in a designer teacup

Bruce Nussbaum kicked off a minor hubbub in designa circles this week with his provocative article "Is Humanitarian Design the new Imperialism?" which led to this response by Frogdesign's Robert Fabricant "In Defense of Design Imperialism" and WorldChanging's Alex Steffen's "The Problem with Design: Imperialism or thinking too small?" and finally a whole slew of blog posts, opinions and commentary artfully collated here by the editors of Design Observer. But the question still remains unanswered...
posted by infini on Jul 17, 2010 - 85 comments

Hans Rosling on global population growth

Hans Rosling, who helped usher in TED talks way back when using stunning visuals, envisions how the world will look in 50 years as global population grows to 9 billion. To check further population growth, which might have disastrous consequences, he exhorts us to raise the living standards of the poorest. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 11, 2010 - 14 comments

Perspectives of Poverty

...The development sector, just like any other business, needs revenue to survive. Too frequently, this quest for funding uses these kind of dehumanizing images to draw pity, charity, and eventually donations from a largely unsuspecting public...

This is not to say that people do not struggle, far from it, but the photos I was seeing only told part of the story. I thought that these images were robbing people of their dignity, and I felt that the rest of the story should be told as well.


Duncan McNicholl, a Canadian volunteer with Engineers Without Borders, is embarking on a photography project in which he photographs low-income rural Malawians as they'd be seen by Westerners, and as they prefer to see themselves.
posted by emilyd22222 on May 29, 2010 - 19 comments

Rosa Lee's Story

In 1994, Leon Dash, while still at the Washington Post, wrote a Pulitzer winning series of articles about a woman named Rosa Lee Cunningham. [more inside]
posted by reenum on May 27, 2010 - 12 comments

One Laptop Per Bike

Armed with a netbook, medical supplies and a bicycle, Bangladesh's InfoLadies are giving millions of poor people access to crucial information on their doorsteps that will improve their chances in life
posted by Artw on May 22, 2010 - 13 comments

Five Days In the Favela

Complexo da Maré is one of the oldest favelas in Rio, and a new short documentary, Te Vejo Mare, shows how, despite the headlines and violence, a community and culture manages to thrive there. As featured on today's Guardian website: Welcome to Complexo da Maré (10:16), The Samba Is Infinite (10:22), Fighting for Peace (11:00)
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 on May 19, 2010 - 4 comments

Think globally, act globally

Eating local, organic foods may not be the best option. The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions stem from food production, not transportation, and production inputs for organic food are typically higher. Third world countries that have a food system that is organic and local by default are suffering from lack of infrastructure and investment in basic production technologies that could improve nutrition for millions of people. [more inside]
posted by stinker on Apr 28, 2010 - 153 comments

The Cost Of Cutting Back

"Welcome to the simplicity movement, the ethos whose mantras are "cutting back," "focusing on the essentials," "reconnecting to the land" - and talking, talking, talking about how fulfilled it all makes you feel." Charlotte Allen of In Character about the Simplicity Movement, magazines, wild boars, virtue, and 350$ riding boots.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 25, 2010 - 75 comments

The gravestone is rough shale; nothing is written, as if she isn't here, lying at the foot of a mountain thick with snow.

An unwilling Afghan bride's defiance leads to death. 'Frashta didn't want to marry her cousin, and she fled. In a land where tradition and family honor are everything, that sealed her doom. "So beautiful that no words could describe her face," said her uncle. A child of the provinces can never run far. She should have known this. Frashta, though, was headstrong. Two shots from a hunting rifle in the night, then they rolled her in cloth and tried to hide her, but some things cannot be hidden. She was found in the yard. "A bad woman," said the cop. [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Mar 26, 2010 - 63 comments

Is the acorn better than the oak which is its fullness and completion?

ACORN, the low-income community grassroots organisation, is set to close by April 1st, citing "a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded, right-wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era". Meanwhile the New York Times has issued a correction on the stories which led to the 87-3 vote to remove ACORN's Federal funding (previously), admiting that "while footage shot away from the offices shows one activist, James O'Keefe, in a flamboyant pimp costume, there is no indication that he was wearing the costume while talking to the Acorn workers."
posted by Artw on Mar 22, 2010 - 87 comments

The homeless

Invisible people. A multi-link Vimeo post. Mark Horvath gives homeless people a forum, removes their invisibility. (Via NPR's Weekend Edition)
posted by caddis on Mar 6, 2010 - 4 comments

Final Stage Boss Battle with Infant Mortality

Ever wondered what would happen if all those people playing Farmville and Mafia Wars were trying to save the world instead? Enter Urgent Evoke, "a ten week crash course in changing the world," designed by Jane McGonigal (who previously designed World without Oil) for the World Bank Institute. Players take on tasks like the UN Millennium Development Goals. Wanna play? [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea on Mar 4, 2010 - 37 comments

Conflict continues over homosexuality in Uganda

Petition against Anti-Gay Bill Delivered to Ugandan Parliament. Fierce debate continues in Uganda over the Bahati Bill, a controversial anti-homosexual law currently under consideration by the Ugandan government (prev). [more inside]
posted by allkindsoftime on Mar 2, 2010 - 32 comments

Better Than We Thought

"The conventional wisdom that Africa is not reducing poverty is wrong." [PDF, 339.97 KB] [more inside]
posted by SpringAquifer on Mar 2, 2010 - 21 comments

A new kind of civil disobedience?

Boston College sociology professor Lisa Dodson does research on poverty, public policy, and low-income work and family life. Recently her research took a different turn, as she discovered through interviews with U.S. managers in charge of low-income workers that some of them feel "(a) sense of unfairness (...) as a supervisor, making enough to live comfortably while overseeing workers who couldn’t feed their families on the money they earned. That inequality, he told her, tainted his job, making him feel complicit in an unfair system that paid hard workers too little to cover basic needs." Professor Dobson talks about this phenomenon, and how it plays out in that some managers undermine the system, in interviews in the Boston Globe and on public radio. [more inside]
posted by Harald74 on Mar 2, 2010 - 35 comments

Portfolios of the Poor

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day A new book by Daryl Collins of Bankable Frontier Associates; Jonathan Morduch of NYU's Financial Access Initiative; Stuart Rutherford, author of The Poor and Their Money and founder of SafeSave; and Orlanda Ruthven of Impactt investigates the question of how over a billion people make ends meet on only $2 a day. "The authors report on the yearlong "financial diaries" of villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa--records that track penny by penny how specific households manage their money." The strategies adopted by the households of Hamed & Khadeja (pdf) from Bangladesh, Thembi (pdf) from South Africa, Feizal (pdf) from India and others may surprise you.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal on Feb 27, 2010 - 10 comments

A Lot To Live For

An Olympic Tent Village has opened in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, on an empty lot currently being leased by the Vancouver Olympic Committee, in response to increasing homelessness in "Canada's most livable city", in spite of spending more than $6 billion on the 2010 Olympic Games. Mayor Gregor Robertson has stated that they won't be evicted - for now. [more inside]
posted by dinsdale on Feb 17, 2010 - 42 comments

funemployment

How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America
The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come. (via rw)
posted by kliuless on Feb 11, 2010 - 84 comments

Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth

“Being willing to sit in a boring classroom for 12 years, and then sign up for four more years and then sign up for three or more years after that—well, that’s a pretty good measure of your willingness to essentially do what you’re told,” - The Santa Fe Reporter talks to Economist Samuel Bowles about New Mexico's income gap, welfare, social mobility, and a radical way to help. (Via)
posted by The Whelk on Feb 5, 2010 - 47 comments

You will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House

"Indian country begins where the serene prairie of Custer county gives way to the formidable rock spires marking out South Dakota's rugged Badlands. The road runs straight until the indistinguishable, clapboard American homesteads fade from view and the path climbs into a landscape sharpened by an eternity of wind and water. At this time of year, the temperature slides to tens of degrees below freezing and a relentless gale sets the snow dancing on the road, a whirligig of white blotting out the black of the asphalt."

A sobering look at one Native American community and their hopes during the Obama years, by The Guardian's Chris McGreal.
posted by saturnine on Jan 10, 2010 - 18 comments

Slashing...prices?

In a story broken by the New York Times, unsold clothes were found in trash bags outside of H&M and Wal-Mart, apparently cut up so as to be unwearable, in a city with 16,000 homeless people currently in the midst of a recession and a very cold winter. [more inside]
posted by emilyd22222 on Jan 10, 2010 - 284 comments

Alabamas Homeboys

Homeboy Industries (gang intervention organization) visits Alabama Village in Prichard Alabama. Videos, photos and an essay describe their visit.
posted by proneSMK on Dec 20, 2009 - 9 comments

Going hungry in the USA

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]
posted by wilful on Nov 17, 2009 - 78 comments

People are not where they live, or where they sleep

Becky Blanton spent a year in her van grieving her dead father. Even with a full-time job and a writing career, a depression quickly set in which made Blanton feel like a homeless person. How do we define homelessness? [more inside]
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Oct 28, 2009 - 46 comments

Detroit and the Economy

Last week in Detroit, where unemployment is close to 30%, one third of all households are in poverty, and whole neighborhoods have been abandoned, chaos ensued as an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 people lined up in the hopes of getting federal aid. 65,000 applications were taken for a new program that will fund only 3,500 people (via).
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 on Oct 11, 2009 - 83 comments

The Justice Gap in America

Nearly one million people who seek help for civil legal problems, such as foreclosures and domestic violence, will be turned away this year. A new report by the Legal Services Corporation, a non-profit established by Congress in 1974 to ensure equal access to justice, finds that legal aid programs turn away one person for every client served. The full report, "Documenting the Justice Gap in America" is available here (pdf). The 2009 report is an update and expansion on a 2005 report (available here) finding that 80% of the poor lacked access to legal aid. [more inside]
posted by lunit on Sep 30, 2009 - 8 comments

Ten Dollars an Hour

In an area where racial divisions are very stark, the relationships between the "haves" and the "have nots" are very illuminating. Leasse William is a cook at the Sigma Nu fraternity house on the campus of the University of Mississippi. She makes ten dollars an hour. For nine months of pay this equals out at about $15,000/year. This places her well within the over 20% of the population in Mississippi that lives below the poverty line. This mini documentary by Ben Guest about Leasse shines a light on the perspectives of the various actors involved in this drama of racial tensions and class disparity.
posted by anansi on Sep 26, 2009 - 85 comments

Beyond war and crisis

Sustainable Security is a website launched this month by the Oxford Research Group "to be an important platform for promoting a better understanding of the real threats to global security in the 21st century and the policies that should be implemented to address those threats at their root cause." It highlights "four interconnected drivers of global insecurity: climate change; competition over natural resources; global militarism; and poverty and marginalisation. Prof. Paul Rogers makes the case for a rethink of the security paradigm.
posted by Abiezer on Sep 11, 2009 - 10 comments

Reaping what's sown.

With inadequate access to basic health care (WHO .doc summary), impoverished Afghans turn to cheap and available opium as 'medicine' for pain relief, cough suppression and other ailments. The level of addiction among children is at a critical level. Jawed Taiman's film Addicted in Afghanistan provides some further perspective. [more inside]
posted by uaudio on Aug 11, 2009 - 35 comments

Barbara Ehrenreich on Poverty in America

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]
posted by ocherdraco on Aug 10, 2009 - 77 comments

Girl on the Verge

Love Me is a heartbreaking photo essay that follows the life of a 17 year old girl living in extreme poverty in Southeastern Ohio. [more inside]
posted by lunasol on Aug 4, 2009 - 169 comments

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