The UK has opened its first social supermarket as a means of combatting food poverty.* [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.
There's been little discussion about the problem of poverty in the current Presidential election, the conventions pretty much ignored it. "The Circle of Protection, composed of Christian leaders from across the religious spectrum, released President Barack Obama's and GOP nominee Mitt Romney's video responses today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C." Both candidates responded.
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?
“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)
AIGA: Inequality Matters
David Brooks makes an interesting point. Rebuild New Orleans to ensure that the cycle of generational poverty is broken. Does this seem like social engineering? There is a precedent for this, though. Can it--should it?--be done on a citywide scale? Should the government meddle this much in the day-to-day lives of people?
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..