Money spent on welfare hasn't declined since reform, it's just that much less of it goes to poor people. In 1998 some 60% of welfare spending was cash benefits for the poor, now it's less than 10% in many states. Instead much of the money is used for programs meant to "promote job preparation, prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies or promote two-parent families." [more inside]
In this six part video series, the BBC follows "22 year old Felicia during her pregnancy as she navigates a welfare system which critics claim puts unfair demands on poor and minority women."
It's Payback Time for Women - "Society is getting a free ride on our unrewarded contributions to the perpetuation of the human race." (via) [more inside]
For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions -"The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield billions in income." (via) [more inside]
Kentucky counties with highest Medicaid rates backed Matt Bevin, who plans to cut Medicaid
Owsley County, one of the nation's poorest places [prev], neatly fit the trend. Nearly 1,000 of its 4,508 residents got health insurance after Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear established Kynect two years ago and expanded Medicaid to include people up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which is $16,105 a year for an individual. Newly insured people started to visit the Owsley County Medical Clinic on the outskirts of Booneville. They desperately needed medical care. Even by Kentucky's lax standards, Owsley has high rates of obesity, smoking and poor nutrition, and as a result, greater than normal incidences of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Some patients wept with relief as longtime ailments finally were treated, clinic officials said. [...] The community's largest-circulation newspaper, the Three Forks Tradition in Beattyville, did not say much about Kynect ahead of the election. Instead, its editorials roasted Obama and Hillary Clinton, gay marriage, Islam, "liberal race peddlers," "liberal media," black criminals and "the radical Black Lives Matter movement."Owsley County voted for Bevin, a Tea Party businessman who vowed to dismantle Kynect, by a 70-25 margin. [more inside]
Rewrite the rules to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy - "If there's one thing Joseph Stiglitz wants to say about inequality, it's that it has been a choice, not an unexpected, unfortunate economic outcome. That's unnerving, but it also means that citizens and politicians have the opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse." (via) [more inside]
A generation of evidence affirms cash transfers as among the most powerful means of eliminating extreme poverty in the world. Transfers of money, along with transfers of food vouchers, have seen Brazilian inequality plummet alongside the numbers of the very poor.
The mayor of Lewiston, Maine recently made headlines when he called for the state to publish the name and address of anyone receiving welfare benefits. The idea of publicly shaming people for receiving government assistance is not new. But when these stories do arise, we rarely stop to think about what we mean when we say someone is "on welfare." In 1983, Mimi Abramovitz tackled that question head-on in a paper provocatively titled "Everyone is on Welfare." Almost 20 years later, she updated the paper for the new millennium. (Also available on Researchgate). [more inside]
The Leap Manifesto was recently launched by a range of Canadian intellectuals, celebrities, and organizations as an attempt to combat catastrophic climate change by convincing Canadians that business as usual is not the only way. [more inside]
How over a million American families live on $2 per day, by Dylan Matthews, VOX [more inside]
FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
An teacher's experience orchestrating student led trigger warnings in adult basic education. Story #1 Story #2
BBC: "A clampdown on "taxpayer-funded subsidies" for "higher earners" living in social housing is to be announced by the chancellor in Wednesday's Budget. Local authority and housing association tenants in England who earn more than £30,000 - or £40,000 in London - will have to pay up to the market rent, George Osborne will say. The move is expected to raise up to £250m a year by 2018-19. It is thought that this could affect 340,000 households." George Osborne said: "the Budget would "reward work over welfare" and allow people to keep more of the money they earned."
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]
"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.
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]
The political economy of a universal basic income: "your view of what is feasible should not be backwards looking. The normalization of gay marriage and legalization of marijuana seemed utopian and politically impossible until very recently. Yet in fact those developments are happening, and their expansion is almost inevitable given the demographics of ideology... UBI — defined precisely as periodic transfers of identical fixed dollar amounts to all citizens of the polity — is by far the most probable and politically achievable among policies that might effectively address problems of inequality, socioeconomic fragmentation, and economic stagnation." [more inside]
- Welfare economics: an introduction
- The perils of Potential Pareto
- Inequality, production, and technology
- Welfare theorems, distribution priority, and market clearing
- Normative is performative, not positive
"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.
VC for the people - "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
It is time for America to reconsider who is dependent on welfare. Poverty is not only the lack of income and wealth but also the poverty of power. A key part of the poverty of power is to be defined as dependent: dependent on charity, handouts, welfare. Yet, it is the wealthy, not the poor, who are dependent on government subsidies. To transform dependency into self-determination is the work of poor people's movements. To demonstrate the dependency of the wealthy on welfare as well as on the labor of the poor must be our collective work.
Double serving of media critique on the proliferation of "poverty porn" TV (in the UK) over at Sociological Imagination with "A Summer of Television Poverty Porn" and "Pride, Propaganda and Poverty Porn: On Benefits and Proud." Programs under discussion include We Pay All Your Benefits, How to Get a Council House, Benefits Britain 1949, On Benefits and Proud. [more inside]
Just two sentences make Americans as pro-welfare as Danes People’s attitudes to welfare depend on their perceptions of welfare recipients. If they believe that welfare recipients are lazy, they are unlikely to support welfare. If they believe that welfare recipients are making an effort to find work, they are likely to take a different attitude. Aarøe and Petersen conducted survey experiments in the United States and Denmark to investigate whether stereotypes shaped Danish and European attitudes. They randomly exposed some participants in both countries to canned information suggesting that a welfare recipient was lazy, others to information suggesting that a welfare recipient was motivated to find work, and others to no substantial information about the recipient. They then asked people to evaluate social welfare benefits. On average, Americans were considerably more likely to associate welfare with laziness than Danes. But what’s interesting is that these stereotypes were largely overwhelmed by the canned information when it was available. When the man on welfare was described in the following terms: "He has always had a regular job, but has now been the victim of a work-related injury. He is very motivated to get back to work again" the differences between Americans and Danes disappeared. Both were largely willing to support social welfare measures. [more inside]
“If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food.” Food stamp assistance in the US will be cut by $5 billion this Friday. Among those affected by the cuts, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are 22 million children and 9 million seniors and people with disabilities.
How we prioritize federal spending in America... National Priorities Project is a national non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making complex federal budget information transparent and accessible so people can prioritize and influence how their tax dollars are spent.
'Damned if you do, doomed if you don't' - When it comes to violating welfare rules, recipients sometimes do so after suggestions from caseworkers. Published by Al Jazeera America (previously), which opened for business just this month. Consider it a sequel piece to Planet Money's controversial report on dissability fraud (previously).
A 5-year-old girl saw the dust trail of the bus and pedaled toward it on a red tricycle. Three teenage boys came barefoot in swimsuits. A young mother walked over from her trailer with an infant daughter in one arm and a lit cigarette in the other. “Any chance there will be leftover food for adults?” she asked. It was almost 1 p.m. For some, this would be the first meal of the day. For others, the last.
In rural Tennessee, a new way to help hungry children: A bus turned bread truck
Don't look at the comments. Do look at the photos.
In rural Tennessee, a new way to help hungry children: A bus turned bread truck
Don't look at the comments. Do look at the photos.
Rising Demand for Long-Term Services and Supports for Elderly People (pdf, 574 kb) - "By 2050, one-fifth of the total U.S. population will be elderly (that is, 65 or older), up from 12 percent in 2000 and 8 percent in 1950. The number of people age 85 or older will grow the fastest over the next few decades, constituting 4 percent of the population by 2050, or 10 times its share in 1950. That growth in the elderly population will bring a corresponding surge in the number of elderly people with functional and cognitive limitations."
"Before examining the night in question – the petrol, the plot, the screaming 999 calls, the dead children – Thirlwall said: “It is necessary to look at the history of your relationship with women.” I’ve rarely heard a judge say such a thing, although in the judicial system there aren’t that many female judges, so there’s more chance this take on events is overlooked. Across Europe, the average gender balance among judges is 52 per cent men and 48 per cent women. At 23 per cent, England and Wales is fourth from the bottom, followed only by Azerbaijan, Scotland and Armenia. The higher up the court system, the more male-dominated the bench becomes. Only 15.5 per cent of High Court judges are women. The odds were against Philpott meeting a female judge this week – one woman he had no chance of controlling, striking, or impregnating – but I’m quietly joyous he did." In The Independent, Grace Dent looks at the abusive background of Mick Philpott, who got his six children killed in a house fire he started to take revenge on his ex. [more inside]
Though reducing hunger in school children has been proven to lead to a "significant increase in educational opportunity and attainment", the Tennessee state legislature believes they have a better plan to improve the performance of underprivileged students: a 30 percent reduction in "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families" benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school.
In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
From April 2013 all working-age housing benefit claimants will experience a reduction in their benefit if their home has what is termed a 'spare bedroom'. Some people have a problem with this, and it is believed it will plunge 95,000 Britons into poverty. Prime Minister David Cameron has defended the tax saying it is important to "get control of housing benefit". Some who voted for the tax claim to have never heard of it, even though there are some high profile cases in the media detailing how people will suffer. The Bedroom Tax might be targeting the poor, but there may be a Mansion Tax in the planning stages to help balance the scales -- or not. It's a modern Window Tax!
London advertising agency Iris have come under fire for the design of their staff benefits booklet. The photographs, while beautifully composed, are being criticised for their referencing of the chav stereotype, particularly at a time when benefit claimants are seeing drastic cuts proposed by the government. [more inside]
The prime minister has suggested that people under the age of 25 could lose the right to housing benefit, as part of moves to cut the welfare bill. Scrapping the benefit for that age group would save almost £2bn a year. via BBC News. Comments sortable and worth reading. [more inside]
Ironically, the only people on the internet now defending forcing people to sleep under a bridge are trolls.
In the midst of the Jubilee celebrations, the Guardian reported that coachloads of long-term unemployed jobseekers were bussed in to steward the Queen's river pageant without pay as part of the UK government's controversial new Work Programme. Jobseekers were made to sleep under London Bridge and given “no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift”. [more inside]
In 2008 the late Robert Fitch, author of "The Assassination of New York", was asked to foretell an Obama presidency before the Harlem Tenants Association:
If we examine more carefully the interests that Obama represents; if we look at his core financial supporters; as well as his inmost circle of advisors, we’ll see that they represent the primary activists in the demolition movement and the primary real estate beneficiaries of this transformation of public housing projects into condos and townhouses: the profitable creep of the Central Business District and elite residential neighborhoods southward; and the shifting of the pile of human misery about three miles further into the South Side and the south suburbs... Obama’s political base comes primarily from Chicago FIRE—the finance, insurance and real estate industry. And the wealthiest families—the Pritzkers, the Crowns and the Levins.
"In other words, credit has become America’s welfare policy," says Sheldon Garon, Princeton University professor and author of Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves. The US savings rate currently = 3.8%, while the Euro Area savings rate = 13.7%[pdf]. [more inside]
"The other day I was having a conversation with a Tory who accused me of using "strong language" when I pointed out that welfare reform is forcing disabled people to commit suicide. He felt there's no forcing going on. I had to explain that one needs money to live in this world, if you deny people money they have no way of carrying on." [more inside]
Shattered Families, a new report from the Applied Research Center, has found that there are at least 5,100 children currently living in foster care who are prevented from uniting with their detained or deported parents. Executive Summary(PDF) and Full Report(PDF) [more inside]
60 percent of Americans using a prominent tax deduction believe they get nothing from "government social programs." Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler describes what she calls the "submerged state," in which tens of millions of Americans benefit from $1 trillion of federal subsidies to private activities while believing they receive no benefits from the government. [more inside]
Psychologists are now theorizing that humans have a depletable reservoir of self-control, and that this is why poor people remain poor.
9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes - "4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all: Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero... 9. Other countries do it better: no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness" (via) [more inside]
Oranges and Sunshine is a film by Jim Loach, son of Ken, telling the story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker who helped uncover a British Stolen Generation, children taken from often-living parents and shipped overseas. The Guardian interviews Harold Haig, one of the victims of the policy:
She was the first to raise the possibility that Haig had been told a terrible untruth – that he might not be an orphan after all. "I didn't think anyone would be so cruel to tell you that sort of a lie," he says. [His mother] had died just a year before he first visited Britain.
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."
Life after Capitalism - Beyond capitalism, it seems, stretches a vista of... capitalism: [more inside]
Get the Energy Sector off the Dole - Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future—and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.
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