Archive for the 'Poverty' Category

04
Feb
09

Your government hates you

Senate Dems lack the votes to pass the stimulus bill.  Cuts will likely come

…out of spending and not tax cuts…since Republicans and moderate Democrats are driving the boat on this one [and] then the bill will be completely unable to accomplish its goals on job creation. It may provide a temporary boost, but won’t do what’s needed to stop the bleeding. The recession will continue for years and maybe slip into depression.

Taxpayers to absorb bailed out bank losses; banks to keep any profits from any healthy assets.

Barbara Boxer rips the GOP for suddenly discovering “fiscal responsibility.

Contact your congressperson and Obama and even Biden’s middle-class office, and tell them you want the stimulus passed yesterday!

And people wonder why I’m so angry…

09
Jan
09

Support the Lilly Ledbetter and Paycheck Fairness Acts

All the details and links to contact your reps are up at my place at Change.org.  Don’t miss the extremely depressing wage gap calculator, provided in my comment there at 9:51 a.m.  Ack.  (Links to bill content summaries are also in comments.)

Here’s a post I wrote last night about unequal pay and unequal work.  Here’s some AP coverage of the House bills introduced this morning.

Support equal pay and end wage discrimination!!

06
Jan
09

More Shameless Self-Promotion

I’m blogging at Change.org!  Please join the discussion on poverty in the U.S.!

31
Dec
08

Happy New Year!!!

Hope you feel divine in 2009!!

I wish I had deeper words of wisdom than that, but I’ve been busting my butt populating my new blog on U.S. poverty over at Change.org.  Check it out, bookmark it, and let me know what you think!

And now, if you can believe it, I’m in Vegas for New Year’s for my mom’s 60th.  Hi.Lar.I.Ous.  (It’s unlikely the man and I will be hitting the Little White Wedding Chapel while we’re here!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!!

Be safe.

16
Dec
08

Bush by the numbers

I received this via e-mail this morning from the progressive NYC think-tank Drum Major Institute.  It’s reprinted in its chilling entirety.

The 2008 DMI Injustice Index: The Bush Legacy

Opening weekend box office gross of Oliver Stone’s Bush biopic “W”: $10.6 million

Opening weekend box office gross of Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 911, which intensely criticized the Bush Administration: $23.9 million

Number of days during his presidency that Bush spent on vacation at either Camp David or his Texas ranch, as of August 2008 (including partial days off): 916

Total number of years in Bush’s presidency, if these vacation days are subtracted: 5.5

Proportion of U.S. workers who have no paid vacations or holidays at work: 1 in 4

Date on which President Bush received a presidential daily briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” while in the midst of a month-long vacation: 8/6/2001

Date on which a FEMA report warned that Hurricane Katrina could “could greatly overtop levees and protective systems” in New Orleans, displacing more than a million residents, a warning which came when the President was again on a month-long vacation: 8/27/2005

Date of a second warning, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that Katrina would “likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching”: 8/29/2008

Date that President Bush told ABC “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”: 9/1/2005

Date on which George W. Bush announced “I believe we’re overextended… if we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world and nation building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road”: 10/3/2000

Date on which the United Nation’s chief weapons inspector, Han Blix, informed the U.N. Security Council that he had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, although inspection and monitoring efforts would continue: 3/7/2003

Date that United States invaded Iraq: 3/19/2003

Cost of the Iraq War through 2008: $567 billion

Approximate cost of the privately funded George W. Bush Presidential Library, whose manager insists it will discuss the war “upfront”: $250 million

Year the library is set to open: 2014

Year by which the No Child Left Behind law mandates that all students nationwide must achieve grade-level proficiency in reading and math: 2016

Number of societies on earth that has ever succeeded in achieving universal student proficiency, according to testing expert Robert Linn: 0

Amount by which No Child Left Behind has been underfunded since its inception, according to Senator Tom Harkin: $70.9 billion

Proportion of U.S. public schools that are failing to meet No Child Left Behind standards as of October 2008: 2 out of 5

Percentage increase in overall school performance when previously uninsured children were enrolled in public health coverage, according to a California study: 24%

Change in the number of children with health coverage during President Bush’s tenure: -78,000

Percentage of President Bush’s total vetoes that blocked expansion of children’s health insurance: 20%

Number of times he cited the superiority of private insurance programs in his message explaining the first veto to Congress: 5

Year when President Bush made privatizing Social Security the centerpiece of his State of the Union Address, asserting that “your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver.”: 2005

Number of points the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped on September 29, 2008: 778

Overall change in stock market wealth between Oct. 2007 and Oct. 2008: -$8.4 trillion

Date President Bush signed legislation phasing out the federal estate tax: 6/7/2001

Increase in the number of U.S. millionaires since that year: 928,000

Increase in the number of Americans living in poverty since that year: 4.4 million

Cost of all Bush’s tax cuts from 2001 to 2007: $1.3 trillion

Date President Bush announced that his tax cuts would “encourage more investment” and “strengthen the foundation of our economy so that every American who wants to work will be able to find a job.’: 5/28/2003

Rank of the business cycle that included these tax cuts compared to all business cycles since 1949 in terms of employment growth: last

Rank in terms of investment: last

Change in the real median income of non-retiree households since 2000: -$2,010

Estimated home equity lost by American families with the bursting of the housing bubble: $4 trillion

Year that subsidiaries of the U.S. Treasury Department struck down laws in Georgia and New Jersey that were intended to rein in predatory lending and prevent foreclosures within those states: 2003

Year in which the Federal Reserve issued its own rules to rein in predatory lending and prevent foreclosures: 2008

Number of home foreclosure filings in the first three quarters of 2008: 2.2 million

Number of surrounding homes likely to suffer price declines as a result of this number of foreclosures according to the Center for Responsible Lending : 40.6 million

Date on which President Bush appeared on the NBC game show “Deal or No Deal,” joking that he was “thrilled to be anywhere with high ratings’: 4/21/08

Percentage difference in viewership of the episode with the Bush cameo, compared to the show’s season average: -27%

Approximate proportion of Americans who approved of President’s Bush handling of the Presidency in October, 2008: 1 in 5

Proportion of American adults currently incarcerated in a prison or jail: 1 in 100

Date on which President Bush commuted the prison sentence of I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s former Chief of Staff, who was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice: 7/2/2007

Percentage change in the number of full time staff monitoring hazardous goods at the Consumer Product Safety Commission during Bush’s tenure: -16%

Percentage change in the number of federal investigators who monitor employers’ compliance with minimum wage, overtime, and child labor laws during Bush’s tenure: -23%

Percentage of Bush Supreme Court appointees who ruled that factory worker Lilly Ledbetter would get no recompense from her employer despite proving 20 years of pay discrimination: 100%

Number of judges Bush appointed to the Supreme Court as president: 2

Number of Supreme Court Justices who ruled to stop the Florida recount in Bush v. Gore, effectively handing the 2000 election to George W. Bush: 5

Date on which Vice President Dick Cheney announced “history will be the judge – and history, I believe, will say, job well done.” 10/3/2008

To read more from DMI’s 2008 Year In Review, click here.


12
Dec
08

Friday afternoon news dump

Say hello to Change.org’s newest blogger!!  (No, over here!!!)

Yes, me!

I will be blogging about poverty in the U.S.

It’s expected to curb my personal blogging here, but stay tuned for details.

Many thanks I think to Feministe who originally linked to their job postings.  Many thanks to friends and fellow bloggers for thinking through issues of poverty with me here.

08
Dec
08

5 years out of step?

Talking about GOP Candidate Anh “Joseph” Cao’s win this weekend over Bill Jefferson in Louisiana’s 2nd House district, local reporter John Maginnis described the state as “five years out of step” with the rest of the country.  It’s a place where Republicans are “still coming up.”  The main themes of the victory are a) low turnout among black voters and b) white activism to vote the indicted Jefferson out of office.  Many have pointed out that Cao’s win reflects post-Katrina demographic change in New Orleans: the black population has shrunk by at least 7 %, and whites have increased by 5%.  Asian-Americans – mostly Vietnamese – make up 3% of the city’s post-storm population.  Last year, the City Council became white majority again for the first time in 20 years.

What I find more interesting about Cao’s victory is his inspiration to enter politics after Katrina, due to the flooding of his office and home and the poor government response to the disaster.  It is this kind of local activism that I have seen in the city and region since the storm.  It is this burgeoning, organized activism that promises to fill the political and socio-economic gaps in the city and region, given the chronic lack of local government leadership in New Orleans, and/or the willful neglect of local and state governments around the Gulf Coast.  That is, one remarkable outcome of the 2005 storms is the tremendous civic infrastructure that is being built by activists, professional advocates, non-profits and funders, because governments either lack the money or political will to rebuild fairly and responsibly.

As the field remarks, the GOP’s big tent pretty much begins and ends in Louisiana.  Much more so than creationist Gov. Jindal, we might look to citizen-activist Representative-elect Cao for insight on how to expand the GOP to include those who simply want better, more responsible government to fulfill our individual rights to private property and to help us run our small businesses.  I’m obviously not all that interested in strengthening the GOP, but I’m intrigued by the task ahead for the Party, as it must modernize and moderate its platform if it ever wants centrist Republicans to turn up at the polls again.

But Cao’s election symbolizes a broader trend underway in Louisiana: the slow, methodological development of citizen engagement, non-profit capacity building, and political accountability.  Louisianans have their work cut out for them: Jindal has abolished the Department of Labor in this right-to-work state, wants to effectively get rid of the Medicaid system, and has imposed cuts to vital non-profits throughout the state.  This is also the place where only 2 months ago GOP Rep. John LaBruzzo advocated sterilization for low-income women as a poverty alleviation measure, then patted himself on the back for taking a tough, bold, innovative anti-poverty approach.  Then there’s Jena.  And Angola.

I need to stop now before I further inspire my LA and Southern colleagues to remind me of the Northeast’s and Boston’s own dirty laundry of injustice and political chicanery.    But I write from an inspired position.  The people I’ve met in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast are doing more work than is reasonably expected to rebuild their homes and communities in the absence of government leadership.  It is some of the most impressive mobilization I’ve seen in my shortish life.   And they’re dragging their governments, with their shuttered Charity Hospitals, toxic FEMA trailers and bloated ports, into a new, more progressive era.  It’s like the civic activist version of the World’s Strongest Man contest.  Stay tuned!!

07
Dec
08

hell no, hell yes

Thank goodness someone said it: Caroline Kennedy – the audacity of entitlement?

On the flip side, this is a fabulous appointment.  Here’s hoping we can rectify some of the massive wrongs by the Bush Administration at the V.A.  The treatment of Vets in our country, preceeding Bush but exacerbated by him (like every other inequality) is reprehensible.  The conditions at Walter Reed ranked right up there with life in FEMA trailers in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.

01
Dec
08

Resources, Not Just Role Models

I wanted to get to this one prior to Thanksgiving…

Research shows that children in New York City public housing academically underperform compared to non-public housing peers.  The scholars cite the absence of “role models” and potential presence of immeasurable “differences” between these families and the rest of us. Man, if these kids had a dime for every “culture of poverty” explanation for their achievement gap…

Behavioral explanations emphasize that a lack of “role models” and social networks brought about by “concentrated poverty” lead to unequal outcomes between poor people and an abstracted middle-class cohort (one that might include university researchers, perhaps?) Yes, crime and widespread incarceration of able-bodied men from poor urban communities robs kids of potentially engaged fathers (who also could provide relief for overburdened mothers and grandmothers). But few are mourning their lost wages as a key explanation for the grinding poverty and lack of mobility here.

Public housing is the “shelter of last resort” for the poorest Americans – mostly single moms, children, elderly and disabled. More than half of these kids in NYC live below the poverty level; the average annual household income is about $22,000. Although typical rents are less than $5,000 per year, these figures and adjusted estimates by anti-poverty advocates suggest that after meeting basic needs,these families with greater health and childcare requirements are getting by on less than $400 per month. So should we be surprised that kids fall behind by the fifth grade? Or don’t finish high school or take longer to do so because of the immediate economic or care-giving needs at home?

Culture of poverty arguments obscure the tangible resources required for the effective parenting and mentoring alleged to be absent in the projects. Look at Groundwork, the non-profit mentioned as assisting two young women to succeed at school. Its family and child programs, beyond just “modeling” proper behavior, provide books; music, arts and sports programs; field and camping trips; literacy training; tutoring; test prep; paid internships; financial incentives; parent support groups; mental health services and preventative healthcare; and income supplements. These kids and their parents now have access to the stuff that most middle-class families get through high performing suburban and private schools or their checkbooks.

We tend to use culture of poverty theories to wash our hands of investments in poor communities. (Those teenage girls are just going to have kids anyway; those boys are just going to turn to drug dealing. It’s what they know; what can we do?) Or, we use them to justify marriage support programs rather than drug law reform or alternative sentencing projects. (If they would just get married, he’d stay away from all that criminal behavior!) We’d be better served as activists if we responded critically to the paucity of resources in the projects and the schools – the money, activities, and services that help parents raise their kids and give kids a safe and nurturing environment. An environment, that is, from which role models grow and shine.

25
Nov
08

The Emergency Room

The New York Times reports that intakes at Broward County, FL one-stop career centers are up 60% from one year ago, with people queuing up for one-third fewer jobs. 40% more families are now on public assistance.

Welcome to the “emergency rooms” of The Bush Economy, where desperate neighbors meet overwhelmed service providers, and anxieties about putting food on the table and gifts under the Christmas tree drown out optimism over Obama’s recent victory.

One-stops are the decade-old delivery system for numerous federal employment and public assistance programs for unemployed and low-income individuals. Since 2000, Bush has slashed one-stop funding by 14%, leaving mainly black and immigrant Americans with fewer services in a time of rapidly rising need.

Attorney-blogger TChris proposes that the Obama Administration repair this frayed social safety net as part of its planned infrastructure investment.  I agree.   I’d like to see Obama restore funding to one-stops, further extend unemployment benefits, increase funding and eligibility for food stamps and heating assistance, expand S-CHIP coverage for low-income kids, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit so low-wage workers have more money in their pockets this spring. And I haven’t even gotten to the foreclosure and state budget crises in this holiday wish list!

The percentage of individuals living in poverty could grow by 25% during the first Obama Administration.  (Stimulus be damned!)  Yet, no doubt President “the E/R = universal healthcare” Bush is giving thanks for his smoothly functioning economy this week. I’m grateful he’s finally on his way out, though our work remains – including this Thanksgiving.




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