Monday Morning Snap Out of It!

As we stare down the potential financial bailout this morning, I wanted to raise awareness of a couple other crises threatening poor women and especially poor women of color at home and abroad.

First, I don’t know how many folks have been paying attention, I certainly haven’t, and neither has the U.S. media, but there is devastation the likes we’ll hopefully never see in Haiti after four severe tropical disasters this summer.  The wire services and foreign press have all the horrific details on places like Gonaives, a city encased in mud that typifies the growing famine and crises consuming the island – the poorest country in the Western hemisphere (IIRC).  The World Food Programme has estimated US$54M is needed to feed the island; the U.S. so far has provided $1M.  For some perspective, we’ve set aside $990M for grants for analog-to-digital tv conversion here at home.  The BBC has some analysis on grassroots investments needed in Haiti, but you can also contribute in the immediate term by donating to humanitarian NGOs such as Care and Save the Children.  There’s also the newly launched Together for Haiti by the Friends of the WFP.  If anyone’s aware of more local NGOs accepting funds (if they’re technologically equipped, at this point), please let us know.

Second, a GOP State Rep in LA has proposed sterilization for poor women as a poverty-fighting measure.

Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied.

“We’re on a train headed to the future and there’s a bridge out,” LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. “And nobody wants to talk about it.”

LaBruzzo said he worries that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government. He said he is gathering statistics now. […]

LaBruzzo, 38, is white, married to a lawyer, has a toddler daughter and holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University.

He is serving his second term in the Legislature…[his] is the same district that sent white supremacist David Duke to the Legislature in 1989.

LaBruzzo described the tube-tying incentive as a brainstorming exercise that has yet to take form as a bill for the Legislature to consider. He said it already has drawn critics who argue the idea is racist, sexist, unethical and immoral. He said more white people are on welfare than black people, so his proposal is not targeting race [IN LOUISIANA?].

LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty, such as education reforms and programs informing people about family planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem. He said he is simply looking for new ways to address it.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, he’s a racist,’ ” LaBruzzo said. “The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions.”

LaBruzzo said he opposes abortion and paying people to have abortions. He described a sterilization program as providing poor people with better opportunities to avoid welfare, because they would have fewer children to feed and clothe.

He acknowledged his idea might be a difficult sell politically.

That’s pretty much the entire article, but please, feel free to read the whole thing and be further outraged.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has actual welfare statistics for the state of LA (monthly payment for mother and 2 children: $240; annual cost: $16.5M, less than total earmarks), and the New Orleans Women’s Health & Justice Initiative and New Orlean’s Women’s Health Clinic have released a comprehensive statement on this racist, sexist and classist initiativeYou can contact LaBruzzo’s office here, or sign the petition circulated by the LA Justice Institute here.


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