The dirty war has begun; the early signs are that this will be the most poisonous, socially damaging election campaign for many a long year. Corrosive malice will be poured over anyone on any benefit. The Conservatives are convinced they are laying a killer trap by branding Labour as “the welfare party”.
Time and again ministers, including David Cameron, drop ideas for new cuts into the headlines. Depth charges include the prime minister’s plan to bar the under-25s from housing benefit. Not a week goes by without a new Iain Duncan Smith punitive plan: this Sunday it was a doubtfully legal ban on benefits for non-English speakers. These one-day wonders are designed for front pages to say the “ballooning” benefit bill will be cut. It’s not ballooning, remaining at the same proportion of GDP per capita, except for pensions. But since few understand the fiendish complexity of the benefit system, few will know which of these brash announcements is ever implemented: nasty words speak louder than actions in benefit politics.
The big splash in Sunday and Monday’s Mail has been the call by the Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi to stop benefits to families with more than two children: in or out of work, they should lose child benefits and tax credits for the third child and subsequent ones. This comes from a man of weight in the party: the multimillionaire co-founder of YouGov, one of theFree Enterprise Group of 2010 MPs, and recently appointed to the No 10 policy board. He is not a man to float a career-endangering plan only to have it knocked down by the powers in Downing Street. When they declared it was not “government policy and is not supported by the prime minister”, you can bet he was not discouraged.
I was unaware that my own discontent and anger at the Tory party could grow. Read more for a proper break down of why this is happening (and, if you actually need the explanation, why it shouldn’t be).
FUCK THIS SO FUCKING HARD. UNCONTROLLABLY FURIOUS. This is obscene.
THIS IS WHY LOW MINIMUM WGE IS A PROBLEM YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES.
DONE. SO DONE WITH EVERYONE WHO IS AGAINST MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES.
There are more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression. This is one of their stories.
extremely well written and exploratory piece about the effects of childhood and family homelessness. Childhood homelessness is on the rise in cities such as NYC and DC, reaching numbers the highest they’ve been since the Great Depression. We cannot ignore these children; we are impacting their entire future by allowing them to live like this.
this is definitely not an uplifting read by any means but it’s worth it regardless. I’m rooting for this girl.
AND YET the very same people will tout religious charity, food pantries, and other forms of individual charity rather than more efficient and effective government programs that don’t require people to go to church to access them, and use THAT as evidence that we don’t need government programs in the first place.
Basically, disconnect people from public support systems and substitute ineffective and conditional private endeavors, as we slowly corporatize every aspect of life as we know it, maximizing profits for the wealthy and penalizing the poor for not benefiting from a system that’s set up to screw them.
An interesting fact about family homelessness: before the early-1980s, it did not exist in America, at least not as an endemic, multi-generational problem afflicting millions of poverty-stricken adults and kids. Back then, the typical homeless family was a middle-aged woman with teenagers who wound up in a shelter following some sort of catastrophic bad luck like a house fire. They stayed a short time before they got back on their feet.
In the 1980s, family homelessness did not so much begin to grow as it exploded, leaving poverty advocates and city officials stunned as young parents with small children overwhelmed the shelter system and spilled into the streets. In New York City, the rate of homeless people with underage kids went up by 500 percent between 1981 and 1995. Nationally, kids and families made up less than 1 percent of the homeless population in the early 1980s, according to advocate and researcher Dr. Ellen Bassuk . HUD estimates put the number at 35 percent of people sleeping in shelters in 2010.
“All of a sudden, around the early 1980s we started to see tons of families who were there because of poverty,” Ralph da Costa-Núñez , who worked in Mayor Ed Koch’s administration and is now CEO of the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, tells AlterNet.
The reasons behind the jump in family homelessness are not complex, Núñez says. “It was the gutting of the safety net. Reagan cut every social program that helped the poor. Then there’s inflation so their aid checks are shrinking. Where are they going? Into the streets, into the shelters.”
The administration was especially keen to cut low-income housing programs. Peter Dreier writes that Reagan created a housing task force, ” dominated by politically connected developers, landlords and bankers.” They and the president were in agreement that the market was the best way to address housing for the poor, and instituted cuts in government spending that yielded almost instant results. In 1970, Dreier writes, there were more low-income housing units than families who needed them, but “by 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units.”
Reagan—busted the unions, sent the mentally ill into the streets, and now this. I just shake my head.
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”"
Terry Pratchett, Men At Arms (via idrabear)
This is one of the best breakdowns I’ve ever seen of how expensive it is to be poor.
SERIOUSLY. Whenever people are like “BUY IN BULK! BETTER VALUE! CHEAPER IN THE LONG RUN!!!!!” it’s like HELLOOOO sometimes you haven’t got the money to buy more in one go.
Pratchett as always, words it best.
The worst of Romney’s now-infamous comments about “the 47 percent” came in this couplet: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Put aside the tin-eared term “those people.” When he said this, Romney didn’t just write off half the country behind closed doors. He also confirmed the worst suspicions about who he is: an entitled rich guy with no understanding of how people who aren’t rich actually live.
The thing about not having much money is you have to take much more responsibility for your life. You can’t pay people to watch your kids or clean your house or fix your meals. You can’t necessarily afford a car or a washing machine or a home in a good school district. That’s what money buys you: goods and services that make your life easier, that give you time and space to focus on what you want to focus on.
That’s what money has bought Romney, too. He’s a guy who sold his dad’s stock to pay for college, who built an elevator to ensure easier access to his multiple cars and who was able to support his wife’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s great! That’s the dream.
The problem is living the dream has blinded him to other people’s reality. His comments evince no understanding of how difficult it is to focus on college when you’re also working full time, how much planning it takes to reliably commute to work without a car, how awful it is to choose between skipping a day on a job you can’t afford to lose and letting your sick child fend for herself. The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it.
In their book “Poor Economics,” the poverty researchers Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo try to explain why the poor around the world so often make decisions that befuddle the rich.
Their answer, in part, is this: The poor use up an enormous amount of their mental energy just getting by. They’re not dumber or lazier or more interested in being dependent on the government. They’re just cognitively exhausted:
Our real advantage comes from the many things that we take as given. We live in houses where clean water gets piped in — we do not need to remember to add Chlorine to the water supply every morning. The sewage goes away on its own — we do not actually know how. We can (mostly) trust our doctors to do the best they can and can trust the public health system to figure out what we should and should not do. … And perhaps most important, most of us do not have to worry where our next meal will come from. In other words, we rarely need to draw upon our limited endowment of self-control and decisiveness, while the poor are constantly being required to do so.
Banerjee and Duflo’s argument has been increasingly confirmed by the nascent science of “decision fatigue.” Study after study shows that the more we need to worry about in a day, the harder we have to work to make good decisions.
As economist Jed Friedman wrote in as the World Bank’s development blog:
The repeated trade-offs confronting the poor in daily decision making — i.e. ‘should I purchase a bit more food or a bit more fertilizer?’ — occupy cognitive resources that would instead lay fallow for the wealthy when confronted with the same decision. The rich can afford both a bit more food and a bit more fertilizer, no decision is necessary.
The point here isn’t that Romney is unfamiliar with cutting-edge work in cognitive psychology. It’s that he misses even the intuitive message of this work, the part most of us know without reading any studies: It’s really, really hard to be poor. That’s because the poorer you are, the more personal responsibility you have to take.
Romney, apparently, thinks it’s folks like him who’ve really had it hard. “I have inherited nothing,” the son of a former auto executive and governor told the room of donors. “Everything Ann and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way.” This is a man blind to his own privilege.
Which is his right. But that sentiment informs his policy platform – which calls for sharply cutting social services for the poor to pay for huge tax cuts for the rich — and it suggests he’s trying to make policy with a worldview that’s completely backward.
As president, Romney’s job would be to worry about those people, and to help them. But first he needs to understand what they’re going through.
yup. that poverty-spawned psychic and energetic whirlwind that drains your will and morale and shapes your everyday terrain is exactly what i focused on in the piece i wrote in September of last year, titled No More War On the Poor, over at UMX.
Oh my god, Ann! This sounds JUST LIKE my parents’ story! You know, the one where they were so poor that they had to work three low-wage jobs apiece, collect cans and newspapers out of trash bins, and raise my sister and I in the projects in order to fight their way out of poverty.
You know, the story, Ann! It’s the one where a business environment forged by hundreds of years of institutionalized racism made it impossible for my father to get a white collar job despite his education because who could trust a young black man back then? And remember how institutionalized the racism was that businesses would actually say that to his face? He ended up taking three jobs — at a deli counter, at a Burger King, and as a stock boy — oh yeah, he worked all those jobs at once. Didn’t he know that all he had to do was have his impoverished coal miner father believe in himself more? Lol!
That’s awesome that you got to stay home to raise your children. I mean *I* can relate to that seeing as I had to raise my little sister — if only my parents could afford to be stay at home parents — or afford child care for that matter! As a eight year old, staying up until midnight each night just so that I could wake my mother up in time so that we could pile in the car to pick my father up from his night job was so much fun! Of course, she was sleepy because she had to work multiple jobs too!
Since my mom was the only one who could get an above-minimum wage job on account of her being an “Oriental”, she worked as a secretary, at a printing press, and as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant six days a week. I wish she had just listened to Mitt!
Remember how the minimum wage was just $2.90/hr…. (Sorry, Ann. I meant “half a share of Mitt’s stock per hour”.) Remember how the low minimum wage meant that you could barely cover your government assisted rent, no-frills groceries, expensive utilities, and your barely working used car (made by Romney’s American Motors! How ironic!) just to keep up let alone put anything into savings? I mean, who has time to entertain when you can’t afford cable television or a home phone?
One thing that was different, though, Ann, was that my parents weren’t happy where you and Mitt clearly were. I mean, they loved each other and they loved us kids, but boy, could they argue! They’d get into arguments about things like how to spend the extra $1 they’d have left over at the end of each week. Do they buy an extra loaf of bread so the kids wouldn’t be as hungry? Fresh milk instead of watering down the can of condensed milk? Gas for the car so that they’d make it to the third job on time. Such silly arguments! They should have learned to struggle like you did. It sounds like you and Mitt clearly did have all the best days! Now that’s a real marriage! (unlike their silly interracial marriage — remember how people used to treat the interracial couples then like we do gay couples now? That was awesome for kids like me!)
When I see you on television talking about how you got by, in your basement apartment with your ironing board dinner table (how Bohemian!) I can’t help but think of my parents. I mean, it’s like you’re fucking twinsies. You should all go ride your Olympic show horses together. I’m sure they’d identify with your struggle 100%. You’d have so much to talk about!
Whistleblowing Wednesday: Children As Young As Six Harvest 25 Percent of U.S. Crops
Knowing the farmer who grows your food has become an important tenet of the modern food movement, but precious little attention is paid to the people who actually pick the crops or “process” the chickens or fillet the fish. U Roberto Romano’s poignant film, The Harvest/La Cosecha (2011), being screened across the country for Farmworker Awareness Week (March 24-29), informs us that nearly 500,000 children as young as six harvest up to 25 percent of all crops in the United States.
What’s illegal in most countries is permitted here. Child migrant labor has been documented in the 48 contiguous states. Seasonal work originates in the southernmost states in late winter where it is warm and migrates north as the weather changes. Every few weeks as families move, children leave school and friends behind. If you’ve had onions (Texas), cucumbers (Ohio or Michigan), peppers (Tennessee), grapes (California), mushrooms (Pennsylvania), beets (Minnesota), or cherries (Washington), you’ve probably eaten food harvested by children.
This isn’t a slavery issue, or an immigration issue per se. What’s remarkable is that most of the migrant child farmworkers are American citizens trying to help their families. This is a poverty issue and it gets to the heart of what we, as consumers, see as the “right price” to pay for food.
Children earn about $1,000 per year for working an average of 30 hours a week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. When you consider that the average annual pay for a migrant family of four is $12,500-$14,500, it’s apparent why some families feel they have no choice but to bring their children into the fields with them. Half of these kids will not graduate from high school because they’re always moving around, perpetuating the cycle of poverty that caused them to be day laborers in the first place.
wut, vegans? wut?
“Poor people just don’t work hard enough!”
#1 A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
#2 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be “low income” or impoverished.
#3 If the number of Americans that “wanted jobs” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent.
#4 The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the United States is now over 40 weeks.
#5 One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers.
#6 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.
#7 Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.
#8 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.
#9 A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that approximately one out of every five Americans that do have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.
#10 According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
#12 Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job. In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.
#13 One recent survey found that one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.
#14 The Federal Reserve recently announced that the total net worth of U.S. households declined by 4.1 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone.
#15 According to a recent study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent.
#16 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.
#17 The U.S. Postal Service has lost more than 5 billion dollars over the past year.
#18 In Stockton, California home prices have declined 64 percent from where they were at when the housing market peaked.
#19 Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for 59 months in a row.
#20 If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.
#21 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant. That figure is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.
#22 New home construction in the United States is on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011.
#23 As I have written about previously, 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are now living with their parents.
#24 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
#25 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
#26 One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#27 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
#28 The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.
#29 It is being projected that the U.S. trade deficit for 2011 will be 558.2 billion dollars.
#30 The retirement crisis in the United States just continues to get worse. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.
#31 Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.
#32 According to a study that was just released, CEO pay at America’s biggest companies rose by 36.5% in just one recent 12 month period.
#34 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
#35 According to an analysis of Census Bureau data done by the Pew Research Center, the median net worth for households led by someone 65 years of age or older is 47 times greater than the median net worth for households led by someone under the age of 35.
#36 If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.
#37 A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7%) than has ever been measured before.
#38 Child homelessness in the United States is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007.
#39 Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.
#40 Sadly, child poverty is absolutely exploding all over America. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4% of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1% of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6% of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6% of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.
#41 Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#43 A staggering 48.5% of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits. Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.
#44 Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP. Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.
#45 For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. federal government had a budget deficit of nearly 1.3 trillion dollars. That was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped one trillion dollars.
#46 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.
#47 Amazingly, the U.S. government has now accumulated a total debt of 15 trillion dollars. When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.
#48 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
#49 The U.S. national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.
#50 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.
Bob Torres, Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights (via thinksquad)
Wow, I totally don’t remember this part of the book. I’ll need to give it another read soon. Also, for whoever doesn’t know, Bob Torres is one of the hosts of Vegan Freak Radio, an awesome radio show about veganism and all that relates to it.
Signal boost! And in case you’re left scratching your head: poverty is a form of violence for many reasons, most of which being that it is cyclical, preventable, and very difficult to escape unassisted. The idea that poor people are “lazy” is false; it’s oversimplifying for the comfort of people who can’t face the idea that they are complicit in such and overwhelming problem.
We have a Food not Bombs in Eugene! It’s operated out of my co-op kitchen actually, we get donations of organic veggies that are about to go bad and make delish food from it. I made some dank guac yesterday and folks loved it… we need more help through. There aren’t enough folks and people always get tired and usually leave our kitchen a mess and mess is contagious and then I have to deal with it. So come help us, we’re friendly ;)
Church. Closes Food Bank. Because it attracts. POOR. PEOPLE.
You should read the actual article for the ignorant, hateful quotes. Apparently, people don’t deserve food until they have come to the realization that their situation is all their own fault. It’s a perfect example of why so many people who need help (whether government assistance or private charity) don’t get it. The people who are able to offer help want to make it as humiliating and dehumanizing as possible.
Also, the assurance that the church is going to focus more on people’s “spiritual hunger” cracked me up. Gee, thanks guys. That will definitely help people feel better about their physical hunger.
Note: This article is from 2000. It is real, it’s a shitty thing to do, but it’s old. I’m not going to take this down, but I will say that there is plenty of similar (or worse) shitty stuff going on currently.