Tag Archives | Poverty

The Just World Fallacy

Logo of the Conservative Party

Logo of the Conservative Party

Kitty S. Jones writes:

The Tories now deem anything that criticises them as “abusive”. Ordinary campaigners are labelled “extremists” and pointing out flaws, errors and consequences of Tory policy is called “scaremongering”. Language and psychology are a powerful tool, because this kind of use “pre-programs” and sets the terms of any discussion or debate. It also informs you what you may think, or at least, what you need to circumnavigate first, in order to state your own account or case. This isn’t simply name-calling or propaganda: it’s a deplorable and tyrannical silencing technique.

The government have [sic] a Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), which is comprised of both behavioural psychologists and economists, which apply positivist (pseudo)psychological techniques to social policy. They produce “Positive psychology” courses which the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are using to ensure participants find satisfaction with their lot; the DWP are also using psychological referral with claims being reconsidered on a mandatory basis by civil servant “decision makers”, as punishment for non-compliance with the new regimes of welfare conditionality for which people claiming out of work benefits are subject.

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How We Punish People for Being Poor

By Kim Hill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Kim Hill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Rebecca Vallas writes at Talk Poverty:

This past weekend, I was part of a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry with New York Times reporter Michael Corkery, whose reporting on the rise in subprime auto loans is as horrifying as it is important.

In what seems a reprisal of the predatory practices that led up to the subprime mortgage crisis, low-income individuals are being sold auto loans at twice the actual value of the car, with interest rates as high as 29 percent. They can end up with monthly payments of $500—more than most of the borrowers spend on food in a month, and certainly more than most can realistically afford. Many dealers appear in essence to be setting up low-income borrowers to fail.

Dealers are also making use of a new collection tool called a “starter-interrupter device” that allows them not only to track a borrower’s movements through GPS, but to shut off a car with the tap of a smartphone—which many dealers do even just one or two days after a borrower misses a payment.

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Here’s What Happened When One City Gave Homeless People Shelter Instead of Throwing Them in Jail

(Disinfo carries some Brave New Films titles, check out Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and Koch Brothers Exposed).

via Alternet:

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

Kilee has been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for years. After three and a half years in federal prison, she’s been homeless for a little over a year now.

“Just because I don’t have a credit card in my pocket,” she says, “does not make me a criminal.”

Kilee lives in one of hundreds of American cities that have criminalized homelessness. Sometimes the “crime” is loitering. Sometimes it’s panhandling.

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Money Makes Parenting Less Meaningful

310px-K.V.Lemoh_(d.1910)._Parent's_Joy

Pic: “Parents’ Joy” by Karl Lemoch (PD)

According to this study, having a higher socioeconomic status makes parents value the experience of raising children, particularly so for women. In contrast, poverty is associated with an increased risk of child abuse.

Via EurekAlert!:

Money and parenting don’t mix. That’s according to new research that suggests that merely thinking about money diminishes the meaning people derive from parenting. The study is one among a growing number that identifies when, why, and how parenthood is associated with happiness or misery.

“The relationship between parenthood and well-being is not one and the same for all parents,” says Kostadin Kushlev of the University of British Columbia. While this may seems like an obvious claim, social scientists until now have yet to identify the psychological and demographic factors that influence parental happiness.

New research being presented today at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference in Austin offers not only insight into the link between money and parental well-being but also a new model for understanding a variety of factors that affect whether parents are happier or less happy than their childless counterparts.

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Debating Poverty At The United Nations: Do The Media Hate The Poor?

United Nations, New York: One is always proud to be invited to speak at the United Nations, one of the few global institutions that is still taken seriously, and that can generate international resolutions and shape programs free of total domination by the big powers.  

When you are an outsider like I am, it’s a bit of an ego boost to think that the world might be listening to little old you, and that, at least for one session, you are among the chosen to hold forth on something serious in what critics deride as ‘The House of Babble.’

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I have been around the world body for years, even as recipient of a prize for a TV documentary from the UN Correspondents Association  (UNCA). In that case, the film offered a strong critique of the UN cockup in Bosnia, but then, the award was presented to me by the then (and sixth) UN  Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali, who clearly hadn’t seen it

So, yes there is pretense and hypocrisy,  but there are also sincere and dedicated people—diplomats and international civil servents– working to improve the world.… Read the rest

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85 Wealthy Elites Have As Much Wealth As Half The World’s Population

rich peopleA group that could easily fit on a single subway car. Via the Guardian:

The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called ‘global elite’ is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday. It warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population.

The development charity fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.

The report found that over the past few decades, the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favor on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report.

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Even a Short Visit to a Rough Neighborhood Can Alter the Psyche

Pic: Millicent_Bystander (CC)

Pic: Millicent_Bystander (CC)

A new peer reviewed study suggests that visiting a rough neighborhood for even a short while can leave the visitor feeling anxious and less trusting:

Via LiveScience:

Students who visited a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood only briefly exhibited less trust and more paranoia than students bussed temporarily to a well-off community, according to new research published today (Jan. 14) in the open-access journal PeerJ.

“What really surprised us is that the visitors, they looked [psychologically] just like the people in the place they visited,” said study researcher Daniel Nettle, a professor of behavioral science at Newcastle University.

Keep reading.

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Wal-Mart Holds Food Drive For Its Hungry Employees

walmartWal-Mart tries to show its concern for some of society’s most vulnerable and deprived: Wal-Mart workers. What seems like an Onion story come to life, reported via Cleveland.com:

It’s a food drive – not for the community, but for needy workers. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” read signs affixed to the tablecloths at the Walmart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton.

The food drive tables are tucked away in an employees-only area. Is the food drive proof the retailer pays so little that many employees can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner?

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said the food drive is proof that employees care about each other. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said.

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Financial Insecurity Causes Temporary IQ Drop Of 13 Points

moneyHow poverty impacts people, via the Seattle Times:

People worrying about having enough money to pay bills tend to lose temporarily the equivalent of 13 IQ points, scientists found when they gave intelligence tests to shoppers at a New Jersey mall and farmers in India.

Dealing with financial strain consumes so much mental energy that people struggling to make ends meet often have little brainpower left for anything else, leaving them more susceptible to bad decisions that can perpetuate their situation, according to the new study.

Mullainathan and colleagues tested the same 464 farmers in the sugar-cane fields of India before and after the harvest and their IQ scores improved by 25 percent when their wallets fattened. Before the harvest, the farmers take out loans and pawn goods. After they sell their harvest, they are flush with cash.

In the New Jersey part of the study, the scientists tested about 400 shoppers at Quaker Bridge Mall, presenting them with scenarios that involved a large and a small car-repair bill.

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