Tag Archives | Poverty

Chris Hedges: Make the Rich Panic

David Shankbone (CC BY 2.0)

David Shankbone (CC BY 2.0)

Over at Truthdig, Chris Hedges writes an impassioned call to action: “destroy the system.” Maybe it’s time…

Chris Hedges writes at Truthdig:

It does not matter to the corporate rich who wins the presidential election. It does not matter who is elected to Congress. The rich have the power. They throw money at their favorites the way a gambler puts cash on his favorite horse. Money has replaced the vote. The wealthy can crush anyone who does not play by their rules. And the political elites—slobbering over the spoils provided by their corporate masters for selling us out—understand the game. Barack and Michelle Obama, as did the Clintons, will acquire many millions of dollars once they leave the White House. And your elected representative in the House or Senate, if not a multimillionaire already, will be one as soon as he or she retires from government and is handed seats on corporate boards or positions in lobbying firms.

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Detroit’s Alter Road divide

alter road and brooks street

A fence erected just past the Alter Rd and Brooks St intersection, preventing travelers by foot and vehicle from getting into Grosse Pointe Park by that road

Michigan’s 8 Mile road became world famous with the rise of Eminem. We all know the story. One side is in the city of Detroit, one side is the city of Warren. One side is mostly white, the other mostly black. Both sides of 8 Mile are poverty stricken neighborhoods yet the locals see 8 Mile as more than a divide between cities, they see it as a divide between cultures and peoples. Less famous is Detroit’s other Berlin wall of a road, Alter road. Unlike 8 Mile it runs completely within the limits of Detroit but residents view it as a dividing line of cultures and lifestyles between the poverty stricken blight of Detroit and an affluent predominantly white Grosse Pointe Park.

The divide is more visible here than it is at 8 Mile.… Read the rest

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Guilty of Being Poor: When a Community Issues Arrest Warrants for More Offenses than It Has Residents, Something’s Deeply Wrong

ann harkness (CC BY 2.0)

ann harkness (CC BY 2.0)

Karen Dolan writes at OtherWords:

Here’s something you might not know about Ferguson, Missouri: In this city of 21,000 people, 16,000 have outstanding arrest warrants. In fact, in 2013 alone, authorities issued 9,000 warrants for over 32,000 offenses.

That’s one-and-a-half offenses for every resident of Ferguson in just one year.

Most of the warrants are for minor offenses such as traffic or parking violations. And they’re part of a structural pattern of abuse, according to a recent Department of Justice investigation.

The damning report found that the city prioritized aggressive revenue collection over public safety. It documented unconstitutional policing, violations of due process, and racial bias against the majority black population.

One woman’s story illustrates what’s happening to more and more people as municipal revenues become the focus of police departments all over the country.

It began with a parking ticket back in 2007, which saddled a low-income black woman with a $151 fine and extra fees.

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It’s Poverty, Not the ‘Teenage Brain,’ That Causes the Most Youth Crime

Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0)

Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0)

Lauren Kirchner writes at The Pacific Standard:

While trading stories about the wide range of things that confused us when we were young children, a friend described how afraid he used to be of teenagers. He wasn’t afraid of any actual young adults in his life, but rather the capital-T teenagers he heard about when his parents watched the local news on TV every evening. It seemed to his nervous ears as though the police were always on the hunt for some devious, dangerous Teenagers who had committed some crime or another in his town.

Compounding his confusion was the vague knowledge that all of the adults in his life were once themselves teenagers. If being a Teenager necessarily meant committing crimes, then what had his parents and grandparents and teachers done in their day, he wondered? And how did they all seem to have gotten away with it?

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What that Black and Blue (or White and Gold) Dress Teaches us about our Over-Privileged Lives (Hint: It’s not what You Think)

Harlem Trash Ioan Sameli (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Harlem Trash
Ioan Sameli (CC BY-SA 2.0)

  1.  I’m sure that many (most?) Disinfonauts are familiar with this irrationally infamous Black and Blue dress. It was all over the interwebz for several days last week, to an extent that it was basically the only thing one could read about in certain corners of it. I’m sure many of you thought it was a waste of time. A trifling and trivial thing to devote so much energy on.

There are certainly a number of valid reasons for feeling as much. But I didn’t. I found the whole thing fascinating. Legitimately so. The situation roused a certain wonder within me that I don’t feel near enough these days. I found it incredible that people could look at the same exact picture and see two so wildly distinct and divergent things. Moreover, it was stupefying that most people saw the dress as white and gold when its real color was the less common sight of black and blue.… Read the rest

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How Expensive It Is to Be Poor

The excellent Charles M. Blow dissects a Pew Center report entitled “The Politics of Financial Insecurity” for the New York Times:

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center released a study that found that most wealthy Americans believed “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.”

More-Financially-Secure-Are-More-Likely-to-Have-Consistent-Ideological-Views

This is an infuriatingly obtuse view of what it means to be poor in this country — the soul-rending omnipresence of worry and fear, of weariness and fatigue. This can be the view only of those who have not known — or have long forgotten — what poverty truly means.

“Easy” is a word not easily spoken among the poor. Things are hard — the times are hard, the work is hard, the way is hard. “Easy” is for uninformed explanations issued by the willfully callous and the haughtily blind.

Allow me to explain, as James Baldwin put it, a few illustrations of “how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”

First, many poor people work, but they just don’t make enough to move out of poverty — an estimated 11 million Americans fall into this category.

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Inequity is at a boiling point in today’s America

Amir Farshad Ebrahimi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Amir Farshad Ebrahimi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via Times-Standard

Communities all over the country are struggling to find answers to the issue of the increasing numbers of homeless people and people living in poverty. Most of those communities are themselves struggling with budget problems and, at best, are only able to come up with Band-Aid solutions. What’s happening here in the richest country in the world? Do we just have a lot of lazy people?

Let’s take a look at some numbers (compiled by Bill Moyers and Company): families of 4 living on less than $11,510 (poverty level for one person) number 20.4 million, that’s 1 in 15 Americans, 7.1 million are children; 25 percent of U.S. jobs pay below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000/year; in 2011 28 percent of all workers earned poverty level wages. Overall 50 percent of U.S. workers earn less than $34,000/year.

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Most Americans Are One Paycheck Away From The Street

If you didn’t receive your next scheduled paycheck, could you stay in your home? MarketWatch reports that most Americans would be out on the street:

Americans are feeling better about their job security and the economy, but most are theoretically only one paycheck away from the street.

Google pay

Approximately 62% of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair, according to a new survey of 1,000 adults by personal finance website Bankrate.com. Faced with an emergency, they say they would raise the money by reducing spending elsewhere (26%), borrowing from family and/or friends (16%) or using credit cards (12%).

“Emergency savings are not just critical for weathering an emergency, they’re also important for successful homeownership and retirement saving,” says Signe-Mary McKernan, senior fellow and economist at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit organization that focuses on social and economic policy.

The findings are strikingly similar to a U.S.

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To Prison for Poverty – Part One

This season reminds us that there are a lot of things to be thankful for.

For instance, not having to go to jail for minor infractions like parking tickets.

But sadly, that’s not the reality for everyone. We live in a world where government and corporations continue to make money off of those who are poor, hungry and desperate.

To Prison for Poverty exposes two private probation companies who exploit and make million of dollars off of people who can’t afford small fines.

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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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