Tag Archives | Poverty

Is it Time to Call “Capitalism” an Existential Threat?

Picture: Lepo Rello (CC)

Picture: Lepo Rello (CC)

Khannea Suntzu writes:

A few years ago I argued that rampant disparity in terms of affluence and poverty (or opportunity versus marginalization) in the world might be interpreted as an existential risk. In other words, a very large number of human beings might literally be pushed in to premature death by the combination of (a) disparity and (b) accelerating technologies. My point in 2007 was that technology is increasingly something that more rich people “purchase” (or invest in), and reap benefits from. So in effect I argued that at some point in the none too distant future technology might create products only for people who have money; lots of people would be without jobs and effectively unable to generate any meaningful income, and be displaced from the basic range of essential goods and services to literally survive.

This point was in some other form made by Jeremy Rifkin, Marshall Brain, Thomas Frey, Frederico Pistono and several others, and each placed the emphasis a little differently.

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AP Reports: Hugo Chavez Wasted Venezuela’s Money On Healthcare Instead Of Building A Giant Skyscraper

The western media can’t comprehend why Hugo Chavez used Venezuela’s oil wealth to pull his nation’s population out of poverty, when he could have built an indoor artificial ski mountain like in Dubai. Earlier this month from Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

One of the more bizarre takes on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death comes from Associated Press business reporter Pamela Sampson (3/5/13):

‘Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.’

That’s right: Chavez squandered his nation’s oil money on healthcare, education and nutrition when he could have been building the world’s tallest building or his own branch of the Louvre.

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Canadian Researchers Demolish The Myth Of Mother Teresa’s Goodness

First exposed as a fraud by Christopher Hitchens, renowned twentieth-century saint Mother Teresa now appears to have been more of a monster. Via EurekAlert!:

The myth of altruism and generosity surrounding Mother Teresa is dispelled in a paper by Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa. The three researchers collected and analyzed 502 documents on the life and work of Mother Teresa.

At the time of her death, Mother Teresa had opened 517 missions welcoming the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. Two-thirds of the people coming to these missions hoped to a find a doctor to treat them, while the other third lay dying without receiving appropriate care.  [There was] a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers. The problem is not a lack of money—the Foundation created by Mother Teresa has raised hundreds of millions of dollars—but rather a particular conception of suffering and death: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion.

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World’s 100 Richest Could End Global Poverty Four Times Over

World’s 100 richest could end global poverty 4 times over

“The richest 1 percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process,” while the income of the top 0.01 percent has seen even greater growth, a new Oxfam report said.

What sense does wealth have in the long run, if we think of ourselves as a species in an enormous cosmos, rather than Americans and Saudi Arabians, or rich and poor?
Crazy talk, for sure. “Us” and “them.” If we don’t recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters, we’re going to be done for. Nature is far more brutal and unstable on the long run than this little calm blip in history would make us think.

There are not yet obvious signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours rush inevitably into self-destruction.

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What Would A World Without Work Be Like?

What comes next? Via the Guardian, Nina Power argues that work is becoming obsolete:

As with all major institutional entities – law, prison, education – to question work is to tamper with reality itself. As with law, prison and education, it is almost always “never a good time” to talk about reform, or the abolition of existing structures.

But as wages bear less and less relation to the cost of living, it seems as good a time as any to ask if the underlying fantasy is that employers will one day be able to pay their workers nothing at all, because all those issues like housing, food, clothing, childcare will somehow be dealt with in another, mysterious, way.

Against the backdrop of rising inflation, increasing job insecurity, geographically asymmetrical unemployment, attacks on the working and non-working populations, and cuts to benefits – a debate about what work is and what it means has been taking place.

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Prescribing Mood Drugs For The Symptoms Of Childhood Poverty

New York Times on the growing trend of doping up poor kids suffering from academic and social issues, since it’s apparent we’re not going to improve their surroundings:

When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining interest among some physicians.

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Remember There’s No Such Thing As A Natural Disaster

Scottish radical geographer, professor, and author Neil Smith died at age 58 this past weekend. It’s worth revisiting his groundbreaking, established-wisdom-challenging work, including his well-known declaration post-Hurricane Katrina that there’s no such thing as a natural disaster:

It is generally accepted among environmental geographers that there is no such thing as a natural disaster. In every phase and aspect of a disaster – causes, vulnerability, preparedness, results and response, and reconstruction – the contours of disaster and the difference between who lives and who dies is to a greater or lesser extent a social calculus. Hurricane Katrina provides the most startling confirmation of that axiom.

The Bush administration…is happy to attribute the dismal record of death and destruction on the Gulf Coast – perhaps 1200 lives by the latest counts – to an act of nature. It has proven itself not just oblivious but ideologically opposed to mounting scientific evidence of global warming and the fact that rising sea-levels make cities such as New Orleans, Venice, or Dacca immediately vulnerable to future calamity.

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How Much Does The Right To Vote Cost In California?

It now costs at least three hundred dollars cash (plus days wasted and lost wages.) Via Notes From Class:

California requires a valid driver’s license to exercise the right to vote, and that new residents acquire new tags and registration immediately upon relocation. Documents needed: birth certificate, vehicle registration, smog test, vehicle inspection, statement of facts, divorce papers.

Smog Test: $38
Douglas County Court Records: $26
Registration/License Plate Fees and Taxes: $200
Driver’s License Fee: $40
Estimated Fuel Cost: $6

Actual Cost of California Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, and My Voting Rights: $310

This is why people are so angry, or should be, about being required to present a valid state driver’s license at the polls. The total cost would change, of course, if the potential voter had no car: but so would the time and wages lost to long bus rides to the DMV to get a license. There has to be a way to prevent “voter fraud” without disenfranchising those who are living in poverty.

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Mainstream Media Not Mentioning The Poor

The huge and ever-ballooning portions of America trapped in poverty does not exist on TV or in magazine, Alternet writes:

Poverty as an issue is nearly invisible in U.S. media coverage of the 2012 election, a new FAIR study has found—even though what candidates plan to do about an alarmingly growing poverty rate would seem to be a ripe topic for discussion in campaign coverage.

Despite its widely experienced impact, FAIR’s study found poverty barely registers as a campaign issue. Just 17 of the 10,489 campaign stories studied (0.2 percent) addressed poverty in a substantive way.

Discussions of poverty in campaign coverage were so rare that PBS NewsHour had the highest percentage of its campaign stories addressing poverty—with a single story, 0.8 percent of its total. ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Newsweek ran no campaign stories substantively discussing poverty.

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