Tag Archives | Poverty

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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Why Capitalism Has An Image Problem

Charles Murray, the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, makes the case for capitalism in, where else, the Wall Street Journal:

Mitt Romney’s résumé at Bain should be a slam dunk. He has been a successful capitalist, and capitalism is the best thing that has ever happened to the material condition of the human race. From the dawn of history until the 18th century, every society in the world was impoverished, with only the thinnest film of wealth on top. Then came capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall. Everywhere that capitalism didn’t take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased.

Capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty because it gives people a chance to get rich by creating value and reaping the rewards. Who better to be president of the greatest of all capitalist nations than a man who got rich by being a brilliant capitalist?

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Queen Rat: Victorian London’s Sewer Succubus

Toshers were scavengers who explored the vast, ancient sewers of Victorian London in search of lost coins and salvage, but even greater rewards awaited those fortunate enough to encounter the legendary Queen Rat. As Mike Dash of Smithsonian Magazine reports:

…A second myth, far more eagerly believed, told of the existence (Jacqueline Simpson and Jennifer Westwood record) “of a mysterious, luck-bringing Queen Rat”:

This was a supernatural creature whose true appearance was that of a rat; she would follow the toshers about, invisibly, as they worked, and when she saw one that she fancied she would turn into a sexy-looking woman and accost him. If he gave her a night to remember, she would give him luck in his work; he would be sure to find plenty of money and valuables. He would not necessarily guess who she was, for though the Queen Rat did have certain peculiarities in her human form (her eyes reflected light like an animal’s, and she had claws on her toes), he probably would not notice them while making love in some dark corner.

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Philadelphia Bans Serving Food To The Homeless In Public

 Municipalities around the country feel that the homeless have had it too easy for too long. Via NPR:

A growing number of cities want to tackle the problem of homelessness by outlawing what are known as “acts of daily living” — sleeping, eating and panhandling in public. In Philadelphia, a new rule is targeting not the homeless but those who feed them.

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced the ban on serving food in public parks last March, he said moving such services indoors was part of an effort to raise standards for the homeless.

But many advocates for the homeless are skeptical. “We do feel that communities are really, really frustrated with repeated efforts to end homelessness that have been quite unsuccessful,” says Neil Donovan, the executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

“But we push back and say, you know, that doesn’t mean that you simply throw your hands in the air and make criminals out of homeless people.” Donovan says around 30 cities have restricted food sharing in some way.

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Instead of Being Disgusted by Poverty, We are Disgusted by Poor People

Suzanne Moore writes at the Guardian:
She is there whenever I go the shops. Every time I think she can't get any more skeletal, she manages it. Wild eyes staring in different directions, she must have been pretty once. I try not to look, for she is often aggressive. Sometimes, though, she is in my face and asking me to go into the shop, from which she has been banned, to buy her something. A scratchcard. She feels lucky. "Maybe some food?" I suggest pointlessly, but food is not what she craves. Food is not crack. Or luck. She has already lost every lottery going. An addict is the author of their own misfortune. Her poverty is self-inflicted. All these hopeless people: where do they all come from? It is, of course, possible never to really see them, as their distress is so distressing. Who needs it? Poverty, we are often told, is not "actual", because people have TVs. This gradual erosion of empathy is the triumph of an economic climate in which everyone, addicted or not, is personally responsible for their own lack of achievement. Poor people are not simply people like us, but with less money: they are an entirely different species. Their poverty is a personal failing. They have let themselves go. This now applies not just to individuals but to entire countries. Look at the Greeks! What were they thinking with their pensions and minimum wage? That they were like us? Out of the flames, they are now told to rise, phoenix–like, by a rich political elite. Perhaps they can grow money on trees?
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How Government and Corporations Loot the Poor

Capitalist Flag

Illustration: Hhemken (CC)

Barbara Ehrenreich writes at TomDispatch:

Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest.

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