Tag Archives | Poverty

‘Spaceballs’ Is Now: Air, Water And The Monetization of Human Life

perri-airImagine going for a walk in the park with your family, your child runs up to the water fountain and presses the button for some a bit of refreshment.  Nothing comes out.  At first she’s confused, but sees the coin slot/card swipe that will sell you 15 second of flowing water for just 50 cents.  You as a loving dad, pull out your card and swipe it so she can have a drink.  Think this image is impossible?  Do you imagine this to be something only a mad man would think of, to deprive humans of the right to water?  Unfortunately there are interests buying up rights to all clean water sources.  People like oil baron, T. Boone Pickens and Nestle chairman, Peter Brabeck see water as a commodity like any other, not a right.  The Nestle chairman explains his stance in light of his goal to treat water as a foodstuff and the outrage his views have caused:

 “The fact is they [activists] are talking first of all only about the smallest part of the water usage,” he says.

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The United States’ Capitals Of Inequality

inequalityPueblo Lands on the areas of the U.S. pushing economic disparities to new extremes:

Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Area. The epicenter of the tech industry. The global vortex of venture capital. One of the most brutally unequal places in America, indeed the world.

In the distribution of income and wealth, California more resembles the neocolonial territories of rapacious resource extraction than it does Western Europe. The only states that compare to California’s harsh inequalities are deep southern states structured by centuries of racist fortune building by pseudo-aristocratic ruling classes, and the East Coast capitals of the financial sector.

It’s a strange club, the super-inequitable states of the U.S. This list pairs the bluest coastal enclaves of liberal power with the reddest Southern conservative states. In terms of wages and wealth these places have a lot in common.

The economies of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama remain bound by racial inequalities founded in slavery and plantation agriculture; the wealthy elite of all three states remain a handful of white families who control the largest holdings of fertile land, and own the extractive mineral and timber industries, and the regional banks.

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ACLU Uncovers Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Across Ohio

debtors' prison

Despite being blatantly unconstitutional, citizens are commonly being jailed for their inability to pay tickets and fines, wreaking havoc on people’s lives (and costing the state far greater sums than the unpaid tickets), ACLU Ohio reveals:

The resurgence of contemporary debtors’ prisons sits squarely at this intersection of poverty and criminal justice. In towns across the state, thousands of people face the looming specter of incarceration every day, simply because they are poor.

For Ohio’s poor and working poor, an unaffordable traffic ticket or fine is just the beginning of a protracted process that may involve contempt charges, mounting fees, arrest warrants, and even jail time. The stark reality is that, in 2013, Ohioans are being repeatedly jailed simply for being too poor to pay fines.

The U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code all prohibit debtors’ prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether an individual is too poor to pay.

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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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