The world's tallest building, Burj Khalifah or Khalifah Tower, was unveiled in Dubai on Monday: Dubai is a finance hub, the bubble of which has burst, so the building's opening now seems a critique of past excesses more than the triumph originally dreamed of. Now that Dubai is having to be bailed out by its oil-rich sister emirate, Abu Dhabi, the tower had to be named for its ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, rather than retaining its original name, Burj Dubai. Many critics have seen it as a monument to hubris likely to remain mostly empty, as the 21st century Tower of Babel. As you can see, Dubai nevertheless went all out to celebrate the opening. The Burj Khalifah is a symbol of everything wrong with our present moment. Rooted in a finance and real estate bubble, planned as big for the sake of bigness, opulent, now saved from disaster by Abu Dhabi's unsustainable oil revenues, it casts its shadow on a nation of guest workers, many impoverished and exploited. If global warming proceeds at the pace some climate scientists fear, and the seas rise substantially, it may, ironically enough, be all that is visible of the low-lying United Arab Emirates a century from now.
Tag Archives | Poverty
About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by the New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid — no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay. Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card.
Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts, writes on Huffington Post:
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Can you imagine an America without a strong middle class? If you can, would it still be America as we know it?
Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.
Families have survived the ups and downs of economic booms and busts for a long time, but the fall-behind during the busts has gotten worse while the surge-ahead during the booms has stalled out.
John Hanrahan writes on Nieman Watchdog
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If Michael Harrington, author of The Other America: Poverty in the United States, were alive today and writing an update of his 1962 classic, he would probably not need to change a word of the following observation from that book:
(T)he poor are politically invisible. It is one of the cruelest ironies of social life in advanced countries that the dispossessed at the bottom of society are unable to speak for themselves. The people of the other America do not, by and large, belong to unions, to fraternal organizations, or to political parties. They are without lobbies of their own; they put forward no legislative program. As a group, they are atomized. They have no face; they have no voice….
Further, Harrington wrote, “society is creating a new kind of blindness about poverty. It is increasingly slipping out of the very experience and consciousness of the nation.”
And so it is for the most part today: Invisible in our political discourse.
Robert Roy Britt writes on LiveScience:
U.S. residents are wasting food like never before.
While many Americans feast on turkey and all the fixings today, a new study finds food waste per person has shot up 50 percent since 1974. Some 1,400 calories worth of food is discarded per person each day, which adds up to 150 trillion calories a year.
The study finds that about 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States is tossed out.
Meanwhile, while some have plenty of food to spare, a recent report by the Department of Agriculture finds the number of U.S. homes lacking “food security,” meaning their eating habits were disrupted for lack of money, rose from 4.7 million in 2007 to 6.7 million last year.
About 1 billion people worldwide don’t have enough to eat, according to the World Food Program.
Read More: LiveScience:
By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press via Google News:
More than one in seven American households struggled to put enough food on the table in 2008, the highest rate since the Agriculture Department began tracking food security levels in 1995.
That’s about 49 million people, or 14.6 percent of U.S. households. The numbers are a significant increase from 2007, when 11.1 percent of U.S. households suffered from what USDA classifies as “food insecurity” — not having enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.
Researchers blamed the increase in hunger on a lack of money and other resources.
Read more: Associated Press via Google News
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How should poverty in America be counted? The Census Bureau uses a calculation that put the number at 39.8 million last year. But a revised formula that lawmakers are considering adds more than 7 million Americans to that number.
If the revised formula is adopted, a more refined picture of American poverty could emerge that would capture the everyday costs of necessities besides food.
A change also could upend long-standing notions of those in greatest need and lead to shifts in how billions of federal dollars for the poor are distributed for health, housing, nutrition and child care.
The Census Bureau on Monday released national and regional estimates based upon the revised formula, as well as variations of the formula, because of the interest expressed by lawmakers and the Obama administration in seeing a fuller range.
The revised formula, based on recommendations from experts at the National Academy of Sciences, shows the poverty rate to be at 15.8 percent, comprising nearly 1 in 6 Americans.