Archive for Poverty
“What’s the right mixture of quality and class-based shame poor people should aim for in their meal planning?” the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart asked last night, slamming Fox News’ seeming obsession with SNAP recipients’ grocery shopping habits. Because the “Fox Hounds” have heard — and feel comfortable spreading — “these stories” about poor people and food stamps. Or as Stewart put it, “Fox News: We read the chain mails your grandma gets in her inbox out loud like they were true.”
Because don’t look at how you’re getting screwed by Wall Street, no. Look! Over there! A poor person buying food — to eat — with taxpayer assistance! Or as Lyndon Johnson said,
If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.
The Fox News business model, ladies and gentlemen.
Several stories about hunger in America popped up this weekend, a couple online and another just down my street. Among people you wouldn’t identify as poor and struggling just by looking at them. PBS Newshour reported on women in Denver who fell into poverty, women who don’t fit popular stereotypes of people on SNAP.
CAROLINE POOLER: Any one of your fellow peers, colleagues or fellow parishioners may be hungry, but you don’t know that about them, because people don’t want to advertise that about themselves. There’s lots of people out there who do not have enough to eat until next payday. There’s a lot of working people who give their last five bucks to their kid for lunch and they go without. And so that’s kind of a different face of hunger than people are thinking of hunger.
Over at Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak reposted Jenn’s story from Poor As Folk blog, “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis”
That brings me to the hunger. The hunger is extraordinary. There is a constant gnawing in your stomach, an empty feeling that has taken up permanent residence. Even as you’re eating a meal, you feel the hunger. It never goes away because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again…
As food stamp benefits continue to be cut and food pantries struggle to feed communities, that uncertainty will just continue. I hate to think of my children feeling the same way. They get first dibs on all food that comes through this house. There are many days when my kids get their three meals and I get half of one and my husband … well, I never see him because he is working all the time, but he barely eats, too.
A chance meeting my wife had this week brought the problem home. This is the story pretty much in her own words: Read More→
That was the original title for this essay generously published in the Mountain Xpress this week. Click through to read the whole thing. Excerpts:
I’m proud to be a part of a city where people care about each other. One recent study cited Asheville as one of the most generous cities in America, whose residents volunteer lots of time and money to make the world a better place. This is a community that knows we’re all in it together, and that’s why we’re going to be able to rise to the challenges facing us today.
We love living here, but we’re acutely aware of the fact that Asheville has a very high cost of living and very low median household income. Helping us get that median wage up are Living Wage Certified businesses that have made human value and dignity central to their business models. Great businesses like New Belgium Brewing, Linamar and PLI are helping too. The sad fact, however, is that too many employers here pay low wages for an honest day’s work. No one who works a full-time job ought to live in poverty. The city, county, Economic Development Coalition and Chamber of Commerce are working hard and all rowing in the same direction: toward better paying jobs. Asheville is examining our economic-incentive policies to better support homegrown entrepreneurs who pay living wages.
Asheville aspires to be a city of equal opportunity for all. Increasing incomes and offering affordable transportation options are two parts of a three-pronged approach to ensure a thriving city for generations to come.
The third leg of that three-legged stool is affordable housing, defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs. We all want a vibrant city where economically mobile citizens can get a leg up, and where the elderly and disabled can live in dignity. We want an Asheville where residents can save money toward homeownership, business startups, tuition and increased opportunities for their children. Without affordable housing, a big part of our Asheville family struggles just to stay afloat.
Compassion for America’s poor and the long-term unemployed is audibly absent among many of the well-to-do, their on-air groupies, and politicians who once upon a news cycle tried to rebrand themselves as compassionate conservatives. A caller to a progressive radio show this week asked when heartlessness became fashionable in America.
Paul Krugman’s observations on the impact of urban sprawl reminded me of “Automania 2000,” the 1963 John Halas animated short the 1963 John Halas animated short I watched at Furman Univerity as part of the first Earth Day observance in 1970. (I was still in high school.) Krugman’s column on sprawl is sparked by a study by the Equality of Opportunity Project. Led by economists at Berkeley and Harvard, the study finds an inverse relationship between increased sprawl and decreased social mobility. Eventually, the jobs are literally out of reach. Opportunities are simply too far across town for too many families.
And in Atlanta poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl, even more spread out than other major Sun Belt cities. This would make an effective public transportation system nearly impossible to operate even if politicians were willing to pay for it, which they aren’t. As a result, disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can’t get there.
Starting before sunup in the little town of Wise, Virginia this weekend (July 19-21), thousands of struggling Americans camped out in their cars at the fairgrounds will line up for free medical services provided by Remote Area Medical (RAM), a charity based in Knoxville, TN. (This is a re-post of a story I wrote for Huffington Post after visiting the RAM clinic in 2009.) For those who need it, Wise is about a two hour drive from Asheville.
For opponents of universal health care who advocate that churches and charities should such provide such services, not We the American People, this is what that looks like.
This weekend was the tenth anniversary of Remote Area Medical’s free health fair in Wise County, VA. Stan Brock founded Knoxville-based RAM in 1985 to insert mobile medical teams into remote areas of third-world countries. Now over 60 percent of RAM’s work is in rural areas of the United States.
More than one thousand people arrived before sunup this Friday or camped out in their vehicles for a chance at health care they cannot afford to buy. Most are the working poor and hail from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and other surrounding states. Cars in the county fairgrounds parking lot held comforters and pillows, sleeping bags and sleeping people.
For some reason last night I was pondering the endless panoply of wingnut night terrors when a song from childhood TV popped into my head. When I looked up the lyrics and video, I was astonished. You will be too.
A century and a half after the Civil War ended, the GOP-dominated North Carolina legislature is finishing the destruction Gen. Sherman’s troops never got to visit upon Raleigh, NC. Over 150 people have been arrested at the Legislative Building in four weeks of protests led by the NAACP. A crowd of 600 gathered last week for the latest Moral Mondays protest against a flood of conservative legislation targeting the poor and minority voters.
A few short years after Barack Obama won the state’s electoral votes, Republicans are firmly in control of the legislature and the Governor’s Mansion. They are busily unmaking the American Century in what has been one of the South’s most progressive states. The Washington Post calls it “a sweeping conservative agenda”:
Legislators have slashed jobless benefits. They have also repealed a tax credit that supplemented the wages of low-income people, while moving to eliminate the estate tax. They have voted against expanding Medicaid to comply with the 2010 federal health-care law. The expansion would have added 500,000 poor North Carolinians to the Medicaid rolls.
Homelessness, unemployment and PTSD among women veterans. In the last decade, the USA went into wars with no plan for the aftermath. The armed services recruited women to serve in those wars with no plan for their aftermaths. America can and must do better.