Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Cartoon of the day

Posted: 13 June 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

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Matt Black, “Rainstorm” (York, Pennsylvania, 2015)
[York has a population of 43,718 and 37.1 percent live below the poverty level.]

This and other striking images of poverty in the United States by Matt Black are currently on show in a group exhibition, New Blood, at the Magnum Print Room in London.

Last summer Matt Black left the Central Valley of California, where he lives, to travel 18,000 miles across the US on a road trip that took him through 30 states and 70 of the poorest towns in America. The startling image of a hand resting on a fence post against a barren backdrop was taken in the small town of Allensworth, California, where 54% of the population of 471 people live below the poverty level.

“California always seemed special and unique in terms of how it symbolised promise and progress,” says Black, 45, during a break in shooting landscapes in Idaho, where he’s working on another stage of the same series, Geography of Poverty. “So it seemed somehow symbolic to begin there and travel east, but what has surprised me is the similarities I have encountered as I travelled from one community to another. All these diverse communities are connected, not least in their powerlessness. In the mainstream media, poverty is often looked at in isolation, but it is an American problem. It seems to me that it goes unreported because it does not fit the way America sees itself.”

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Sure, there are lots of gangs. And, it’s true, most homicides in Chicago, where a person is shot every 2 and a half minutes and murdered every 14 hours, are from gunshots.

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But, in the City of Neighborhoods, not everyone is affected equally by gangs and guns. In fact, as the New York Times explains,

Whether exacerbated by gangs or guns. . .Chicago’s killings are happening on familiar turf: Its poor, extremely segregated neighborhoods on the South and West Sides.

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Those segregated neighborhoods also happen to be where rates of unemployment and poverty are highest.

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The more or less inevitable result of creating and perpetuating an urban economy characterized by high rates of unemployment and poverty, in which racial and ethnic minorities are forced to endure much higher rates of unemployment and poverty and are then segregated into a few neighborhoods, is the fact that “the South and West Sides are on par with the world’s most dangerous countries, like Brazil and Venezuela, and have been for many years.”

Thus far in 2016, 1530 Chicagoans have been shot, of whom 1299 have been wounded and 231 have been killed.

And, while on the surface they’ve been assaulted by gangs and guns, too many Chicagoans have actually been wounded or killed by a City of Unequally Unemployed and Impoverished Segregated Neighborhoods.

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Special mention

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c160512.tif AR-160519682

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Special mention

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In Italy, 28.3 percent of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2014.*

Yet, in a recent Italian court case, a homeless man who had been convicted of stealing a few euros worth of cheese and sausage was eventually acquitted on the principle that “No one is expected to do the impossible.”

“The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of need,” and therefore the theft “does not constitute a crime,” the appellate court wrote in its decision, which was reported on Monday by the Italian news agency ANSA. . .

“For the supreme judges, the right to survival has prevailed over the right to property,” Massimo Gramellini, an editor at La Stampa, a newspaper based in Turin, wrote in an opinion column. “In America that would be blasphemy. And here as well, some conformists will talk about a legitimation of proletarian expropriation.”

That’s right. In the United States, the homeless people who steal merchandise are convicted and sent to jail—while the members of the economic elite who created the poverty in the first place demand of the poor that they do the impossible.

 

*That’s less than the percentage of the U.S. population (pdf) with incomes below twice the official poverty level (33.4 percent) in 2014.

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For those of us of a certain age, especially those of us raised in Catholic households, Father Daniel Berrigan—through his activism and poetry, against war and militarism, racism, poverty and inequality—was one of the true consciences of a church and a nation.