Posts Tagged ‘poverty’


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What is it poor working Americans need?

According to Jeb Bush, channeling Mitt Romney, they need “hope and aspiration,” not promises of “free stuff.”

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

And then there’s Robert Macdonald, mayor of Lewiston, Maine, who supports a bill “asking that a Web site be created containing the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected by every individual on the dole.”

Of people receiving benefits, he said: “Go into the grocery store. They flaunt it.” Publicly posting personal information, he said, could encourage people to go after those “gaming the system.”

He added he doesn’t care whether some people who rightly receive benefits could be hurt, saying: “Some people are going to get harmed but if it’s for the good of everybody, that’s the way it is.”

What’s next, requiring welfare recipients to submit to drug testing or screening?

Oh, that’s right, at least thirteen states have already passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah). And, as of July 2015, another 18 states have proposed legislation requiring some form of drug testing or screening for public assistance recipients this year (Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia).


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Chart of the day

Posted: 23 September 2015 in Uncategorized
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As part of his report on the geography of poverty in the United States, Matt Black how the pipelines and profits of the oil industry have failed to address the high poverty rate among American Indians.

Tribes have been forced to fight a series of losing battles to control and capitalize on the natural resources found on their land. In North Dakota, where an oil boom has bolstered the state economy and driven the unemployment rate down to just 3.1%, the unemployment rate in Standing Rock is 79%.

The thriving oil industry on or near the state’s tribal lands has created a tense tug-of-war between big industry and the tribes, some of whom have opted to work with corporations in order to claim at least some of what those corporations are sucking out of the earth. At the same time, there’s concern over what many native environmental activists call a con game, where corporations use loopholes and the messy state of tribal and government relations to push further into native lands for oil exploration.

Forgotten America

Posted: 23 September 2015 in Uncategorized
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Matt Black (along with Trymaine Lee, Amy Pereira, Mina Liu, and Sam Petulla) has produced an extraordinary photodocumentary of the geography of poverty in the United States [ht: ja].

The sheer number of poor people in this country is striking: fully 45 million meet the official guidelines for poverty. And that doesn’t include millions more who are among the working poor – those who tip-toe just above the government’s official poverty line, which for a family of four means an annual income of less than $23,850 and for an individual means an annual income of $11,670. Recent reports suggest more than 50% of food stamp recipients are the working poor.

For the first time in more than 50 years, the majority of America’s public school children are living in poverty.

What does this all mean for folks trying to achieve some semblance of the American dream, let alone keep food on the table and a stable roof over their family’s heads? With the myriad roadblocks that often confront poor people, like a lack of access to a quality education or a good job, what prospects do people in this group have for overcoming these hurdles? What does success and survival even look like when you’re poor in America?

And what does it mean for a country that has done all it can to forget about the existence of widespread poverty across its length and breadth?


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What recovery?

Posted: 16 September 2015 in Uncategorized
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The United States is more than six years into the officially designated and much-vaunted economic recovery from the Great Recession. But most Americans wouldn’t know it.

According to the latest report from the Census Bureau (pdf), median household income was $53,657 in 2014, not statistically different in real terms from the 2013 median of $54,462. This is the third consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive years of annual declines in median household income. As a result, in 2014, real median household income was 6.5 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the Great Recession began.


Meanwhile, the official poverty rate in 2014 was 14.8 percent, meaning there were 46.7 million people living at or below the poverty line. Neither the poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty was statistically different from the 2013 estimates. Nor was poverty rate in 2014 for children under age 18 (21.1 percent) or their number (15.5 million). Both rates in 2014—the overall poverty rate and the child poverty rate—were significantly higher than they were in 2007.

And so I repeat my question: what recovery?