Posts Tagged: poverty

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"Even Critics of Social Safety Net Increasingly Depend On It."

NYT at its very best here, which is a nice change. Article’s point is not a new one - people vote against their economic interests and don’t realize how much they depend on the programs they cheer cutting - but it puts faces with the numbers. Worth the read.

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ihavethisblog:

eamcintyre:

Romney’s Not-Worried-About-The-Very-Poor Line

To be fair, this is what he actually said:

I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it it needs repairing, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the heart of America, the 90, 95 percent who are struggling.

The Daily Show characterized this as being like a doctor who says, “Hey, I’m not worried about healthy people, because, you know, they’re healthy! i’m also not worried about the really sick people - because hey, we have morphine!” I think it’s really more like a doctor saying, “Hey, I’m not worried about healthy people, because they’re healthy, and I’m not worried about people who I think will be dead in twenty minutes because, you know, they’ll be dead in twenty minutes.”

To be clear, I absolutely think we should focus on poverty, because: (1) To stick with the health analogy, they’re dying in large part because we, i.e. society, made them sick, and refused to offer the medicine when they were ill, and now they’re dying, and we have a duty to help them, given that we hurt them, (2) It’s not at all clear they are beyond help, and (3) There’s this underlying assumption that there just always will be severe poverty and there’s nothing we can do about it, and I don’t buy that.

I am, however, rather surprised by the outrage around this remark. When was the last time anyone in American politics cared about the poor? The poor don’t vote. I suppose Edwards’s “Two Americas” was as close as we got, but you certainly never hear politicians talking about increasing the number of homeless shelters, or emergency food stamps, or broadening Medicaid’s reach, or what have you. No one ever advocates for programs that affect only the very poor.

So yeah, Romney’s remark was pretty horrifying. We have a duty to care for absolutely every single person in this country to the extent they ask for it, and to say that we shouldn’t care about starving or homeless people because it might be hard to fix that problem is wrong. That said, it’s also a position most people and certainly most politicians in this country take. We don’t focus on the poor. They have no money and they don’t vote.

This entire thing makes me want to vomit. The poor don’t vote. And it’s not clear that we’re not beyond help. We’re also, apparently, outside of society.

The poor don’t have money so we’re not real citizens, just charity cases. Also, we don’t vote. Because we’re poor. Obviously.

Can somebody please go into more depth with this because I am just dumbfounded.

Okay, so my apologies. I was obviously unclear. Let me clarify what I was trying to say:

Politicians pay attention to people who have money, people who are likely to vote for them, and people who might be able to be convinced to vote for them. Normatively, the influence of money is a huge problem, but regardless, that’s how our system is working. Politicians pay attention to people who give them money and people who are likely to vote for them.

People without a lot of money (by the way, I’m fully in that group) obviously do not give money to candidates. They’re also less likely to vote than those with higher incomes. I wish that were not the case. I didn’t say low income people didn’t vote *because* they had lower incomes - but look, it is an undeniable, and very unfortunate, fact that low-income people are less likely to vote. Not that this can’t be changed , and much to my frustration, voter ID laws make this worse.

So, we have a group of people - those who are poor, with low incomes - who do not give money to politicians nor are they likely to vote. Because of that combination, politicians don’t really seem to care very much about poverty. That is both immoral and bad public policy. Politicians *should* care about poverty. But because those in poverty have little monetary clout, politicians ignore them.

With this quote, Romney was saying a horrible truism of American politics: American politicians don’t give a damn about poverty. I was surprised that his expression of an obvious truism sparked such outrage. I wish that the outrage would channel into action to actually help attack poverty.

Also, just FYI, I spent the last year working at minimum wage, am on food stamps and medicaid, my dad was out of work for a year and a half, and I am currently living off the delightful combo of student loans and scholarships. I was also lucky enough to have an amazing public school education, and even more lucky to get into a great law school, and therefore while I’m under no delusions that I am in the trap of poverty, I have very little money and I watched my family almost lose their house last year. Maybe that will help inform what I’m trying to communicate.

Source: eamcintyre
Link

Romney's Not-Worried-About-The-Very-Poor Line

To be fair, this is what he actually said: 

I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it it needs repairing, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the heart of America, the 90, 95 percent who are struggling.

The Daily Show characterized this as being like a doctor who says, “Hey, I’m not worried about healthy people, because, you know, they’re healthy! i’m also not worried about the really sick people - because hey, we have morphine!” I think it’s really more like a doctor saying, “Hey, I’m not worried about healthy people, because they’re healthy, and I’m not worried about people who I think will be dead in twenty minutes because, you know, they’ll be dead in twenty minutes.”

To be clear, I absolutely think we should focus on poverty, because: (1) To stick with the health analogy, they’re dying in large part because we, i.e. society, made them sick, and refused to offer the medicine when they were ill, and now they’re dying, and we have a duty to help them, given that we hurt them, (2) It’s not at all clear they are beyond help, and (3) There’s this underlying assumption that there just always will be severe poverty and there’s nothing we can do about it, and I don’t buy that.

I am, however, rather surprised by the outrage around this remark. When was the last time anyone in American politics cared about the poor? The poor don’t vote. I suppose Edwards’s “Two Americas” was as close as we got, but you certainly never hear politicians talking about increasing the number of homeless shelters, or emergency food stamps, or broadening Medicaid’s reach, or what have you. No one ever advocates for programs that affect only the very poor.

So yeah, Romney’s remark was pretty horrifying. We have a duty to care for absolutely every single person in this country to the extent they ask for it, and to say that we shouldn’t care about starving or homeless people because it might be hard to fix that problem is wrong. That said, it’s also a position most people and certainly most politicians in this country take. We don’t focus on the poor. They have no money and they don’t vote.

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"One of the most innovative organizations working to re-imagine poverty alleviation along these lines is called LIFT."

- NYT Article. I’ve been working part-time at LIFT (the Boston branch in Roxbury, doing some client service, primarily development projects) since September, and I’m really proud to be a part of it. If you live near a a branch and have some free time, it’s a fantastic place to volunteer.
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The Voices of Poverty

ryking:

“These are the voices of America’s invisible poor. Here are their stories, in their own voices: the men, women, and children of America’s poverty.”

Worth a look. Or several looks, actually.

Source: diadoumenos
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"The ranks of America’s poorest poor have climbed to a record high - 1 in 15 people - spread widely across metropolitan areas as the housing bust pushed many inner-city poor into suburbs and other outlying places and shriveled jobs and income."

- The AP. It’s rough out there, folks.