One Family’s Story Shows How The Cycle Of Poverty Is Hard To Break : NPR

Link : One Family’s Story Shows How The Cycle Of Poverty Is Hard To Break : NPR.

via @nprnews@SocialWorkersRJ

Well,goodness. I always stress than while personal narratives can share common threads, there are many ways poverty can look but I connect with this personally. Metcalf lives about 2 counties away from where I do. It’s hard to even get dental coverage through medicaid here if you’re an adult and very few dentists will even accept it. The one closest to me is a horror show. And by closest, I have the same issue as Metcalf …transportation. Right where I live, we have a great public bus system but traveling outside of the area isn’t easy.

We are also in that dangerous space where if I were to just get a part time job, we would lose assistance but any income I make wouldn’t be enough to offset the lost assistance PLUS cover the cost of childcare. Hell, a part time job probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of childcare here. The daycare subsidy waiting list is long, so that isn’t a huge help.

Metcalf faces another situation common among low-income workers. She knows if she starts making money, other benefits — like food stamps — will be cut or eliminated.

“I guess to me the system seems backward. I mean, they should be more for helping you, not kind of setting you up to fail, so to speak,” Metcalf says.Just recently, the family’s food stamp benefit dropped from $700 a month to $200 because her daughter started to receive $744 a month from Social Security to treat her emotional issues and her husband began working part time at McDonald’s. Of course, now he’s gone.

And there’s one more thing. Although Metcalf is only 24, she’s missing most of her top front teeth. She says it’s from hereditary gum disease. Medicaid paid $3,000 for a partial bridge, but now she can’t use it because her other teeth are crumbling.

Rezelman points out that Metcalf could get more dental work, but there are no providers who accept Medicaid in the Bath area. Metcalf would have to go to Rochester to have the work done, but again, she has no transportation.

“It’s distressing because you have to be so motivated and capable to navigate those systems and come out ahead,” Rezelman says.

It’s a complaint you hear again and again, not just from those who get government aid, but sometimes from providers.

Kathryn Muller is the commissioner of social services for Steuben County, where Metcalf lives. Muller says her office provides an array of services to help the county’s struggling families.

“Really, it’s sometimes hand-holding. It’s working with employers and putting case managers with individuals who are starting employment and helping them,” she says.

But she says sometimes their hands are tied by state and federal laws. For example, welfare recipients can meet their work requirements by going to school, but only for a year.

“One year is great. It’s better than what used to be, but you can’t get an associate’s degree in one year,” says Muller.

Even though, she notes, one of the main reasons people can’t get work is a lack of education.

Muller says some of the limits on government aid are there to prevent people from abusing the system, but she thinks there’s also a misperception about the poor.

“It’s not a chosen lifestyle. Certainly there is abuse out there. There’s abuse no matter what it is. But it’s not a chosen lifestyle,” she says.

Metcalf could not agree more. She just wishes it wasn’t such a struggle getting help. Still, she hopes someday to get back to college.

 

“I haven’t given up my dream yet. I just keep putting it on the back burner until it ain’t raining so hard, I guess,” she says.

Today’s Reads: Basically, a round-up of jerky people

I guess maybe it’s good to consolidate all the mean people into one post. Keep the hate contained a bit.

Yes, talk of Donald Sterling’s racism is totally relevant here. Long before the audio of his racist comments came to light, he was a racist who was sued by the federal government on more than one occasion for discriminating against blacks & latinos by refusing to rent housing to them. Structural racism like this contributes to inequality. I don’t want to rehash what happened and why it was wrong. I just have things to say to some of the reactions supporting Sterling.

Such as:  “No one should have their property stripped away and have to pay money because someone was offended by something they said!” – Stop acting like Sterling is the one being oppressed here. At the end of the day, he’s still a billionaire and a racist. He’s going to be fine but if not, I’m sure he can go work on Clive Bundy’s ranch.
My point is, this lifetime ban from the NBA, fines, and probably being forced to sell the Clippers is not going to impact this man in the same way he can impact others. The NBA held him accountable for racist words but who is going to hold him accountable for discriminatory practices in his other business ventures and daily life?

Apologists need to just stop worrying. That rich white dude is going to be ok.

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Paul Ryan won’t let poor people testify at hearing about poverty. This is a SSDD thing.
You can read Tianna Gaines-Turner’s testimony here , what she would have said if real live poor people could have said some words.

And again, can someone explain why PAUL RYAN is the one holding a hearing on poverty?

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We’ve probably all seen this meme floating around faceboob. The first time I saw it, it was posted by the dad of one of my kids’ classmates. I have no filter sometimes, so I left him a comment asking him, “Do you think of my family as wild animals? We get food stamps.”
His answer was… “Of course not YOU! I mean those other people.”
My answer to this is always,”If you can recognize that I’M not the stigma you have in your head representing food stamp recipients, then why is it so hard to imagine that your entire narrative about poor people on food stamps is wrong?”

All of this aside…. and not really looking to “debunk” the faults in this meme right now…
This screenshot is of a South Dakota GOP Senate candidate’s Facebook post.

SD peeps, do not let this person be voted into office.

 

If Walmart paid their employees fair wages, how much would they have to raise prices?

READ MORE: http://slate.me/1j6hRyo

In the series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark traces how big-box stores make billions from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps. What’s more, the wages of many workers at these stores are so low that the workers themselves qualify for food stamps—which the employees then often spend at those big-box stores.

This video crunches the numbers on how much Walmart, the single biggest beneficiary of the food stamp economy, might have to raise prices across the board to help a typical worker earn a living wage.

A note on methodology: Eligibility for food stamps varies according to income, number of dependents, and other factors. This estimate of Walmart’s potential cost from raising wages is based on wages for a Walmart employee with one dependent working 30 hours a week, a typical retail worker based on federal data.

Lunchtime Links: Eat for 40 cents a day, use up those broccoli stems, and alternative recipes to boxed foods…

All the good foodie stuff around the web today…

The Prudent Homemaker has a decent  series on frugal cooking that covers all the areas. Not everyone can do all of these but if you’re able to put a few bits into practice, it can help.
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Introduction
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part One: Eat More Meatless Meals
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Two: Buy in Bulk
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Three: Make it From Scratch
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Four: Only Buy Food When It is at Its Lowest Price
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Five: Grow More in Your Garden
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Six: Glean
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Seven: Eat In Season Produce
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Eight: Eat More Soup
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Nine: The Price Per Pound, or in Other Words, Comparing 

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Use up those broccoli stems – can’t wait to try broccomole.

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Something asked frequently here is what to use all the tortillas you get with WIC (besides the obvious) . There’s some good inspiration here : 5 Ways to Make a Tortilla Into a Snack

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Corporations are working to convince us that cooking from scratch is hard. Not. So.

I know,I know… sometimes the box is cheaper.Sometimes the boxed stuff is all you can get.  You all know that I know this . So, no shame if you can’t get your hands on the ingredients but if you can and you have the time, here’s some great ways to get the boxed stuff off your menu. Make It At Home

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3.25.14: The Republicans want MORE food stamp cuts

News,thoughts, and going-ons…

 

The Republicans have the balls to be asking for more cuts to SNAP. Yes,really.

In this 5 minute segment, Bernie Sanders lays out the picture of poverty in the U.S. right now and the insanity of the Republican party’s agenda. “It’s ugly”, he says. There isn’t a better way to put it. Inequality is widening and the immoral Right just push their class warfare deeper and deeper.

Al Sharpton  touches on the gross suggestions that poor kids work for their free lunch ,too.

These people are so disgusting. They purposefully are causing the media vilification of poor people. They actually pay trolls to create the focus on blaming the poor and distract from the true issues. 10 red states are also the poorest and have the most people who need food stamps.

I just can’t even….

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Tell it, Prof.

via one-mandrinkinggamess

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Rising inequality forever? Thomas Piketty’s sweeping account of the “central contradiction of capitalism” nyr.kr/1dp847C
I
t’s a long read but worth it. An excerpt:

Piketty believes that the rise in inequality can’t be understood independently of politics. For his new book, he chose a title evoking Marx, but he doesn’t think that capitalism is doomed, or that ever-rising inequality is inevitable. There are circumstances, he concedes, in which incomes can converge and the living standards of the masses can increase steadily—as happened in the so-called Golden Age, from 1945 to 1973. But Piketty argues that this state of affairs, which many of us regard as normal, may well have been a historical exception. The “forces of divergence can at any point regain the upper hand, as seems to be happening now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century,” he writes. And, if current trends continue, “the consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying.”

In the nineteen-fifties, the average American chief executive was paid about twenty times as much as the typical employee of his firm. These days, at Fortune 500 companies, the pay ratio between the corner office and the shop floor is more than two hundred to one, and many C.E.O.s do even better. In 2011, Apple’s Tim Cook received three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars in salary, stock, and other benefits, which was sixty-two hundred and fifty-eight times the wage of an average Apple employee. A typical worker at Walmart earns less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year; Michael Duke, the retailer’s former chief executive, was paid more than twenty-three million dollars in 2012. The trend is evident everywhere. According to a recent report by Oxfam, the richest eighty-five people in the world—the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim—own more wealth than the roughly 3.5 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population.

Eventually, Piketty says, we could see the reëmergence of a world familiar to nineteenth-century Europeans; he cites the novels of Austen and Balzac. In this “patrimonial society,” a small group of wealthy rentiers lives lavishly on the fruits of its inherited wealth, and the rest struggle to keep up. For the United States, in particular, this would be a cruel and ironic fate. “The egalitarian pioneer ideal has faded into oblivion,” Piketty writes, “and the New World may be on the verge of becoming the Old Europe of the twenty-first century’s globalized economy.”

What are the “forces of divergence” that produce enormous riches for some and leave the majority scrabbling to make a decent living? Piketty is clear that there are different factors behind stagnation in the middle and riches at the top. But, during periods of modest economic growth, such as the one that many advanced economies have experienced in recent decades, income tends to shift from labor to capital. Because of enmeshed economic, social, and political pressures, Piketty fears “levels of inequality never before seen.”

djlineEven NASA is concerned that the rising inequality gap

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system

 

Now excuse me while I go pack my bug-out bag and go hole up in the woods.

 

Revisiting the affordability of “Grow your own food!” ….

[previously on this topic : "Why "Grow your own food!" might not be so easy for poor people" ,Part 1 & Part 2 . Also: The Privilege of Real Food ]

 

My friend Amanda was nice enough to share this photo of her sweet new backyard mini-homestead .

Here’s what Amanda had to say about this:

So. Telling poor people to grow their own food. Nine chickens $55, coop $255, gardening soil which I mixed with 50% Florida dirt aka sand $15 on sale at Lowe’s. Three large bins (I had the others and I know people think I shouldn’t use plastic) 2 bell pepper plants, 2 zucchini, 2 cuke, 2 cantaloupe, 2 basil, 1 each oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill $91 all from walmart. I’ve got $150 in feeding/caring for the chickens so far as I had to buy feeders/waterers. I’ve ordered fancy ones now, but that cost is only the basic plastic ones I started with. The kind you refill by hand every day from tractor supply. I can’t expect eggs til June/July. I had on hand: a drill (tub drainage holes), shovel, truck to move things, easy outdoor water access, garden hose and space. Unless someone has easy access to basically all that stuff for free, there’s no way even feeding the chickens seems worth it if we are looking it at this like the “food stamp police” do. I’m in love with my little side yard, but as I’ve been working on it I’ve been very aware that there is NO WAY IN HELL I could have done this when we were on SNAP. Also, that low fence is needed to keep the dogs from stressing out the chickens and peeing on my plants. It was the cheapest option that would work for my big dog and was $85. That total space is roughly 17′ square.

I forgot the $80 in concrete from the trench I dug and filled with quickcrete to hopefully avoid that) or some virus or the plants die…. I mean, it’s in no way a sure thing (as y’all know)

 

I am so frustrated that I have to have this same conversation over and over again about poor people and gardening. It blows my mind when someone shares their story of food insecurity right now,real time ,”There is no food in my house”-stories and the best words someone can offer is, “You should start a garden.”

Right. Because when you literally have NO money to buy food, you can go buy seeds/plants, gardening tools,dirt,etc etc etc. And then when do you get to eat? I mean…if you even have a place to grow stuff. “But you can buy seeds and plants with food stamps!” Uh,yeah….you can but when you’re trying to budget $1.25 per meal because that’s all the food stamps you have for a month, you’re not going to add seeds to your budget.

I’ve had this conversation enough (at least once a week for the past 2 years, I swear) to know that the counter-argument is that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. Well, right. It can be inexpensive but that’s usually if you’re been doing it for awhile and have accessibility to some things that make it easier.

I just like to reiterate all this because it’s important for people to acknowledge this is not a solution to hunger for everyone. If you’re a fan of growing it yourself, think outside your own box before telling a poor person to grow their own food. Maybe ask some starter questions. “Is it possible for you to garden?” If no, don’t be pushy. That person knows the reasons they can’t garden. All of your suggestions is not going to make their situation any different. It’s just going to make them feel like crap.

I mean,dude…that one time I wrote about having no food and weighing 85 pounds? Someone actually said : “If only you had a garden.” When I said I wasn’t able to then, they told me, “If you’re hungry enough,you’ll make it happen.” For real.
I lived in a basement apartment underneath a liquor store with a parking lot as my “yard”. If only I had the magic of the fairies or whatever those things were in Fern Gully!  But honestly, it’s an incredibly insulting thing to suggest that maybe I wasn’t hungry enough or maybe I should have tried harder and I just wouldn’t have been hungry.

Now, if someone says “yes” to the “Can you garden?” question… ask them what they need. Do they need seeds? Do they need book recommendations? Do they need advice?  Do they need money for gardening tools? Are they close enough that you can lend them tools or supplies or even some actual physical help?

If they can ,support and encourage that. If they can’t leave them the hell alone and start looking around your own community to see what can be done to foster a better local food system for poor,disabled, and elderly people living there.

 

ICYMI: Jon Stewart’s food stamp hater take-down, Daily Affirmations for the Revolutionary Proletarian Militant, not-so-new news about food banks shortages, and other stuff.

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Sooooo muchneed to be writing about here and so little time to do it all. Until then, here’s other stuff people have writing and news that happened over the past week or so.

 

Meh. I had decided to bullet point this and now the formatting is a bit wonky, but I don’t have time to fix it right now. Apologies.

ICYMI: Food & Clothing Swaps, food bank pizza,building a greenhouse from plastic bottles….

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Recipes &  Food Budgeting Tips

Healthy Eating on a Budget – Week 4 – There’s 5 weeks of “budget” meal menus to look at here. I *think* this is for one person. Week 4 looks like it was the least expensive – $38, still more than a food stamp budget but maybe could still be done if you get lucky at the food bank. It’s still worth looking thru and adapting a few meal ideas to fit your own needs. I’m just always looking for inexpensive meal ideas that don’t involve beans and rice. Not every poor person likes beans & rice, so I like to present variety.

March Food and Product Swap- “Swap It Chicago is a food and product exchange that takes place every month in Chicago. We gather monthly to exchange our homemade goodies–there is no money exchanged and the event is FREE for those who register.”

Your Fridge: You’re Using It Wrong- How to store fruits & veggies to extend shelf life.

 

 

Hey,now…this is fancy. Where’d they get that pepperoni!?
(But seriously…food bank English muffins, the canned sketti sauce, and some commod cheese… good-enough-pizza)

DIY & Frugal Living

The streets of San Francisco are lined with pear , plum and apple trees thanks to ‘guerilla grafters’ secretly grafting fruit-bearing scions onto ornamental, non-fruit bearing trees making fresh fruit free and available to everyone who wishes to pick some.| Food Warrior Network  – Guerrilla Grafters !

Swap Positive -“The idea behind Swap Positive is to offer and get free clothes, forever. No money changes hands with these clothes ~ even if you get them home and decide they aren’t quite `you’, we ask that you GIVE them away to someone. That is the mission of Swap Positive.”

 Build a Greenhouse Using Plastic Bottles- If you’re thinking about building a greenhouse and need material cost to be low, here ya go.

#[word of the day] #FAsupportsnutrition #SNAPfood : Choice | @feedingamerica

Feeding America has a Photo A Day Challenge happening for March for  National Nutrition Month. This was what I decided to go with for CHOICE.

 

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It’s just rice. Plain white rice.

Brown rice is better nutritionally. All of us in our family prefer brown rice. It just isn’t in our budget. We could choose to buy brown rice but that choice would mean giving up another food from our shopping list.

I’m ok with white rice. It’s better than no rice at all. There was another time in my life I had rice but I had to make a choice whether or not to pick the bugs out of it or leave them in. Extra protein,right? I chose to pick them out but I’m certain I didn’t catch them all.  At least they were only teeny maggoty things and not one giant, live and wriggling one, like something a Survivor contestant would have to eat. They were cooked. I probably needed the protein, anyway.

#[word of the day] #FAsupportsnutrition #SNAPfood : Homemade @feedingamerica

Feeding America has a Photo A Day Challenge happening for March because it’s National Nutrition Month. I’m a bit behind thanks to techy problems  (and honestly, probably will not be able to do a photo every day) but here’s my contribution for  HOMEMADE.

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Like my little bowl? The whole set of dishes was FREE on Freecycle. Yay!

The lighting in my kitchen is terrible but this was delicious Sweet Potato & Chick Pea Soup . It was more like stew by the time I got to help myself to a bowl. Little buggers took most of the broth. I got the recipe  from The Sweet Potato Lovers’ Cook Book that I mentioned last week in my Library Loot post. It called for veggie broth but I didn’t have enough scraps to make veggie broth this weekend but I did have a chicken carcass stashed in my freezer, so I made chicken stock instead.

homemade

YUM,amiright? Ok, maybe not at this stage but it does smell amazing while the bones are boiling.

The great thing about the Internet is that there are hundreds of great bloggers out there who have instructions on how to make just about everything , so I will not bother taking you through the steps on making homemade chicken stock. I’ll let this link do that: Make Chicken Stock From Bones

Added bonus : Someone brought over chicken wings. I rescued the celery and added it to my stock.

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Sidenote: I hate styrofoam with a passion.

If you want to participate in this photo challenge, here’s the photo prompts: