4.29.17

 

GREAT NEWS. Escaping poverty requires almost 20 years with nearly nothing going wrong. If you manage to combat race and class issues while in poverty while also making sure nothing happens, there’s a chance of getting out of it.

I will start my countdown now.

Image result for gif 0 days since


Actually great news: Canada released some details about the anticipated UBI program that will be launched in three areas of Ontario. 4,000 residents will participate and receive a basic income of $16,989 per year for single folks and $24,000 for couples. People with disabilities will be given an extra $6,000.  The participants are all lower income people, both working and non-working.

I’ve noticed a lot in mainstream news recently about jobs being automated and speculation over what this means for jobs in the U.S. The reports are always fraught with anxiety. There is never any mention of Universal Basic Income as a solution. This absolutely needs to be part of the conversation happening right now.


Song of the day: “My Country” by The Tune Yards

My country, tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty
How come I cannot see a future within your arms

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Links: Food Justice & SNAP News – 1.13.16

[contents: food stamps, SNAP,Jeb Bush,Paul Ryan,block grants,marriage does not end poverty, states that will see SNAP cuts this month or soon, food insecurity,CSAs and food stamps,low income cooking classes for kids]

 

Our Prez had this to say about food stamps last night in the State of the Union address ….

via Think Progress

He isn’t wrong.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has been talking about poverty. He and other GOP dudes has what is being called “a bold and big new plan to end poverty”. On January 9th, Ryan and Sen Tim Scott moderated a Republican presidential forum on poverty.

Now, without even hearing what was said, I would assume that any plan put forth by the GOP to end poverty could also be dubbed The Bootstrap Plan. The idea of poverty solutions coming from the Republican party is laughable . Media Matters correctly identified the forum as a sham. Paul Ryan tossed out some sound bytes that sounded like he was trying to get some bipartisan support for these bold ideas. He talked about how we need to “Push wages up. Push the cost of living down. Get people off the sidelines.” One of the key takeaway points was that “a job is the only way out of poverty”, which completely ignores the current situation in the U.S. where many people in poverty DO have jobs…plural….and still live in poverty. This also really doesn’t address how disabled and elderly people or people who are caregivers for children or elderly family members are to be lifted out of poverty. Overall, the policies discussed contradict what the evidence says current safety net programs do and would increase poverty instead.

On the topic of SNAP,  there was much talk of “reform” and outright ending the program entirely. Jeb Bush laid out his plan prior to the poverty forum. His plan is to end SNAP and said “I know that giving states more flexibility will open the door for transformative ideas to eliminate poverty and increase opportunity”.   Whatever the hell that means. He also suggested that marriage is what will bring people out of poverty and on that key point, I’m done listening to anything he says.

(No,marriage won’t solve poverty, types the married blogger living in poverty)

Thankfully, economist Jared Bernstein explains what what Jeb’s plan is. When GOP candidates talk about ending SNAP, they mean they will cut SNAP as a federal program and give over to states an “opportunity grant” to be used to fund states’ own version of these programs. It’s a terrible idea and Bernstein explains:

The main reason this idea is so destructive is that it undermines the essence of the safety net, or its countercyclical function. The figure above makes the case (as the figure’s a bit gnarly, I pasted in the data below). It shows that when the last downturn hit, SNAP caseloads quickly responded to the loss of income among low-income households, while Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) hardly responded at all. The opportunity grant threatens to turn SNAP into TANF, killing the former’s countercyclical aspect in the same way block grants killed it for TANF.

We can learn a lot more about this bad idea from studying how SNAP worked in the last recession and thereafter.

Its countercyclical response in the figure is undeniable. Given that, some critics try to move the goalposts by granting that SNAP is responsive at the start of a downturn but arguing it’s less so later in the expansion, implying that it’s taking too long for

caseloads to fall as the economy has improved. There’s no question that SNAP caseloads, which are now slowly coming down, remained elevated as the unemployment rate fell. But for a number of reasons, that proves little.

You can read all of Bernstein’s WaPo article here.

Last week, Talk Poverty reported on The Ten Worst States for Food Insecurity. I’m thinking about what ending SNAP and giving block grants to those states would mean. For the love of Paul Ryan’s gym shorts….that can’t happen.
TenWorstStates-FoodInsecurity

Moving on to other SNAP & food justice related things….
Let me start with a few GOOD THINGS:

⇒ you can finally use SNAP to get a CSA share. This will help some people gain access to fresh produce but honestly, probably only if the CSA does a sliding scale fee or type of discount for SNAP share holders  [via Modern Farmer]

⇒ MicroGreens is a great non-profit that teaches 6th and 7th graders how to cook healthy meals on a SNAP budget [via Civil Eats]

⇒ A school cut the summer meal program for low income kids ,so this woman got her caterer’s license and a pub let her use their kitchen to cook meals for them. Hero. [via Upworthy ]

Ok, on to the bad stuff.

SNAP cuts are now in effect or pending in the following states….
New Jersey

New Mexico

North Carolina (23 counties)

Mississippi

Pennsylvania

Tennessee (and Arkansas)

As many as 1 million people could lose SNAP this year [via Daily Kos]

Most of these cuts are due to states ending job waivers and enforcing time restrictions.

But as this points out, Requiring jobs won’t make jobs appear

 


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Money as a social construction

 

via Sociological Images – Money as a social construction.

We all know that, on some basic level, money is purely symbolic.  It only works because everyone collectively agrees to participate in the fantasy that a dollar bill is worth a dollar, whatever that is.  Moreover, most of our money these days is purely electronic, represented by ones and zeros and real only in the most abstract sense possible.

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post offered another way of thinking about money as a social construction: how much it costs to make it.  None of our coins are actually worth what they cost, and pennies and nickels are worth quite a bit less.

The excess cost of producing pennies and nickels means a budget deficit for the Treasury. In 2013, producing the coins cost the government $105 million dollars above and beyond the coins’ value.

Interestingly, moves to eliminate pennies have been successfully opposed by the zinc industry for years, illustrating another sociological phenomenon: the power of corporations to shape government decisions.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

For more relevant discussion about the worth of our money, watch the documentary The End of the Road. (available streaming online or at the local library, if your library rocks like mine does).

 

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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Fullscreen capture 3252014 104025 AM

 

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.