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.

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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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Despite Our Saviour Gwyneth Paltrow, politicians are still being jerks to poor people

Ok, let’s get this over with before moving on to more important things.

Gwyneth Paltrow went food shopping with $29 and pretending to be poor for a week. You might have heard about it. 

She only made it through 4 days and then went back to biz as usual but predictably, as with other celebs & politicians who pretend to eat poor, she was applauded for raising hunger awareness and showing people how to eat with $29/week. Because we poor people had no idea before.

The disregard for poor people’s voices is what I’d rather address more than how ridiculous Gwyneth’s SNAP challenge was.

People who are actually on SNAP tried to tell what it’s like to live on SNAP and were told to sit down and shut up. We were told to stop picking on Gwyneth. Be grateful that someone is trying to speak up for us. Those telling poor people to appreciate the celeb’s efforts claimed to be “advocates for the poor”. Allies. Yes, allies!

Dear Allies –
If your ally-ship involves silencing the voices of marginalized people in order to boost those of privileged people who lack the firsthand knowledge and experience, than your ally-ship is crap.

Love,
All the marginalized people

People who are living in poverty are constantly explaining the challenges they face daily. Please listen to them. If you have the opportunity, share their experiences with others. Amplify their voices in a way that does not exploit them but empowers them.

Thank you. The end.

Meanwhile, in Kansas this week, the strangest welfare reform bill was passed. The bill was designed to prevent TANF recipients from spending government assistance money on things that poor people on welfare love according to popular stigmas instead of research, like tattoos, beer,cigarettes,lottery tickets, and fortune tellers. No taking cruises,either.Or going to the movies and swimming at public pools.

The average TANF benefit in Kansas is $114 per person. Besides the obvious question of what sort of cruise one can take for that money, most are wondering how to get around the logistics the state has put in place to try to enforce the new rules. TANF recipients can now only withdraw $25 at a time using their EBT cards. So, I guess landlords and utility companies will have to be patient and learn to accept $25 at a time? That sounds like an added frustration and stress poor people don’t need. Also,the fee for each transaction at an ATM is 85¢ after the 1st one and if using the cashback option at a register, whatever fees the store applies. A typical family of 3 would have to make a dozen trips to the ATM and then not even get their full amount thanks to bank fees.

In Indiana, Rep Terry Goodin (D- Austin) is proposing a drug testing for welfare bill. Via Indy Feminists, “He admits it’s an urban myth and that only 9 adults without kids are using TANF in Scott County, but he still wants to use 2 million in tax dollars for this discredited plan.”

This drug testing bill is slightly different from others in that the basis is to prevent the spread of HIV through IV drug use and based on flawed ethics. Still, it’s operating on the mythical  premise that those on TANF hold the key to pinpointing where HIV drug use is happening.  And they will spend $2 million to find out that’s not actually the case.

Also, Missouri is the latest state to introduce a bill to restrict what SNAP can be used for. No seafood (which might even include tuna & fish sticks) ,steak,cookies, and whatever else poor people aren’t entitled to eat.

That concludes all the new policies happening in the States this month. I think we’ll continue to see “welfare reform”  and SNAP restrictions on the state levels. We could have a whole passel of celebs do SNAP challenges and it isn’t going to affect policies.  I think anti-poverty advocates who have concentrated their efforts on keeping safety net programs available need to extend the effort out wider. We need to be working on multiple fronts here to help low income families. Better wages for working families and  benefits for disabled and elderly people would make a world of difference. Demand living wages, reduce need for safety net programs. Ta-da.

Prison labor booms as unemployment remains high; companies reap benefits

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via thepeoplesrecord:

Prison labor booms as unemployment remains high; companies reap benefits

Prison labor is being harvested on a massive scale, according to professors Steve Fraser and Joshua B. Freeman.

“All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day,” the professors write.

And some prisoners don’t make a dime for their work, according to the Nation, which notes that many inmates in Racine, Wis. are not paid for their work, but receive time off their sentences.

The companies that do pay workers can get up to 40 percent of the money back in taxpayer-funded reimbursements, according to RT.

That not only puts companies that use prison labor at a distinct advantage against their competitors, but, according to Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, it means American workers lose out.

“It’s bad enough that our companies have to compete with exploited and forced labor in China,” Paul told the Nation. “They shouldn’t have to compete against prison labor here at home. The goal should be for other nations to aspire to the quality of life that Americans enjoy, not to discard our efforts through a downward competitive spiral.”

Companies like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, Starbucks and Walmart all take advantage of that so-called “competitive spiral.”

One of Walmart’s suppliers, Martori Farms, was the subject of an exposé by Truthout in which one female prisoner described her typical day working for the private company.

Currently, we are forced to work in the blazing sun for eight hours. We run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don’t check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! If we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break, we get a major ticket which takes away our ‘good time’.

In response, Joseph Oddo, Martori Farms’ human resource director, told the Guardian that the company is no longer using inmates because prisons are not always able to provide workers on call the way they need. Oddo also said that workers were provided enough water, but the prisoners didn’t sip it slowly enough.

In a press release on Walmart’s site, Ron McCormick, vice-president for produce, said, “our relationship with Martori Farms is an excellent example of the kind of collaboration we strive for with our suppliers.”

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