Posts Tagged ‘#poverty’


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Wars of the future will be fought over water as they are over oil today, as the source of human survival enters the global marketplace and political arena. Corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling supply, prompting protests, lawsuits, and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive. Past civilizations have collapsed from poor water management. Can the human race survive?

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Is 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society? It’s a question economic elites debated this week in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland while attending the annual World Economic Forum. According to Time Magazine, the #1 theme at the conference is that capitalism needs an overhaul. Time‘s Jim Frederick writes:

“In 200 years, capitalism has already gone through several major iterations. But what, practically speaking, will a global capitalism retooled for the 21st century look like? More regulation? Or less? State Capitalism, like that practiced by China, Russia and many countries in the Middle East? Well, no one has quite figured that one out yet. But a surprising number of attendees (and these are the world’s most direct beneficiaries of the current system) seem to agree that something is wrong. And that in itself is remarkable.”

via Is Capitalism Failing Us? | BillMoyers.com.


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Occupy Wall Street is a movement with a valid reason to speak out.


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Four months after Occupy Wall Street grew into a nationwide phenomenon, America’s Occupy activists plan to descend on Capitol Hill to “Occupy Congress” on Tuesday in what organizers hope could be the movement’s largest gathering yet.

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Factories have replaced millions of workers with machines. Even if you know the rough outline of this story, looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data is still shocking. A historical chart of U.S. manufacturing employment shows steady growth from the end of the Depression until the early 1980s, when the number of jobs drops a little. Then things stay largely flat until about 1999. After that, the numbers simply collapse. In the 10 years ending in 2009, factories shed workers so fast that they erased almost all the gains of the previous 70 years; roughly one out of every three manufacturing jobs—about 6 million in total—disappeared. About as many people work in manufacturing now as did at the end of the Depression, even though the American population is more than twice as large today.

via Making It in America – Magazine – The Atlantic.

Under President Obama, key federal agencies have begun to shift away from subsidizing suburban sprawl and toward reviving cities and creating dense, walkable, transit-friendly communities. Obama has put smart-growthers and new urbanists in key positions, begun to realign government agencies to prioritize sustainability, and launched partnerships and initiatives that one Bush administration veteran calls “mind blowing” — in a good way. Even Obama’s allies agree, however, that serious reform may have to wait for a second term. If there is one.

The bigger picture includes a jumble of agencies and acronyms that’ll glaze your eyes and numb your brain. But here’s a quick list of some of the more notable things that Obama has done for cities, followed by a tale that might make you tear your hair out.

  • Obama created a special post at the White House for cities. Derek Douglas, a Yale-trained attorney who once worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, served as the president’s special assistant for urban affairs until he departed recently for a post at the University of Chicago.
  • The administration funneled more than $2.6 billion in stimulus money to transportation projects through the so-called TIGER grants. A significant chunk of this money went to transit and “complete streets” projects that benefit bicyclists and pedestrians as well as cars.
  • Another stimulus offshoot, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, sent $7 billion to cities and states to help deal with the aftermath of the housing crisis. The funding allowed cities to repurpose or redevelop abandoned and foreclosed properties.
  • Through a pilot program called Strong Cities, Strong Communities, six struggling burgs have received expert help in the form of “fellows” who’ve helped fill understaffed city offices and promote economic revitalization.

Obama’s most farsighted effort — and the one that best illustrates what he’s up against — is the Sustainable Communities Initiative, which brings together the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to decide where government development dollars are best spent. How sensible, you’re thinking — let’s get the people who build the roads (or train lines or bike lanes) together with those that oversee housing and development policy, and toss in the people charged with making sure that we don’t create a mess of the environment in the process. But this wasn’t happening before.

“Having a real and functioning partnership with HUD and DOT was beyond my wildest dreams,” says Ilana Preuss, who spent seven years in the EPA’s smart growth division under George W. Bush. Preuss, who is now chief of staff at Smart Growth America, says her work received consistent funding during the Bush years, but it wasn’t because of leadership from the top. Bush’s first two EPA chiefs, both former Republican governors — Christine Todd Whitman from New Jersey and Michael Leavitt of Utah — came from states that had strong smart growth policies.

“The major difference now is that [smart growth] is getting White House support, and there is this cross-agency partnership,” Preuss says. “That is a night and day difference.”

via President Obama and the forgotten urban agenda | Grist.


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Abraham,Martin,and John. Performed by Dion.

Stewart Lansley’s The Cost of Inequality: Three Decades of The Super-Rich and the Economy is full of figures to make the blood boil.

* According to Forbes, the number of American billionaires jumped 40-fold in the 25 years to 2007. In that period general US incomes stagnated in real terms, but the aggregate wealth of the top 400 soared from $169 to $1500 billion. (p. 7)

* The average pay of chief executives of Britain’s biggest 100 companies grew by 11% per annum in real terms 1999-2006; for other fulltime employees the figure was 1.4%. (p. 24) In the US chief execs’ pay ratio to workers’ from 1960 (42 to one) had leapt to 334 to one by 2007. (p. 25)

* To make it global, the combined wealth of the world’s 1000 richest people is almost twice as much as the poorest 2.5 billion. (p.27)

It makes the point that most of us have been around for long enough can feel instinctively – all of this is not some kind of inevitable way of things, but a relatively recent, and relatively sudden, development.

via Inequality – why the workers’ loss of income, and the bosses’ triumph, has broken our economy – Philobiblon.

Rich-poor conflict has replaced racial strain and friction due to nationality as the top U.S. tension, a national issues, attitudes and trends survey indicated.

The Pew Research Center survey was released the same day an Indiana University study said millions of Americans fell below the poverty line during the Great Recession and millions more would be forced into poverty, even as the nation emerges from the downturn.

The Pew survey found 66 percent of Americans say they believe “very strong” or “strong” conflicts exist between the rich and the poor, a 19 percent jump from 2009.

The 30 percent who say class conflicts are very strong is double the proportion who said the same thing in July 2009 and represents the largest share expressing this opinion since the question was first asked in 1987, the non-profit Pew center said.

via Rich-poor conflict said No. 1 U.S. strain – UPI.com.

Occupy Wall Street has initiated a national debate about poverty and inequality that resembles the political turmoil of the Gilded Age of the 1890s and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Can democracy and the nation’s economic health continue to survive severe disparities of income and well-being? Central cities, like Cleveland, reflect the downward spiral of income for working-class and minority families. More than 40 percent of its households live in poverty.

Norm Krumholz, a former city planner for Cleveland, advocated “equity planning” to help poor residents. As a professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University, he found that, in the Central neighborhood, the original home for many immigrants and black migrants, the median family income was $4,280 in 1980. Seventy percent of its households were single-parent families on welfare. Only 4.3 percent of the neighborhood’s houses were owner-occupied, in contrast to 44 percent citywide. Sixty-two percent of adults over 25 had not finished high school. Violent crime was the highest in the city. Twenty percent of the area’s public housing was vacant. Conditions were worse than in the Hough neighborhood before its riot of 1966.

via Troubled by urban poverty and inequality: Edward M. Miggins | cleveland.com.