Monday, March 25, 2013

Comments on waging a living

For some reason I can't post to your individual blogs on waging a living.
It's understandable that you found the film Depressing.  It underscores that employment does not guarantee economic security and for low wage workers often means terrible poverty.  And terrible stress. This is not a reality that we often hear about in the media or from conservative discourse which often argues that people are poor because they have failed somehow or lack certain values.

One section of the film that I find,most disturbing is when the woman who is trying to finish college talks to her professor about her problems with the course. He urges her to apply herself!
Jacki posted a brief commentary on the film which was really interesting.  Though if I had been that reporter I would have flipped his solutions and started with expanded social and political support
You've posted good links.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Remember our speaker on STRIKE DEBT!

Occupy offshoot forgives $1 million in random people's debt

@CNNMoney March 15, 2013: 3:40 PM ET

Occupy Wall Street offshoot, Strike Debt, is buying people's emergency room debts for pennies on the dollar and forgiving them.

Occupy Wall Street offshoot, Strike Debt, announced Friday that it has abolished $1.1 million in medical debt for more than 1,000 people.

The protest group did this by buying emergency room debts for pennies on the dollar and then simply forgiving them rather than trying to collect the money, Strike Debt said in a statement.
When a bank, lender or other company, like a hospital, is unable to collect on a debt, it typically sells it to debt buyers or collectors -- often at a much lower price than the original amount owed since the odds of collecting the money are low. Whoever buys the debt then attempts to get the money from the debtor.
Related: Debt collection horror stories
Citing the large number of bankruptcies that stem from medical bills, Strike Debt's mission is to stop this collection cycle and abolish the debt altogether.
"Our privatized health care system buries ordinary people in debt all to enrich the 1%," the group said.
The more than $1 million in debt the group eliminated belonged to 1,064 people, amounting to an average of about $900 in debt per person. These randomly-selected people will receive notices explaining that their debt has been forgiven.
The organization spent about $21,000 to purchase the debt, using money raised from supporters.
Related: What business can learn from Occupy Wall Street
To rally the troops around its debt-busting initiative, Occupy's Strike Debt is planning protests later this month against private insurance companies and other events to raise awareness about hospital closings due to excessive amounts of debt.
Strike Debt originally launched its campaign and fundraising efforts in November, abolishing more than $100,000 in consumer debt before the end of 2012. To top of page

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Classism in popular culture

Here are two  videos posted on youtube about people at Walmart.  I think they fit with the piece of this week's reading that addresses classism.

and a short article on Honey Boo Boo reality show, which the author refers to as  ‘the poverty voyeurism comedy tour!;

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Race, social systems, and the creation of poverty

In our discussion today of the role of social systems in creating / limiting opportunities, I was terribly remiss in not  sharply naming race and racism as a motivating factor in the reduction of social policies and public supports to urban communities from the 1970s.  Yes, the retirement of social supports affected poor whites (in far higher numbers than we recognize) but from the 1970s social services and poverty were largely coded in reference to African Americans.  Race was critical in the shift in these policies and in the subsequent growth in income inequality.

And here's another article on the same subject from today's New York Times that I found fascinating.  It argues that long prison terms serve to assure that families and communities remain in poverty.

Prison and the Poverty Trap (excerpted here)

“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” said Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their families, creating an enduring disadvantage at the very bottom of American society.”
Among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.
 When sociologists look for causes of child poverty and juvenile delinquency, they link these problems to the incarceration of parents and the resulting economic and emotional strains on families.
Before the era of mass incarceration, there was already evidence linking problems in poor neighborhoods to the high number of single-parent households and also to the high rate of mobility: the continual turnover on many blocks as transients moved in and out.
Now those trends have been amplified by the prison boom’s “coercive mobility,” as it is termed by Todd R. Clear, the dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. In some low-income neighborhoods, he notes, virtually everyone has at least one relative currently or recently behind bars, so families and communities are continually disrupted by people going in and out of prison.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Minimum Wage Awards (The Strip By Brian McFadden, NYT, 2/17/2013)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Decline of the middle class - in numbers and in income.

Shirley's recent post asked whether the middle class was declining in numbers.  Yes, it is declining in numbers and also in income.  Here are some charts.

"A lost decade for the middle class during which its income fell for the first time since World War II, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center."
Here are 3 of the 5 charts in the article.  What do you think?