Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

As the Greek stock market tumbles and European CDS of all non-Greek PIIGS explode, the IMF is now in a position to bailout all the European PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain). What’s happening in Greece is just another domino in the economic Rube Goldberg contraption known as Globalization. What started out as the exploitation of the Third World is now heading West.

The IMF austerity measures are nothing more than economic enslavement. John Perkins has gone into great detail about his work there and if you haven’t read his book, “Confessions Of An Economic Hitman”, it’s a must read. Even before Perkins went public, though, reporter Greg Palast revealed the secret documents from the IMF, World Bank, and WTO that show just how toxic the austerity measures are and what they are really intended to do.

Here’s how it works:



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The Tigers are over .500 (for the time being), all is well…or at least all should be well.  The fact that the Motor City Kitties are number one in the [measly] AL Central and that the Red Wings are in the NHL Western Semifinals are simply not enough to pick up the pieces in Detroit, which has an unemployment rate three times higher than the national average.  I read an article from April 1958 in TIME, which mirrors much of the current situation.  When the nation gets a cold Detroit is the sore throat and runny nose.

Would you like a home for less than $8,000?  Maybe you ought to try Detroit.  And with the recession and resulting unemployment inevitably comes poverty.  And if you decide to buy a home in Detroit, I hope that excessive crime doesn’t bother you…

I guess the point of all of these dreadful bits of information regarding Detroit’s amplified state of recession is to ask this question:  What can be done for Detroit?

Perhaps you, the reader, would respond in one of these ways:

  1. Nothing can be done for Detroit, let her rot.
  2. The best thing that can be done for Detroit is to let the recession run its course and the markets will eventually fix themselves…maybe after several thousand more violent crimes.
  3. The federal government needs to help out Detroit.  More handouts and deficits!

Many more responses can be added to this list, but in general they all lack the ability to solve this problem rapidly or without major repercussions in the long run.  My only proposition is to do what is most human, and what is most human has been demonstrated through God’s will, especially as expressed though Christ.

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.  Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”  Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”  And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”’

Maybe these are some practical resources:

In the meantime, when looking for a sports team that properly reflects the current condition of the City of Detroit, look no further than last season’s record-breaking Lions.

Yes We Can

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What a sad couple of weeks it has been here at Criticism As Inspiration.  I offer a sincere apology to all readers who visited our blog numerous times in the past couple of weeks, each time disappointed with our lack of posts.  But here’s a conversation starter…

Mirek Topolánek is currently serving as the prime minister of the Czech Republic (though he was ousted with a no confidence vote today…) as well as the president of the European Union.  Granted he is more right-of-center, he is very much against President Obama’s economic recovery plan.  I have not voiced much regarding this legislation, primarily because I don’t know much about it.  I desired change for American politics, but hiking up the national deficit is all too familiar.

What’s this?  The commie is upset about government spending and his beloved President Obama?  Yes, I am upset about the current state of the economy all over the world.  This is the perfect time to enact Plan “C”


Of course I am being facetious.  I suspect that the market system has flaws, though I am convinced that neither Wall Street nor the big banks are solely to blame for our economic recession.  If you look at the chart below you will see that household (personal) debt in the United States has officially reached and surpassed our GDP:


I am not one for staring at charts (I’m more of a map kind of guy), but it’s rather easy to observe that our household debt has certainly been climbing over the past 25 years.  You can see it passing our GDP in 2007 and over the past two years it is continuing to climb.  What does that mean?  Who cares about our household debt in relationship to GDP?  What is most striking about this chart is that household debt has reached this level before.  Think 1929:


If you look at this chart you can see that last time American household debt was near 100% of our GDP was in 1929, followed by a rapid depression (which is called the Great Depression).  This gives us an interesting insight into a possible cause of the current recession.  Columbia Business School professor David Beim worded it well:

The problem is us.  The problem is not the banks, greedy though they may be, overpaid though they may be.  The problem is us…  We’ve been living very high on the hog.  Our living standard has been rising dramatically in the last 25 years.  And we have been borrowing much of the money to make that prosperity happen.

This is old news (I heard it on NPR almost a month ago), but bearing it in mind, perhaps we Americans ought to reorient the way that we see life (especially success, wealth, meaning, and fulfillment).  I’ve seen families living what would be considered “poverty-stricken” lives (according to information brought to light in this insightful post) while driving Escalades.  We’ve put ourselves in debt up to our ears (and climbing), and perhaps more borrowing ought not be our next step.  Maybe we ought to drive the cheaper, more fuel-efficient car.  Maybe we ought to eat out less and cook at home more.  Maybe we ought not purchase that big screen nor update our DVD library to Blu-Ray.  Maybe we ought not give Hollywood another record-breaking year.  I’m not sure where to draw the line, but smalls steps in the right direction would be a good start.

If we don’t choose change the way we live we will most certainly be forced to.

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American Poverty?

I was reading a post by Larry Elder this morning, which talked about poverty standards in America, a topic I have read about with much interest before.  Larry quotes from The Heritage Foundation so I went there to scope out the article he referred to.  The Heritage article compiles statistics from multiple government resources to come up with a picture of American poverty.  That picture is not quite as dire as we tend to associate with poverty.  Whenever there is talk of the poor (our country defines that as family of 4 with income of $21,203 or less), my mind reels with images of beggars at the temple gates, or 10 “Okies” and all their earthly belongings piled onto a truck like in Grapes of Wrath (which I just watched for the first time).  Check this chart out.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Not exactly the destitute image I had in my mind.

“Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of house­holds equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.”

So basically the “poor” of this generation are living like the middle-class of the 70’s.  I don’t point this out to belittle poverty, but rather to say that we should find a better way to describe or list those people who are truly in need.  Whenever we hear about government policies to help the poor, or to bring them out of poverty, well this is the group they are talking about.  What are the policies?  To get them a 3rd television set?  Upgrade them from regular dvd to Blu-ray?

Wouldn’t it be more productive to actually help the 10-20% at the bottom of this spectrum?  And by help I don’t immediately mean money or food stamps.  If you read the article you will find even more information on staying out of the poverty line.  This is a major sticking point for conservatives; that is, getting people to make right decisions to help themselves.  I would say most Americans, republican or democrat, have no problem helping people that are hitting a tough patch.  But the typical republican has a problem with a welfare state for any length of time.

In good economic times or bad, the typical poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year: That amounts to 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year—the equiva­lent of one adult working 40 hours per week through the year—nearly 75 percent of poor chil­dren would be lifted out of official poverty.

There are even more numbers on the amount of children lifted from the poverty line if their single mothers had married the fathers.  There are very many elements to the marriage equation, but in general I would think it’s fair to say that marriage is a smart decision that can be made by the poor, but is discouraged by welfare and/or the prevailing culture.  So again, I am curious what kind of label or qualification we can create that would find the truly needy individuals versus those who are actually somewhat comfortable in their lives, or are at least comfortable in making decisions that cause their financial difficulties?

I obviously understand that poverty is not black & white (hence my desire to find better ways to classify it), and am not a completely heartless bastard.  But I do like to put things in perspective, especially in America where we have so much, but complain equally as much about what we don’t have.

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