Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2015
Frances Ryan, The Guardian:
If the government would care for an insight into what its “safety net” has become, it could do worse than looking at the case of Nick Gaskin.
Gaskin, who has primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), cannot walk, feed himself or talk but, last month, received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) informing him he should attend an interview about “the possibility” of getting a job.
People who have such severe disabilities they are unable to work are – by definition of being put in the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA) – not required to attend mandatory meetings. As Gaskin can only communicate through blinking, it was his wife, Tracy, who called the jobcentre in Loughborough to explain this. The DWP now says it will apologise over the “misunderstanding”. But not before Tracy was told that if her husband did not attend the interview his benefits would be stopped. [Had the crisis occurred earlier, in the midst of Tracy’s cancer therapy, it’s likely Nick Gaskin would have lost his benefits, endangering both him and Tracy.]
Currently, Iain Duncan Smith is embroiled in a row over burying figures that show how many people have died within six weeks of their benefits being stopped…. It gives an insight into Duncan Smith’s thinking that when confronted on the issue in the House of Commons, it was the campaign to disclose the statistics – rather than the deaths themselves – that he called “disgraceful”.
I have written about some of the people who fell past the edge. Malcolm Burge, the retired gardener who had his housing benefit cut by 50% and drove to Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and set his car on fire. David Clapson, the diabetic jobseeker who had his benefits sanctioned and was found with no food in his stomach and CVs next to his body.
Here, helpless people shoved off of the SSI or Food Stamp/SNAP rolls die silently, invisible to our media. At least in the U.K., one newspaper mentions them.
Sure, there are cheaters on the rolls here. Partly that’s because the benefits that they provide are nopt enough to actually live on, so people supplement them with money made from hustling or by claiming more than they are entitled to. But, sure, there are some real out-and-out fraudsters. So… how many helpless people are we willing to kill in order to punish the undeserving?
The answer is that we don’t know and, with our current media, never will.
Posted in abuse of power, Media machine, poverty | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Charles II on November 16, 2014
Via Atrios, journalist William McPherson:
Like a lot of other people, I started life comfortably middle-class, maybe upper-middle class; now, like a lot of other people walking the streets of America today, I am poor. To put it directly, I have no money. Does this embarrass me? Of course, it embarrasses me—and a lot of other things as well. It’s humiliating to be poor, to be dependent on the kindness of family and friends and government subsidies. But it sure is an education.
My income consists of a Social Security check and a miserable pension from the Washington Post, where I worked intermittently for a total of about twenty-five years, interrupted by a stint at a publishing house in New York just before my profit-sharing would have taken effect. I returned to the Post, won a Pulitzer Prize, continued working for another eight years, with a leave of absence now and then. As the last leave rolled on, the Post suggested I come back to work or, alternatively, the company would allow me to take an early retirement. I was fifty-three at the time. I chose retirement because I was under the illusion—perhaps delusion is the more accurate word—that I could make a living as a writer and the Post offered to keep me on their medical insurance program, which at the time was very good and very cheap.
Sometimes this country disgusts me, for its wanton waste of talent, for its hateful moralizing about poverty, for its prosperity gospel.
Posted in media, poverty | 6 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on June 9, 2014
I’m a 29 year old american who has never once had a good enough job to have health insurance…
That’s a quote from Jerad Miller who, with his wife Amanda Woodruff, carried out a brutal mass killing in Las Vegas. The quote comes from Dana Liebelson’s article in Mother Jones.
There are a lot of things in the article that we should pay attention to. For example, the central role of Alex Jones’ InfoWars in stoking violence. There are always hucksters like Jones out there, willing to turn American against American for a buck. But since Glenn Beck’s eclipse, he’s the nail standing up.
Miller’s story is almost archetypal of our age. A young man, born into an affluent society and told at every step that if one just has the will to make it, one can. But the society is failing, drained by war and the slow rot of democracy under the relentless power of money, unable to provide the sort of opportunity that it provided as little as a generation ago. And so the young man falls first into crime, for which he is unprepared, then into poverty and chronic failure, then into conspiracism, and from there, into a desire to die violently. If he were African American, the story would likely be unknown, though it is the norm in places like East St. Louis (Sam Seder interviewed Goldie Taylor today). Miller and Woodruff were white and they killed strangers. So, their story is all over the news.
I lean libertarian on guns. I do understand why people want to regulate them to reduce the lethality of semiautomatic weapons and I know that we are paralyzed with inaction because of the corruption of Washington by the gun industry, and its lobbyists, the NRA. But as long as young people, especially young men, are deprived of a meaningful shot at achieving the American Dream through legal, non-violent means, these mass murders will continue.
Until this country comes to its senses, we can continue to build on the foundation laid by Medicare, Medicaid, S-Chip, and Obamacare to make sure that no person ever needs to write the words:
I have not seen a dentists in 14 years. I take good care of my teeth. The job market has been horrible. The few temporary jobs i find havent been able to earn me enough money to go see a dentist. Since I dont have insurance or medicaid the cost is around 500 to 1000 dollars. So as I sit here in agony, taking the penasilin the ER perscribed me I contemplate the state of things here in the good old USA. How the Gov. spends billions of dollars on the war on drugs and all these missles and bombs to kill people. I think about all that money that could do to helping people instead. Creating jobs, creating happy, healthy people. I dont want a hand out. I just need a foundation to stand on. One that wont be pulled out from under me as soon as i step up on it. I’m a 29 year old american who has never once had a good enough job to have health insurance……………. I dont know what else to say.
Posted in gun issues, health care, poverty | 1 Comment »
Posted by Charles II on January 24, 2014
The Urban Institute and Brookings Institute have a discussion panel here on the role of tax policy in the War on Poverty.
Posted in our tax dollars at work, poverty | Comments Off on The Real War on Poverty
Posted by Charles II on June 20, 2013
Savage cuts to NSAP (Food Stamps) and international food aid in HR 1947 were voted down 234-195. You can see the vote here.
But they’ll be b-a-a-a-a-c-k.
If this happens enough times, maybe Republican leadership will figure out that being a–holes is not a good political strategy.
Democrats who chose to join forces with evil:
Barber, Barrow, Bera, Braley, Brownley, Bustos, Costa, Cuellar, Enyart, Farr, Garamendi, Garcia, Loebsack, McIntyre, McNerney, Murphy (FL), Owens, Peters, Peterson, Rahall, Schrader, Sinema, Vela, Walz.
I guess agribusiness is more important to them than the flood tide of hungry people.
Posted in Congress, poverty, Republicans acting badly, You're On Your Own-ership Society | 6 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2013
Neil DeMause of FAIR has a good piece about the revival of disabilityfrauditis among the apparatchiks of our quasi-democracy. This meme had its origins 20 years ago in darkest Arkansas:
In 1994, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (2/13/94) reported that some local residents were receiving tens of thousands of dollars a year in “crazy checks” for their mentally disabled kids. The story later spread to the front pages of the Washington Post (2/4/94) and Boston Globe (5/12/94). Eventually, ABC’s PrimeTime Live (10/13/94; Extra!, 3–4/95) declared children’s SSI to be “a government program gone haywire,” charging that children were “faking disabilities” after being coached by their parents.
Forbes Media Critic, in an article titled “A Media Crusade Gone Haywire” (9/95), soon revealed that four major studies of the SSI program—by the General Accounting Office, the Department of Health and Human Services, a congressional Disability Policy Panel, and the Social Security Administration—had all agreed that “there is no evidence of widespread fraud or abuse of the program.”
Well, this stupid meme is back, and who is pushing it but the usual suspects (deMause, continuing):
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (12/9/12) reported that poor families in Appalachian Kentucky were pulling their kids out of literacy classes. The reason: They feared that if their kids learned to read, it would disqualify them from receiving monthly $698 disability checks from the federal government’s Supplemental Security Income program.
It was all enough to earn Kristof a public chiding from Times public editor Margaret Sullivan (NYTimes.com, 1/29/13) for making “assertions [that] were based on too little direct evidence” and using “statistical information that is, at the very least, open to interpretation.”
Yet Kristof’s column turned out to be just the opening salvo of a series of high-profile news reports exposing America’s alleged plague of skyrocketing disability benefits.
In a March series, NPR’s Planet Money [a repeat offender for peddling BS] revisited the world of SSI, this time for adults—and seemed to have learned few of the lessons of the Kristof mess. Calling the program “a hidden, increasingly expensive safety net” and “a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills” (NPR.org, 3/13), NPR’s Chana Joffe-Walt painted a picture of soaring disability rolls and nebulous diagnoses, where a “disability industrial complex” is pushing people willy-nilly onto the dole whether they need it or not (All Things Considered, 3/25/13).
the NPR series set off a flurry of copycat articles in the mainstream press that bemoaned disability as home of the new welfare cheats.
In the Washington Post (4/8/13), op-ed columnist Charles Lane decried SSI as a “drain [on] the Treasury” that discourages people from working. At Time.com (4/9/13), Joe Klein called Social Security Disability “an end-run around the [welfare] system” and a “scam” that “has no work requirement.” The next day, the Wall Street Journal (4/10/13) wrote that workers who’d “piled into the Social Security Administration’s disability program [threaten] to cost the economy tens of billions a year in lost wages and diminished tax revenues.”
And, of course, it’s all based on baloney: made-up statistics like the claim that 8% of children are on disability, conflation of SSI and SSDI, and so on. The recession and its aftermath have made more people poor enough–not to mention desperate enough– to become eligible for SSI benefits. In other words, there is no crisis, just a desperate longing of rich people for more and more and more and more.
These are really awful people who are trying to take bread from the mouths of the very most helpless. They deserve to be shunned. The world should sit shiva for people like Kristof and Klein and O’Reilly and Lane who are morally dead.
Posted in abuse of power, greed, mediawhores, poverty | Comments Off on Beating up on the disabled
Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2013
This is from a 2010, DemocracyNow interview of Manfred Max-Neef, a Chilean economist who won the right livelihood award. I call him a prophet, because he was denouncing austerity in 2010:
MANFRED MAX-NEEF: …I understood poverty because I was there. I lived with them. I ate with them. I slept with them, you know, etc. And then you begin to learn that in that environment there are different values, different principles …
And you learn extraordinary things. The first thing you learn, that people who want to work in order to overcome poverty and don’t know, is that in poverty there is an enormous creativity. You cannot be an idiot if you want to survive. Every minute, you have to be thinking, what next? What do I know? What trick can I do here? What’s this and that, that, that, that? And so, your creativity is constant. In addition, I mean, that it’s combined, you know, with networks of cooperation, mutual aid, you know, and all sort of extraordinary things which you’ll no longer find in our dominant society, which is individualistic, greedy, egoistical, etc. It’s just the opposite of what you find there. And it’s sometimes so shocking that you may find people much happier in poverty than what you would find, you know, in your own environment, which also means, you know, that poverty is not just a question of money. It’s a much more complex thing.
I think most of the unhappiness associated with wealth is that you think you ought to do such-and-such or have such-and-such. If one can get over that and take the losses and disappointments when they inevitably come, it’s possible to be happier.
But the creativity of poverty is an interesting point, too. As any artist can testify, creativity has a powerful effect on mood. When one can’t create, it’s miserable, whereas the moments of creativity are as beautiful as deep love. If one constantly has to work at creativity, it can be elevating. But there’s also the situation in which, despite all of one’s creativity, the situation is so bad that success is not possible. Poverty in the U.S. has elements of the liabilities of wealth–that is, poor people see so many people succeeding and imagine that they are failures–and, for many, success is impossible. It is, for example, essentially impossible for a felon to become a successful businessman at any legal enterprise, even a small one. It’s almost impossible to get a job except at construction or restaurant work. And now the Senate is going to deprive them of Food Stamps.
Posted in poverty | 8 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on March 16, 2013
In a previous thread, there has been fascinating discussion on Pope Francis, with our commenters bringing in terrific links. As I see it, there are five strands to the thread:
1. Did Father Bergoglio collaborate with the Argentine Junta during the Dirty War?
* Journalist Horacio Verbitzky has a document from the Argentine Foreign Ministry which states that Father Bergoglio accused one of the priests of subversion years after this priest and another were seized by the Junta, and tortured. Verbitzky obtained statements from the priests to the effect that they were denied the protection of the Church from the Junta by Father Bergoglio.
* Brother John in comments mentions the statement by human rights champion Adolfo Pérez Esquivel that Bergoglio had no connection at all to the dictatorship.
2. Did Bishop/Archbishop/Cardinal Bergoglio participate in the cover-up and stonewalling of the investigation of the crimes of the Dirty War?
* Verbitzky states that Cardinal Bergoglio lied in court about the forced surrender of children for adoption [In English, as noted by commenter Ji, here. This is presumably in regard to the child of Elena De La Cuadra.
* He also states that cardinal Bergoglio denied that the church archives contained any information about the disappeared/detained, whereas there was a document in which bishops Raúl Primatesta, Juan Aramburu y Vicente Zazpe talked frankly with the dictator (Videla) about whether to tell families whether their loved ones were alive or not.
* Via Jim, in comments, Fr. Christian von Wernich has not been defrocked despite having been convicted of being an accomplice in the murders of seven people, and additional cases of torture and false imprisonment. Commenter Rich Grabner of Mex Files says that it’s normal for prisoners to ply their trades, so as long as von Wernich hasn’t been defrocked, it’s not surprising he would say Mass.
* Cardinal Bergoglio refused to testify in court in two cases involving torture and murder. When he did testify, he was evasive.
* Commenter Jim points to two photos (one and two) which may indicate that Father Bergoglio gave communion to dictator Jorge Rafael Videla soon after Videla’s release from prison (the priest’s face is not shown, so it might be a misidentification).
* Bergoglio helped Verbitzky unravel a case involving the hiding of prisoners held by the Junta from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
3. Is there any connection between the corruption scandal that engulfed the Italian branch of Communion and Liberation and then-Cardinal Bergoglio?
* On this, there is no evidence whatsoever. What is known is that the Italian branch of Communion and Liberation is up to its eyeballs in a corruption scandal. Cardinal Angelo Scola has not been tied in, but the scandal probably cost him the papacy.
4. Since past money-laundering by the Church has involved CIA operations to overthrow left-wing governments, is Communion and Liberation part of such an effort to overthrow the Bolivarian governments of Central and South America?
* There is no direct evidence on this matter. For a review of Vatican financial scandals see Betty Clermont at DK
* Verbitzky states that he believes that the elevation of Bergoglio to Pope signals that the Church intends to undertake an operation similar to what it did in Poland with Solidarity in the 1980s: presumably meaning, to overthrow the Bolivarian governments.
5. More broadly, does Pope Francis intend to end financial and moral corruption in the Church and return it to its mission of spreading the gospel and helping the poor? Or will he lead the Church down the road of further politicization?
* Bergoglio has engaged in open politicking over the issue of marriage equality for gays, which he called a “Holy War.”
* Via Brother John,
liberation theologian Leonard Boff says that he believes that Pope Francis intends to create a “Church that is poor, simple, gospel-centered, and devoid of all power.”
I’m neutral. I hope the Church straightens out and flies right. It is too important to too many people to get itself tangled up in overthrowing governments, domestic politics, and financial corruption. Those are moral diseases that breed when the Church gets too close to the rich. The cure is for the Church to get close to the poor. I wish Francis all success if that is his aim, and I wish him all due justice if he is using the poor as a screen for another aim.
Posted in Latin America, Pope Francis, poverty, religion | 11 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on December 24, 2012
Chris Arnade visited Hunt’s Point, NY and got to know the street people. He produced a remarkable series titled Faces of Addiction, with photographs and brief stories of the people he met.
(Via Julie Turkewitz, The Atlantic)
Posted in poverty | Comments Off on The faces of addiction
Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2012
Center for Budget Policy and Priorities has the skinny.
Minnesota, for example.
Posted in poverty | 4 Comments »