Poverty News Round Up

With the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

The Newspaper:

1. Cato Institute’s analysis of welfare benefits v. work is badly flawed. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

“The Cato Institute released a report this week that argues that people on “welfare” are better off than low-income working families.  In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth,”

2. Part of the rise in inequality is the shift from labor to capital:

The devaluation of wage and salary work can be seen in Figure 1. The chart illustrates the marked shift over the past three decades in the distribution of national income in the United States from labor (in the form of wages, salaries and fringe benefits) to capital (in the form of interest, capital gains and other returns on investment).

labor capital edsall

3)  The number of extremely poor individuals in the U.S has soared since welfare reform:

The number of Americans living on less than $2 a day per person, soared by 160 percent from 1996 to mid-2011, a new report finds. The report by the National Poverty Center (NPC) indicates that the number increased from 636,000 in 1996 to about 1.65 million in 2011.

4) Economically diverse neighborhoods are hindered by unequal schooling, as parents who can afford it move to find better schools.

Petrilli and parents like him are hardly responsible for rising suburban poverty in this country. There are many factors at work. Yet his experience highlights the central role that suburban schools will play in determining whether their communities can achieve and maintain economic integration, or will instead see ever-rising poverty and many of the same challenges with which urban communities have struggled over the last few generations.

5) Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The March on Washington brought more than a quarter-million people to the nation’s capital on Aug. 28, 1963, for what many consider a key turning point in the civil-rights movement. The historic rally was highlighted by the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The Bible:

This week’s lectionary includes Isaiah 58: 10-12

“if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”

The light that shines in the darkness is not the result of having a perfect theology or believing without doubt, its source is the kindness and compassion that result in a community that cares for all of its members, the poor, the hungry, the mentally or physically ill. The text goes on to talk about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a chance to form community. It was a day of rest and fellowship, a day in which the land was allowed to recover (yep, Sabbath was also an environmental practice) and the slaves and servants were able to rest. It was a day to stop pursuing your interests through work, and instead relax and focus on the community.


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