Poverty News Round Up

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

The Newspaper:

1. The increase in food stamps is still a result of the recession. Which was not caused by poor people.

“How is it that those of us trying to argue on behalf of providing the poor with the opportunities they need are so often back on our heels, defending the increase in the SNAP (i.e., food stamp) rolls against those who claim the safety net is a hammock? Did the poor come up with the financial “innovations” that inflated the housing bubble? You know, the one that imploded and took the economy down with it…how about the dot.com bubble? Was that also the dastardly work of the bottom 20%?”

2. What would happen if fast food actually paid $15.00 an hour?

“The other point is that a full-time worker who sees her pay go from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour will have another $15,000 to spend each year. This money may go to hire childcare workers for her children, home health care workers for parents, or be spent in thousands of other ways. Higher pay in the fast-food industry might lead to an economy in which we have fewer people working in the fast-food industry but many more people working in other industries. On its face, that would not seem to be a problem.”

3. The importance of early childhood education.

“As I walked my 2-year-old granddaughter into preschool recently, I had a dream: that every poverty-level child in America would be enrolled in a vocabulary-intensive preschool like hers before the age of 2.

Why this dream? Because at the age of 2, the “word gap” between a child in poverty and a child in the middle or upper class is only 100 to 200 words.

Compare this to the age of 5, when, without vocabulary enhancement, the word gap explodes exponentially and sometimes irretrievably.”

4. People come away from a poverty simulation with a new view of poverty.

“People think that when people are poor, they don’t want to work,” Hoffman said. “But this is a lot of work, trying to make sure you have food and medicine to support you. It’s very exhausting, very draining and there’s not enough time in the day to do it.”

5. Meet the new SNAP bill. Worse than the old SNAP bill. 

The proposal incorporates all of the SNAP cuts and other nutrition provisions of the farm bill that House leaders sought unsuccessfully to pass in June, which would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP over ten years.[2]   It also adds new provisions designed to cut at least another $20 billion in benefits, primarily by eliminating states’ ability to secure waivers for high-unemployment areas from SNAP’s austere rule that limits benefits for jobless adults without children to just three months out of every three years.

The Bible: 

This week the lectionary does not talk about poverty. We’re still averaging well over once a week, since this is the first week none of the passages have talked about poverty, and in many (maybe most) weeks there’s two passages that talk about poverty. So, in the absence of the lectionary, I’m going to to write briefly about Deuteronomy 15, which I don’t think appears in the lectionary cycle.

Deuteronomy 15 orders debt forgiveness every 7 years and tells the Israelites that there will be no poor among them, both because of God’s blessing and because they will follow God’s command to take care of the poor. Slaves are also set free at the end of the seventh year. As a final note, it’s explicitly mentioned that the reason Israel should do this is because they remember what it was like to be slaves in Egypt. That experience shaped them and led to a culture of radical economic equality.

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