Poverty News Round Up

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

The Newspaper:

1. Politico has a wonderful piece on the work of Sister Simone Campbell:

“For Sister Simone, the command to defend the rights of the poor, the destitute and the needy is her life’s work — so she traveled across the country to highlight the stories of countless Americans and to connect the debates in Washington to the communities members of Congress are elected to serve.”

2. The United Methodist Women have a strong statement about the government shutdown:

“We are at once heartbroken and filled with holy outrage over the incredible irresponsibility of the U.S. Congress that, in its refusal to pass a budget, has followed the drastic cuts it made earlier this year to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs for low-income families to a new low—that of a partial government shutdown that’s causing even more harm to those most vulnerable.”

3. The sequester continues to do its damage:

“…locking in sequester spending levels in a clean budget patch bill–a “clean CR”–is no victory for humankind.  To the contrary, it’s locking in levels of non-defense discretionary spending that are too low to make the investments in public goods–both human and physical capital–that we need. ”

4. Local food pantries are not able to make up for the cut to SNAP at the end of the month:

“In Concord, the New Hampshire Food Bank has seen demand grow steadily even as donations have fallen. The bank distributed 8.5 million pounds of food last year, compared with 4.5 million pounds at the start of the recession in 2007. Executive Director Mel Gosselin said the added pressure from expiration of the supplement will hurt.”

5. As Seattle considers a $15 an hour minimum wage, the AP reports on minimum wages around the U.S. 

“Highest local minimum wage: At $10.55 cents an hour, San Francisco has the highest local minimum wage. And like Washington state, the level is consistently rising. Santa Fe, N.M., is close behind with an hourly wage set at $10.51.”

The Bible:

In exile, the Israelites are told, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7). As regular readers may have noticed, I like the metaphor of exile applied to today’s situation. While we have not physically been kicked out of our homes, we are far from the promised land.  Jeremiah, after lots of prophecy about doom and gloom is now beginning to offer us hope. There will be a return to the promised land, and in the meantime we are to make this situation as livable as possible. If you spend a lot of time paying attention to politics, it can be highly discouraging. Progress, on those rare occasions that any happens at all, is slow and piecemeal. Nonetheless, our welfare is intimately connected to the welfare of the community we find ourselves in, whether we like it or not. This week, we are reminded to continue our work to improve our city, county, state, nation, world, and all of the imperfect communities we find ourselves in.

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