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Poverty News Round Up

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

The Newspaper:

1. SNAP benefits are being cut today. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has the details:

CBPP SNAP cut chart

2. The economist behind the Affordable Care Act explains who is currently being affected:

“Gruber broke down the A.C.A. “winners” and “losers” for me. About eighty per cent of Americans are more or less left alone by the health-care act—largely people who have health insurance through their employers. About fourteen per cent of Americans are clear winners: they are currently uninsured and will have access to an affordable insurance policy under the A.C.A.

But much of the current controversy involves the six per cent of Americans who buy their own health care on the individual market, which the A.C.A. has dramatically reformed.”

3. Cuts to programs for the poor will need a new justification, now that deficits are falling.

“Deficits are, for now, falling fast. If anything, too fast. Just Wednesday, the Federal Reserve concluded a policy meeting with a statement that asserted, as it has in the past, that “fiscal policy is restraining growth” and that its forecasts are “taking into account the extent of federal fiscal retrenchment over the past year.” Independent economists outside the government have reached similar conclusions, and now worry that deficits will fall so fast as to undermine the recovery.”

4. Childhood poverty affects brain development.

“Those who grew up poor later had impaired brain function as adults—a disadvantage researchers could literally see in the activity of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex on an fMRI scan.”

5.  Ohio’s Republican governor continues to fight the Republican legislature in order to expand Medicaid.

“Gov. John Kasichdefended his decision to turn to a legislative board to push through an expansion of Medicaid as the Ohio Supreme Court agreed Thursday to speed up its consideration of a lawsuit over the move.”

The Bible:

This week we hear Luke’s version of the beatitudes:

“6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
6:21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
6:23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
6:25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
6:26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
6:27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
6:29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
6:30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

One of the most misunderstood passages in the bible is Luke 6:28 about turning the other cheek. An inferior would have been slapped by the backhand blow of the right hand. The left hand could not be used in that time period, and so turning the other cheek would necessitate a forehand slap. However, the forehand slap would  be an acknowledgement of equality. Turning the other cheek is a nonviolent way of asserting one’s own dignity. Similarly, offering one’s shirt in addition to one’s cloak would have resulted in nudity, but at that time the shame of nudity fell upon the one who saw a naked person. By offering one’s shirt, not only were you exposing yourself, but you were also exposing the injustice of the person taking your shirt and cloak.

Actually, this is a common misconception not only about Luke 6:28, but about nonviolence generally. Nonviolence does not mean nonresistance. It means resisting in a way that asserts one’s own dignity in a way that cannot be ignored. The Civil Rights Movement and Gandhi both show that this is not merely a Utopian dream, but a method for effective social change. In fact, a study looking at nonviolent movements from 1900 to 2006 found that they were about twice as likely to succeed as violent movements.



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