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Poverty News Round Up

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

The newspaper:

1. The fight against poverty needs to focus more on early childhood:

“The younger kids are, the less the Federal government spends on them: that’s one message of The First Eight Years: Giving Kids A Foundation for Lifetime Success, published today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Bad news, given what we know about the critical development during this early childhood period. Experiences in early childhood lay the foundations for cognitive, non-cognitive, and physical development. Early childhood gaps between affluent and poorer children predict and shape lifetime inequalities”

2. On a related note, the U.S. is one of the few wealthy contries that funds education in a way that increases rather than decreases inequality:

“Andreas Schleicher, who runs the O.E.C.D.’s international educational assessments, put it to me this way: “The bottom line is that the vast majority of O.E.C.D. countries either invest equally into every student or disproportionately more into disadvantaged students. The U.S. is one of the few countries doing the opposite.” The inequity of education finance in the United States is a feature of the system, not a bug, stemming from its great degree of decentralization and its reliance on local property taxes.”

3. Ohio’s Governor condemns his own party for making war on the poor, instead of war on poverty:

In his grand Statehouse office beneath a bust of Lincoln, Gov. John R. Kasich let loose on fellow Republicans in Washington. “I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor,” he said, sitting at the head of a burnished table as members of his cabinet lingered after a meeting. “That if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.”

4. An excellent profile of the most unequal town in the U.S. concludes that:

“Those attitudes tell me there’s room for reconciliation — and shared empathy — in this place of haves and have-nots. There’s room in America, too. If more of us saw how the other side of the lake lives, and if we really worked to understand the systems — the schools, the taxes, the wages, the history — that create and maintain economic injustice, I’ve got to think we’d work together to build a sturdier bridge to the other side.”

There is also a clear link shown between social ills and income inequality.

Social Ills and Income Inequality


5. Social Science researchers mount a powerful defense of SNAP:

“Despite the fact that the program lifts 2.1 million children out of poverty annually, and has been shown to be an effective counter-cyclical stabilizer, some are calling for major changes to the program in the name of curbing government spending. The bill that passed 217-210 includes changes ranging from nearly $4 billion per year in cuts to the program and increased work requirements to massive restrictions in the goods that can be purchased.”

The Bible:

This week we hear about the resurrection. A question is asked about levirate marriage. While the answer is interesting, more relevant from a poverty perspective is the practice of levirate marriage itself. If a married man died with no children, his brother would marry his widow and raise a child for him (i.e. the child would legally be considered the child of the dead brother). The reason for this actually had a lot to do with alleviating poverty and inequality. First, without a child or husband the widow would have been condemned to a live of poverty, as the prospects of remarriage were bleak and the prospects of escaping poverty without a male relative were bleaker. Second, Israelite law placed supreme importance on families holding on to their historical plots of land (Leviticus 25). Every 50 years, land was restored to it original owners, insuring that land couldn’t be concentrated in the hands of a few. This also required that there was a clear genealogy from the original owners to the present descendants. Levirate marriage was a part of insuring that clear genealogy and therefore avoiding concentrated land ownership and wealth.




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