Poverty News Round Up

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

The Newspaper:

1. What will happen when unemployment insurance is cut off? North Carolina moved early, so we get a preview of what will happen.

“North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen — 77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether.

To get unemployment insurance, you have to actively search for work and prove that you’re doing so. The drop in the labor force suggests that this incentive was effective. Without it, more people just give up.

…[and turn to charity]…

Ron Pringle, a food-bank director who oversees seven counties and 230 organizations in the state’s southeast, says they’ve seen on average a 17 percent increase in need since last year. “We’re seeing requests for food from our agencies well outside of our planned growth,” Pringle said. “Some of our member agencies have been able to meet that need, but many have not.”

2. Poverty and Policy blog takes the Washington Post to task for editorializing about SNAP in their news section:

“Nevertheless, only slightly over a quarter of participants stay in the program [SNAP] for two consecutive years or more, according to the latest data analysis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By contrast, the mother the Post profiles has participated for all but nine months of her life.”

3. Would raising the minimum wage increase the price of fast food?

“I do not support my tax dollars subsidizing large and profitable companies. Raising the minimum wage to $11.33, the poverty level, effectively shifts the cost of eating greasy French fries and overcooked burgers from taxpayers to fast food consumers — where they belong.”

4. Seven stories of unemployed New Yorkers about to lose unemployment insurance:

Robert Derczo, 64
Avenel, New Jersey — Accountant

I’ve been out of work since November 30, 2012. The hearing-aid company I worked for laid me off because of lack of sales. I was in manufacturing accounting, and they said they no longer needed me. They told me, “You did a good job, Bob. Now everything’s under control and we don’t need you anymore.” That’s okay, but I’ve probably put out close to 300 résumés in the last year. I consider myself a conservative Republican, for about 40 years, and I don’t like it when they say people are lazy. People aren’t lazy. There aren’t any jobs out there — there’s a complete lack of compassion. They come out with these blatant remarks without any thought whatsoever. I’m no spring chicken — I’ve been around the block a couple of times. But I still want to work, because I’m healthy, thank God.

5. Check out this excellent graphic by the Washington Post on who does, and does not, have insurance.

The Bible:

This week, we hear about the birth of Jesus. In the midst of the story and the season, let us not lose sight of just how remarkable it is that God choose to become human and be born into poverty. God choosing to become incarnate shows us that the defining characteristic of God is compassion. Henri Nouwen writes this about compassion:

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

Is this not what God is practicing  through the incarnation? Immersing Godself in the condition of being human. In Jesus, God is poor, hungry, sad, tired, betrayed, hurt, and abandoned. God is also laughing, having friends,  and being a son, a teacher, and a healer. God is entering into the human condition, and not just the good parts, but all of the broken places as well. Now, if God’s primary attribute were justice, then there would be no need to become human, after all, an impartial judge can dispense justice. But God is not impartial. The good news is that we are not going to get what we deserve. Instead, we get a God who is with us every step of the way as we journey through life. A God of such compassion that rather than safely observe and deal out justice, God immersed Godself in humanity in order to feel with us (the literal meaning of compassion is feeling with). This Christmas, God enters the broken places of humanity with mercy and compassion. Merry Christmas!



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