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Washington Post Promotes Dickensian Marketing Experiment on Poor Children


(COMMON DREAMS) Adam Johnson, December 21, 2015 — The poor need food, housing, jobs and—not least of all—dignity. Billion-dollar companies playing their plight off the prejudices of the viral video–sharing masses isn’t just in bad taste, it’s a perfect microcosm of how the media covers poverty. Typically, the right-wing press addresses it in cruel fear-mongering or poor-shaming, while the nominally liberal media all too often reduces it to this type of “inspirational” claptrap. But the poor aren’t our props; they’re not the raw material of viral content who, if edited properly, will subvert our “prejudices” and play the role of noble savage. They’re individuals. Human beings. Complex and nuanced.

Indeed, had some of these children told the producers to fuck off, they were keeping the gifts they were promised—as I suspect some edited-out clips showed—all the better. Poverty isn’t a marketing gimmick, it’s a scourge, a cancer and a national shame. The media should be covering this decidedly uninspiring reality, not its exploitation by cynical marketing firms.

Source: Washington Post Promotes Dickensian Marketing Experiment on Poor Children | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

New Census Data Demand Action on Inequality and Poverty

(COMMON DREAMS) Melissa Boteach — The U.S. Census Bureau released data this week showing little to no improvement in poverty and family incomes in 2014, despite a falling unemployment rate.

This frustrating state of affairs is directly related to high levels of inequality andstagnant wages, which have kept poverty rates much higher than they should be given that we’ve had more than five straight years of economic growth. The problem is that despite workers’ increased productivity and higher levels of education, the economic gains have concentrated at the top of the income ladder, leaving workers with flat or declining wages and chronic economic insecurity.

It’s clear that we need more aggressive action on inequality and poverty. But, at the same time, the Census data also confirm the dramatic role that our social insurance and assistance programs play in protecting families from hardship and boosting economic security for low- and middle-income families.

For example, the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account a more comprehensive set of family resources and expenses, shows that last year Social Security lifted 25.9 million people out of poverty and the Earned Income and Child Tax credits kept 9.8 million people out of poverty. Similarly, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and affordable housing protected 4.7 million and 2.5 million people, respectively. Moreover, recent research shows that without our nation’s social safety net, the poverty rate would be nearly twice as high—with nearly 30 percent of Americans living in poverty!

Source: New Census Data Demand Action on Inequality and Poverty | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

The key difference between what poor people and everyone else eat

(WASHINGTON POST) Roberto A. Ferdman — The good news is that the nearly 50 million Americans who participate in the food stamp program are getting as many calories in food, on average, as everyone else.

The bad news is that those calories are coming from much less healthy things.

Researchers at the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, hoping to evaluate the current state of the largest federal food assistance program in the United States, reviewed 25 different studies published between 2003 and 2014. Each of the studies analyzed data on the dietary quality, food choices, and spending habits of both those who use food stamps, known as the Supplementation Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), and those who don’t.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are, in some ways, surprising. Soda consumption, for instance, has long been believed to be particularly high among poor people, but it turns out that may not be correct.

Source: The key difference between what poor people and everyone else eat – The Washington Post

Number of Americans without health insurance falls as income and poverty rate stay level

(WASHINGTON POST)  Amy GoldsteinJeff Guo and Lazaro Gamio — The U.S. census released critical new information Wednesday about the state of poverty, median income, and the insurance rate.

Source: Number of Americans without health insurance falls as income and poverty rate stay level – The Washington Post

What it’s like to live on $2 a day in the United States

(WASHINGTON POST)  Chico Harlan — In the United States, we often talk about poverty as a line: You are above it or below it; you escape it or can’t get out of it. Every year, the government defines that line with a number. Right now, if you’re in a family of four, you’re considered poor if you get by on less than $16.60 per day.

What we tend to ignore, though — and almost never bother to quantify — is the vast spectrum of poverty itself. And that’s why a new book, “$2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, is so eye-opening. It exposes in devastating detail the lives of millions of Americans who aren’t just in poverty, but extreme poverty, the kind you’d normally associate with the developing world. Edin and Shaefer crunched census data and other numbers and calculated that 1.5 million American households are surviving on no more than $2 per day, per person. They also found that the number of households in such straits had doubled in the previous decade and a half.

Source: What it’s like to live on $2 a day in the United States – The Washington Post