Monthly Archives: August 2015

Some Facts About Child Poverty

Among the richest nations of the world, the United States has one of the worst child poverty rates. A 2014 UNICEF report ranks us 36th among the 41 countries studied. Some reports say as many as 44% of our nations children currently live in low-income or poverty situations.

Poverty in this context refers to living at or below the Federal Poverty Threshold (FPT), or $23,850 for a family of four. Low Income is defined as at or below 200% FPT — research has consistently shown that families in the US need about twice the FPT to meet their most basic needs. This Low-Income threshold is currently estimated at $47,700 for a family of four. See this link for more details.

To make the numbers a little less abstract, consider the following. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. At that rate, a person working a full-time (forty hour per week) job will make $15,080. A two-parent household, if both parents work full-time at the federal minimum wage, will bring in $30,160.

In fact, at the current federal minimum wage a family of four would need to work approximately 136.5 hours per week, or 3.16 full-time jobs, just to reach the low-income threshold. And that doesn’t take into account the cost of child-care while Mom and Dad are working all those hours.

 

For Additional Reading:

Living in Poverty

There’s a lot written about poverty and the people who live in it — nearly all of it written by those on the outside looking in. That’s why I found it refreshing to come across a post from a couple years ago, written from the perspective of someone actually living through it. It is an honest, thoughtful, heart-breakingly forthright meditation on being poor in modern-day America.

“Rest is a luxury for the rich,” author Linda Tirado tells us. “You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn’t give us much reason to improve ourselves.” Later on she says “It’s best not to hope.” Hope too is a luxury for the rich.

Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It’s why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It’s more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that’s all you get. You’re probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don’t plan long-term because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.

“Nobody likes poor people procreating,” she says, “but they judge abortion even harder.” It’s a perfect summation of the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude we so often take with the poor.

The article does contain a few profanities, but it’s definitely worth a read. Check it out at the link: Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

What the Catholic Worker Believes

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Peter Maurin was a co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. He came from French peasant stock to become an intellectual kindred spirit to Dorothy Day, who called him a modern-day Saint Francis. His “Easy Essays” — droll philosophical nuggets of wisdom — laid down much of the movement’s ideological foundation. Here, for example, he summarizes quite nicely What the Catholic Worker Believes.

1. The Catholic Worker believes
	    in the gentle personalism
	    of traditional Catholicism.
	2. The Catholic Worker believes
	    in the personal obligation
	    of looking after
	    the needs of our brother.
	3. The Catholic Worker believes
	    in the daily practice 
	    of the Works of Mercy.
	4. The Catholic Worker believes 
	    in Houses of Hospitality 
	    for the immediate relief 
	    of those who are in need.
	5. The Catholic Worker believes 
	    in the establishment 
	    of Farming Communes 
	    where each one works 
	    according to his ability 
	    and gets according to his need.
	6. The Catholic Worker believes 
	    in creating a new society 
	    within the shell of the old 
	    with the philosophy of the new, 
	    which is not a new philosophy 
	    but a very old philosophy, 
	    a philosophy so old 
	    that it looks like new.

From the website CatholicWorker.org