About ten years ago I was trying to explain to someone on an e-mail list I was a member of that I was poor. My apartment was junky, my car barely ran, I couldn’t afford a cell phone or high speed Internet. He laughed. He said I wasn’t poor because I had a computer with Internet access, a car, and air conditioning. Even though I had a temporary job that paid barely above minimum wage and I was one pay check away from being homeless my friend said since I had stuff I wasn’t poor. This is not the first and probably not the last time people judge another’s worth by the stuff they have instead of the actual issues with having little to no income like education and health care. Continue reading →
Just hearing the talking points makes me angry so forgive me if I sound angry. Someone will make a comment or bitch about “welfare queens” and about how these lazy poor people have wide-screen TVs and microwaves. If these comments come from friends and family, who should know better, it really drives me insane. Finally my hometown newspaper did me a solid and now I have some facts and figures to fight those biased FOX “news” talking points about poor people. Continue reading →
One side effect of the recession is that more poor and working poor need help buying food for their families. What is troubling is that many people use that assistance to buy unhealthy crappy processed food instead of healthier raw food.
The actual paper stamps were phased out more than decade ago and replaced with a debit-card system, and the name of the 46-year-old program was changed 18 months ago to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But most people still call them food stamps. And as of February, the latest data available, a record 39.7 million Americans were using them to put meals on the table, 13% of the population. Just a year ago, 33.8 million people were using food stamps.
But most people on food stamps are no more food-savvy than the rest of the population. They often live where decent grocery stores with reasonably priced produce require transportation they don’t have. And because most do work in low-wage jobs – sometimes multiple jobs – they, like more affluent Americans – go for the processed food that cuts down on preparation. It’s less nutritious overall than the stuff that takes more time to cook. But because recipients have a tight food budget, they are more likely to choose high-fat, calorie-packed processed foods that are typically cheaper than healthier choices. Thus, as one study at Ohio State University has shown, using food stamps may contribute to the spread of an unhealthy obesity.
In addition to the actual money, the program should stress and help in using the money to purchase healthier food stock.
On the talk show Countdown with Keith Olbermann, there was an interview with President Bill Clinton about his world charity efforts through the Clinton Global Initiative. One of the programs Clinton wrote about in his recent book “Giving” was about the website Kiva.org
We let you loan to the working poor
Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.
It is called microfinance where people are looking for financing for their ideas and businesses but the amount needed isn’t the amount a typical bank would loan, if they would qualify, but if they could get it, it would make a huge difference in their lives.
It is a loan so you can get your money back and can loan it out again to another business if you want.
To me this is a classic application of the Humanist philosophy. People are responsible for their own actions and you show compassion for and interest in the human condition.