Archive for Poverty

Minimum Wage To Rise; Poor, Homeless Hardest Hit

Don’t worry, it’s actually quite amusing.

It’s happening in Seattle! Hahahahaha!!!!

A proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 an hour would force many nonprofit organizations to either shut their doors or limit their services to the disabled and needy, according to a preliminary study conducted by the Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC).

The authors of the study concluded that, “Since nonprofits generally do not have the option of covering an increase in wages by ‘raising their prices or decreasing profits,’ resources would either have to be added to the agency or be shifted within the agency in order to raise wages.”

They noted that the extreme wage hikes would adversely impact Seattle’s most downtrodden residents.

“Without additional resources added, often the only option would be to decrease or cut services, meaning the impacts would be felt first by the most vulnerable members of the Seattle communities: the people who need these services,” read the study.

The study found that shelter beds for the homeless, meal service for the formerly homeless and housing for the disabled could in some cases be eliminated. Head Start availability would be decreased, eliminating at least one classroom serving 20 children. Food banks would be closed one or more days per week, with some possibly closing entirely.

If those homeless and disabled would only get a job, they’d be rolling in clover! Fifteen bucks an hour? Who needs pre-school if you can learn to bag fries?

I’m sorry. I don’t really want the poor to go hungry or the homeless to shiver in the cold rain of the Pacific Northwest. That’s what Seattle liberals want. But I can at least laugh at their inept do-goodery.

And I do. Hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

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OMG, America is So Sexist, Racist, Etc., Even the American Dream is Sexist, Racist, Etc!

Turns out the secret to wealth and success is love, marriage, and hard work.

The bastards! (Okay, you can skip love.)

Rich America is working America: Wealthy households contain on average more than four times as many full-time workers as do poor households, and, surprisingly, inherited wealth constitutes a smaller share of their assets than it does for middle-class and poor households. They live modestly relative to their means and for the most part do not work on Wall Street or as corporate executives. The caricature of the rich American as a child of privilege who inherited a fortune and spends his days shuttling between mansions in a private jet is largely a product of the imagination of such would-be class warriors as Elizabeth Warren and Robert Reich, neither of whom lives in Section 8 housing, or even downwind of it.

For the hated “1 percent,” inherited wealth accounts for about 15 percent of holdings. Contrary to the story the Left likes to tell about economic inequality in the United States, those numbers have gone down over recent decades — by almost half for the wealthiest Americans. Meanwhile, inherited money makes up 43 percent of the wealth of the lowest income group and 31 percent for the second-lowest. In case our would-be class warriors are having trouble running the numbers here, that means that inherited money on net reduces wealth inequality in the United States (measured as a ratio) rather than exacerbating it; eliminating inherited wealth would have approximately twice as much of a negative effect on modest households as on wealthy ones.

So, go ahead! Hammer them, Lieawatha!

There is a reason that money earned from work accounts for a relatively large share of the holdings of rich Americans: They work more — a lot more.

There is, to be sure, such a thing as the working poor, but the most salient characteristic of poor households is the lack of full-time workers in them. For the bottom income group, there is an average of 0.42 earners per household, with 68.2 percent of householders not working at all, as opposed to 1.97 earners per household and only 13.3 percent not working for the highest income group. The answer to poverty turns out to be “get a job,” after all.

Not surprisingly, 78.4 percent of those highest-income families were married couples, as opposed to 17 percent for the lowest-income group. What this all means in brief is that the highest-income families are composed almost exclusively of two-earner households, the overwhelming majority of them married couples. Those who are inclined to see public policy mainly through green eyeshades may sniff at the social conservatives and their quaint worries about marriage, but there is a very strong connection between how we conduct our family lives and our economic outcomes.

This is not an invitation to moral crowing about the virtues of the rich — okay, maybe it is. The country would in fact be far better off if more people lived the way the top 20 percent do: married, working their butts off, saving and investing their money, and living within their means. (In his research for The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley found that the most popular make of automobile among the wealthy was not Ferrari or Mercedes but Ford, and that the most common Ford model owned by a millionaire was the F-150 pickup truck.)

You know what’s funnier than the secret of wealth turning out to be Leave it to Beaver (with Mrs. Cleaver running a successful catering business, employing Eddie Haskell as a delivery driver)? It’s no secret!

This guy crunched the numbers, but who doesn’t know this intuitively? Two incomes, stable homes, kids learning the value of education—it sounds like the Obamas. And they’re stinking rich! (Relax, it’s just an expression.)

If class warriors like Fauxcahantas really wanted to help the middle class, she’d… she’d do nothing. Most government programs for the poor have led to more poverty. The successful household model—two working parents—has only gotten further out of reach for the poorer among us. God help us if Liberals get their talons into the rest of us. We’ll be skinning each other’s dogs and cats for food. Or living in Detroit.

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Rush Limbaugh, Right Again

Rush Limbaugh took a bit of heat a few weeks ago for daring to correct the Pope on economic theory. Capitalism, not socialism, not even charity, lifted the most people out of poverty, Rush averred.

Somebody—a lot of somebodies—owe Rush an apology:

More than one in five people live in extreme poverty globally, according to a new report, though China’s continued economic growth has improved the lives of millions.

The poverty rate in the world’s most populous country fell by nearly three-quarters in the last six years, from 26% in 2007 to 7% by 2012, the report by Gallup, a U.S.-based research company, said.

Such a trend is attributed to the economic reforms within the country in the last couple of decades.

Reform from what to what, CNN? No reply.

These substantial strides by China meant overall poverty across the globe was halved from 40% to 20% within two decades, according to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Sub-Saharan Africa was found to have the highest levels of poverty, with the majority of the population in the region — 54% — living under extreme poverty. The statistics in Liberia and Burundi are even more dire, with 90% of the population classed in this category.

I’m not saying you want to be China, Africa, but there’s nothing stopping you.

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Democrats Dominate, Pretty Latinas Hardest Hit

The point of my post below (since I have to explain these things) is that liberal policies bring about the very conditions against which liberals rail. In the post below, it’s income disparity (worse now, they claim, than when Obama took office nearly five years ago).

What’s even worse than income disparity in America?

Homelessness in Massachusetts:

Record numbers of homeless families are overwhelming the state’s emergency shelter system, filling motel rooms at the cost to taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars a year.

An average of nearly 2,100 families a night — an all-time high — were temporarily housed in motel rooms in October, just about equaling the number of families in emergency shelters across the state, according to be the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

The demand for shelter is so great that the state has been temporarily sending homeless families from Boston to motels in Western Massachusetts, although state officials said many have been relocated back again, closer to home.

Aaron Gornstein, the undersecretary for housing, said the surge has followed cuts in state and federal housing subsidies, soaring rents in Greater Boston, and still-high rates of unemployment and underemployment, particularly among lower-income workers.

“The state as a whole has recovered from the Great Recession faster than most other states, but in many ways we’re still struggling,” Gornstein said.

Give the Globe credit for at least providing eye candy!

Untitled
UMass student Felicita Diaz moved to Northborough when a subsidy ended. Her family has since relocated to Chelsea.

Hmm, she doesn’t sound homeless to me. Too bad, I would have offered a warm bed. Half of one, anyway.

But back to my point. This is Boston—as hardline liberal an enclave within the liberal enclave of Massachusetts within the liberal enclave of New England as exists. And we did better during hard times than the rest of the country.

And yet:

A recent report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development said the number of homeless people in shelters and living on the streets in Massachusetts has risen 14 percent since 2010 to nearly 20,000 in January 2013, even as homelessness has declined nationally.

The mayor is a Democrat. The governor is a Democrat. The city council, state house, and state senate are overwhelmingly Democrat.

And yet:

Felicita Diaz’s family — her mother, 20-year-old sister, and 11-year-old brother — moved to an EconoLodge in Northborough for three weeks this fall after the housing subsidy for their Dorchester apartment ended.

Diaz, 18, a freshman at UMass Boston, said she took the commuter rail to get to her first day of college and then stayed with friends so she could attend classes and keep her job in the admissions office. But her 11-year-old brother missed about three weeks of school because the family could not afford the daily $9 fare to and from Boston on the commuter rail. Her mother had to quit her English as a Second Language classes because of the distance.

The family has temporarily moved to an apartment in Chelsea, continuing to hunt for affordable housing. Diaz’s brother is back in school, but her mother will have to wait until spring to enroll again in English classes.

“It’s been really hard,” Diaz said.

Someone needs a hug. And relief from Democrats.

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Not a Title Worth Having

If this story is more than a little dispiriting, at least it reveals to our inquiring minds “the world’s worst place to be a mother”:

Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.

Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads.

“Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors,” Mr Annan told the BBC.

It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said.

The Africa Progress Report is released every May – produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela.

African countries needed to improve governance and the world’s richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.

The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in “highly opaque and secretive deals”.

This cost the country, which the charity Save the Children said earlier this week was the world’s worst place to be a mother, $1.3bn in revenues.

And whose fault is that?

It takes two to make a deal, shady or otherwise, and “firms” stay in business by trying to keep costs—including taxes—low. You want business to stay? keep your taxes low. You’ll thrive.

But they’re right on “governance” and the rule of law. If there is no rule of law, there is only lawlessness. The sooner Africa, and South America, learn that, the sooner they will crawl out of poverty and despair.

Or not. Their call.

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Homeboy Industries

You wouldn’t know it from this crusty, grizzled exterior (not that you can see my exterior, but take my word for it), but I turn out of bed every Sunday morning by 6 a.m. to listen to On Being on NPR. The host, Krista Tippett, interviews a range of people, from clerics to scientists, on topics broadly defined as “spirituality”.

Ordinarily, I would run screaming from the room at the very thought, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did. Depending on the guest, I still do.

This morning, even as I write, I am listening to an interview with Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest who has worked with gangs in Los Angeles for decades. He began his ministry trying to bring peace to rival gangs, until he realized that, as he put it, to work with gangs is to give them oxygen. Gangs don’t kill out of logic or need, they just kill. And he was done with them.

So he opened a business for ex-gang members, Homeboy Industries, and there, in the midst of cruelty and hopelessness, he found his calling. He couldn’t place his homies with established businesses—a criminal record makes for a poor resume—so he set about creating his own. Now, it’s an empire, if by diner, cafe, market, etc., you can call it an empire. He’s had his successes and failures too: in the interview, he mentions having recently buried the 183rd member of his flock over a quarter century. (And Homeboy Plumbing went down the drain.)

I suppose that’s what grabs me about this interview. There is no make-up on the ugly face of cruelty. He has seen more evil than the rest of us combined, and out of his myriad failures, he has managed to create good. No, that’s not right: find good, channel good, collect good. As much for himself as for his homies.

You’ll need to be curious enough to pursue this on your own. I’ve given you the links. But if you do check it out, listen long enough to hear the story about the three t-shirts. It will change you. You may find your own such moments in the course of the conversation. You’ll never hear the expression “the feeling’s mutual” again.

Longer version of the interview on You Tube.

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Good News, Bad News

The good news is that Africa can feed the world.

The bad news is that it’s Africa we’re talking about:

Images of starving children, epitomised in news coverage from Ethiopia in the 1980s, have given Africa a reputation for famine that does an injustice to the continent’s potential.

It’s true that a recent report by three U.N. agencies said nearly 239 million in Africa are hungry, a figure some 20 million higher than four years ago. And recent crises in the Horn of Africa and Sahel certainly highlight the desperate uncertainties of food supply for millions – malnutrition still cuts deep scars into progress on health and education.

But the Africa Progress Panel and many others believe that Africa has the potential not only to feed itself, but also to become a major food supplier for the rest of the world

Consider, for example, Africa’s agricultural land. According to an influential recent analysis, Africa has around 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total.

And on the land that is being used, outdated technologies and techniques mean productivity is low. African cereal yields, for example, are just over one-third of the developing world average and have barely increased in 30 years.

Boy, where to begin? First of all, I will dismiss any notion that Africa’s problems are to do with race. While everyone in Africa is indeed African, that tells us nothing. There are prosperous countries in Africa and there are basket cases. Let’s look below skin deep to figure out why.

It would take a report of a thousand pages to do this justice, and I don’t have the time, but just let me say that before you get to agricultural or climatological reasons, you have to deal with political, cultural, and religious issues first.

It’s hard to grow crops in the midst of a civil or guerrilla war, for example, and little easier under a corrupt regime. Areas of Islamist insurgency may have those twin ills to face, plus the irrational demands of religious zealots. In short, success in agriculture starts with success in society. Peace, stability, the rule of law. Even more than rainfall, those must be in ample supply. Investment and modernization will follow.

It’s not that hard to solve in theory, but virtually impossible to remedy in deed. If peace and lawfulness are not virtuous in their own right, will prosperity be enough of an inducement? Perhaps only those countries where these traits are already in ample supply can benefit, while the basket cases just get worse.

The author has his own ideas, from the plausible to the ridiculous (climate change mitigation paid for by the “international community” being an example of the latter—get real). But whatever the approach, without sound economic principles, the rule of law, and peace, Africa—or anywhere—is doomed.

And I mean anywhere.

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The Fruits of Illegal Immigration

They may be small, shriveled fruit—but we can just juice ‘em:

Hispanics now make up the largest group of children living in poverty, the first time in U.S. history that poor white kids have been outnumbered by poor children of another race or ethnicity, according to a new study.

In a report released Wednesday, the Pew Hispanic Center said that 6.1 million Hispanic children are poor, compared with 5 million non-Hispanic white children and 4.4 million black children. Pew said Hispanic poverty numbers have soared because of the impact of the recession on the growing number of Latinos.

Growing number, huh? I guess they’re taking welfare Americans won’t take.

If I were a liberal, I’d say since they’d be in poverty somewhere, might as well be here!

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On The Difference Between Corporate Corruption And Government Corruption

Mark Steyn makes a great point, comparing the closing of the British newspaper to the non-closing of the Atlanta School System and the FBI

Something rather weird happened in London last week. For some time, The Guardian, a liberal, broadsheet, “respectable” newspaper, has been hammering The News Of The World, a populist, tabloid, low-life newspaper, over its employees’ penchant for “hacking” the phones of Royals and celebrities – Prince Harry and Hugh Grant, for example. This isn’t as forensic as it sounds: Until recently, most British cellphones were sold with the default password set either to 0000 or 1234, and most customers never bothered to change it.

But last Monday, it emerged that The News Of The World had also hacked into the telephone of a missing schoolgirl subsequently found dead, as well as those of family members of the July 7 Tube bombing victims and of British servicemen killed in Afghanistan. Nobody much cares if the Aussie supermodel Elle Macpherson and other denizens of the demimonde get their voice mails intercepted, but dead schoolgirls and soldiers changed the nature of the story, and events moved swiftly. On Thursday, Rupert Murdoch’s son and heir announced the entire newspaper would be closed down. The whole thing. Gone.
Article Tab: Protesters cry out as they demonstrate against the News of the World newspaper outside News International’s headquarters in London, Friday, July 8, 2011. News of the World is accused of hacking into the mobile phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians. News International announced Thursday that the papers is to cease publication with this Sunday’s issue to be the last.
Protesters cry out as they demonstrate against the News of the World newspaper outside News International’s headquarters in London, Friday, July 8, 2011. News of the World is accused of hacking into the mobile phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians. News International announced Thursday that the papers is to cease publication with this Sunday’s issue to be the last.

The News Of The World wasn’t any old fish-wrap. Founded in 1843, it was by the mid-20th century the most-read newspaper in the English-speaking world, selling nine million copies a week. Even in today’s emaciated market, every week more than 2.6 million Britons bought “The News Of The Screws” (as it was affectionately known). Last Sunday, it was the biggest-selling newspaper in the United Kingdom and Europe. This Sunday, it’s history. To put it in American terms, consider those George Soros-funded websites claiming they pressured Fox into “firing” Glenn Beck. This is the equivalent of pressuring Mr. Murdoch into closing down the entire Fox News network.

As readers know, I applaud the Murdoch decision to close this rag and only wish that the NY Times would have been as honorable regarding its non-coverage of the holocaust and the famine in Russia. The world would be a much better place if there were actual professional journalistic standards and if they were enforced.

But I digress. What happens when governments lie, cheat and steal?

But you can’t help but notice that this supposed public shaming is awfully selective. In the week of the News Of The World revelations, it was reported that the Atlanta Public Schools system has spent the last decade systemically cheating on its tests. Not the students, but the Superintendent, and the union, and 38 principals, and at least 178 teachers – whoops, pardon me, “educators,” and some 44 of the 56 school districts. Teachers held “changing parties” at their homes at which they sat around with extra supplies of erasers correcting their students’ test answers in order to improve overall scores and qualify for “No Child Left Behind” federal funding that could be sluiced into maintaining their lavish remuneration. Let’s face it, it’s easier than teaching, right?

The APS Human Resources honcho Millicent Few had an early report into test-tampering illegally destroyed. So APS not only got the federal gravy but was also held up to the nation at large as a heartwarming, inspirational example of how large urban school districts can reform themselves and improve educational opportunities for their children.

And its fake test scores got its leader, Beverly Hall, garlanded with the National Superintendent of the Year Award, the Administrator of the Year Award, the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Keystone Award for Leadership in Education, the Concerned Black Clergy Education Award, the American Association of School Administrators Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award and a zillion other phony-baloney baubles with which the American edu-fraud cartel scratches its own back.

In reality, Beverly Hall’s Atlanta Public Schools system was in the child-abuse business: It violated the education of its students to improve its employees’ cozy sinecures.

The whole rotten stinking school system is systemically corrupt from the superintendent down. But what are the chances of APS being closed down? How many of those fraudulent non-teachers will waft on within the system until their lucrative retirements?

Absent a Great Flood (like in New Orleans or even earlier if you read the bible), the chances of closing the Atlanta School system are approximately zero. Zed if you’re Canadian.

But Aggie, that’s only one example. Does Steyn have anything else?

Or consider “Operation Fast and Furious,” about which nothing is happening terribly fast and over which Americans should be furious.

The official explanation is that the federal government used stimulus funding to buy guns from Arizona gun shops for known criminals to funnel to Mexican drug cartels. As I said, that’s the official explanation: As soon as your head stops spinning, we’ll resume the narrative. Supposedly, United States taxpayers were picking up the tab for Mexican drug lords’ weaponry in order that the ATF could identify high-up gun-traffickers. But, as it turns out, these high-up gun-traffickers were already known to other agencies – FBI, DEA and other big-spending acronyms in the great fetid ooze of federal alphabet soup in which this republic is drowning. And, indeed, some of those high-ups are said to have been paid informants for those various federal agencies. So, in case you’re wondering why Obama’s second annual Recovery Summer is a wee bit sluggish at your end, relax: Stimulus dollars went to fund one federal agency to buy guns for the paid informants of another federal agency to funnel to foreign criminals in order that the first federal agency might identify the paid informants of the second federal agency.

Meanwhile, what did the drug cartels, the recipients of the guns, do with them? Well, they used them to kill at least one member of a third federal agency: Brian Terry of the United States Border Patrol. If that doesn’t bother you, well, they also killed not insignificant numbers of Mexican civilians.

If, by this stage, you’re wondering why U.S. stimulus dollars are being used to stimulate the Mexican coffin industry, consider the dark suspicion of many American gun owners – that the real reason the feds embarked on this murderous scheme was to plant the evidence that the increasing lawlessness on the southern border is the fault of the gun industry and the Second Amendment, and thereby advance its ideological agenda of ever greater gun control.

We’re not talking about hacking a schoolgirl’s cellphone here. Real people are dead. Yet nobody’s going to close down any wing of the vast spendaholic DEATFBI hydra-headed security-state turf-war. And while Eric Holder, the buccaneering attorney general at the center of this wilderness of mirrors, doesn’t yet have as many Distinguished Public Servant of the Year awards as Beverly Hall, judging from his cheerfully upfront obstruction of the congressional investigation, he’s not planning on going anywhere soon.

He goes on to talk about pitchforks, but in America today, only liberals such as our very cool President are allowed to use metaphors like “guns to our heads” or “mob with pitchforks”, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. Or you can just click on the link.

- Aggie

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Terror In Pakistan, Bin Lade Wives, Root Causes Of Terrorism

Taliban terrorists kills 80 on military base.

They are upset about bin Laden’s death. We blame the Pakistani military for enabling his stay in Pakistan, and they apparently blame the military for outing him.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Friday for suicide attacks on a military training facility in the nation’s northwest, saying they were in retaliation for the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden.

The twin suicide bombings killed at least 80 people, nearly all of them military recruits who had just completed their training, said Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a senior provincial minister. About 140 others were injured.

“Pakistani and the U.S. forces should be ready for more attacks,” said Ihsan Ullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, who accused the Pakistani military of telling the United States where bin Laden was.

“Osama was our great leader and the killers of Osama will have to pay its price,” he said.

Meanwhile, bin Laden’s wives are (surprise!) hostile:

Three of Osama bin Laden’s widows have been interviewed by U.S. intelligence officers under the supervision of Pakistani’s intelligence service, according to sources in both governments.

The women — who were all interviewed together this week — were “hostile” toward the Americans, according to a senior Pakistani government official with direct knowledge of the post-bin Laden investigation and two senior U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the matter. The eldest of the three widows spoke for the group.

Members of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence were in the room along with the U.S. intelligence officers, the officials said. The Americans had wanted to question the women separately to figure out inconsistencies in their stories.

Let’s all take a moment this morning to thank our Creator. We were not born in Pakistan, and what a gift that is. If we are female, we need to spend a bit longer thanking the Lord that we were not born female in Pakistan.

Time for one more? Let’s blame America for terrorism!!!

As the death of Osama bin Laden reverberates around the world, the root causes of extremism are apparently largely being ignored.

But the goals that need to be achieved in Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to turn people away from the lure of al Qaeda extremism will take time.

“The U.S. presence is acting as a rallying cry for these people,” said political analyst Aasiya Riaz. “You’ll talk to many people who say things will not change in the region until the United States picks up and leaves.”

Riaz, a member of the Pakistan Institute for Political Development and Transparency — an Islamabad-based think tank — said violent jihad has also been injected into this region’s culture and is viewed as an effective strategy against oppression.

Ironically, it was the U.S. that paid for and supported extremist militants during the 1980s Afghan jihad against the Soviet invasion.

The U.S. now rejects those extremists, but many suspect Pakistan’s spy agencies still maintain links to Islamist militants and plan to use those links to hold sway in Afghanistan once U.S. troops pull out.

Pakistan denies this, but skeptics say Islamabad’s deeds do not match its words.

Tahira Abdullah, a human rights activist in Islamabad, said extremist ideology in Pakistan and Afghanistan is made possible by the crushing poverty, and governments which have failed to provide the most basic human needs, like shelter, security and a basic education.

“It’s the lack of democracy,” Abdullah said. “It’s the lack of development. It’s the lack of opportunities.”

Studies by the United Nations’ aid agencies show nearly half of the adult population in Pakistan is illiterate and earns less than $2 a day.


Terrorism experts and sociologists have long rejected poverty and bad governance as the sole prerequisites to religious extremism.

They cite countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh as examples of developing Muslim countries that are not facing widespread religious extremism.

So what makes Pakistan and Afghanistan different?

Analysts say in Pakistan and Afghanistan there is also the powerful perception that the U.S. is waging war with Islam. The perception is intensified by almost 10 years of U.S.-led military occupation in Afghanistan, where thousands of civilians — who had little to do with al Qaeda or the Taliban — have been killed.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

- Aggie

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This iz Deetroyt, This iz Whut We Doo

And if u cn rd ths, u cn gt a gd jb:

Nearly half of all adults in Detroit lack basic reading, writing and other skills needed to obtain good jobs but not enough services are being provided to address the crisis, a study warns.

The report, commissioned by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund, found that the current literacy programs and services are not meeting residents’ needs.

In a city with an unemployment rate of 20.1%, 47% of adult residents — or more than 200,000 people — are estimated to be illiterate.

“We are not making headway,” said Karen Tyler-Ruiz, director of the Workforce Fund. “We are actually stagnant.”

She warned that if nothing is done, “we will continue to further isolate the population of Detroit from economic opportunity.”

Karen, sweetie, Detoit’s unemployment rate is over 20%! It can’t get more isolated from economic opportunity. The “strait” is already an “island”.

In fact, I wonder if illiteracy hasn’t stayed flat in real terms—the literate have followed the signs out of town. As we covered here a few weeks ago, Detroit’s population is now barely over 700,000, from a peak of 1,850,000 in 1950. One suggestion to its cure its urban blight is to return some of the built up land to agriculture.

Reprimitivizaton as progress: it’s a catchy slogan.

Let’s let our hair down: Detroit is over 80% black. When we talk of unemployed Detoiters, of illiterate Detroiters, of Detoiters living below the poverty level (as 36.4% did in 2009—and half of those live below half of the poverty level), we’re talking overwhelmingly about black people. Before reader Robert left us in a huff, he could find the silver lining to any story about the failure of liberal politics and welfare for black people. Racial genocide by abortion in New York City was, to him, the heroic decision by black women to govern their own bodies based on economic necessity.

But I think even Robert would be stumped by this. Since Coleman Young took office in 1974, Detroit has been governed exclusively by black mayors. Democratic black mayors. It’s current one, Dave Bing, was a successful businessman before moving to Detroit to run—oh yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer in the NBA, too, as the Portland Trailblazers of my youth learned to their regret.

Bing seems to be a decent man, certainly an accomplished man, but what do you do with 60 years of decline, 50% illiteracy, and almost 40% poverty? I mean, are Republicans so bad? Has the party of Robert Byrd served you so well? (Call it Conservatism if you can’t stand to say Republican.) Speaking as an outsider, I don’t appreciate having to fix what I didn’t break, especially when I’m not allowed to fix what’s really broken.

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Poor Me

In an otherwise merely brilliant piece on the national debt, Mark Steyn wrote this staggering paragraph:

While Jonah Goldberg was asking why have a debt limit at all, Michael Kinsley took it to the next stage: “If the national debt doesn’t matter, why have taxes at all?” Particularly when you no longer have to “print” money, you can just quantitatively ease yourself into it. Once we raise the old debt ceiling, we’ll be pretty much at the point where the U.S. government is spending $4 trillion but only taking in $2 trillion: For every dollar we raise in taxes, we spend two. No surprise there: The “poorest” half of the population pay no federal income tax. They’re not exactly poor as the term would be understood in almost any other country, but in federal-revenue terms they’re dependents, so in order to fund government services for the wealthiest “poor” people on the planet we borrow money from a nation of subsistence peasants where pigs are such prized possessions they sleep in the house.

So much in there! To start with, the point can’t be made often enough: half the people in this country pay no federal income tax. Yet, as Steyn also notes, they’re not exactly poor, as we understand the word.

The most recent data I could find in a cursory search notes:

Various government reports contain the following facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau:

Nearly 40 percent of all poor households actu ally own their own homes. On average, this is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

Eighty-four percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Nearly two-thirds of the poor have cable or satellite TV.

Only 6 percent of poor households are over crowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The typical poor American has as much or more living space than the average individual living in most European countries. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

Ninety-eight percent of poor households have a color television; two-thirds own two or more color televisions.

Eighty-two percent own microwave ovens; 67 percent have a DVD player; 73 percent have a VCR; 47 percent have a computer.

The average intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals by poor children is indistinguishable from that of children in the upper middle class. Poor boys today at ages 18 and 19 are actually taller and heavier than middle-class boys of similar age were in the late 1950s. They are a full inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy during World War II.

To be sure, there are poor people—the “truly needy” as Reagan called them. I don’t see them here. What we appear to have is a significant percentage of American people who own their own homes, drive two cars, watch cable TV (with the AC on), while munching a healthy snack. And pay no tax.

God bless ‘em.

But they’re not poor; not as Steyn describes the peasant Chinese (“subsistence peasants where pigs are such prized possessions they sleep in the house”). Yet we borrow from these peasants so that our own pigs can sleep in the house.

How did we get here?

Conventional accounts of Poverty not only exaggerate hardship, they also underestimate government spending on the poor. In 2008, federal and state governments spent $714 billion (or 5 percent of the total economy) on means-tested welfare aid, providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans. (This sum does not include Social Security or Medicare.) If converted into cash, this aid would be nearly four times the amount needed to eliminate Poverty in the U.S. by raising the incomes of all poor households above the federal Poverty levels.

How can the government spend so much and still have such high levels of apparent Poverty? The answer is that, in measuring Poverty and inequality, Census ignores almost the entire welfare state. Census deems a household poor if its income falls below federally specified levels. But in its regular measurements, Census counts only around 4 percent of total welfare spending as “income.” Because of this, government spending on the poor can expand almost infinitely without having any detectable impact on official Poverty or inequality.

So far, the argument has just been about numbers, about defining what real poverty is—and isn’t. The next argument is over the social and moral issues that lead to poverty (real and imagined). That’s in this piece, too.

Welfare programs for the truly needy are often called a safety net. But you know what happens when too many people climb into a safety net? They sink so deep that the edges close in around them, and when the supports snaps under their weight they are caught, tangled limbs and all. I think that metaphor is more apt than ever.

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