Friday, June 23, 2006

The Compassion Gap in American Poverty Policy, implications home and abroad.


Yes, you read it correctly, reader lurker from Singapore or Australia or anywhere outside the US. American poverty policy would have implications on an international scale. Let me start with what caught my eye.
Today in the American Statesman, the newspaper here in Texas reported in a short column on the findings of the American Sociological Association that fewer people connect with one another, then back in the 1980s. Here's an excerpt from the ASA website;
“The evidence shows that Americans have fewer confidants and those ties are also more family-based than they used to be,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, Robert L. Wilson Professor of Sociology at Duke University and one of the study’s authors.
“This change indicates something that’s not good for our society. Ties with a close network of people create a safety net. These ties also lead to civic engagement and local political action,” she said.
(emphasis added)
Please read the article in full to do it justice.
Coupled with that is another article from the ASA journal of June 2006 about the compassion gap in American poverty policy.
The article notes that poverty has been present all along, and that there have been cycles of exposing the poverty (e.g. How the other half lives, and The other America), action to improve the situation (reforms in the Progressive Era, FDR's response to the Great Depression, Lyndon Johnson's 'War on Poverty'), followed by the reaction that somehow, those in poverty caused their own situation. The authors talk about the backlash which results in decreasing assistance and the 'immorality' factor which critics say causes poverty. (these days would probably see an argument re. drugs being a factor in a 'what comes first, the chicken or the egg)
The authors claim that their data shows that in 2004 alone, 37 (!!) million Americans, 13 of which are children, live in poverty. In other words, lived below the Government's own official poverty line which is "$15,219 for a family of three". (that is probably the number of 2004 as well)
I cannot in this short time period do this article justice, so I would strongly encourage you to read the whole article and ponder over it. After you've read it (and I print things out so I can sit back and read 'cause I hate reading things online that are more than two pages long), think about this and see if you can make connections to;
#poverty and increase of military recruitment,
#the 'ideas' that the Democrats are trying to come up with (see previous post),
and #the fight against fundamentalism in this country.

I cannot stress enough how Davidson Loehr's book is a very enlightened book on America, Fascism and God. He talks at length about the kind of fundamentalism that is attempting to control everyone and everything in the name of, while falling short on anything truly spiritual which is to be all inclusive and loving towards people within the 'in groups' as well as the 'out groups'. If you don't feel like reading anything else in this post, do read this! The Fundamentalist Agenda.
So I mentioned the implications home and abroad. Poverty, like anywhere else, breeds discontent. In a highly propagandized country such as the US, that means effectively channeling that discontent away from the real causes and sources and towards an outside 'enemy', or cause. Now, we have the war on terror.

More people to recruit in the American military and more people indoctrinated in the mind set of 'us vs them'. That is what I have been thinking about.
Another implications is that to me, this lack of caring by the powers that be here in the US is a model to what ever they have and will be touching. People abroad will follow suit in disenfranchisement, loss of jobs, loss of security, fiscally and literally.

If people in other countries hope that Americans will start making sound and wise choices for their leadership, which would be leaders, politicians not beholden to the monied corporate interests that finance their political careers, then the rest of the world can start breathing a little easier, start feeling more safe. That has been the complaint and conclusion of late hasn't it?
The Democrats are looking for ideas. I think they do not have to look far. They just need to look back to the time when their forebearers had a moral compass and felt strong moral imperatives towards their own citizens, and fellow human beings.

2 Comments:

Blogger Sothis said...

I agree with the military issue. I've believed that the U.S. has had an economic draft for years now. The military is the only option for a lot of these poor kids.

It amazes me that the Evangelicals who scream how much they love Jesus abandon the poor so quickly. I used to work as a site coordinator for a homeless shelter in the States that was held at an Evangelical church. They cancelled the shelter night that was right before Easter because it interefered with the setup for their Easter celebration! WWJD? Not that, I'm certain.

I came over from Is America Burning from Granny's mention of your blog. I am an American living in Begium--aangenaam!

3:49 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hi Sothis, welcome to this wee humble blog. I somehow felt that I did not get my thoughts out right with this post (kids distractions) but...I like to put things out there because in essence, people can come to their own conclusions. Like you! Interesting that you should say that you feel that there has been an economic draft. I never heard of that term is it is one, but it sure sounds like a good one.
If you've read, or perhaps still will read the Fundamentalist Agenda that I recommended in this post..the Evangelicals could be considered to be part of their 'in group' and anyone outside becomes secondary. Isn't it ridiculous AND amazing that they never saw the contradiction of what was more important, homeless shelter vs Easter celebration? Especially when you think that most of the Christian holidays were originally pagan holidays they supplanted so the faithful would be persuaded to worship 'their' God as opposed to the pagan gods. Politics and religion go together so well..Thanks for stopping by, when I have time later on today, I'll visit your site. So where in Belgium do you live? I visited Brussels once and if there is one thing that Americans and Canadians do not have and couldn't grasp the meaning of, it's 'gezelligheid'. The Flemish are such a gemoedelijk volk'!
Ingrid

10:30 AM  

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