Category: Poverty

ncrWhat is the best way to help the the global poor? One group attempting to bring innovative thinking to that question is PovertyCure, an initiative of the Acton Institute.

PovertyCure brings together an international coalition to encourage entrepreneurial solutions to poverty that are rooted in a Christian understanding of the person, who is created in the image of God. Michael Matheson Miller, the director of PovertyCure, was recently interviewed about the project by the National Catholic Register:

What are some of the basic principles PovertyCure attempts to advance?

At the core of PovertyCure is a vision of the human person created in the image of God with creative capacity. We are not objects, but subjects (or persons) who are capable of making rational decisions and engaging in creative enterprise.
Unfortunately, this vision is missing from much of the activity done to reduce poverty. The poor often become the objects of charitable giving or “humanitarianism,” rather than subjects and protagonists of their own development. When we see poverty, our first reaction is often to ask, “What can I do to help?” This is good, but a better question is: “How can I help people in poverty create prosperity for their families and communities?” This sounds like a simple shift, but it can make a profound difference, because it takes the focus off us and puts it where it belongs: on the people we are trying to help.

Read more . . .

For the fourth time in thirty years, well-intentioned but misguided musicians have recorded a new version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” a cheesy Christmas song intended to raise awareness and funds for Africa.

But why don’t Africans every raise awareness and aid for Westerners? Fortunately, one group of Africans has united to save Norwegians from dying of frostbite. By joining Radi-Aid, you too can donate your radiator and spread some warmth in the frozen wasteland of Norway.

Why Africa for Norway?
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Christianity sets forth that humans are made in the image of God — that we have particular God-like characteristics when it comes to creation, cultivation, compassion, relationship, and so on. Such a remarkable truth tells us something deeply profound about the world we live in, as well as how we ought to respond in any number of situations.

In an excerpted video from the PovertyCure series, John Stonestreet explains how the Christian worldview transforms our approach to poverty:

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It has become a regular occurrence at conservative publications to note the strong correlation between traditional marriage and family and higher income levels. Take, for example, Ari Fleischer, who wrote the following in the Wall Street Journal last June:

If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family.

He continues, “One of the differences between the haves and the have-nots is that the haves tend to marry and give birth, in that order.”

Despite my traditionalist leanings, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of these sorts of editorials. For example, contrast this with Ben Steverman’s recent article in Bloomberg:

Divorce among 50-somethings has doubled since 1990. One in five adults have never married, up from one in ten 30 years ago. In all, a majority of American adults are now single, government data show, including the mothers of two out of every five newborns.

These trends are often blamed on feminists or gay rights activists or hippies, who’ve somehow found a way to make Americans reject tradition.

But the last several years showed a different powerful force changing families: the economy.

He goes on: (more…)

homelessClose to 2.5 million children experienced homelessness in the U.S. in 2013, according to America’s Youngest Outcasts. The report looks at child homelessness nationally and in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Child homelessness has reached epidemic proportions in America,” said Dr. Carmela DeCandia, Director of The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research (AIR), which prepared the report. “Children are homeless tonight in every city, county and state—in every part of our nation.”

From 2012 to 2013, the number of children experiencing homelessness annually in the U.S. increased by 8 percent nationally and increased in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The states are ranked in the report using a composite of four domains: (1) extent of child homelessness; (2) well-being of the children; (3) risk for family homelessness; and (4) policy response. All states have children who are homeless.

Top and bottom ranked states are:
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LBJ’s so-called “war on poverty” kicked off a trajectory of public policy that has shown a remarkable tendency to create more of the same — affirming cycles of dependency, disintegrating relational capital, and over-elevating material tinkering to the detriment of the permanent things.

Yet somehow the prevailing narrative still holds that those same sickly policies are the best we can hope for, and anyone who disagrees is an enemy of the poor. If money shall be transferred from Person X to Person Y and the label on the packaging reads “anti-poverty!”, what else is there to discuss?

In a recent interview with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts assumes the common prejudice (4:11):

Roberts begins by pointing to a series of progressive measures that Scott has opposed in the past, proceeding to ask, quite presumptuously, “How do you respond to that, if your true concern is about lower income families and kids?” One can only be concerned for the poor if they subscribe to the very policies that have failed them, apparently. (more…)

chefabbotCities across America – from Pensacola, Florida to Honolulu, Hawaii — have increasingly taken strong measures to discourage the homeless from making a home within their city limits. So it didn’t seem surprising when the media ran with a story last week about two pastors and a 90-year-old homeless advocate “Charged With Feeding Homeless.” As the AP reported,

To Arnold Abbott, feeding the homeless in a public park in South Florida was an act of charity. To the city of Fort Lauderdale, the 90-year-old man in white chef’s apron serving up gourmet-styled meals was committing a crime.

For more than two decades, the man many call “Chef Arnold” has proudly fired up his ovens to serve up four-course meals for the downtrodden who wander the palm tree-lined beaches and parks of this sunny tourist destination.

Now a face-off over a new ordinance restricting public feedings of the homeless has pitted Abbott and others with compassionate aims against some officials, residents and businesses who say the growing homeless population has overrun local parks and that public spaces merit greater oversight.

The story certainly sounds like an outrageous restriction on charity. But did the media get the story right?
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“What would happen if instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we consider what God has already given us — our talents, our dreams, our motivations — and offer them back to Him as an act of worship?”

In a new video from HOPE International, we’re challenged to counter our tendencies to approach God through an attitude of lack and self-doubt (“if only I had x I would do y”), trusting instead that God has already given us exactly what we need to obey, serve, and flourish.

After reviewing a series of Biblical examples, we’re reminded that God routinely sparks the most miraculous transformations by beginning with the basic resources at hand, from a boy’s loaves and fishes to David’s sling to a widow’s jar of oil. (more…)

minimum_wage_custom-8614e5bd8d516fbadd22d4a09fff441a70ba1596-s6-c30Last night the election results revealed wins for Republicans in almost every state. But in four states where the GOP gained ground — Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota — the poor and unskilled suffered a loss.

In each of those states, voters passed ballot measures that will increase the government-mandated minimum wage. Beginning in 2015, the wage in South Dakota will increase to $8.50 an hour. In 2016, Alaska’s wage will be $9.75 an hour and $9 an hour in Nebraska. Arkansas will also raise the wage-floor to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

While the measures appear compassionate — who doesn’t want hard-working people to receive more money? — the effect will be that each of those state will likely see unintended consequences of the action.

Here are four ways the increased minimum wages will hurt low-skilled workers:
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I worked alongside several Acton Institute colleagues and Coldwater Media for years on the Poverty, Inc. full-length documentary film, which tackles the question: Fighting poverty is big business, but who profits the most? It was gratifying to watch it Monday at what I’m told was the only sold out showing of the 2014 Austin Film Festival.

It was at the first dine-in movie theatre I’ve visited, the Alamo Draft House, which meant we were watching a film about extreme global poverty while being plied with beer, cokes, popcorn and pizza. Since my feelings toward the film border on the maternal, and since I had some delicious Tex-Mex before arriving and was not the least bit hungry, I was tempted to stand and in the stentorian voice of The Simpsons’ Sideshow Bob exclaim, “Down with your greedy forks and steins! Silence!!! This … is … ART! There … on the screen … are the HUDDLED MASSES! Have you no SHAME!” (more…)