Category: Poverty

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…)

As a 20 year old product design student, Veronika Scott developed an innovative coat/sleeping-bag for the homeless. But one day when she was giving the coats away, a woman came out of a homeless shelter and told her, “We don’t need coats, coats are pointless. We need jobs.”

Scott realized the woman was right. So she found a way to provide temporary help and still make a lasting change in people’s lives.

product_large_362In your kitchen right now is food that is going to be wasted. Although it may still be sitting in your pantry or in your refrigerator, you’ll eventually throw it away. Milk and cheese will go bad before you finish it, bread will get stale and moldy, and the can of kale will go in the trash as soon as you remember you bought a can of kale (seriously, what were you thinking?).

That Americans waste a lot of food is no surprise. But what may shock you is just how much food we waste.

According to the USDA, 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten. The estimated value of this food loss was $161.6 billion using retail prices. The estimated calories associated with food loss: 141 trillion in 2010, or 1,249 calories per capita per day. That’s a lot of calories that could be used for those in our nation who go hungry.

About 10 percent of the loss (43 billion pounds) occurs at the retail level (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.). Since a significant portion of that wasted food is edible, why isn’t it given to the poor and homeless?

As Harrison Jacobs explains, there are two main reasons usable food is wasted at the retail level. The first is liability:
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Michael Matheson Miller

Michael Matheson Miller

Acton’s Michael Miller, director of the documentary Poverty.Inc, spoke with Bill Frezza at RealClearPolitics. Miller asks listeners to rethink the foreign aid model, which has not been successful in alleviating poverty in the developing world. Rather, Miller makes the case for supporting entrepreneurship and supporting the social and political framework that enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.

Listen to the interview here.