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Report: Solutions to Hunger, Poverty Must Focus on Empowering Women

Globally, women and girls are disproportionally affected by hunger and poverty. In reference to completing the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Bread for the World reported, “We will not end hunger and poverty by 2030 without ending the discrimination that women and girls face day in and day out.”

This morning, Bread for the World, released the 2015 Hunger Report, When Women Flourish, We Can End Hunger. The comprehensive analysis focuses on the imperative role the empowerment of women and girls plays in ending hunger, extreme poverty, and malnutrition.

Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, said:

“Eliminating barriers and empowering women around the world is key to ending hunger in our time. We must not tolerate discrimination against women and instead, [we must] demand a comprehensive approach to women’s empowerment that includes applying a gender lens to all programs and policies.”

If there is hope of eliminating poverty, as an international community, we must look holistically at the cultural, economic, social, and religious aspects of the systems that perpetuate poverty. The 2015 Hunger report effectively examines the role of gender in poverty alleviation and prescribes tangible recommendations for international and domestic reform for the common good.

Click here for the full report along with infographics, personal narratives, and a scriptural study guide.

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Revealing an Often Unseen New York City

“She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets.”

So begins the New York Times story following Dasani, an 11-year-old girl living homeless in New York. Dasani lives with her parents and seven siblings in a family residence shelter. From school to dance class to home, Dasani feels the weight of poverty and an unstable family.

According to the story, one in five children in America live in poverty, “giving the United States the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation except for Romania.”

In this five-part multimedia story, life told through Dasani’s eyes offers an honest look at homelessness and the pursuit for a hopeful future.

Read the full story here.

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'American Promise' Film Documents Two Black Families Navigating Education in America

American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, the documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class, and opportunity. American Promise is aOfficial Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

The filmmakers talked about the film's potential impact with Open Society Foundations:

We hope that the film's campaign will help the conversation on deconstructing stereotypes and assumptions about our young men. Being able to be part of a larger trend of work that is moving the pendulum forward on the role unconscious racism plays in the black male achievement gap is a true honor.

Check out the trailer below and look here to find a screening near you.

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Infographic on Mass Incarceration

The Criminal Justice Degree Hub released an infographic on mass incarceration in the U.S. titled "Locked Up In America." According to the extensive graphic, the U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

Check out the graphic here.

 
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House Passes Billions in Cuts to Food Stamps Program

The House of Representatives on Thursday evening narrowly passed a plan that cuts about $40 billion* from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps program. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the move will push nearly 4 million low-income people off of the program in 2014. USA Today reports

"The House voted 217-210 for the bill that cuts nearly twice as much from food stamps as a bill the House rejected in June. It is also far more than a Senate measure passed earlier this year that would trim about $4.5 billion in spending. The bill failed to draw the support of a single Democrat, many of whom have said the steep cuts would erode a key safety net depended upon by families with children, seniors, veterans and people looking for work."

Earlier on Thursday, Sojourners President Jim Wallis condemned the then-proposed cuts, saying, "These same politicians are not willing to go to where the real money is: the Pentagon budget, which everyone knows to be the most wasteful in government spending, or the myriad subsidies to corporations, including agribusiness subsides to members of Congress who will be voting to cut SNAP for the poor. ... They are going after cuts to the poor and hungry people because they think it is politically safe to do so. So let’s call that what it is: moral hypocrisy."

Check back with Sojourners for details on how your congressperson voted. 

Image: U.S. Capitol Building, Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com

*The early version of this story incorrectly stated $40 million in cuts.

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Income Gap Between Rich and Poor is Largest in Hundred Years

The income gap in the U.S. is as wide as it has been in almost 100 years, according to a new study by UC Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics, and Oxford University. The study, based on Internal Revenue Service statistics, reports that although the Great Recession hit the top 1 percent hard, the wealthy recovered more quickly than other income groups. The L.A. Times reports

The 1929 stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression, followed by World War II, reduced an earlier national income gap for decades. But it began to grow again in the 1970s, and has widened since.

Saez attributes the trend not just to technology and job outsourcing, but to the reduced power of progressive tax policies and unions, along with "changing social norms regarding pay inequality."

Read more here.

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Global Churches Alliance for Bangladesh Garment Workers

Mary Priniski wrote in the August 2013 Sojourners magazine about churches responding in solidarity with garment workers, disproportionately women, after the terrible fires in Bangladesh’s garment factories. Now, a global church alliance has been established. Ekklesia reports:

[The alliance] provides an action plan for grassroots campaigning, and a letter for consumers to send to their retailers demanding improvements to the pay and working conditions of garment workers. Real-life stories from garment workers in Bangladesh also highlight the oppression they face and the struggle to survive.

 

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Senators Reach Deal on Student Loan Interest Rates

According to an aide connected to the Democratic Party, bipartisan senators reached a deal Wednesday that would offer undergraduate students a lower interest rate of 3.85 percent on student loans, up until the year 2015. Revealing this information to USA Today prior to the official vote, sources confirmed that both parties are working towards lowering students costs. USA Today reports:

The bipartisan agreement is likely to be the final in a string of efforts that have emerged from near constant work to undo a rate hike that took hold for subsidized Stafford loans on July 1. Rates for new subsidized Stafford loans doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%, adding roughly $2,600 to students' education costs.

Read more here.

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Hunger Games, U.S.A

The number of those who’ve benefitted from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased nearly seven percent from 8.7 in 2007 to 15.2 in its most recent study. Despite the economic challenges America has faced over the past several years, the Houses’ decision to do away with food stamps has not only caused controversy between the House and the Senate but has caused controversy between the government and the American people. The New York Times reports: 

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.

Read more here.

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Farm Bill Passes House, Without Food Stamp Funding

For the first time in 50 years, the House of Representatives cut mention of food stamps in the Farm Bill, which passed the House yesterday. The Supplemental Nutrion Assistance Program has historically made up nearly 80 percent of funding in such bills. Following the 216-to-208 vote, the House's decision to go through with the ruling has both parties defensive on this issue. The Washington Post reports:

"The vote made clear that Republicans intend to make significant reductions in food stamp money and handed Republican leaders a much-needed victory three weeks after conservative lawmakers and rural state Democrats revolted and blocked the original version of the bill that included food stamp money."

Read more here.

 
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Relentlessly High Youth Unemployment is a 'Global Time Bomb'

Last month's job report shows 16 percent of young adults who consistently seek full-time employment are unable to find work. The report shows that a high number of well-educated, trained, and productive youths are among those getting denied the opportunity for a better future. The Guardian reports: 

High youth unemployment causes immediate and long-term economic damage. It means young adults take longer to get married, buy homes and begin families. In the long run, it means slower economic growth and lower tax receipts. Countries with prolonged high levels of youth unemployment risk social instability.

Read more here.

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Remaking the Tax Code to Help the Working Poor

Through the removal of financial restrictions tacked onto certain marriage policies, President Barack Obama brings hope to low-income couples by acknowledging the financial and moral benefits marriage can have on America's society. Politico reports:

Most benefits for low-income families phase out as income rises. Taken separately, these reductions are understandable and reasonable. But combined, they effectively act as high tax rates — reducing take-home pay for low-income workers — and create a disincentive to work harder. Low-income families can thus find themselves in a situation where receiving a raise or promotion results in losing more in benefits than they receive in additional earnings.

Read more here.
 

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Immigration and Fiscal Policy

Debating whether immigrants will have a positive or negative effect on the United States’ economy, various political groups are arguing their viewpoints and analyzing a number of fiscal pros and cons that would stem from the passage of the immigration bill. The New York Times reports:

An overhaul of immigration law would reduce the federal deficit. That’s the conclusion of a broad range of studies, from the libertarian Cato Institute to the conservative American Action Forum to the liberal Center for American Progress. Wait, it would really increase the deficit. That’s the analysis of the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies. But hang on a second. Immigrants have little impact on the federal deficit. That’s what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development thinks.

Read more here.

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Our Broken Social Contract

Throughout the years, authors and academic scholars have studied and revealed their opinions of whether economic equality is in fact possible in the United States. A variety of them pose the question of whether or not social struggles in the U.S. stem from economic injustices, or from the lack of our own moral responsibility. The New York Times reports:

With the blessing of the new right, Krueger argues, corporate America has abandoned its commitment to the commonweal over the past three decades. It no longer honors norms of fairness and equality. To Krueger, it is in the economic sphere that American integrity has been eroded and its ideals corrupted.

Read more here.

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Pope Francis: Wasting Food is like Stealing from the Poor

On Wednesday during his weekly address, Pope Francis condemned consumerism and the "culture of waste" especially pertaining to food. Wednesday was also the day the United Nations launched an anti-food waste campaign to mark World Environment Day. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organizatio estimates 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted every year. The Washington Post reports:

“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry,” he said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Read more here.

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