Poverty

The Land of Gold and Blood

Congo
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THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of Congo is one of the world’s poorest countries. In 2014, Congo ranked 186 out of 187 on the United Nations’ human development index—vying with Niger for the bottom of the list.

Yet Congo is extremely rich in soil, water, forests, and minerals. Diamonds, copper, gold, oil, uranium, and coltan are all mined, purchased, and traded from the DRC.    

Coltan is the ore used in electronic devices. The so call “war of coltan” in the mineral-rich eastern Congo has left millions dead and more than a million women raped. Transnational corporations are able to exert extreme pressure on Congo’s weak government and economy. As a result, the country’s natural resources have become an important factor in increasing poverty and violence rather than wealth and development.

The Catholic bishops in Congo (about half of the country’s population is Catholic) repeatedly have denounced three specific kinds of evil: a climate favoring genocide, outbreaks of religious fundamentalism, and a push toward Balkanization.

Sébastien Muyengo, author of In the Land of Gold and Blood, is the Catholic bishop of Uvira in eastern Congo. As a result of the mineral wars, he writes, the country’s poverty has become a mental, human, and structural poverty, rather than predominantly material. Yet Congo has resources the rest of the world wants.

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Fixing Education Inequity Should Top Our National Agenda. Here's Why.

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For the nation’s 50 million public school students, another school year is about to begin. Are they ready? Even if they get new backpacks, notebooks, and pencils, most of our students are not prepared to do the schoolwork expected of them.

Two out of three American eighth graders can neither read nor do math at grade level. Schools serving low-income communities perform particularly poorly on a whole range of measurable outcomes including language, reading, and mathematics — critical skills for performing well and succeeding in society.

Living on Almost Nothing in America

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photosbypanda / Shutterstock

TWENTY YEARS AGO, President Bill Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it” by signing into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, otherwise known as “welfare reform.”

Controversial at the time, the law placed a five-year time limit on government financial assistance to those in need and instituted work requirements for welfare recipients. With two decades of hindsight, there is now sufficient evidence to evaluate its effectiveness, the holes it created in our nation’s social safety net, and what needs to be done to address them.

One of the best examinations of this law’s effects is the insightful book $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Scholars Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer note that welfare reform has succeeded in important ways. “Poor single mothers,” they write, “left welfare and went to work in numbers that virtually no one expected. In 1993, 58 percent of low-income single mothers were employed. By 2000, nearly 75 percent were working, an unprecedented increase.” While the Great Recession reversed some of this progress, the employment rates remain “above pre-reform levels.” Child poverty rates also fell after welfare reform’s passage and remain down, though the authors note that additional measures, such as the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and increased government spending on child-care programs, also factor into this decline.

But the outcomes are not universally positive. In the first 15 years after passing welfare reform, the number of people living in “$2-a-day poverty” had more than doubled.

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God on the Steps

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The geography of poverty and its proximity to such opulence is one of the oddities of the city. Juxtaposed against the seeming wealth of the church, a community has formed — they live, literally, on the margins of this great structure. The church allows it. That the city frowns upon it is another story.

 

Rev. Jim Wallis on Speaker Ryan’s Poverty Plan: We Must Acknowledge and Address Racism

                                                                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Michael Mershon, Director of Advocacy and Communications

Phone: 202-745-4654

Email: mmershon@sojo.net

June 8, 2016

Washington, DC - Sojourners Founder and President Jim Wallis today responded to the plan released by the House of Representatives’ Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility.

Paul Ryan's 'Millennial Town Hall' Talks Mass Incarceration, Poverty, and Whether People Should Support Republicans

Screenshot via Speaker Paul Ryan / Youtube.com

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said repeatedly that he isn’t running for president, but that hasn’t stopped him from making numerous public appearances to talk about his vision for the Republican Party and the United States.

Jesus Wants You to Be Skeptical of the System

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recent study published by the Pew Research Center offers some interesting data about economic inequality in the United States. In 1982, the top one percent of families took in 10.8 percent of all the pretax income. The bottom 90 percent got 64.7 percent. By 2012, it was 22.5 percent for the top one percent and 49.6 percent for the bottom 90 percent. In a more disturbing trend the top one percent owned 35 of all the personal wealth in 2010. The bottom fifty percent owned just five percent.

Weekly Wrap 4.22.16: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. Mourning Prince and David Bowie, Who Showed There’s No Right Way to Be a Man

“… We’ve lost two men who had an expansive, almost luxuriant vision of what it meant to be a man and lived out that vision through decades when it was much less safe to do so.”

2. On Earth Day, a Look at How Americans View Environmental Issues

Should the country do whatever it takes to protect the environment? The number of Republicans who say “yes” has decreased in the past 12 years.

3. Wage Gap Alarm Clock Rings After 79% of the Work Day Is Done So Women Can Go Home

Brilliant.

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