Category Archives: Poverty

Why Aren’t U.S. Cities Burning?

Source: Michael B. Katz, Dissent, Vol. 54 no. 3, Summer 2007

The summer of 2007 marks the fortieth anniversary of America’s worst season of urban disorder. The most famous riots happened in Newark and Detroit. But “nearly 150 cities reported disorders in Negro—and in some instances Puerto Rican—neighborhoods,” reported the 1968 National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Today, the most intriguing question is not why the riots occurred but why they have not recurred. With the exception of Liberty City, Miami, in 1980, and South-central Los Angeles in 1992, American cities have not burned since the early 1980s. Even the botched response to Hurricane Katrina did not provoke civil violence.

Taxing the Poor: A Report on Tobacco, Alcohol, Gambling, and Other Taxes and Fees That Disproportionately Burden Lower-Income Families

Source: Michael L. Davis, National Center for Policy Analysis, NCPA Policy Report No. 300, June 2007

Press release
As Congress seeks to fund the expansion of government-provided health care for children by increasing taxes on tobacco and possibly alcohol, a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) notes these taxes disproportionately impact the poor. The report notes that governments at all levels are raising revenues in a number of regressive ways, particularly through a lottery and excise taxes on products such as alcohol and tobacco and essential services such as utilities and gas.

The High Price of Being Poor in Kentucky

Source: Matt Fellowes and Dr. Terry I. Brooks, The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, June 2007

Summary
Kentucky’s working families frequently pay a premium for everyday necessities. Lower-income workers in Kentucky are more likely to pay double-digit interest rates for auto loans; more likely to pay hundreds of dollars more for car insurance; and more likely to pay a higher sticker price for their car compared to their higher income counterparts.

Additionally, lower-income workers are twice as likely to have purchased a high-cost mortgage compared to their higher income neighbors and are more likely to use alternative financial service providers, costing untold extra dollars for basic financial transactions and the purchase of home goods.

However, new innovative and practical initiatives are being implemented and improving the prices of key necessities for lower-income families around the country. Public and private leaders in Kentucky can follow suit and also reduce these higher costs of living, and do so in ways that defy the substantial budgetary, economic, and partisan pressures that limit so many efforts to grow the middle class.

Framework for a New Safety Net for Low-Income Working Families

Source: Olivia Golden, Pamela Winston, Gregory Acs, Ajay Chaudry, Urban Institute, Paper 7, June 12, 2007

This paper for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation conceptualizes a framework for a new safety net for low-income working families that is rooted in their most essential needs. It is organized around five key goals:

1. enabling parents to meet their family’s needs while working in lower-wage jobs,
2. helping families weather gaps in parental employment,
3. supporting parents’ job advancement,
4. helping parents combine work and child-rearing, and
5. improving children’s well-being and development.

The paper describes these families’ circumstances, discusses gaps in current safety-net programs, and explores possible alternative approaches to meeting families’ most pressing needs.

Making Poverty History

Source: Mark Greenberg, American Prospect, Vol. 18 no. 5, May 2007

We might not expect TV’s American Idol to be out in front of most presidential candidates on issues of national importance, but that’s what happened this spring. AI’s producers announced that they would dedicate two evenings to raising funds and awareness for children and young people in poverty, in both America and Africa. The show’s commitment stands in contrast to most of the 2008 candidates. What does American Idol know that they don’t?

American Idol isn’t alone. In the last two years, there has been a surge of interest in ending poverty in America. In the faith community, Sojourners and Call to Renewal announced a Covenant for a New America and urged others to help them cut child poverty by half in 10 years. Catholic Charities USA created a Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created an Economic Opportunity Commission and charged it with proposing ways to promote opportunity and reduce poverty in the city, and he has begun implementing the commission’s recommendations. A Task Force on Poverty, Work and Opportunity of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor

Antonio Villaraigosa, made a set of ambitious recommendations. Governors, mayors, and legislatures in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, and Wisconsin—among others—have launched or proposed initiatives. These efforts are occurring against the backdrop of the larger international efforts to make poverty history.