Category Archives: safety net

Beaver County Still Battling Poverty Problem

Pickup day at a food pantry

By J.D. Prose
Beaver County Times

Sept 28, 2014 – Pastor Avril Vreen doesn’t need newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau to tell her that poverty is a problem in Beaver County.

All she had to do was watch two young brothers split a free lunch at her Holy Spirit Fellowship Church in New Brighton this past summer. One of the boys agonized over precisely dividing a slice of bread, “which suggested to me that this child has done it before,” she said.

“Right there, I said, ‘This is more necessary than we thought,’” Vreen said of her church’s summer lunch program that served about 2,500 meals to children this year.

According to data recently released by the Census’ American Community Survey, nearly 20,700 Beaver County residents, or 12.4 percent, live below the poverty line, including 6,700 children. That total number represents about a 33 percent increase from 2007, when the county’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

In Allegheny County, nearly 13 percent of its 1.19 million residents, or more than 151,000 people, live below the poverty line while almost 14 percent of Lawrence County residents, about 12,200 people, do.
RELATED: How is the poverty level in Beaver County different from the state average? (Info graphic)

The national poverty rate is 14.5 percent, representing about 45 million Americans, according to TalkPoverty.org.

The government’s poverty line is based on annual income. For 2012, the poverty line for a family of four was $23,050 regardless of where the family lives in the United States.

Maj. Richard Lyle, the commander of the Salvation Army in Beaver Falls, said he’s seen the effects of poverty firsthand in the Army’s food pantries and soup kitchens. Five years ago in Beaver Falls the Salvation Army was servicing about 2,000 families a month, but that crept up before making “a significant jump” to about 2,600 18 months ago.

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Meet the Preacher Behind Moral Mondays

Coming to Beaver County in June, The Reverend William Barber is charting a new path for protesting Republican overreach in the South—and maybe beyond.

By Lisa Rab

Beaver County Blue via Mother Jones

April 14, 2014 – The Reverend William Barber is charting a new path for protesting conservative overreach in the North Carolina—and beyond.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the Reverend William Barber II [1] reclined uncomfortably in a chair in his office, sipping bottled water as he recovered from two hours of strenuous preaching. When he was in his early 20s, Barber was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful arthritic condition affecting the spine. Still wearing his long black robes, the 50-year-old minister recounted how, as he’d proclaimed in a rolling baritone from the pulpit that morning, "a crippled preacher has found his legs."

It began a few days before Easter 2013, recalled Barber, pastor at the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and president of the state chapter [2] of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). "On Maundy Thursday, they chose to crucify voting rights," he said.

"They" are North Carolina Republicans, who in November 2012 took control of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in more than a century. Among their top priorities—along with blocking Medicaid expansion and cutting unemployment benefits and higher-education spending—was pushing through a raft of changes to election laws, including reducing the number of early voting days, ending same-day voter registration, and requiring ID at the polls. "That’s when a group of us said, ‘Wait a minute, this has just gone too far,’" Barber said.

Barber "believed we needed to kind of burst this bubble of ‘There’s nothing we can do for two years until the next election.’"

On the last Monday of April 2013, Barber led a modest group of clergy and activists into the state legislative building in Raleigh. They sang "We Shall Overcome," quoted the Bible, and blocked the doors to the Senate chambers. Barber leaned on his cane as capitol police led him away in handcuffs.

That might have been the end of just another symbolic protest, but then something happened: The following Monday, more than 100 protesters showed up at the capitol. Over the next few months, the weekly crowds at the "Moral Mondays" protests grew to include hundreds, and then thousands, not just in Raleigh but also in towns around the state. The largest gathering, in February, drew tens of thousands of people [3]. More than 900 protesters have been arrested for civil disobedience over the past year. Copycat movements have started in Florida [4], Georgia [5], South Carolina [6], and Alabama [7] in response to GOP legislation regarding Medicaid and gun control.

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The Main Target: Obamacare Is Right-Wing Proxy For Social Security and Medicare

 

By Karoli

Progressive America Rising via Crooks and Liars

Oct 7, 2013 – Despite all the sound and fury about Obamacare, here’s the truth: It’s not the prime target of the right. The real targets are Medicare and Social Security, as Rep. Barton admits in the video above when he says he wants "real reforms in entitlements".

Over the past couple of weeks, it’s become apparent to me and many others that this entire showdown is not over Obamacare. The ACA is a convenient patsy because it is new, untested, and they’ve managed to poison public opinion around it over the past three years.

The real target is Social Security and Medicare. From a political standpoint, waging a war using those programs as hostage would be so wildly unpopular no sane or insane politician would dare choose that route. And so Obamacare has become the convenient stand-in, a cardboard stand-in for their real goals.

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GOP Worships the ‘Hand,’ Disrespects Those Who Work With Them

By Leo Gerard
Beaver County Blue via HuffPost

March 4, 2013 – The invisible hand of the market, which the GOP worships as an infallible god, is curled into a fist and is pounding America’s lowest-paid workers.

Those workers have complained about the grinding poverty level of minimum wage. Wal-Mart warehouse workers and New York fast food workers recently demonstrated. They’re fed up. Well, they would be if they could afford enough to eat. President Obama responded, asking Congress to raise the minimum wage, which was last increased to $7.25 an hour in 2009.

Republicans, the party of NO, replied to Obama’s request with a surly, "No way!" Respect the hand, they said, referring to their beloved spectral regulator of the market. Government, Republicans said, must not tell business what to do, must not "burden" business by requiring it to pay a little more. Republicans never mention the burden under which 18 million minimum wage workers struggle, working full-time for $15,080 a year, barely enough to feed, clothe and house themselves. That’s because Republicans revere non-humans — corporations and invisible hands — while denigrating and disrespecting humans who work with their hands to serve food, care for the elderly and stock shelves.

The disrespect could be heard in Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s voice as he derided 47 percent of all Americans as "takers." That huge number Romney despises includes minimum wage workers – 84 percent of whom are 20 or older — whose children receive immunizations and antibiotics through Medicaid because employers paying minimum wage virtually never provide health insurance.

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The Minimum Wage Would Be $21.72 An Hour If It Rose With Productivity Since 1968

From boldprogressives.org

Activists are mobilizing around President Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage to $9.00, and polling shows that Americans across the political spectrum agree with such a policy.

But here’s an interesting fact about what the minimum wage could be instead. The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s John Dewitt looked at what the minimum wage would be if it simply rose with productivity — that is, if workers were actually paid for the increasing amount of output — since 1968, and found that it would be almost 3 times what it is now:

Since 1968, however, productivity growth has far outpaced the minimum wage. If the minimum wage had continued to move with average productivity after1968, it would have reached $21.72 per hour in 2012 – a rate well above the average production worker wage. If minimum-wage workers received only half of the productivity gains over the period, the federal minimum would be $15.34.

Even Obama’s modest plan to raise the minimum wage is expected to face intense opposition from Big Business and its lobbyists.

US Capitalism Redistributing Wealth ‘Upward’

Nine Economic Facts That Will Make Your Head Spin

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
Beaver County Blue via Alternet.org

Feb 18, 2013  |  How much will you need for medical expenses in retirement? What does it cost to keep 2.5 million Americans behind bars? Here are a few facts and figures that might surprise you.

1. Recovery for the rich, recession for the rest.

Economic recovery is in rather limited supply, it seems. Research by economist Emmanuel Saez shows that the top 1 percent has enjoyed income growth of over 11 percent [3] since the official end of the recession. The other 99 percent hasn’t fared so well, seeing a 0.4 percent decline in income.

The top 10 percent of earners hauled in 46.5 percent of all income in 2011, the highest proportion since 1917 – and that doesn’t even include money earned from investments. The wealthy have benefitted from favorable tax status and the rise in stock prices, while the rest have been hit with a continuing unemployment crisis that has kept wages down. Saez believes this trend will continue in 2013.

2. Half of us are poor or barely scraping by.

The latest Census Bureau data shows that one in two Americans currently falls into either the “low income” category or is living in poverty. Low-income is defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level. Adjusted for inflation, the earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have dropped from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000. Earnings for the next 20 percent have been stuck at $37,000.

States in the South and West had the highest proportion of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, where politicians are eagerly shredding the social safety net.

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