Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged poverty

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For those who think the government shutdown affects just a few people, U.S. Uncut provides evidence to the contrary. This is happening in all 50 states. Some states have enough to last through the month. And some states have nothing with which to fund these programs. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, new vouchers (worth an average of $55 a month) were not issued, and the agency has funds to operate for just ten days. 
From The Gazette:

The WIC program appears to be taking the brunt of the shutdown, at least for now, and for people such as Sarah Regan, 33, of Cedar Rapids, it means finding an alternative or going without.
Regan, who just delivered her baby Kendyl two weeks ago, is on unpaid maternity leave, and has been counting on WIC for core items like milk, bread, eggs and cheese through her pregnancy. When she showed up at the office for her appointment on Tuesday, she was surprised the government shutdown cost her her WIC payment.
“I knew there was a shutdown, but I did not realize it would affect everyone on a personal level,” Regan said. “We will just have to find another way to supplement our food, or just have to go without until it comes through. There’s no fall back. It’s just wait and see when this ends.”

And to think, according to a GOP congressman at a fundraiser, this was all to appease the Tea Party. Yet another case of kicking the poor to thrill the rich.

For those who think the government shutdown affects just a few people, U.S. Uncut provides evidence to the contrary. This is happening in all 50 states. Some states have enough to last through the month. And some states have nothing with which to fund these programs. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, new vouchers (worth an average of $55 a month) were not issued, and the agency has funds to operate for just ten days

From The Gazette:

The WIC program appears to be taking the brunt of the shutdown, at least for now, and for people such as Sarah Regan, 33, of Cedar Rapids, it means finding an alternative or going without.

Regan, who just delivered her baby Kendyl two weeks ago, is on unpaid maternity leave, and has been counting on WIC for core items like milk, bread, eggs and cheese through her pregnancy. When she showed up at the office for her appointment on Tuesday, she was surprised the government shutdown cost her her WIC payment.

“I knew there was a shutdown, but I did not realize it would affect everyone on a personal level,” Regan said. “We will just have to find another way to supplement our food, or just have to go without until it comes through. There’s no fall back. It’s just wait and see when this ends.”

And to think, according to a GOP congressman at a fundraiser, this was all to appease the Tea Party. Yet another case of kicking the poor to thrill the rich.

Filed under government shutdown politics WIC federal benefits News WIC closure Women Infants Children poverty injustice government GOP Republicans

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Homelessness is not a crime. I’ve got to have the legal right (to question or take anyone into custody). We can’t just take people to somewhere they don’t want to go. I can’t do that. I won’t do that.

Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago taking a stand on the city council’s plan to criminalize homelessness in downtown Columbia, S.C. by pushing the homeless to a shelter just barely in the city limits. 

According to The State, Santiago also said his department cannot transport homeless adults to the riverfront shelter to get services nor will police tell them they would be charged with a nuisance offense should they refuse. The law, which is likely unconstitutional, aims to bus the homeless out of the downtown area to a shelter that would have infrequent transportation services and require signing in and out. 

Filed under South Carolina Homelessness economy politics news Ruben Santiago Police law lawblr poverty discrimination injustice

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Hawaii has a serious homelessness problem—so now it wants to pass that problem off to the rest of the country. Having reached the highest rate of homelessness in the U.S., lawmakers in paradise have decided to try a new tactic for getting people off the streets: flying them to the mainland. Yes, instead of setting aside money for more shelters or outreach programs, Hawaii’s state legislator has approved a $100,000 fund to offer about 17,000 homeless people one-way tickets off the islands.

The “return-to-home” program is idealistically billed as a way to help people stuck on the island reach family or job opportunities. The program may be labeled “voluntary” but, as in other cities with similar programs, like New York and San Francisco, homeless people who get arrested could wind up faced with the option of jail or the one-way flight, regardless of whether that person has better opportunities elsewhere.

Hawaii Flies Its Homeless Away and Other Ideas from the Fringe" | The Daily Beast

Because a one-way plane ticket is easier than addressing structural inequality and poverty, amirite?

Filed under homelessness hawaii poverty politics news inequality economy structural crisis

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As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.

But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

And with more business-minded folks getting into the act, business principles are trumpeted as an important element to add to the philanthropic sector. I now hear people ask, “what’s the R.O.I.?” when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success. Microlending and financial literacy (now I’m going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) — what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?

I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism.

Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine.

Peter Buffett, “The Charitable Industrial Complex" | The New York Times, July 26, 2013

This thought-provoking editorial about the ultra-rich reinforcing global inequality by supposed “charitable” endeavors is a must read.

Filed under Charity Guilt Inequality wealth accumulation 1% one percent politics economy poverty

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For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay.

But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.

The New York Times, "Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees" | June 30, 2013

Colleges are doing this as well with financial aid and veteran’s benefits refunds. I wasn’t taxed by the U.S. government on my education benefits, but Higher One sure took a chunk with all their fees.

Filed under Politics Economy poverty banks banksters Wall Street war on the poor

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So what? His wife and child are American citizens, and he was here legally. Isn’t that how public assistance ideally works? A temporary safety net, right? Relevant: “The state says both Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — his brother and the other bombing suspect — received welfare benefits as children through their parents while the family lived in Massachusetts. Neither was receiving benefits at the time of the bombing.” Is that the story, the system operated as intended? Or is this non-news dressed up as news just so we hate the bomber (and by extension, his family) a teensy bit more?  I mean, we’re so generous to people living in poverty in this country, and we have no homeless or hungry people ever, so obviously this is big important news — it’s in no way related to some sort of stigma associated with welfare, nope, no sir. /sarcasm

So what? His wife and child are American citizens, and he was here legally.

Isn’t that how public assistance ideally works? A temporary safety net, right? Relevant: “The state says both Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — his brother and the other bombing suspect — received welfare benefits as children through their parents while the family lived in Massachusetts. Neither was receiving benefits at the time of the bombing.”

Is that the story, the system operated as intended? Or is this non-news dressed up as news just so we hate the bomber (and by extension, his family) a teensy bit more?

I mean, we’re so generous to people living in poverty in this country, and we have no homeless or hungry people ever, so obviously this is big important news — it’s in no way related to some sort of stigma associated with welfare, nope, no sir. /sarcasm

Filed under boston bombing poverty public assistance cbs news media journalism journalismism journalismismism

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I think it would be a good idea if perhaps we had the kids work for their lunches: trash to be taken out, hallways to be swept, lawns to be mowed, make them earn it. If they miss a lunch or they miss a meal they might not, in that class that afternoon, learn to add, they may not learn to diagram a sentence, but they’ll learn a more important lesson.

West Virginia Delegate Ray Canterbury, R-Greenbrier, speaking against a bill to require schools maximize school meal participation and set up foundations in every county that collect private donations to fund expanded meal programs.

Canterbury further repeated that there is no such thing as a free lunch and predicted the program could set up children for failure by “destroying their work ethic” and “showing them there’s an easy way.”

This man disgusts me. West Virginia has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation. So Canterbury thinks learning the “work ethic” is more important than food and education… this reminds me of something. 

Oh, right. From A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens:

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

Filed under Ray Canterbury politics West Virginia school lunch poverty Republican GOP news A Christmas Carol Heartless

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“American Dream”: Food loaded into Dumpsters while Hundreds of Hungry Americans Restrained by Police

Hundreds of poor people waiting outside of a closed grocery store for the possibility of getting the remaining food is not the picture of the “American Dream.” Yet on March 23, outside the Laney Walker Supermarket in Augusta, Ga., that is exactly what happened.

Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.

The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”

And what would be more likely to cause a riot? Hungry, desperate people denied the food they were told they would receive, or distribution of said food? I’d be tempted to say that this is capitalism at its most dysfunctional, but it’s actually functioning as it is supposed to here. If a commodity can’t turn a profit for a capitalist, the capitalist is encouraged by the profit motive to dispose of the good quickly. As the author, Sarah Carlson, writes:

In a capitalist society, the motive behind the production of food is not to feed people, housing is not made to give them shelter, clothing is not made to keep them warm, and health care is not offered primarily to keep people healthy. All of these things, which are and should be viewed as basic rights, are nothing other than commodities—to be bought and sold—from which to make a profit. If a profit cannot be made, usually due to overproduction in relation to the market, the commodity is considered useless by the capitalist and destroyed.

Disgusting and heartbreaking. This is not an economic crisis — this is economic violence.

Filed under Capitalism hunger poverty Georgia SunTrust Bank inequality politics policy economy

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Save Cognitive Dissonance! (Well, at least Meg & Co.)

I’m asking the fine folks of Tumblr (and the internet at large) for donations because emergency surgery to remove an appendix time bomb has left our budget stretched beyond the breaking point. We’re finding it impossible to cover medical bills, pay rent and utilities, buy groceries, and though I’ve been looking for full-time work, it’s been difficult to find anyone who’s even hiring. My husband and I are both working and going to school, but it’s just not enough. We’re falling further behind. 

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I want to continue to bring you guys great ad-free content on the daily. So why not ask folks to pitch in a little? Unlike the New York Times, I put nothing behind a paywall and ask for no subscriptions — and like I can compare to the great Gray Lady anyhow. But I DO think I deliver entertaining and informative content, and your feedback tells me this is the case. 

There’s over 40,000 people following my site now. I know there’s many of you in a similar position — struggling to make ends meet, and I know you’d help if you could. But if just 25% of you pitched in $5, well, I’d be secure for the rest of the year — and pay this off. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from giving more. Donate here or use the widget on the sidebar of my site. Also, the email for my PayPal is meglanker@gmail.com

When I started this in 2010, I never pictured it being the marvelous and large community that it is today. I’m asking for your help because I believe I have some of the most generous and fantastic readers on the Internet. Your generosity helps me survive and in exchange, I’ll keep bringing you the oddities and policies of the political and legal world, both on here and live-streamed every Friday night. Again, it’s YOU that makes it possible.

Oh, and cat pictures. I’ll keep posting lots of cat pictures. Like this one:

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Thank you so much,
Meg

Tumblr: cognitivedissonance.tumblr.com
Twitter: @meglanker
Email: meglanker@gmail.com

Filed under please help donate medical bills emergency rent cat kitten Cognitive Dissonance Save Cognitive Dissonance medical debt poverty

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putonefootinfront asked: I worked at the Sheridan Perkins for about three weeks in my first year of college. It was absolutely awful. I hated that place and I still don't like going there.

I almost got fired because I fainted in the middle of Mother’s Day breakfast service. I tried to call in sick with a fever of 102°F and they told me to come in or be fired. I did, and at about 11:30 AM, I turned to tell a coworker that I felt strange. The next thing I know, this kind old lady is asking for cool rags and an ambulance. I was scheduled from 8AM-8PM, and while I was in the ER, my phone rang constantly. I finally told them I wouldn’t be back that day because I had a concussion and the flu.

The manager said I was fired if I didn’t come back and do my side work, and he was pooling my tips I left behind among everyone. He was talking about credit card tips from already cashed-out tables. So I went back and rolled silverware while on painkillers. I kept messing up, so they sent me home and erased all my hours for the next two weeks since I “obviously didn’t want to work.”

I worked there for two years total until I just couldn’t take it any longer. I got stiffed on a party of 17, and I quit the next day.

It was the worst place I ever worked, and as a floor leader, I still made only $2.63/hr. Glad you only stayed three weeks. And fuck people who don’t tip. Truly. Even with truly shit service I tip because you never know who’s having the worst day ever, who’s ill, or who just started yesterday.

Cheers,
Meg

Filed under minimum wage poverty Perkins worst job ever ask ask box restaurant

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I see a reporter here. I just pray that you start writing about these issues. I just pray. Stop always writing about, ‘Oh, the person couldn’t get, you know, their food stamps or this or that.’ You know, I saw something the other day — it’s like, another sob story, and I’m like, ‘But what about what’s happening to the country and the country as a whole?’ That’s going to devastate everybody.

Republican Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde scolding the media at a recent event for writing “sob stories” about Americans affected by the recession.

The issues they should be covering? Hovde says lowering the corporate tax rate and the national deficit are more important than unemployment and poverty. Not surprisingly, he’s also a former hedge fund manager.

Go to hell, Eric Hovde. I hope your family never has to do without for fear you’d be too stubborn to ask for help, thereby jeopardizing their existence.

(h/t ThinkProgress)

Filed under Politics poverty inequality fuck you got mine GOP Election 2012 Wisconsin US Senate Republican Eric Hovde

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George Lucas Does Something Likeable For a Change: Revenge on Rich Neighbors

Seriously. Movies.com has the story:

George Lucas’ rich neighbors don’t want him building a movie studio in their backyard. His response is the best thing he’s done in years.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, for four decades Lucas has owned a large swath of land in Marin County in the North San Francisco Bay and has spent the past few years trying to transform the ranch on it into a massive, nearly 300,000 square foot, state-of-the-art movie studio complete with day care center, restaurant, gym and a 200-car garage. His neighbors, however, have rejected it every step of the way. Despite the promise of bringing $300 million worth of economic activity to the area, the already-well off neighbors are worried about years’ worth of construction activity and the additional foot traffic it will bring into their neighborhood once completed.

So what is George Lucas going to do with his property now that he’s tired of his rich neighbors putting up a not-in-my-backyard stink? He wants to transform the property into low-income housing, naturally, ending their official statement with this zinger, “If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land, then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit.”

He’s working with the Marin Community Foundation to instead construct affordable housing for either low-income families or seniors living on small, fixed incomes. In order to smooth along the development, he’s already given them all of the pricey technical studies and land surveys Lucasfilm spent years conducting. And we think that’s just great. Because if there’s one thing rich people will hate more than having movie magic made in their backyard, it’s poor people moving in.

Dude. I take back every terrible thing I have ever said about George Lucas. Well, almost. There’s the whole trilogy issue, but really… Bravo, sir.

Bravo.

Filed under George Lucas Doing the right thing 1% politics economics poverty applause Lucasfilms Star Wars