Government Can’t Rescue the Poor

Federal programs have reduced material poverty at the cost of promoting idleness and dependency.

While the Census Bureau reports that in 2016 some 12.7% of Americans lived in poverty, it is impossible to reconcile this poverty rate, which has remained virtually unchanged over the last 50 years, with the fact that total inflation-adjusted government-transfer payments to low-income families have risen steadily. Transfers targeted to low-income families increased in real dollars from an average of $3,070 per person in 1965 to $34,093 in 2016.

.. Compared with what they pay in Social Security taxes, the lowest quintile of earners can receive as much as 10 times the lifetime benefits received by the highest quintile of earners and three times as much as the middle quintile.

.. The measured poverty rate has remained virtually unchanged only because the Census Bureau doesn’t count most of the transfer payments created since the declaration of the War on Poverty. The bureau measures poverty using what it calls “money income,” which includes earned income and some transfer payments such as Social Security and unemployment insurance.

But it excludes food stamps, Medicaid, the portion of Medicare going to low-income families, Children’s Health Insurance, the refundable portion of the earned-income tax credit, at least 87 other means-tested federal payments to individuals, and most means-tested state payments. If government counted these missing $1.5 trillion in annual transfer payments, the poverty rate would be less than 3%.

..The number also reconciles the current disparity between the low income levels used by the Census Bureau to define poverty and studies such as the Department of Energy Residential Consumption Survey, which find consistently rising spending among poor families on cars, home electronics, cable, household appliances, smartphones and living space. The 3% poverty rate would fall even further if it accounted for transfers within families, some $500 billion of private charitable giving, and the multibillion-dollar informal economy, where income is unreported.

Transfer payments essentially have eliminated poverty in America. Transfers now constitute 84.2% of the disposable income of the poorest quintile of American households and 57.8% of the disposable income of lower-middle-income households. These payments also make up 27.5% of America’s total disposable income.

.. The stated goal of the War on Poverty is not just to raise living standards, but also to make America’s poor more self-sufficient and to bring them into the mainstream of the economy. In that effort the war has been an abject failure, increasing dependency and largely severing the bottom fifth of earners from the rewards and responsibilities of work.

.. The expanding availability of antipoverty transfers has devastated the work effort of poor and lower-middle income families. By 1975 the lowest-earning fifth of families had 24.8% more families with a prime-work age head and no one working than did their middle-income peers.

.. By 2015 this differential had risen to 37.1%.

The G.O.P.’s War on the Poor

Four years ago, on the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, House Republicans led by Paul Ryan issued a report declaring that war a failure. Poverty, they asserted, hadn’t fallen. Therefore, they concluded, we must slash spending on the poor.

..  it calls for the widespread imposition of work requirements for Medicaid, food stamps and other programs. But that would have the effect of sharply reducing those programs’ coverage.

.. This decline in coverage wouldn’t be the result of large numbers of people earning their way out of poverty. Instead, many poor Americans would, for a variety of reasons — poor health, job instability for low-wage workers, daunting paperwork imposed on those least able to deal with it — find it impossible to meet the requirements, and be denied aid despite remaining poor.

.. whatever the evidence, Republicans always reach the same policy conclusion. Was the war on poverty a failure? Let’s stop helping the poor. Was it a success? Let’s stop helping the poor.

.. And let’s be clear: We’re talking about the whole party, not just the Trump administration. In particular, Republican governors are fanatical about cutting benefits for their lower-income residents.

.. In Maine, voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But Gov. Paul LePage has refused to implement the expansion — a vast majority of which would be paid for with federal funds — despite a court order, and has declared that he’s willing to go to jail rather than see his constituents get health care.

Stateless and Poor, Some Boys in Thai Cave Had Already Beaten Long Odds

It was Adul, the stateless descendant of a Wa ethnic tribal branch once known for headhunting, who played a critical role in the rescue, acting as interpreter for the British divers.

.. Proficient in English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin and Wa, Adul politely communicated to the British divers his squad’s greatest needs: food and clarity on just how long they had stayed alive.

.. the Wild Boars’ 18-day ordeal came to an end. In a three-day rescue mission, Adul and 12 others were safely extracted from the cave by a team of dozens of divers, doctors and support staff.

.. Located not far from where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet in the Golden Triangle

.. The Golden Triangle is a smuggling center, and a sanctuary for members of various ethnic militias that have spent decades pushing for autonomy from a government in Myanmar that routinely represses them.

.. Three of the trapped soccer players, as well as their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, are stateless ethnic minorities, accustomed to slipping across the border to Myanmar one day and returning for a soccer game in Thailand the next.

.. Their presence undercuts a Thai sense of nationhood that is girded by a triumvirate of institutions: the military, the monarchy and the Buddhist monastery.

.. With the English he used to communicate with the British divers on July 2, Adul was crucial in ensuring the safety of the Wild Boars. He is the top student in his class at the Ban Wiang Phan School in Mae Sai. His academic record and sporting prowess have earned him free tuition and daily lunch.

.. “Stateless children have a fighting spirit that makes them want to excel,” he said. “Adul is the best of the best.”

.. At least 440,000 stateless people live in Thailand, many of whom are victims of Myanmar’s long years of ethnic strife, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Human rights groups say the true number could be as high as 3 million — in a nation of nearly 70 million — even though the Thai government has refused to ratify the United Nations convention guaranteeing rights for refugees.

.. A stateless member of the ethnic Shan minority, Mr. Ekkapol has long experience caring for children. After his parents died in Myanmar when he was a young boy, he entered the Buddhist monkhood in Thailand for nearly a decade, a common option for orphans untethered from financial support.

 

Cardi B: American Rapper (wikipedia)

Belcalis Almanzar (born October 11, 1992), known professionally as Cardi B, is an American rapper.

 

.. Upon being fired from the supermarket, her former manager recommended she work at a strip club. She has said she became a stripper to escape poverty and domestic violence, having been in an abusive relationship at the time.[21] Cardi B has also said becoming a stripper was positive for her life in many ways: “It really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping I went back to school.”[22][23][24] She says stripping was her only way out, a way to earn enough money to escape her dire situation and get an education. Nonetheless, she eventually dropped out of college.[3]

In 2013, Cardi B began to gain publicity due to several of her videos going viral on social media, on Vine and her official Instagram page.[5]

 

Cardi B identifies as a feminist.[95][96] The New York Times wrote “on Love & Hip Hop: New York some viewers saw her as a hero of female empowerment, as she made pronouncements like

‘Ever since I started using guys, I feel so much better about myself. I feel so damn powerful.'”[97]

When commenting on her rise to stardom The Fader wrote “one video in particular tipped her popularity over the edge. It was a 13-second clip that doubles as a neat précis of her ethos:

‘People be asking me, ‘What do you does? Are you a model? Are you, like, a comedian or something?’ Nah, I ain’t none of that. I’m a hoe. I’m a stripper hoe. I’m about this shmoney.'”[20][98]

Cardi B’s logo

Cardi B was a member of the Bloods, and has said she became a gang member at the age of 16.[15][16] However, she since has stated that she would not encourage joining a gang.[99]