I watched the State of the Union address earlier tonight.

First and foremost, Bush talked about his tax cuts and urged Congress not to let his “tax relief” expire. But, as I pointed out in my last post, his unfair tax cuts mean the working class has to pay more in taxes. Basically, changing the tax code does not change how much the taxpayers have to pay. Spending determines how much the taxpayers have to pay. And Bush has increased spending, while decreasing the amount that the rich have to pay of it.

Anyway, I don’t agree with everything Bush said in his address, but he did make a lot of agreeable statements. Of course, most politicians make a lot of good talk; they just never actually do much to solve problems.

Bush did mention the healthcare problem in the United States, AIDS, and global poverty.

Unfortunately, he still supports the expensive war in Iraq, which will end up costing trillions of dollars. Those trillions of dollars could have gone towards ending poverty and towards actually protecting the United States.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Politics and Commentary |

Bob Edgar Stresses Poverty

26 January 2008

I just read an interesting interview with Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause.

For the sake of remaining bipartisan, he does not take positions on presidents. But he does make some good points about issues. Internationally, he wants the next U.S. president to focus on ending secret prisons, torture and pre-emptive war. Domestically, he stressed the importance of healthcare and poverty.

Referring to the current presidency of George Bush, Edgar pointed out that over the last eight years we have seen a focus on giving tax cuts to the rich, while little attention has gone the way of the poor. I find that point especially important considering the aforementioned international policies. The Bush administration has given tax cuts to the rich while increasing spending and turning a surplus into a deficit.

By increasing spending, the administration has increased the amount that taxpayers will have to pay in taxes. By giving tax cuts to the rich, the administration has made it so the working class and the poor will have to pay a higher proportion of the spending than before, which especially hurts since the Bush administration has increased spending.

I guess people think of tax cuts and think that means they will pay less. But obviously that is not correct. The tax rate simply determines the rate at which the taxpayers pay the money that the government spends. How much the government spends determines how much the taxpayers pay in total. And giving tax cuts to the rich changes the proportions of who pays, making it so that the non-rich have to pay a higher proportion than they did prior to the tax cuts.

Simply put, the government shifts the tax burden to the less privileged by giving tax cuts to the rich. Then the government increases the overall tax burden by increasing spending. That combination has a terrible effect on the working class, which has a horrible effect on the poor.

Working class people cycle in and out of poverty. In a ten-year-period, the poverty rate reaches about 40%. The working class needs tax cuts, not the rich. The working class cannot afford needless wars costing trillions of dollars.

The unfair economic burden put on the working class causes poverty in the United States.

Unfortunately, I doubt any new president will change much. The rich have enough money to influence government and who can get elected. For example, the oil companies and the military industry have both donated billions of dollars to both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The major corporations literally own the media and fund the campaigns of the “front-running” politicians from both parties.

I do not think we can rely on politicians to use their political power to save the working class or to alleviate poverty. Positive change and the alleviation of poverty depends on the general public not the politicians. I fully believe that only non-governmental solutions will work to end poverty and help the working class.

What do you think about the relationship between tax cuts, poverty, and the working class? Post your thoughts about it in this thread at the World Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.

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 | Posted by | Categories: American Poverty |

At the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates said that we need to revise capitalism so that it also serves poor people, which he calls creative capitalism.

I usually avoid suggesting “capitalism” as a way to alleviate poverty, because so many people have such different interpretations of what the word means, and because “capitalism” usually seems to include a monopolization of natural resources which contributes to poverty and limits freedom. Nonetheless, I generally agree with Bill Gates’ sentiment.

At one point, Bill Gates said, “If we’re going to find a sustainable way to help those who can’t pay, we have to use self-interest and caring – capitalism and philanthropy – to direct attention to people who have been left behind.”

I agree.

Practically speaking, we cannot realistically expect people to do anything that harms themselves, even if for the so-called greater good. We have to find ways to alleviate poverty through mutually beneficial arrangements. We need not only try to help certain people or just the poorest among us. Instead, we need to find ways to build a better world for as many people as possible. People will agree to mutually beneficial arrangements, but they will oppose proposals that would cause them harm.

For example, consider micro-credit. It has helped millions of women escape poverty with loans of only $50 or so, and the bankers and lenders have profited from it. It works because it benefits everyone involved.

Simply put, we need to find win-win solutions for the problem of poverty. Bill gates can call it creative capitalism; you can call it whatever you want, but we need to do it no matter what we call it.

What do you think of what Bill Gates calls creative capitalism? Post your answers to that question and your comments on this post in this thread at the World Hunger and Poverty Forums. The forums are completely free to use, and all viewpoints are welcome.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Aid Reform |

I just read an interesting article about Bono addressing the World Economic Forum alongside Gore.

While I appreciate all the work Bono does in regards to poverty, he strikes me as somewhat of a self-serving phony who cares more about his own wealth and fame than actually solving problem of global poverty. But I have not studied the man enough, so I say that speculatively.

Nonetheless, he said something with which I agree and want to quote:

“The planet is in a precarious place right now and extreme poverty affects a billion people who are living on less than a dollar a day, scrambling for their life. We have a great life in the West. If we want it to continue we have to feel our interconnectedness with the people who are living on less than a dollar a day.” ~Bono

To me, it seems especially important now to recognize the interconnectedness of the people of this world considering the current rockiness of the U.S. economy. The rest of the world fears a global economic crisis if the U.S. economy falters. Because the whole world economically depends on the United States, the United States has no room to falter.

In other words, by economically dominating the world, the United States has it made it so that when its own economy falters nobody will have the economic strength to subsidize the United States. Since the rest of the world depends on the United States, the United States has nobody on which it can depend.

If the United States economy goes into a massive recession and it throws the average U.S. resident into poverty, then I think the West will realize how much better off it would have been if it had eliminated poverty and created a world that does not tolerate poverty.

It’s great to be the strongest in a lot of ways, but who will protect you when you lose your strength if you never helped others gain strength?

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

We as a world need to understand our interconnectedness, and we need to build a better world for all by solving problems such as world hunger, poverty, and global warming.

What do you think about poverty, the global community, and the current economic problems in the United States? Post your comments and responses in this thread at the World Hunger and Poverty Forums.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Poverty News |

I just read an interesting article about a study by Frank Furstenberg that shows that teen motherhood does not perpetuate poverty.

According to the 30-year-study, postponing motherhood does not have a significant impact on a person’s chances of escaping poverty. For all intents and purposes, impoverished girls who bear children tend to do just as well economically and educationally as the ones who do not.

In other words, poor teens tend to get pregnant more often, but teenagers who get pregnant have the same odds of educational and financial success as the ones who do not.

Mainly, the economic conditions in which a person grows up determine their odds of ending up poor. Whether or not the person gets pregnant as a teenager has little affect.

Although the findings go against the common perception, I guess it makes sense. A poor girl will likely end up in poverty later in life regardless of whether or not she gets pregnant as a teenager. A wealthy girl’s parents can still ensure her success with their money even when the girl gets pregnant as a teenager.

I still see teen pregnancy as a significant mistake, but we have such a classist society that making mistakes has little statistical effect on who ends up poor and who does not. While we need to help people not make mistakes, we have to find a way to eliminate the classism of our society to ever end poverty.

What do you think about the relationship between classism, teen pregnancy, and poverty? Post your answers to that question and your thoughts about this post in this thread at the World Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.

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 | Posted by | Categories: American Poverty |

UK Retirees Face Poverty

22 January 2008

I just read an unfortunate story from the UK press. According to the article, nearly 2 million people in the UK retiring before April 2010 could face poverty.

They face poverty because they do not qualify for full basic state pensions. To qualify, men currently need to have made “national insurance contributions” for 44 years, while women need to have made 39 years.

The government has decided to reduce the qualification to 30 years, but that reduction does not take effect until April 6, 2010.

Regardless, I do not see how a person can work 29 hard years, all the while having some of their money put into national insurance, and then get thrown under the bus when retirement time comes.

To fully end poverty, we need to make sure that everyone has a secure retirement. To that end, we must include the full costs of securing one’s retirement in the cost of living.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Poverty News |
Children suffering from Poverty