I have already made many posts about taxes on this blog. The most stunning point to me in those posts is that the rich pay less taxes than the working class in terms of percentage of income–at least in the USA.

I didn’t want to make yet another post about taxes on a blog that is supposed to be about poverty, but I read an article this morning that got my blood boiling. In part, the Buffalo News Editorial says:

Congressional Republicans, who seem to have sworn some kind of blood oath to the preposterously unfair Bush tax cuts–regardless of the damage they do to the economy–now want to eliminate the reduction of the payroll tax they helped to enact last year. The reduction in payroll taxes, while it puts additional stress on Social Security, which it funds, is of greatest benefit to the middle class and working poor.

That’s because it’s a “regressive” tax, taking the same percentage of everyone’s pay, regardless of income level. The amount of income subject to the tax is also capped, meaning a portion of the income of higher earners—sometimes a very large portion—goes untaxed.

In other words, these politicians want to keep the regressive tax system we already have but also make it even more regressive! This is done by simultaneously lowering taxes disproportionately for the rich while increasing government spending and disproportionately increasing taxes on the working poor and middle class.

I understand the psychological complications of a two-party pseudo-democratic system that enable politicians from both parties to get away with a lot of selling out the many to the wealthy special interest few, but I am still surprised these politicians who openly try to make a regressive tax system even more regressive are not overtaken and tarred and feathered or some such by a stampede of angry masses fighting not only for what they think is fair but for what is clearly in their own self-interest. Maybe what gets my blood boiling with this issue is not so much the politicians who I personally have been long convinced are all—that includes both parties—special interest bought self serving liars. Rather what really gets my blood boiling about this kind of issue may be that the masses of people who have the real power in terms both of sheer numbers and productive ability just let themselves get so blatantly exploited.

What do you think? Please comment on this post, comment on any other posts about taxation or discuss the relationship between poverty and taxation in this thread about taxation and poverty in the forums.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Politics and Commentary |
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 | Posted by | Categories: Facts and Figures |

Today I want to feature a book by New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Jason DeParle. American Dream is a classic of literary journalism. It tells the story of the millions of women sent to work as a result of Bill Clinton’s drive to “end welfare.” The stories in the book speak to the question: If as the American dream goes we live in a country where anyone can make it, why generation after generation don’t some families make it?

And here is a quote about poverty from page 328 of the book that I find particularly poignant: “At $5.15 an hour, the real value of the minimum wage is lower than in 1950 when Hattie Mae was still picking cotton.”

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 | Posted by | Categories: Recommended Reading |

I was recently contacted by Santo Purnama of CultureUnplugged.com about their non-profit film and documentary archive for social impact. I looked through their hunger and poverty section, finding many interesting videos. This one about micro-finance stood out to me in particular since micro-finance has intrigued me for a while:

Here are a few older posts from this blog about microfinance:

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 | Posted by | Categories: Videos |

Sheila Nix, the U.S. Executive Director of ONE, emailed me some information about the crisis in the horn of Africa.

Yesterday, the United Nations declared a famine in south Somalia. There are more than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa–more than the combined population of NYC and Huston–who desperately need food, clean water and basic sanitation.

ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Poverty News |

I recently received an email from David Orr of the World Food Programme about a refugee

camp at Dadaab in Kenya that he just visited. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve talked to some of the newly-arrived families at Dadaab. I’ve seen and heard about their suffering, how they have lost their crops and their animals.

Many stories are similar to that of Adan Kulo, who watched his livestock starve to death. “I realized my family would soon follow,” he says. He took his pregnant wife and children on a grueling three-week journey through the desert to Dadaab. They were robbed by bandits; food ran out; one child fell ill and his parents feared for his life.

Within hours of arrival at the camp, Adan received 21 days’ worth of food from the World Food Programme. “Now that we have food,” he says, “I’m looking for a spot where I can build a shelter for my family.”

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. They are 100% voluntarily funded, which means they rely on donors’ generosity to expand their operations.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Ways To Help |
Children suffering from Poverty