A Closer Look At Evictions Caused By Increased Housing Costs

affordable-housing-evictions

(Photo: Flickr/ Caelie Frampton)

If you’ve never been forced out of your home by a county sheriff while movers carry all of your earthly possessions out onto the curb, knowing what that experience feels like can be almost impossible. Matthew Desmond’s brilliant book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, provides a small window into the lives of families who know that feeling all too well.

Desmond, a just-named Pulitzer Prize winner for his work, spent five years “embedded” in Milwaukee, building the trust of tenants and landlords alike. They shared a level of detail and intrigue that sometimes seems more fitting for a novel than a wonky social policy book.

Three out of four families who qualify for housing assistance, Desmond points out, do not currently receive it. One reason: Public funding has trickled away from housing, leaving the supply of affordable housing miniscule compared to the need. But Desmond, a Harvard sociologist and MacArthur Genius award winner, also has all the numbers behind his engaging stories. Evicted manages to fit in mountains of data.

“If we want to erase poverty,” Desmond claims, “we need to do something about affordable housing. Without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.”

Why do we need to subsidize housing in the first place? Simple. Housing costs have soared, incomes have not. Not a single major city in the United States has a minimum wage in effect that could cover the basic cost of living for an adult, much less a family with children. And the subsidies required to make up the difference remain pitifully inadequate.

Evictions don’t so much reflect poverty, Desmond argues, they cause it. Evicted families lose their homes, their communities, their schools, and even their jobs and possessions. To add insult to injury, many end up with court records because they can’t afford the fees associated with their evictions, a record that can later block access to affordable housing.

Evictions used to be rather rare. Crowds sometimes came out to watch and to protest. Evictions have now become a way of life for thousands of families who bounce between temporary shelters, short-term leases, and unstable nomadic lifestyles.

Some cities now have sheriff squads that concentrate solely on evicting families. Moving companies also specialize in evictions — and profit off the pain.

Evictions hurt just everyone else — the families involved, the neighborhood, and the community. Yet until we collectively find the public will to address runaway inequality and the affordable housing crisis, evictions will continue on.

Evicted gives this ongoing crisis the spotlight that has been missing for far too long.

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Remembering the Costs of the Iraq War in the Age of Trump

(Photo: Flickr / Duncan Rawlinson)

(Photo: Flickr / Duncan Rawlinson)

About 54 cents of every discretionary dollar in the federal budget goes to the military. And that’s been true for a very long time.

Despite his claimed opposition to current wars, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to end limits on Pentagon spending, increase the size of the U.S. military, and even to expand the US nuclear arsenal. Military budgets will likely go up over the next four years, not down.

Now more than ever, it is important for us to remember what past wars have cost — all the costs. George W. Bush’s Iraq War continues today, though U.S. military involvement is different and it’s morphed into the “global war on terror.”

And the costs continue to rise.

So it was appropriate, indeed necessary, that the Iraq war — its lies and its costs — was the subject of an important tribunal coordinated by the antiwar activist group Code Pink in Washington, DC, in early December.

It’s easier these days to talk about the lies. That part of the war’s origins has become part of the acceptable discourse of mainstream U.S. politics, culture, and history. At the People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War, scores of Iraqi and American witnesses — academics and analysts, U.S. veterans and Iraqi health workers, journalists, diplomats, peace activists, and more — described the sordid chronicle of lies that set the political stage for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Among the witnesses was the heroic Barbara Lee of California, the sole member of Congress to vote against Bush’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force two days after the 9/11 attacks, an authority quickly extended beyond Afghanistan to justify the illegal war in Iraq.

Other witnesses included retired colonel Ann Wright, a former ambassador who was the first foreign service officer to resign her position in protest of the invasion of Iraq. Inder Comar, the plaintiffs’ attorney in Saleh v. Bush, a class-action lawsuit against Bush and other top administration officials, testified about the illegality of the Iraq War, how it constituted a war of aggression.

The roster of witnesses, in person and by video, went on. From military historian Andrew Bacevich to antiwar activist and Iraqi businessman Andy Shallal, from Center for Constitutional Rights director Vince Warren to antiwar poet Sarah Browning, from Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Dan Ellsberg to Jeremy Corbyn, the longtime antiwar activist and leader of Britain’s Labor Party.

There was little that was new to most of those watching, yet the parade of four-minute testimonies provided a staggering reminder of the lies that had been asserted, reported, repeated, and left unchallenged except by a brave, initially small, but ultimately majority-reflecting antiwar movement. It was a reminder for history.

Read the rest at TheNation.com.

The post Remembering the Costs of the Iraq War in the Age of Trump appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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“A kilogram of rice now costs around $250 there” – UN Dispatch


UN Dispatch
“A kilogram of rice now costs around $ 250 there”
UN Dispatch
Uganda's main opposition said police violence against the opposition is part of a plan to subvert February's national election and help President Yoweri Museveni's remain in power. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MVPwXf). Somalia's … A prominent charity in India

and more »

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“A kilogram of rice now costs around $250 there” – UN Dispatch

“A kilogram of rice now costs around $ 250 there”
UN Dispatch
Uganda's main opposition said police violence against the opposition is part of a plan to subvert February's national election and help President Yoweri Museveni's remain in power. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MVPwXf). Somalia's … A prominent charity in India

and more »

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“A kilogram of rice now costs around $250 there” – UN Dispatch


UN Dispatch
“A kilogram of rice now costs around $ 250 there”
UN Dispatch
Uganda's main opposition said police violence against the opposition is part of a plan to subvert February's national election and help President Yoweri Museveni's remain in power. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MVPwXf). Somalia's … A prominent charity in India

and more »

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China and the Opportunity Costs of September 11

“The upcoming summit between China and the United States will feature a major plan for reducing the military arsenals of the two countries, an initiative to stabilize and grow the global economy, a follow-up effort to further reduce carbon emissions, and a brand new proposal to address global poverty and health pandemics.”

Oops, wrong press release. Let me see, ah, here it is:

“The summit between China and the United States, scheduled for the end of September, has been cancelled at the insistence of the Republican Party.”

Ah, that wasn’t it either. Okay, finally, here’s the right one:

“The much-anticipated meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping in Washington will be business as usual, as boring as an unseasoned beanburger, and contribute very little to solving any of the pressing issues of the day.”

That, alas, is closer to the truth.

Both China and the United States face enormous challenges at home, common security problems, and an array of international crises that could really use the coordinated efforts of two superpowers. But the United States and China have about as much capacity to work together at the moment as Donald Trump and Jeb Bush.

As we near the 14th anniversary of September 11, the painful truth is that the United States is still trying to dig itself out from under the wreckage of the Bush years.

Our national security policy remains fixated on terrorism threats that only proliferated after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Our military budget, an enormous drain on the economy, is still up in the stratosphere. Even the greatest diplomatic success of the Obama administration — the recent nuclear deal with Iran — should have been concluded more than a decade ago, when Tehran was as freaked out as the United States was by the Sunni extremism of al-Qaeda.

One of the many opportunity costs of the Bush response to September 11 was Washington’s reluctance to sit down with Beijing to work out a post-post-Cold War world that could accommodate China’s economic rise without its bitter military aftertaste. The U.S. reliance on full-spectrum military dominance to deal with a full spectrum of problems sent a powerful message to China: bulk up or stay home. The upcoming summit will be the last chance to bolster the fragile partnership before the ritual China-bashing of the presidential election cycle once again strains the ties between Washington and Beijing.

Can President Obama make a real pivot to Asia that engages rather than contains China — and, just as importantly, harnesses the power of the two global behemoths to change the world?

Duopoly: Not in the Cards

Gone are the days when big thinkers like Zbigniew Brzezinski , Niall Ferguson, and Fred Bergsten urged the United States and China to form a Group of Two to sort out the world’s problems. It was a Brady Bunch proposal: Since mother and father had their hands full trying to manage their unruly children, why not join forces to bring order to an unharmonious world?

Four years ago, Richard Bush published his epitaph for the Brady Bunch idea:

It is fair to say…that people outside the United States paid far more attention to Brzezinski’s and Bergsten’s G-2 idea than did Americans themselves. The proposal sank like a stone in Washington but caused great ferment overseas, particularly among countries that would be unhappy if Beijing and Washington acted upon the idea.

Today, little remains of the mutual enthusiasm that Obama and Hu Jintao expressed in their first Strategic and Economic Dialogue in 2009. It’s not quite as moribund as the “reset” with Russia, but that flirtation between China and the United States certainly didn’t produce the marriage that Brzezinski and Bergsten imagined.

Indeed, this summer President Obama even began to consider a round of economic sanctions against China for a range of alleged hacks, including the theft of data from more than 20 million people at the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Mind you, the president was not overly vocal about the issue, and it looks like the Obama administration is reconsidering. The sanctions will likely target companies, not countries. “That’s because the Obama administration is wary of imposing sanctions for normal state-sponsored intelligence gathering tactics the U.S. government itself employs on an ongoing basis,” writes Katie Bo Williams in The Hill.

That’s putting it mildly. No less than James Clapper, the director of national intelligence,admitted in regard to the OPM theft: “If we had the opportunity to do the same thing, we’d probably do it.”

Remember: This is an administration that taps into the cell phones of the leaders of allied countries, sucks up all manner of data from foreigners, and uses computer viruses to disrupt the infrastructure of U.S. adversaries. What is the National Security Agency but Hacker Central?

It turns out that the other major points of friction in the U.S.-China relationship are similarly complicated. Yes, China sent a couple of military ships up around the Arctic Circle recently, but they were in international waters. If the Obama administration complained, which it didn’t, China would point to all those surveillance flights that the United States conducts near Chinese territory.

Or consider China’s effort to claim as much of the South China Sea as it can get away with, much to the consternation of the other countries bordering that body of water. The United States is not engaged in any similar contest over territory, on land or sea, at least not explicitly. But we long ago turned the Pacific into an “American lake,” and we’ve expended lives and money in the Middle East to, among other things, preserve access to the energy we need for our economy.

And then there’s the whole currency manipulation “scandal.”

Yuan Fight?

Let’s see if I’ve gotten this straight about China and its currency.

Over the summer, the largest and only remaining significant Communist country in the world allowed the yuan to fall in value in response to market forces. This move by a Communist country to allow global capitalism to have more impact on its currency received praise from none other than the International Monetary Fund.

But one of the most prominent billionaire capitalists in the United States, who has made at least some of his lucre from dealing with China, blasted his erstwhile trade partner for its financial manipulations. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump argued that China was “making it absolutely impossible for the United States to compete.”

The ironies here are many. But even if we take Trump out of the equation — and god knows, many people would like to see just that happen — the United States can’t really complain about what China is doing. The dollar floats, so the U.S. government can’t intervene directly to manipulate its value relative to other currencies — for instance, by lowering it to make U.S. exports cheaper. But it can do a number of indirect things. The Federal Reserve, for instance, has kept the interest rate low— well, specifically the fed funds rate — since 2009 to stimulate the economy.

China could conceivably complain about such “manipulations.” But it knows that a sick U.S. economy would infect China immediately. So, from Beijing’s point of view, the United States should “manipulate” as much as it can to help keep the global economy afloat.

Agenda, Interrupted

Expectations are low for the upcoming U.S.-China summit.

The only commitment of any value that might come of the meeting would be a follow-up on climate change ahead of the big UN conference in December. There’s plenty room for improvement. For instance, last year’s accord between Obama and Xi only signaled only theintent of both sides: the United States to reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and China to up the non-fossil fuels in its energy use to 20 percent by 2030.

Of course, there’s a good reason for the two sides stopping at “intent.” An actual agreement would constitute a treaty, and then the Senate would have to weigh in. And what the two sides agreed to is not inconsequential, as The Washington Post notes:

The scale of construction for China to meet its goals is huge even by Chinese standards. It must add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar, and other zero-emission generating capacity by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to the total electricity generating capacity of the United States.

As for the United States:

…to meet its target, the United States will need to double the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent per year on average from 2005 to 2020 to 2.3 to 2.8 percent per year between 2020 and 2025.

There isn’t much more to discuss on these proposals; both sides just have to implement the necessary domestic changes to meet these goals. They can also strategize on how to bring other major countries on board, as they did recently with Brazil.

Good as these initiatives are, they’re just not good enough. Cue the authoritative voice of The New York Times:

It is increasingly evident that the policy actions by these countries and others will not be enough to stave off a rise in the atmospheric temperature of 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, scientists say, the planet will be locked into a future of extreme storms, droughts, food and water shortages, and rising sea levels.

Put another way: Despite all the meetings, promises, and apocalyptic threats, global carbon emissions have risen from the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 until today — from around 6.5 billion metric tons per year to nearly 10 billion. If both China and the United States had tackled this issue back in 2001, perhaps we wouldn’t currently be in this pickle. Chalk that up as another opportunity cost (which might just cost us the planet).

Instead of haggling over currency, hacking, and sea-lanes, the two superpowers should be thinking big. Between them, the United States and China account for nearly one-third of the global economy, nearly one-quarter of the world’s population, and more than two-fifths of the world’s carbon emissions. What these two countries do by definition has an enormous global impact.

So, let’s go back to that first imaginary press release to reconsider the challenges of the post-post-Cold War era and turn them into some bullet points:

  • The United States and China need to restart their discussions of nuclear arms control, begin to address conventional forces in the Pacific, support the Arms Trade Treaty and more significant restraints on arms sales, and together address the woeful amount of money that not only the two countries but the entire world spends on armaments. This conversation would also benefit, of course, from the inclusion of Russia and the EU (as well as, eventually, major arms importers like Saudi Arabia and India).
  • The global economy needs more than some quick fixes on the margin. It needs, as many have argued, a “global new deal.” Such a new approach would learn from the errors of both the finance-led globalization that the United States favors and the state-led extraction model of China. Such “development-led globalization,” as imagined by economists Richard Kozul-Wright and Jayati Ghosh, would “follow an expansionary macroeconomic path based on productive employment generation and shifting labor to higher value-added activities in developing countries,” regulate financial markets more sensibly, and adopt policies of redistribution that would lift up the poorest countries and the poorest of the world’s citizens.
  • And finally, China and the United States have to raise their game even more on the climate change front. They have to lead the international community in tying people’s livelihoods — their jobs — to sustainable energy. The only way to grow the global economy in a sustainable way is if the new jobs created are in the sustainable energy sector. Sweden has shown the way by cutting its emissions by 23 percent in the last 25 years and yet growing its economy over the same period by 55 percent. The Green Climate Fund is supposed to have $ 100 billion to help poorer countries to shift to sustainable energy, but the richer countries have only ponied up $ 10 billion, and nothing has yet been disbursed. Here is where Barack Obama and Xi Jinping can make a difference, by pushing this initiative forward.

This is the agenda interrupted by September 11. It’s not too late for the United States and China to get together and lead the conversation back to these critical issues. But it’s not going to happen by either cancelling the upcoming summit or treating it like just another obligatory photo op.

It’s no time for a bunch of bickering children to control the agenda. The adults have to retake control, beginning with Barack and Jinping Brady.

The post China and the Opportunity Costs of September 11 appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. 

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Study: Bird flu costs $427 million, 8500 jobs – Pilot Tribune


Pilot Tribune
Study: Bird flu costs $ 427 million, 8500 jobs
Pilot Tribune
The avian flu outbreak, which forced the depopulation of 34 million birds on 77 Iowa farms, won't just raise the price for eggs and poultry for up to the next three years; it also is costing the nation's largest egg-producing state nearly 8,500 jobs

and more »

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Iran’s homegrown treasure: the spice that costs more than gold – KBZK Bozeman News

Iran's homegrown treasure: the spice that costs more than gold
KBZK Bozeman News
At $ 65 per gram for the highest quality crop, Saffron can actually cost even more than the precious metal. Its value has been kept permanently high by labor-intensive harvesting methods that require around 200,000 delicate red strands to be hand-picked

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Oil palm industry concerned over unabated increase of production costs – The Star Online


THE BUSINESS TIMES
Oil palm industry concerned over unabated increase of production costs
The Star Online
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) is concerned about the disturbing trends in the industry, which has been saddled with labour issues, increasing cost-incurring regulations and a slew of taxes and CESS duties that is eroding its …
Our palm oil hit by a host of woesDaily Express

all 29 news articles »

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Oil palm industry concerned over unabated increase of production costs – The Star Online


THE BUSINESS TIMES
Oil palm industry concerned over unabated increase of production costs
The Star Online
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) is concerned about the disturbing trends in the industry, which has been saddled with labour issues, increasing cost-incurring regulations and a slew of taxes and CESS duties that is eroding its …
Our palm oil hit by a host of woesDaily Express

all 29 news articles »

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