Don’t Lie to Poor Kids About Why They’re Poor

childhood-poverty-us

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Work hard and you’ll get ahead — that’s the mantra driven into young people across the country.

But what happens when children born into poverty run face first into the crushing reality that the society they live in really isn’t that fair at all?

As new research shows, they break down.

A just released study published in the journal Child Development tracked the middle school experience of a group of diverse, low-income students in Arizona. The study found that the kids who believed society was generally fair typically had high self-esteem, good classroom behavior, and less delinquent behavior outside of school when they showed up in the sixth grade.

When those same kids left in the eighth grade, though, each of those criteria had degraded — they showed lower self-esteem and worse behavior.

What caused this downward slide?

In short, belief in a fair and just system of returns ran head-on into reality for marginalized kids. When they see people that look like them struggling despite working hard, they’re forced to reckon with the cognitive dissonance.

This problem doesn’t afflict the well-off, who can comfortably imagine their success is the result of their hard work and not their inherited advantage.

Erin Godfrey, a psychology professor at New York University and the study’s lead author, explains that for marginalized kids who behave badly, “there’s this element of people think of me this way anyway, so this must be who I am.” She points out that middle school is the time when many young people begin to notice personal discrimination, identify as a member of a marginalized group, and recognize the existence of systemic discrimination.

The existence of a permanent and rigid system of inequality can be hard to grapple with at any age. The United States leads the world in overall wealth yet is also near the top in childhood poverty, with one in five kids born into poverty.

Despite an often-repeated myth about social mobility — the ability of the poor to become rich — the United States lags behind in this category. Canada now has three times the social mobility of the United States.

The gap between the rich and poor starts early. A 2016 study by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund reports: “From as early as the age of 3, children from more affluent backgrounds tend to do better in cognitive tests.” By age 5, children from poor families are three times more likely to be in the bottom 10 percent in cognitive ability.

It’s a complex problem. But the solutions to this deep structural inequality are actually fairly straightforward.

In short, we need major investments in universal public programs to rebuild the social safety net, ensure early childhood education as well as debt-free higher education, and good-paying jobs.

In other words, we need to help those born without inherited assets to get the same shot at education and employment as everyone else — and also reassure them that if they fail, they won’t end up homeless.

Those who claim the country can’t afford such programs should look at the massive subsidies lavished out to the ultra-wealthy. In 2016, half a trillion dollars were doled out in tax subsidies, overwhelmingly to the already rich.

But before we do all that, we simply have to tell the truth: Our economic system is far from fair. It’s tilted heavily against marginalized communities.

Teaching that to kids, rather than perpetuating a myth about “fairness,” is an important step forward.

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Beyonce’s ‘sweatshops’ help the poor – The Detroit News


The Detroit News
Beyonce's 'sweatshops' help the poor
The Detroit News
Some may remember the 1996 teary-eyed apology Kathie Lee Gifford offered the nation after her Wal-Mart clothing line, which Wal-Mart produced, was made in Honduran factories that employed underage workers. At the time, the average apparel worker earned
David Harsanyi: Beyonce's 'sweatshops' help the poorThe Union Leader

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Immigrants, the Poor and Minorities Gain Sharply Under Affordable Care Act – New York Times


New York Times
Immigrants, the Poor and Minorities Gain Sharply Under Affordable Care Act
New York Times
Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, …. “From the vantage point of the poor and working poor, Obamacare has been profound,” said Jim Mangia

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Climate Justice: A Fight between Rich and Poor

The ten richest per cent of the population produce almost half of all global greenhouse gas emissions whereas the poorest half is responsible for only ten per cent. Unless we can tackle inequality and climate change together, you won’t solve either of them, says Tim Gore of Oxfam. The carbon footprint of the richest 10 per cent of the population must shrink dramatically, says the renowned climate scientist Kevin Anderson. According to the World Health Association, droughts, floods, hurricanes and diseases related to climate change are already killing at least 150.000 people each year. With proceeding global warming there are risks to overstep certain tipping points in the climate system, for instance the permafrost which could melt and set free the greenhouse gas methane. To have a chance to stay below 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise developed nations have to reduce their emissions by 80 per cent until 2030. The EU has pledged only 40 per cent, the U.S. even less.

Watch the broadcast on Kontext’s website.

The post Climate Justice: A Fight between Rich and Poor appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Janet Redman directs the Climate Policy program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Do poor environmental practices affect palm oil firms’ bottom lines on a scale meaningful for investors and financiers? – Mongabay.com


Mongabay.com
Do poor environmental practices affect palm oil firms' bottom lines on a scale meaningful for investors and financiers?
Mongabay.com
The question of materiality — whether an issue affects a company's finances to a meaningful extent — is key to understanding the drivers behind palm oil finance. Evidence shows that the majority of investors have incentives to evaluate and make

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Do poor environmental practices affect palm oil firms’ bottom lines on a scale meaningful for investors and financiers? – Mongabay.com


Mongabay.com
Do poor environmental practices affect palm oil firms' bottom lines on a scale meaningful for investors and financiers?
Mongabay.com
The question of materiality — whether an issue affects a company's finances to a meaningful extent — is key to understanding the drivers behind palm oil finance. Evidence shows that the majority of investors have incentives to evaluate and make

and more »

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Italy’s top court: Amanda Knox conviction based on poor case – USA TODAY


KOMO News
Italy's top court: Amanda Knox conviction based on poor case
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Italy's top criminal court on Monday said the murder case of Amanda Knox had “stunning flaws” — and that prosecutors brought it to trial with an “absolute lack of biological traces” tying Knox and her co-defendant, former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito
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Give them a break: The bitter consequences of poor working conditions in the Central American sugarcane industry

In the report ‘Give them a break, the bitter consequences of poor working conditions in the Central American sugarcane industry’, Fairfood International, the Dutch trade union federation CNV Internationaal and the Central American Institute for Social Studies (ICAES) reveal the issues sugarcane workers are facing – including the deadly kidney disease CKDnT –  and explain what companies like Bacardi can do to improve, and sometimes save, the workers’ lives. The three civil society organisations are calling upon sugarcane producers, buyers as well as local and EU governments to take positive action to improve, and in some cases save, the lives of thousands of workers employed in the sugarcane industry.

>>> Read the full Report – ‘Give them a break’<<<                  <<< Para la versión española, haga clic aquí>>>

Give them a break - report - FF CNV ICAES                     spanish report cover merecen un respiro

Key recommendations:

For sugarcane buyers:

  • Have in place a global sugarcane supplier code of conduct or similar that applies to all supplier contracts which includes:
    • all applicable domestic and international laws and standards relevant to the issue including, but not limited to, the ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (87), the Principles of the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively (98); and the Right to a Safe and Healthy Work Environment (155);
    • additional explicit protections for physical labourers working in high heat conditions equal or similar to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) Guidelines on heat stress (Water.Rest.Shade. program);
    • a clear statement that all rights and requirements of the code apply equally to all workers at the ingenios regardless of whether they are part/full-time, temporary/permanent workers and/or directly employed or subcontracted and;
    • a guarantee that a reduction in the number of hours worked by an employee pursuant to new compliance with the explicit protections for physical labourers (detailed above) will not under any circumstances result in a reduction in the amount of income currently received by that employee and will in no instance be less than the domestic agricultural minimum wage.
  • Implement an ongoing credible and effective assurance mechanism to ensure that all global sugarcane primary, secondary and tertiary suppliers are complying with the supplier code of conduct, and therefore all of the new standards included therein. This assurance mechanism should include independent third party audits[i];
  • Uphold supply chain loyalty and to ensure that the buyers’ suppliers commit to supply chain loyalty with respect to producers and producer countries, i.e., continue sourcing from current producers;
  • Offer fair and credible compensation to the cost bearers for the extra expenses caused by compliance with each of the key changes described.

For sugarcane producers:

  • Have in place health and safety standards as well as responsible sourcing standards or similar that apply to all supplier contracts, which include:
    • all applicable domestic and international laws and standards relevant to the issue including, but not limited to, the ILO Plantations Convention (110), the ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (87), the Principles of the Right to Organise and to Collective Bargaining Collectively (98); and the Right to a Safe and Healthy Work Environment (155);
    • additional explicit protections for physical labourers working in high heat conditions equal or similar to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) Guidelines on heat stress (Water.Rest.Shade. program);
    • a clear statement that all rights and requirements of the health and safety standards and responsible sourcing standards apply equally to all workers at the ingenios regardless of whether they are part/full-time, temporary/permanent workers and/or directly employed or subcontracted;
    • a guarantee that a reduction in the number of hours worked by an employee pursuant to new compliance with the explicit protections for physical labourers (detailed above) will not under any circumstances result in a reduction in the amount of income currently received by that employee and will in no instance be less than the domestic agricultural minimum wage and;
  • Implement an ongoing credible and effective assurance mechanism to ensure that all stipulations above are complied with. This assurance mechanism should include independent third party audits, among others[ii];
  • Uphold supply chain loyalty and to ensure that your suppliers commit to supply chain loyalty with respect to producers, i.e., continue sourcing from current producers;
  • Offer fair and credible compensation to the cost bearers for the extra expenses caused by compliance with each of the key changes described.

For government actors:

For the Board on Trade and Sustainable Development of the Association Agreement:

The Board of Trade and Sustainable Development is monitoring the implementation of the trade-related aspects of the Association Agreement including the sustainable development obligations.

  • To thoroughly investigate the concerns outlined in this report and to take the necessary measures to ensure an effective and timely solution for the lack of compliance with the Multilateral Labour Standards and Agreements as contained in article 286 of the Association Agreement in the sugarcane industries in Nicaragua and Guatemala.

For the EU Party to the Association Agreement:

  • To request an official consultation with the relevant Central American Parties regarding the concerns related to the enforcement of the Multilateral Labour Standards and Agreements referred to in the Association Agreement in the sugarcane industry in Central America.

For the European Parliament:

  • To address these issues with the European Commission and question the implementation and monitoring of the sustainable development obligations as specified in the Association Agreement, in particular with respect to the implementation and enforcement of Multilateral Labour Standards and Agreements in the sugarcane industry in Central American member countries.

For the Nicaraguan and Guatemalan governments:

  • To effectively enforce the ratified American Convention on Human Rights, the ratified ILO’s Conventions on Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize Convention (nº 087), and the Plantation Convention (nº 110), part 9, article 54 on the right to organise and collective bargaining;
  • To effectively enforce the ratified UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which requires them to ensure safe and healthy working conditions and a reasonable limitation of working hours;
  • To ratify ILO Convention 155 on Occupational Safety and Health and ensure effective implementation and enforcement.

For the Nicaraguan government:

  • To renew their commitments to the ILO Decent Work programme and to ensure that the epidemic of CKDnT among sugarcane workers is ended.

 

Fairfood, ICAES and CNV Internationaal invite all stakeholders to come together in order to identify best practices within the industry and work collaboratively on establishing policies and practices to create positive change.

Only together we can change the lives of those working in the sugarcane industry.

 

[i] These third party audits should be unannounced, based on a representative sample and publicly disclosed. More specific information on this is available upon request.
[ii] Ibid.

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The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty

The Poor Get Prison Report Cover

Poor people, especially people of color, face a far greater risk of being fined, arrested, and even incarcerated for minor offenses than other Americans. A broken taillight, an unpaid parking ticket, a minor drug offense, sitting on a sidewalk, or sleeping in a park can all result in jail time. In this report, we seek to understand the multi-faceted, growing phenomenon of the “criminalization of poverty.”

In many ways, this phenomenon is not new: The introduction of public assistance programs gave rise to prejudices against beneficiaries and to systemic efforts to obstruct access to the assistance.

This form of criminalizing poverty — racial profiling or the targeting of poor black and Latina single mothers trying to access public assistance — is a relatively familiar reality. Less well-known known are the new and growing trends which increase this criminalization of being poor that affect or will affect hundreds of millions of Americans. These troubling trends are eliminating their chances to get out of poverty and access resources that make a safe and decent life possible.

In this report we will summarize these realities, filling out the true breadth and depth of this national crisis. The key elements we examine are:

  • the targeting of poor people with fines and fees for misdemeanors, and the resurgence of debtors’ prisons – the imprisonment of people unable to pay debts resulting from the increase in fines and fees;
  • mass incarceration of poor ethnic minorities for non-violent offenses, and the barriers to employment and re-entry into society once they have served their sentences;
  • excessive punishment of poor children that creates a “school-to-prison pipeline”;
  • increase in arrests of homeless people and people feeding the homeless, and criminalizing life-sustaining activities such as sleeping in public when no shelter is available; and
  • confiscating what little resources and property poor people might have through “civil asset forfeiture.”

Read the full report [PDF].

The post The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Karen Dolan is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and directs the Criminalization of Poverty Project. Karen also assists the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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Europe seeks to expand big pharma monopoly at expense of poor people, warn NGOs ahead of TTIP talks

Europe seeks to expand big pharma monopoly at expense of poor people, warn NGOs ahead of TTIP talks

The European Commission is putting the interests of multinational drug companies above those of millions of people with no access to affordable life-saving medicines, warn Oxfam and Health Action International.

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