Wednesday, October 15, 2008

blog action day: poverty

one issue, thousands of voices - today thousands of bloggers are participating in blog action day. this year's topic - poverty. last year was the first of these annual nonprofit blogging events. the goal of blog action day is to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day in order to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. last year the topic was the environment and this year poverty. these topics are huge complex issues that face our world - issues that must be discussed and addressed!

poverty is a world wide problem. however, the definition and measure of poverty varies widely. in the united states, national poverty data are calculated using the official census definition of poverty, which has remained fairly standard since it was introduced in the 1960s. under this definition, poverty is determined by comparing pretax cash income with the poverty threshold, which adjusts for family size and composition. in 2006, according to the official measure, 36.5 million people, 12.3 percent of the total U.S. population, lived in poverty.

however, the 'official' definition or determination of the poverty level has been widely criticized. I'm of the group that believes the official level actually under counts the extent of poverty in the united states. just consider the experience of living in accordance within the federal definition -- according to the official definition of poverty for a family of three the federal poverty line is $16,530.

I happen to live in a city which has the distinction of being one of the poorest cities in the united states. not only has cleveland been considered one of the poorest cities, according to the u.s. census bureau, we have had the shameful distinction of being ranked as the #1 poorest big city twice in the last three years. there are multiple reasons why cleveland has reached (or descended) to this position - since the 1990s the city has been crushed by not only a loss of its manufacturing base but it has lost several other large employers who in the past few years moved their corporate headquarters out of the cleveland area.

according some of the latest census information 27% of the population in cleveland lives below the poverty level. also, cleveland's median household income of $26,535 is listed as the lowest (another #1 position) among the nation's big cities and well below the median income of $44,532 for the state of ohio. in addition to the persistence of concentrated rates of poverty, census data reveals population shifts in the region which are, in part, a result of the loss of manufacturing jobs and other socioeconomic changes. as better educated and younger population groups leave the area, there is a corresponding rise in the percentage of older and poorer citizens who are left behind.

cleveland has been a bellwether of the current economic crisis. the number of foreclosed homes and it's experience with predatory lenders is another arena of holding the shameful distinction of being #1.

although cleveland does have a problem with homelessness, fortunately we not #1 in this category. unfortunately cleveland has jumped on the mean campaign of discouraging people to give to street people. however, no sooner than this campaign not to give began, resistance from poverty and homeless activists also began.

the causes of poverty and homelessness are complex and the culture of greed and standing tall on the backs of other has only fueled the problems of poverty in the united states and elsewhere. since the 1980s the gap between the haves and havenots has grown.

despite the fact that cleveland is struggling with a high rate of poverty we are by no means a city without hope and action. in terms of spirit and promise - another type of indicator of "wealth"- I consider cleveland to be #1. there is no spirit of complacency about the current economic situation and from private academia to public academia to local government to various private and public community agencies there is community commitment to improve the situation in cleveland.

Poverty is the worst form of violence.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) philosopher, activist

p.s. in doing some research for this post I discovered this wonderful blog devoted to "the struggle of the poor around the world. half the world -- nearly three billion people -- live on less than two dollars a day"

13 comments:

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I think the gap between the haves and the have nots has grown exponentially across the world. As global markets grew, so those with opportunities to profit dived in - all too often at the cost of those poorer. It's as the old adage says, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is, however, a sad indictment of our humanity - or our inhumanity.
Great post, Kim and good on you for participating!

Steve said...

Bravo for calling attention to this issue. (I hadn't heard of blog action day before this!)

I think the sign is interesting -- it's so hard to know when to give people money and when not to.

kouji haiku said...

thanks for the link to the poverty new blog. :)

for my part, i turn to sites like freerice, kiva, and goodsearch, as ways to help alleviate poverty online.

saw this post via the front page of blog action day. it's great that you're participating. :)

alicesg said...

It is scary to read the papers nowadays. The financial crisis make people poorer and people have to start to learn more about investments. I think the best place to keep my money is in the biscuit tin under my bed instead of the bank...lol.

R.L. Bourges said...

Great blog link, petite souris. Thanks for that.

I had to work pretty hard to combine Blog Action Day with local news in Graulhet but tried to do my bit anyway.

best

bitchlet said...

These days all sorts of news items that are a result of the Wall Street crisis make it to the front page of several Indian national dailies.

Barbara said...

I often wish we could take all the money contributed to the various political campaigns this year and feed the poor in this country. I'll bet they would eat a lot better for a few days. It seems the chasm between rich and poor grows with each passing day.

Since its inception (until I retired last year), I worked on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. One of the most important statistics it produced was an indication of poverty, a very sensitive statistic.

I learned a lot from this post.

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I'm sorry I didn't know about this action until seeing your entry. Change.org is also a good source for matching up with the right cause.

Megan said...

Thanks for this one, mouse.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

av - you are so correct. thank you. and thanks also for bringing my attention to this year's blog action day way back when!

steve - this is just the second year so it's somewhat new. last year's was also held on october 15th so I think the date is set!

when it comes to giving, if I have time, I prefer to take folks who hit me up to a local diner or some other place and directly purchase a cuppa and some food.

kouji haidu - you are welcome. thanks for the additional info

alicesq - I think more and more folks are going to utilize the first bank of mattress

rlb - you did a great job in graulhet

b - in the 1930s the economic collapse was also worldwide and we are even more interconnected now than we were back then.... it is so vital we have clear thinking, concerned, compassionate, and peaceful leaders. I love your birthday bud's quote saying poverty is the worst type of violence.

barbara - it's amazing how much money is spent with no benefit!

junk - mark your calendar for next oct. 15....again I will continue giving mouse readers a head's up on the sidebar - but I think folks blank out on sidebars!

I will check out change.org

megan - you are most welcome!

jenclair said...

I've seen this on one other blog today; it's a great way to make people aware and offer a means of alleviating the problem. I've clicked on the link for more investigation. Thanks, kimy!

tut-tut said...

It's a huge issue, and one that the middle class is having an active role in, as we slide downhill in financial bewilderment.

WAT said...

It shocks me to think that so many billions live like this! Man, we are truly spoiled in this country considering. I mean, even being poor here is sometimes much more preferable than being poor somewhere else.

It's due to neverending colonialism, even nowadays.