The latest report from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty reveals that most municipalities believe in criminalizing, not helping, the down and out. For the report, the organization studied laws in 187 cities. Seventy-six percent of towns prohibit begging in specific public places, a 20 percent increase since 2011. However, the most dramatic uptick, the authors write, “has been in city-wide bans on fundamental human activities” such as sleeping in your car. A full 43 percent of cities prohibit people from sleeping in vehicles, an increase of a shocking 119 percent since 2011. And 53 percent of cities prohibit people from parking themselves on a curb or against a building. That’s down 3 percent since 2011, but at a time when the number of homeless people is expected to rise in 2014 and affordable housing is in short supply, these ordinances and laws come off as draconian.
Most Americans probably think a major goal of philanthropy is to fight poverty. But a closer look reveals that giving by foundations and philanthropists exacerbates wealth inequality in the United States. Look at some of the trends: Thousands of local fundraising groups have been created to raise private money for public schools–and almost all of them channel resources primarily to schools attended by the children of people who live in affluent neighborhoods. Elite colleges and universities are the major beneficiaries of multimillion-dollar gifts, and its those kinds of donations that are a key reason giving to higher education grew 9 percent last year. Yet these institutions are so high-priced, few low-income and working-class students can afford to attend. Arts institutions saw donations soar in the past year, according to “Giving USA,” also because of donations by the wealthy. Most of the institutions that benefit from the bulk of private donations are established institutions that cater to the upper and middle classes. Meanwhile, “Giving USA” showed much smaller gains for social-service groups and other kinds of organizations that raise money primarily from people who aren’t multibillionaires.
1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Group of 77 and China, have gathered in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Plurinational State of Bolivia, for the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Group. 2. We commemorate the formation of the Group of 77 on 15 June 1964 and recall the ideals and principles contained in the historic Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries, signed at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held in Geneva. 3. We recall that the first ever statement of the Group of 77 pledged to promote equality in the international economic and social order and promote the interests of the developing world, declared their unity under a common interest and defined the Group as “an instrument for enlarging the area of cooperative endeavour in the international field and for securing mutually beneficent relationships with the rest of the world”.
In this episode of Acronym TV, Derek Poppert of Global Exchange talks with Dennis about his Re-Think The Cup series. In a recent piece from the series, FIFA: Return The Beauty To The Beautiful Game, Derek writes: “So who wins the World Cup? While it may seem that decision is still getting played out in stadiums across Brazil, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is surely laughing from his luxury suite. The winner had already been decided well before the first match even began. FIFA’s 4 billion dollars in untaxed revenue from the event is the trophy. It appears to be of little interest to Mr. Blatter or other FIFA execs that this trophy has come on the backs of 200,000 low-income people being forcefully evicted from their homes to make room for the event, 8 construction workers dying in the frenzied rush to erect stadiums on time, or 14 billion dollars in Brazilian taxpayer money being spent on the tournament in the face of poverty, inequality, and widespread social issues within Brazil.”
In preparation for hosting the World Cup, the Brazilian government spent the outrageous amount of $10 billion and displaced as many as 250,000 people–evicting the poorest from their homes and sweeping up homeless from the streets. Since the World Cup started, thousands have protested lavishing public resources on a sports event while poverty is rampant. Journalists Tim Eastman and Shay Horse have been in Brazil covering the protests and events outside the sports arenas. We had the opportunity to visit a group of families who were victims of these forced removals. One hundred days ago, military police evicted 160 families of the Telerj area of Rio de Janeiro from their homes. They lived in an area which had been gifted by the government of Dilma Roussef. For a short time, they occupied City Hall but were violently ejected by military police. Since then, they have traveled around and resettled in various areas of Rio, wandering from place to place without a home.
As the Fourth of July is celebrated across the US – in the glow of unprecedented economic polarization, a ballooning prison population, and a barrage of dire climatological studies, among other pieces of evidence leading ever more people to consider whether our collective way of life is in need of a fundamental transformation – an examination of the ostensible objects of our celebration (independence and democracy) seems in order. Aside from the concept of independence (and the question it implies: independence from what?) democracy, it should be remarked, is an especially vague and ambiguous concept. Indeed, because democracy can refer to egalitarian, emancipatory politics, as well as to the political-economic systems of the slavery-based societies of the southern US or ancient Athens – an initial distinction should be drawn between egalitarian forms of democracy (which tend to be organized more or less horizontally, with social resources distributed more or less evenly) and what, in practical terms, are really plutocratic societies – or what, perhaps, can be termed market-based democracies (which tend to be more or less hierarchical and representational). And it’s the market-based or plutocratic society that, with only minor egalitarian democratic interruptions and adjustments, exists today and characterizes what democracy has meant since the bourgeois democratic revolutions of the late 18th century.
Over sixty five million people in the US, perhaps a fifth of our sisters and brothers, are not enjoying the “unalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” promised when the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. They are about twenty percent of our US population. This July 4 can be an opportunity to remember them and rededicate ourselves and our country to making these promises real for all people in the US. More than two million people are in our jails and prisons making the US the world leader in incarceration, according to the Sentencing Project, a 500% increase in the last 30 years. Four million more people are on probation and parole, reports the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.
In Part 1 of the World of Resistance (WoR) Report, I examined today’s global order – or disorder – through the eyes of Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. National Security Adviser and long-time influential figure in foreign policy circles. Brzezinski articulated what he refers to as humanity’s “global political awakening,” spurred by access to education, technology and communications among much of the world’s population. Brzezinski has written and spoken extensively to elites at American and Western think tanks and journals, warning that this awakening poses the “central challenge” for the U.S. and other powerful countries, explaining that “most people know what is generally going on… in the world, and are consciously aware of global iniquities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation.” Mankind, Brzezinski said in a 2010 speech, “is now politically awakened and stirring.” But Brzezinski is hardly the only figure warning elites and elite institutions about the characteristics and challenges of an awakened humanity. The subject of inequality – raised to the central stage by the Occupy movement – has become a fundamental feature in the global social, political and economic discussion, as people become increasingly aware of the facts underlying the stark division between the haves and have nots.
You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud.
A quiet revolution is rumbling through New York’s municipal offices as they retool to support the creation of worker cooperatives as a way to fight poverty. Spurred by the powerful example of immigrant-owned cleaning cooperatives and the longstanding example of Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx – the largest worker cooperative in the country – progressive city council members are allying with a new network of worker cooperatives, community based organizations that incubated immigrant-owned coops and the influential Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies to figure out how the city can encourage this still-tiny economic sector. Once fully in place, New York City will be a national leader in providing municipal support for these democratic enterprises. The pace of change is dizzying. In January, the federation released a short report arguing that worker coops help improve traditionally low-wage jobs by channeling the enterprises’ profits directly to their worker members, improving their lives in tangible ways. Then in February, Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, chairwoman of the Committee on Community Development, held a hearing which put staff from the city’s Small Business Services and Economic Development Agency in the hot seat about how they were promoting worker cooperatives.
A spokesman for the People’s Assembly, which organised the march, said the turnout was “testament to the level of anger there is at the moment”. He said that Saturday’s action was “just the start”, with a second march planned for October in conjunction with the Trades Union Congress, as well as strike action expected next month. People’s Assembly spokesman Clare Solomon said: “It is essential for the welfare of millions of people that we stop austerity and halt this coalition government dead in its tracks before it does lasting damage to people’s lives and our public services.” Sam Fairburn, the group’s national secretary, added: “Cuts are killing people and destroying cherished public services which have served generations.”
Tens of thousands rallied in London today to protest imposed austerity and cuts to basic services. Here is the day in their own words through their tweets and photos. The mainstream media failed to cover the protest despite its size. They protested privatization of public services such as health care and they protested growing unemployment and poverty. And they chastised the media for blacking out the event.
China’s recycling tycoon Chen Guangbiao placed ads in the US media inviting one thousand poor Americans for a dinner worth $1 million in New York on June 25. The philanthropist also said that he will give out US$300 to each guest after the meal. The billionaire placed a full-page advertisement in Monday’s New York Times and a half-page advertisement in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, the South China Post reported. The ad in Chinese and English, designed by Chen himself, said that the event will be held on June 25 at the Loeb Boathouse Central Park in New York. The eccentric tycoon said that he wanted to send a message to Americans that rich Chinese are “not all crazy spenders on luxury goods,” as cited by the South China Post. “At the same time, there are many wealthy Chinese billionaires but most of them gained their wealth from market speculation and colluding with government officials while destroying the environment,” Chen said. “I can’t bear the sight of it, because all they do is splurge on luxury goods, gambling and prostitution and very few of them sincerely live up their social responsibility.”
More than one in five children in the US lives in poverty: that’s 790,000 children in New York, 429,000 in Chicago, and 125,000 in Washington, D.C. In all, there are 16 million poor children. Child poverty is also rising, up six percentage points since the turn of the century. Those numbers make it seem like a pretty intractable problem. After all, it’s literally millions of our children—living without adequate shelter, without healthy food, without adequate opportunities to play and learn and grow. If we’ve let things get this bad then surely child poverty must be nearly impossible to solve. But the fact is it isn’t difficult to end child poverty, or at least to dramatically reduce it. As Austin Nichols, an economist at the Urban Institute, wrote last year: If the United States offered cash benefits to children in poor families, we could cut child poverty by more than half. According to calculations using the 2012 Current Population Survey, poor children need $4,800 per year each, on average, to escape poverty. That’s $400 a month for each child.