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Entries in Poverty (24)

Friday
Jul102015

PoorInDemocracy.org - New Book by NH Writer Exposes Gaping Holes in Voting and Representation 

50 Years After Voting Rights Act, New Book by NH Writer Exposes Gaping Holes in Voting and Representation

"Democracy in Poverty: A View from Below" Combines Empirical Analysis and Personal Encounters from Poverty-Line Research by Greyhound Bus

Cover

 

(Harvard ebook available on Amazon)

 

What is the connection between poverty and politics today? Does money determine a person’s political voice? Is poverty a democracy problem? To tackle these thorny questions, political reformer Daniel Weeks of Nashua, NH traveled 10,000 miles through thirty states by Greyhound bus, speaking with hundreds of fellow citizens living in poverty and recording his experiences on a poverty-line budget of $16 a day. From benches on Capitol Hill to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, from the desert colonias of New Mexico to Skid Row in L.A., his profiles and careful analysis put a human face on poverty and political inequality in the 21st century.

Building on the 2014 “Poor (in) Democracy” series for The Atlantic, this book explores the complex relationship between institutional poverty and political power, including how economic inequalities enter the political sphere and undermine political equality; how political arrangements deepen and entrench poverty; and what it means in real life to be poor and (seek to) participate in politics. Highlights from the research findings include:

  • 45 million Americans are currently living below the poverty line on less than $6,000 per person per year or $16 per day
  • Nearly half of all impoverished Americans subsist in deep poverty with annual incomes of less than one-half the federal poverty line – the highest point since recordkeeping began in 1975
  • Low-income people are less than half as likely to vote in most elections as their wealthy counterparts and face a wide range of practical barriers to exercising the franchise
  • Roughly 25 million adults of voting age are legally barred from voting or lack voting representation in Congress
  • The largest single campaign contributor in 2012 provided more money than 98% of Americans combined
  • Issues primarily relevant to lower income Americans account for 4% of legislation in Congress and command less than 1% of lobbying resources
  • Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution command less than 5% of political power across five core dimensions of democratic participation

The stories Weeks recounts in the words of “second-class citizens” across the United States challenge our cherished assumptions about the American dream. Consumed by the daily demands of subsistence and excluded from political participation by both formal and informal means, the people profiled are struggling to make their voices heard where it matters most: in politics. Their persistent poverty is a problem–a moral outrage, in fact–but it’s not the kind of problem we think. More than an economic or social concern, their poverty is political: it is embedded in the very structures of society and maintained by an unjust distribution of political power. To counteract systemic poverty and political inequality, Weeks proposes a slate of reforms aimed at strengthening American democracy, so that all citizens can make their voices heard.

Democracy in Poverty: A View from Below (2015) was published by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and is available on Amazon for the poverty-line price of $0.99Funding for the research was provided by the Center and by the Carsey School for Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Proceeds from sale of the book go to support Open Democracy, a nonpartisan organization working to close the influence gap in American politics.

To contact the author or schedule an interview, please write contact@poorindemocracy.me or call (202) 596-1706.

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About the Author

Raised in “poverty-lite” in the all-white town of Temple, New Hampshire, backed by generations of college degrees, Daniel Weeks did not encounter systemic poverty until leaving home to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer with City Year Washington, DC at age 18. That experience, combined with a passion for democracy cultivated in high school by the legendary New Hampshire reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock (1910-2010), set him on his path as an ardent proponent of democratic reform. As founding director of Students for Clean Elections in 2002, Weeks advocated successfully for comprehensive election reform, including the first legislature-approved public funding law in the country. From 2008-11, he served as president of Americans for Campaign Reform, working with a bipartisan team of former U.S. senators to advance citizen-funded elections in Congress. In 2011, he founded the Money and Politics Project for democratic reform in South Africa, before returning to continue the work in New Hampshire in 2013.

Today, Weeks serves as Executive Director of Open Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit working to ensure transparent and accountable governance. Open Democracy’s New Hampshire Rebellion campaign is walking the talk for democracy across the Granite State to build the reform movement — 30,000 miles and counting. Weeks has written and spoken on democracy issues for The Atlantic, New York Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and on PBS, NPR, BBC, and other outlets. For his Poor (in) Democracy project, Weeks traveled 10,000 miles through 30 states by Greyhound bus, conducting interviews and participant observations with dozens of people in poverty while maintaining a poverty-line budget of $16 per day. He was privileged to study Political Science at Yale and Political Theory at Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship. He lives in Nashua, NH with his wife, Dr. Sindiso Mnisi Weeks.

Thursday
Sep252014

NHGOP STATEMENT ON NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRAT CALLING POOR GRANITE STATERS "BOTTOM FEEDERS"

 

 

Concord - New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn today released the following statement on Democrat John R. White's statement that economically-disadvantaged Granite Staters are bottom feeders:

 

"Mr. White should immediately apologize for his disturbing remarks, and the New Hampshire Democrats should denounce his statement immediately," said Horn. "It's bad enough that Mr. White is advocating policies that will kill New Hampshire jobs and do further damage to our already stagnant economy, but he adds insult to injury by degrading hard working families who are struggling to get by. We encourage all Republicans to work hard to re-elect Majority Leader Jeb Bradley so we can make sure that Mr. White and his unsavory language never represent the people of New Hampshire." 

 

In a letter to the editor published in a local newspaper, Mr. White wrote that the policies he is promoting "will put more jungle in the jeans of the bottom feeders in the economic pond and they will spend it.  That's what poor people do when they get money because they NEED things."

 

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Wednesday
Sep242014

ALG's Daily Grind - Are traffic cameras becoming public surveillance tools?

6

Sept. 23, 2014

Permission to republish original opeds and cartoons granted. 

Are traffic cameras becoming public surveillance tools?
Is Big Brother already watching? 

Cartoon: EPA Scales of Injustice

Did $3.5 trillion of Fed easing even work?
It is hard to find any discernible difference in mortgage markets before and after quantitative easing.

Daily Caller: Rush Limbaugh's call screener says 'What liberalism has done to black communities is horrific
James Golden: "What liberalism has done to black communities is horrific."

  

Sept. 23, 2014

Permission to republish original opeds and cartoons granted.

Are traffic cameras becoming public surveillance tools?
Is Big Brother already watching?

Cartoon: EPA Scales of Injustice

Did $3.5 trillion of Fed easing even work?
It is hard to find any discernible difference in mortgage markets before and after quantitative easing.

Daily Caller: Rush Limbaugh's call screener says 'What liberalism has done to black communities is horrific
James Golden: "What liberalism has done to black communities is horrific."

 

Friday
Sep052014

ALG's Daily Grind - Unethical lame duck funding floated 

6

Sept. 5, 2014

Permission to republish original opeds granted.

Unethical lame duck funding floated
Report: House leaders plan to only fund the government through the week of December 11-14 with a vote scheduled for next week. 

The permanent poor?
If the unemployment rate has truly been dropping since 2010, why has food stamp enrollment been increasing dramatically much of that time?

Big Green Radicals: Did Russia sponsor Leonardo DiCaprio anti-American energy propaganda video?
"Leonardo DiCaprio is out with a new fearmongering, anti-oil and gas video that appears to be partially supported by the Russian government."

Wednesday
Jan222014

ALG's Daily Grind - Walmart, Big Labor and the NLRB: Time for a change 

6

Jan. 21, 2014

Walmart, Big Labor and the NLRB: Time for a change
NLRB to investigate the nation's leading retailer's treatment of about 60 employees who participated in Black Friday "strikes" against the retailer.

Maybe the rent is too damn high
Which is a bigger problem for the poor: Low incomes or the high cost of living?

Dorfman: Free markets unquestionably help the poor
"If a country wants to get richer, policies that enhance economic freedom are good ones to follow."