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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been consumed by the horrors in Iraq and in Palestine, primarily, but also by the just terrible state of the world, the weight of imperialism, etc. My focus has been international of late.

Then tonight I was talking with my dp. he is a teacher in a public high school, one of those schools where 90% or more of the students are people of color, most of them from poor backgrounds, one of those schools with few resources, with a lot of rough stuff. You know. Dp was talking about an altercation he'd had with a student, a student he described as always hair trigger, always ready to pick a fight, to go off. This student's mom tried to kill him by putting his head in the oven. This students mom is dead now. Dp described this student as severely emotionally damaged, and was talking about how messed up it is that so much of his job is trying to cope with students like this. that there are so many of them.

and I was just thinking to myself, it's just geting worse, isn't it. As a result of capitalism, of poverty, racism, all the ways that people are beat down on a regular basis, more and more children are being terribly hurt, and then go on to be terribly disfunctional, often dangerous, and the only places for them are jail/juvie, or public school where there aren't the resources to deal with them. My dp is trained as a teacher! He is not trained for this kind of thing, and neither are other teachers.

I am so sad. Not only do we not have the will, as a society, to address the situations, systems, and structures that cause such damage to people, we have a significant number of people who support those systems and will go to all sorts of lengths to obscure the reality that it is actually systemic, not just 'bad people.'

Meanwhile, we are waging a war that is just inexcusable, really, and the money going into that war is breathtaking. and the children damaged by that war, the children in Iraq, what will they grow up to be?

I am sorry for being so um, rambly here...but I wanted to post because the horrible stuff that happens to poor folks and poor communities in this country is linked to what is happening in Iraq and elsewhere. It's not just a matter of the money going to this war could be going to communites, to human needs, it's more than that. and when i start to think about those links, and to think about how vast the damage is, to people, to societies, to the very planet, i sometimes feel a little...overwhelmed. I'm not always sure of how best to address such a monstrous beast.
 

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Nice post, Sadie.

I think about the cost of one of those fighter planes, or one shipment of arms to our troops. The cost of just one could help so many people for a lifetime.

Blessings to your partner for his work, and to you for your heart.
 

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I'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? (clapping) Where were you when he was twelve? (clapping) Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don't know he had a pistol? (clapping) And where is his father, and why don't you know where he is? And why doesn't the father show up to talk to this boy?
Bill Cosby's speech I think Cosby's speech address the real problem. Throwing money at a problem doesn't help. Capitalism doesn't harm a person, not having parents who care and look out for you is a problem. These poor children are not emotionally damaged by lack of money , they are emotionally damaged by lack of parents. I think it is time to address the real issues. What the government does or doesn't do will not make the same impact as what the parents do or don't do. Look how screwed up kid from rich parents can be. Evidently money and material comforts didn't help these kids. Lack loving , involved parents knows no economic, social or racial boundries.
 

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Under capitalism, everything is a commodity including shelter, food, health care and education. Therefore, the more money you have, the more access you have (quality or quantity) to basic necessitates that all people, all children deserve. Capitalism harms people.

Laura, I agree that throwing money at a problem is not necessarily going to solve it. However, if everyone had their basic needs taken care of, and parents were not off working 12 and 13 hour days in the second-tier service industry just to pay the rent or put food on the table, I posit that we would not have much of the dysfunction that we currently see overwhelming communities crippled by poverty. When people are stuggling to meet their basic needs, how are they to think about love, relationships and self-esteem?

Great post, Sadie.
I am training as a social worker currently and the sheer amount of suffering due to abject poverty going on in my mid-sized city is enough to crush me and my colleagues, as the systems in place are set up to keep poor people in their place through control and fear... less eligability indeed.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sleeping queen
Bill Cosby's speech I think Cosby's speech address the real problem. Throwing money at a problem doesn't help. Capitalism doesn't harm a person, not having parents who care and look out for you is a problem. These poor children are not emotionally damaged by lack of money , they are emotionally damaged by lack of parents. I think it is time to address the real issues. What the government does or doesn't do will not make the same impact as what the parents do or don't do. Look how screwed up kid from rich parents can be. Evidently money and material comforts didn't help these kids. Lack loving , involved parents knows no economic, social or racial boundries.
 

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So you see, Sadie, we actually don't have sufficient political will to address it; for the moment. And therein lies the problem.

The radicals currently controlling the purse-strings believe that those who are poor deserve their poverty, that it is a just punishment for what they see as laziness, for their not being 'loving' enough or motivated enough or (insert rationalization here).

You are right that some people elevate self-sacrifice for the greater common good. These people are called Democrats.

We used to have sufficient political will to do this. But at present we don't. For those of us who still believe in this ideal the task is to work to mitigate the horrible effects of the current administration the best we can, and work to regain sufficient political ground to get our country back.
 

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My dh also teaches ps. His student body isn't quite as impoverished as your dh's, but every year he has at least one or two students like your dh was describing.

I think that what we have on this thread are the two diametrically opposing pov that characterize today's political climate.

I love the phrase "throwing money at the problem," as being a negative thing when we are talking about schools, children, or any other social issue. When we are talking about the military, for example, suddenly the phrase becomes "adequately funding." Why is that, do you suppose?

I think there is a grain of truth in what Bill Cosby has been saying on the issue, but it's not the whole answer. Poverty does hurt people. What I don't understand is why it so necessary to believe that it's either one factor or the other, when both obviously play into the situation.
 

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Quote:
Throwing money at a problem doesn't help. Capitalism doesn't harm a person, not having parents who care and look out for you is a problem. These poor children are not emotionally damaged by lack of money , they are emotionally damaged by lack of parents.
I'm not totally aware of your past, Laura, but have you ever had financial troubles? Did it effect *at all* your ability to adequately deal with other portions of your life? I know the stress of not having enough money to pay the bills seriously impacts my quality of life and, as a direct effect, my ability to function as an adult. Just the fact that if both parents have to work full time daily from 8am-6pm they can *NEVER* volunteer at their child's school... poverty strikes. It has been shown time and again that not eating adequately impairs a child's ability to learn... poverty strikes. Children with the "wrong" clothes are more likely to be picked on... poverty strikes. Families with less money overall live in worse conditions (crime statistics, more likely to have lead or asbestos in the home, more likely to not have adequate heat or bathing abilities)... poverty strikes. And the wheel turns again.
 

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Quote:
I love the phrase "throwing money at the problem," as being a negative thing when we are talking about schools, children, or any other social issue. When we are talking about the military, for example, suddenly the phrase becomes "adequately funding." Why is that, do you suppose?
To take this concept a simple step further.

It costs something in the range of $35K to imprison a single individual. In excess of $10K a MONTH to provide intreatment mental care. And yet many balk at paying much less for adequate food, healthcare, living conditions and education. It is not a financial decision... it is a moral decision. My morality dictates that in a land of excess, no one should do without. NO ONE. "Their" morality dictates that the only people who deserve a hand up, or a hand out, are those behind saving & loan scandals, defrauding of employees, etc...
 

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hmm... this is an intersting topic for me... I've been on all 3 sides of the coin
impoverished, well off, and working in the system.
I agree that money problems do cause a huge amount of stress and that it does greatly affect how adults interact with each other and thier children. BUT I've also worked in a welfare to work program (part of the welfare reform Thompson did while he was governor in WI) and where as I can't make the blanket statement that everyone in poverty is there because they are lazy I can say that many are there because they choose to be.
My job was to offer any assitance necessary to get these people into a job. If they needed training they got on site classes, if they needed clothes they got gift certificates, if they needed bus fair they got tokens. I taught classes on hygiene, first impression, answering difficult interview questions etc. I even wrote resumes. We providided free onsite child care and job searching services, even free phone usage. If participants came daily and worked towards thier goals they recieved thier welfare check. I was constantly amazed at how many people wouldn't put forth any effort. They felt they were owed something by society (yes I have actually heard this from participants) or they weren't willing to take an entry level position. They have no training, aren't willing to take classes but want to walk into a company and be the manager right away kwim.
Now I'm not saying the system is perfect, the biggest flaw I've seen is lack of emergency services. When people suddenly find themselves homeless etc it can take 30 days or longer for any funds to get to them. I frequently (nearly daily) had to refer people to community organizations (primarly faith based btw) so they could get thier basic immediate needs met.
Also, like I said this is with the welfare reform that was taking place in WI in the early 90's I know that welfare systems in other parts of the country aren't this good, but I think that to blame it all on the system is inappropriate too.
 

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I work in the system. I've been in the system, as a child and now as an adult because I receive government financial aid and EITC. I've studied the literature on welfare reform and TANF (both sides) and I work with folks who receive TANF and other means-tested benefits. It's hell on these families, and I don't feel that I am exaggerating. The paperwork alone is created to instill shame in these families, not to mention all of their other interactions with the state. Is it any wonder that only a third of eligable poor families bother to apply for "welfare?" Not to me.

I just don't buy into the idea that people should have to work-for-pay in order to receive funds/service for basic human needs like shelter, food and medicine. I support a mama who wants to stay home with her child and receive public assistance to do so. I support mamas who want to be in an apprenticeship for traditional medicine, healing, or the arts, but cannot because TANF does not consider that work. Ditto for full-time college education.

I don't think it is inappropriate at all to place the blame where blame is due, at the feet of an ineffective, shame-inducing system that exploits poor families through a moralistic "work will set you free" discourse. Sounds about right to me.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by TiredX2
Just the fact that if both parents have to work full time daily from 8am-6pm they can *NEVER* volunteer at their child's school... poverty strikes. It has been shown time and again that not eating adequately impairs a child's ability to learn... poverty strikes. Children with the "wrong" clothes are more likely to be picked on... poverty strikes. Families with less money overall live in worse conditions (crime statistics, more likely to have lead or asbestos in the home, more likely to not have adequate heat or bathing abilities)... poverty strikes. And the wheel turns again.
Very well said, Tiredx2. Poverty effects everyone whether people want to admit it or not. Its not a black and white issue - it is such a complex issue with so many variables. But the bottom line, for me, is whether or not you beleive that ALL people living in poverty (including children) are at fault. And I have heard plenty of people claim that collecting benefits from the gov like foodstamps or, gawd forbid, welfare are things that LAZY people do. Which to me is such bs. My family collected food stamps for about 5 months while myself and my dh were both out of work, he was laid off from his graphics job shortly after the economy collapsed in 2002. And even though we both work our arses off now, we must have just been lazy those 5 months.


This is such a tough subject for me because my past is full of poverty as well as wealth, but at the root of most evil is the almighty dollar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
thank you all for going there with me on this subject. Sleeping
Queen, thank you for providing a clear illustration of my point that

Quote:
Not only do we not have the will, as a society, to address the situations, systems, and structures that cause such damage to people, we have a significant number of people who support those systems and will go to all sorts of lengths to obscure the reality that it is actually systemic, not just 'bad people.'
So I was trying to think about how and why I think all of this is fundamentally linked with systemic racism, and I think I've figured it out.

When we point out the harm poverty does, it is countered with the assertion that it isn't *poverty*, it's that 'some people' just don't work hard enough/love their children enough/aren't smart enough/ etc, etc. Behind these assertions are some deep rooted assumptions of superiority. How else can someone assert that an entire class of people are just lazy, just don't love their kids enough or whatever.

I know this is going to push a lot of buttons and I know some people will never hear what I have to say, but I'm not so concerned about those people.
I think it's really important for those of us who want to fight this nasty system to see it as clearly as we can manage to.

and can i just say, the idea that a whole group of people don't love their kids enough, and that that's the real problem, is one of the most disgusting things I've seen on this board in long while?

So then, along with everything welse,. I wonder: how do we change things enough that there is a will to address this, a society wide consensus that it is a good thing to meet people' needs, a broad understanding that it is precisely such needs going unmet that leads to so many problems?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Selu Gigage
I work in the system. I've been in the system, as a child and now as an adult because I receive government financial aid and EITC. I've studied the literature on welfare reform and TANF (both sides) and I work with folks who receive TANF and other means-tested benefits. It's hell on these families, and I don't feel that I am exaggerating. The paperwork alone is created to instill shame in these families, not to mention all of their other interactions with the state. Is it any wonder that only a third of eligable poor families bother to apply for "welfare?" Not to me.

I just don't buy into the idea that people should have to work-for-pay in order to receive funds/service for basic human needs like shelter, food and medicine. I support a mama who wants to stay home with her child and receive public assistance to do so. I support mamas who want to be in an apprenticeship for traditional medicine, healing, or the arts, but cannot because TANF does not consider that work. Ditto for full-time college education.

I don't think it is inappropriate at all to place the blame where blame is due, at the feet of an ineffective, shame-inducing system that exploits poor families through a moralistic "work will set you free" discourse. Sounds about right to me.

Right. On.
 

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"throwing money at a problem doesn't help"

In Australia, there was a woman who battled depression most of her adult life, and had severe post partum depression. She won the lottery. She was no longer depressed. She found she had just been unable to deal with her burdens and poverty, causing an intense psychiatric reaction.

It would depend on the problem if money would help. But when we are talking about "poverty", then I would fetch to say that "money" would help. There aren't many rich kids in jail. There aren't even very many middle class people in jail. Think about that.

Quote:
What the government does or doesn't do will not make the same impact as what the parents do or don't do.
Whether to start with parents or government is like the chicken and the egg. The parents need support just as the children do - and the government is the support for the parents. Parents have parents, they become as they are shown. To stop the perpetual motion of poverty, something has to change - the government holds the key. I believe this as I am an Aussie and we don't know poverty anywhere near like you do - because the government takes responsibility of Australians Unlike the US government who has a "don't call us, we'll call you" approach to citizens.
 

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My husband works in a similar school environment. He has more white students (this being a very white part of the country) but there is a lot of poverty in his classroom.

Some of the parents are very busy trying to put food on the table for their families. Some of the parents work incredibly hard and love their children to pieces. Those parents almost ALWAYS have kids who also work very hard and understand that hard work is important to having a successful future. Those parents are also frequently the ones who attend parent/teacher conferences and school events, because their children are a priority. This is a generalization, based on the parents in DH's classrooms over 5 years of teaching. While poverty is a hardship on those families, they are able to be successful and raise successful children despite that hardship. And when they need help, they get it because they love their children enough to deal with the inconvenience and embarassment of applying for help.

There is another subset of parents of poor children in DH's classroom. They make welfare a lifestyle, and abuse it. (A recent example in the news here was a mother who let 2 of her 3 children starve to death while she drank. The 2.5 year old survived by scavenging for food. This mother bought her beer - over 300 cans of it - by buying food with welfare, returning it for store gift cards, and using the gift cards to buy the beer. It was documented by the store.) These parents don't set an example of hard work for their children, and the children believe they shouldn't have to work hard to get ahead. They don't believe the rules apply to them, and they are a source of frustration for DH in his classroom. Some of these parents care so little about their children that they keep them home from school because they (the parents) would be lonely if the children were gone all day. Parents like this give a bad name to parents in the first category, because they get lumped together by the fact of their poverty. But capitalism isn't the problem - both sets of parents are faced with poverty and with the realities of living in a capitalistic society. Giving more money to the parents in the first group might help their family life be more peaceful, and give their children exposure to things they can't otherwise afford, like sports, arts, tutoring, etc. Giving more money to parents in the second group would have the opposite effect, IMO. I don't believe that money is the true problem, it's bad parenting. Possibly more money for parenting classes, and sterilization of those who have proven themselves to be unfit as parents would be helpful, but throwing money at the problem of poverty is not the panacea it might seem to be. The answer is just not that simplistic.
 
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