Category Archives: Poverty

An Update on Congressional Investigation into Mega-Churches…

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A second Christian ministry is refusing to meet a Thursday deadline for a Senate investigation into preachers’ salaries, perks and travel, The Associated Press has learned.

See related Shadow Democracy post and comment thread here

Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, said in a statement to the AP on Thursday that he will not respond to the inquiry until next year.

A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents.

Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent lengthy questionnaires a month ago to six ministries so he could review whether pastors were complying with IRS rules that bar excessive personal gain through tax-exempt work.

Because these are “Religious” Non Profit organizations, the IRS has already deemed that they’re NOT required to turn over information regarding their finances. 

Do you believe in God?

Well even if you don’t, you an I can apply to the IRS for our own Religious non profit status and become exempt from paying federal taxes. Then we can go out and encourage wealthy people to withdraw their investments from 401K’s and other tax shelter investments and funnel their income through our bogus ministry and it will be perfectly legal. You can make a bundle!

Do you know how to sing???

I’ve got some old Jimmy Swaggart Gospel tapes that you can take home and practice from. I’ll brush up on my evangelical street type of ministry lingo and convince a few homeless people to come and visit us every Sunday at a low rent two bedroom house just to convince the IRS that we actually have a congregation. After acquiring our 501(c)(3) provision, we’ll take out business loans in order to hire expert accountants and financial advisors who will counsel our wealthy solicited investors.

We’ll make a fortune, and then we can ignore Congress too 🙂

Posted by: Dimitri Lawrence

Happy Holidays from Your Friends at the Vermont Department of Social Services…

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Reprinted from the Canadian Press… 

A homeless man thought he was doing some good by standing at a supermarket for 10 hours a day to get shoppers to donate money into a red Salvation Army kettle.

The shelter where Paul Tucker lives doesn’t see it that way.

The Good Samaritan Haven ordered him out by Saturday, saying Tucker, 48, is spending his time raising money for the needy instead of finding a place to live or looking for work.

The 20-bed shelter offers emergency housing, clothing and food, and requires clients to leave each day at 7 a.m. to look for housing or go to work, executive director Paul Mascitti said.

The average guest stays 29 days, Mascitti said. Tucker has been there since May.

“If you’re not doing anything 10 hours a day, whether it’s lounging on a beach or working for the Salvation Army or sitting at a Dunkin’ Donuts, you’re breaking your contract with us,” Mascitti said.

“I can’t see someone saying, ‘I’m going to benefit mankind when I haven’t taken care of myself.”‘

The Salvation Army, which runs a soup kitchen he frequents, gave Tucker one of the bell ringer jobs two weeks ago. The gig pays $20 a day for meals.

“He’s a sweet man; he’d do anything for anybody,” said Capt. Louis Patrick, who runs the local group.

Dressed in a knit Salvation Army cap and wearing a Salvation Army coat, Tucker solicits the donations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. under a sign that reads: “Sharing and Caring. Need Knows No Season.”

“It’s for generosity, really,” he said.

Tucker, who has worked as a painter, a farmer and a maintenance worker at a fast-food restaurant, has been getting well-wishes from shoppers who know of his situation and holds no ill will toward the shelter.

“I don’t find fault with them, but I don’t feel it’s quite right,” he said.

Tucker said he isn’t sure where he’ll go when he clears out of the shelter. There’s a hiking camp he’s heard about nearby and may go there.

Mascitti, meanwhile, makes no apologies. Rules are rules, he said.

“Here it is, the ‘Grinch’ time of the year, and this guy is being asked to leave the homeless shelter, no room at the inn. It’s an old story,” he said.

You think Mascitti is a ‘law-and-order’ Republican?

I think so.

Besides, if Tucker is getting paid by the Salvation Army ($20.00), doesn’t that qualify as work? Furthermore, if you don’t have a real job and no income, how do you find a place to live?

It’s the same old institutional double standard handed down by administrators driving Cadillacs and living in the suburbs, who are trying desperately to make “poor” disappear, or worse yet, criminalize them (another Republican platform). 

I don’t get it.

Merry Christmas.

Over 35 Million Go Hungry in the U.S. in 2006…

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Here’s something to ponder while you’re gnawing on that turkey leg next week.

More than 35.5 million people in the U.S. went hungry in 2006 as the seldom discussed poverty problem in this country has reared it’s ugly head again. This figure is up from the previous year, the Agriculture Department said on Wednesday.

Single mothers and their children, as you might have guessed, were among the most likely to suffer according to the study.

The 35.5 million people, as previously talked about on the Shadow Democracy Radio Show, and written about on this blog, represent a whopping 12.1 percent of the total population. These people said they did not have enough money or food for at least some period during the year.  That is compared with 35.1 million people who made similar claims in 2005.

Of the 35.5 million people, 11.1 million reported they had “very low food security,” meaning they had a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat. For example, among families, a third of those facing disruption in the food they typically eat said an adult in their family did not eat for a whole day because they could not afford it.

The survey was based on Census Bureau data and does not include the homeless, who collectively represent about 750,000 people in 2005, according to federal estimates.

Some quick facts:

Among all families, about 12.6 million, or 10.9 percent, reported going hungry for at least some period last year.

Single mothers going hungry (30.4 percent)

Black households going hungry (21.8 percent)

Hispanic households going hungry (19.5 percent)

Households below the official poverty line going hungry (36.3 percent)

States with highest prevalence of hunger from 2004-2006 included:

Mississippi (18.1 percent)

New Mexico (16.1 percent)

Texas (15.9 percent)

South Carolina (14.7 percent)

The most alarming statistic deals with children. Of the 35.5 million people reporting periods of hunger last year, 12.6 million were children.

“This report comes at a critical time for hungry Americans and those of us who help serve them,” said Vicki Escarra, president of the nation’s largest hunger relief group — America’s Second Harvest-The Nation’s Food Bank Network. “There simply may be no food for many families when the rest of the nation gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving and religious holidays.”

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group, said he is troubled by the report. He said figures for 2007 could prove to be worse, given rising food prices and an uneven economy this year.

And don’t forget about the price of fuel. That will surely drive prices up as well.

I urge anyone reading this to go through your cupboards if you can and donate anything possible to the food pantry. If you have nothing to give, then please go to your local store, if you have the means, and buy up some of that mac ‘n cheese at four for a dollar, and donate it. Anything helps…even small things. Remember, we are all Americans, we are in this together. This is a national problem that requires national action.

Don’t neglect your hungry neighbors. It’s the rules.

More information here: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err49/err49.pdf

The New Poverty…

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Poverty isn’t what it used to be. If one takes the time to characterize the modern poor vs. the historical poor, they would find that the avenues out of poverty are quickly being closed by the new world economy and the dynamic that is ‘globalism.’

The postmodern American economy is in utter disarray and social safety net policies used throughout the 20th century, have de-evolved, resulting in a new demographic of poor people. The most visible result of this disarray is that poor children are relatively worse off now than at the beginning of the 20th century despite all of the political rhetoric through the years. More alarmingly, their opportunities out of poverty are slim and none. Maanufactuing jobs that could be had on a high school diploma have evaporated to a large extent, and many are simply priced out of trade school or college.

What is so dangerous about the new poverty is the sense of surprise it brings. Poverty can hit so suddenly, that people can fall so far behind so fast, and lose everything they’ve worked for in a matter of a few months, because they are literally living paycheck by paycheck. The new poverty is about our loss of faith in relationships we once had with companies and the government. It seems nothing is guaranteed anymore. Many people work for several companies in their lifetime because they are simply burned out or pushed out or outsourced out of their old one. Workers cannot depend on a pension, savings, or even Social Security. The new poverty is a complex sociological issue that has many causes and seemingly fewer and fewer solutions. 

Globalism has clearly not helped the situation. For years talk of free trade and the benefits of that trade, was standard political speak. Bob Zoellick, a U.S. trade representative at a recent press conference said, “If one is concerned about developing countries, both history and recent studies would suggest an open system is going to be the formula for them. Others like Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School, claim that globalization “has improved the lot of hundreds of millions of poor people around the world.” I do not agree.

I would argue that globalization has been a losing proposition for most of the countries, including the U.S. When you talk to people like Robert Reich or anyone else that supports free trade, and express concerns, you’re labeled as an isolationist. However, I’m not arguing for an isolationist position – merely to construct free trade in a common sense fashion that softens the broad sword that usually comes down on the world’s poor with brutal consequences. Reich and others suggest that these people must simply get themselves re-educated and lift themselves up. The problem is they often do not have the resources to do so, so they are simply cast aside as a necessary evil of global economic expansion. 

The visible results of globalism do not appear to be as positive as supporters would have us believe. The vast majority of countries, over the last two decades, have experienced slower growth than was seen in the previous two. Moreover, poorer countries have generally suffered the worst declines in the growth of income per person. 

Then there is China. Supporters of free trade point to China as a beacon of progress – but at what cost? China has highly protected domestic markets that close off foreign import across broad sectors of their economy, illegal currency manipulation, and a state owned banking system…remember…they are a Communist nation. As a result, China has been able to resist import pressure from the West especially in the areas of durable goods and technology, as they jail anyone who dissents and poison they’re rural inhabitants with a level of pollution the world has never seen. It begs the question – is this free trade or trade for free?

There is clearly something wrong with the prevailing orthodoxy. Strategies for common sense economic development have been abandoned in the name of profit, and it is generally assumed that open markets, privatization, and attracting foreign investors will do the job in a humane fashion. So far this is not the case. 

The last two decades of globalization have also shown substantially diminished progress in health outcomes for infants and older children, as well as life expectancy, which has also dropped in the U.S. recently. The same is true for other social indicators, including education and literacy, with the slowdown in progress far worse among lower-income countries.

A world in which many third world countries enslave poor children for the purpose of making consumer goods, and where half of all people survive on less than $2 a day, speaks volumes to the failure of globalization, especially whens world trends are moving in the wrong direction from a human rights perspective. The U.S., nor can the rest of the world, afford not to re-think economic policy simply because free trade is fashionable, or to bow to the whims of special interests and their paymaster multinational corporations. No one is arguing to quell the expansion of trade to international markets, however it must be done with humanity as a primary concern, not a socio-economic afterthought.

In short, the globalists have it wrong, and people are beginning to wise up…finally.