Thursday, June 02, 2016

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Christopher Jencks discusses why the U.S.' poor are only getting poorer (in part due to the misapprehension that social programs aren't available) in reviewing Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer's $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America:
In $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer argue that what they call “extreme” poverty roughly doubled between 1996 and 2012. If they are right—and I think they are—the reader might wonder how I can still claim that poor families’ living standards have risen. The answer is that inequality has risen even among the poor. Half of today’s officially poor families are doing better than those we counted as poor in the 1960s, but as I learned from reading $2.00 a Day (and have spent many hours verifying), the poorest of the poor are also worse off today than they were in 1969. $2.00 a Day is a vivid account of how such families live. It also makes a strong case for blaming their misery on deliberate political choices at both the federal and state levels.
(I)n Illinois, as in most other states, TANF’s primary goal is not to protect children whose parents cannot find work by ensuring that their family has shelter, heat, light, food, and shoes, but to cut program costs by reducing the number of recipients. (California, which now accounts for a third of all TANF recipients, is a partial exception to this rule.)

State efforts to cut the TANF rolls have been quite effective. The overall unemployment rate, which is a fairly good proxy for how hard it is to find work, was almost twice as high in 2009 as in 1996. Yet the number of families getting TANF in 2009 was less than half the number getting AFDC in 1996. Edin and Shaefer write about meeting poor parents who said they didn’t know anyone who got TANF. Some parents thought welfare had been abolished, or that it was no longer accepting new applicants. This grim story deserves more attention than it has gotten, and Edin and Shaefer deserve a lot of credit for emphasizing it.
- Matt McGrath notes that renewable energy production is reaching unprecedented levels around the globe.

- Samantha Page writes that the battle between people and corporations over access to water resources is just beginning - in large part because we have yet to appreciate the threat from businesses seeking to wall off and take rents from our public resources.

- Ian Young reports on Jens von Bergmann's modeling showing that the city of Vancouver as a whole made more money simply sitting on real estate assets than by actually working over the past year.

- Finally, Michael Geist points out that we're still lacking desperately-needed information about how telecom providers turn personal information over to police. And Colin Freeze reports on CSEC's concealed history of disclosing massive amounts of information about telephone and Internet use with international counterparts.

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