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8388NEWS -- 2014.01.15.Wednesday

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  • James Martin
    Jan 15, 2014
      Wednesday 15 January 2014
       
      1) Ken Cuccinelli uses final day in office to issue anti-gay 'opinion'
      2) Supreme Court to Decide the Future of the Entire Obama Presidency
      3) Supreme Court Denies Family Farmers the Right to Self-Defense from Monsanto Lawsuits
      4) Ken Ham Calls Progressive Christians 'More Dangerous' Than Atheists After Criticism He's Driving Believers Away
      5) Bank of America and Citigroup Are Ready to Laugh at New Regulations
      6) from Truthout
      7) Net Neutrality Is Dead. Here's How to Get it Back
      8) It Is Expensive to Be Poor
       
       
      1)
      Virginia attorney general and failed candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli is a petty, petty man.
      Just hours before leaving office, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued an opinion that appears intended to entrench his own anti-gay policy preferences while he could still speak as his state’s top legal officer. [...]

      Cuccinelli’s non-binding opinion, which is dated January 10, 2014, concludes that “a Governor may not direct or require any agency of state government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for Virginia income tax returns.” Cuccinelli’s successor, Democrat Mark Herring, was sworn in January 11.

      The non-binding part means this was nothing more than a last-day bit of wankery from a man still determined to have a career spouting off about the gays after that touchy business of losing the election.
       
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      My comment ---
      Seems like he is a good ole boy Southern Baptist.
       
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      2)
       

      Supreme Court to Decide the Future of the Entire Obama Presidency

      By Charles Pierce, Esquire

      14 January 2014

      It is not much of an exaggeration to say that, while the rest of the country's political class remains fascinated by the Passion Of Big Chicken, the future of the entire Obama presidency today is hanging fire before the United States Supreme Court. Only real SCOTUS wonks saw this one coming but, should the court decide in favor of the plaintiff in National Labor Relations Board v. Canning, there simply will not be much left for Barack Obama to do in office except greet NCAA championship teams and drone people to death in Waziristan.

      At issue in the case is the president's power to make recess appointments to various executive branch positions. Frustrated by the fact that he has an opposition party that is a) dedicated to nullifying wholly the results of the 2008 and 2012 presidential election, and b) insane, the president resorted to recess appointments in order to staff his government, as other presidents have before him. Republicans in the legislature then argued that the recess appointments were constitutionally illegitimate because they were holding kabuki "sessions" of the legislature and that, therefore, there was no recess at all. Three of the appointments in question were to the National Labor Relations Board, which could not function with three positions empty, which was rather the obvious point of blocking them. The full NLRB then ruled against the canning division of the Noel Company in a contract dispute. The company challenged the ruling on the grounds that three of the commissioners held their office illegitimately. Spectacularly, but unsurprisingly, the company got the D.C. Court of Appeals to agree, and up to the nine wise souls the case went.

      Bear in mind. The D.C. Court overruled over a century of settled practice within the government. The opinion was written by Judge David Sentelle, whose long career as a political hack stretches back to the 1980s, when he helped confound the investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal. (Sentelle believes all financial regulation to be unconstitutional, which must keep him in dinners, anyway.) In fact, to call Sentelle a hack is to insult most of the people who worked for Huey Long. This is an attempt to create a legal exception through which this president will not be allowed to govern effectively. If Sentelle's hackery is upheld, the ramifications are enormous. Among the president's other recess appointments is Richard Cordray at the Consumer Finance Protection Board. If the ruling goes against the administration, and Cordray's appointment is declared illegitimate, then the CFPB may go down as well. Which is, of course, rather the point of the whole exercise. And you would not be remiss if you were to recall that this president is the only one in 50 years who has not been allowed to fill seats on the very court that launched this whole mess -- the D.C. Court of Appeals. Which is, of course, rather the point.

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      Lots of comments at the URL.
       
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      3)
       
      Supreme Court Denies Family Farmers the Right to Self-Defense from Monsanto Lawsuits
       
      Food DemocracyNow! http://fooddemocracynow.org/
      EcoNews/NewsReport
      Published: Tuesday 14 January 2014

      The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a decision in the landmark federal lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto. Farmers were denied the right to argue their case in court and gain protection from potential abuse by the agrochemical and genetic engineering giant, Monsanto. Additionally, the high court decision dashes the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.

      “While the Supreme Court’s decision to not give organic and other non-GMO farmers the right to seek preemptive protection from Monsanto’s patents at this time is disappointing, it should not be misinterpreted as meaning that Monsanto has the right to bring such suits,” said Daniel Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation and lead counsel to the plaintiffs in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto.

      “Indeed, in light of the Court of Appeals decision, Monsanto may not sue any contaminated farmer for patent infringement if the level of contamination is less than one percent,” Ravicher explained. “For farmers contaminated by more than one percent, perhaps a day will come to address whether Monsanto’s patents may be asserted against them. We are confident that if the courts ever hear such a case, they will rule for the non-GMO farmers.”

      Farmers had sought Court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act that should they become the innocent victims of contamination by Monsanto’s patented gene-splice technology they could not perversely be sued for patent infringement.

      “The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family farmers find themselves in,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of lead plaintiff OSGATA. “The Court of Appeals agreed our case had merit. However, the safeguards they ordered are insufficient to protect our farms and our families.”

      “This high court which gave corporations the ability to patent life forms in 1980, and under Citizens United in 2010 gave corporations the power to buy their way to election victories, has now in 2014 denied farmers the basic right of protecting themselves from the notorious patent bully Monsanto,” said Gerritsen. 

      The historic lawsuit was filed in 2011 in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The large plaintiff group numbers 83 individual American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations whose combined memberships total more than one million citizens, including many non-GMO farmers and over 25 percent of North America’s certified organic farmers.

      “The Appellate Court decision could leave Canadian farmers out in the cold because their protection may not extend to Canada at all,” said Saskatchewan organic grain farmer Arnold Taylor, a member of plaintiff member Canadian Organic Growers. “Like many Canadian farmers, we sell crop into the U.S. and can therefore be liable to claims of patent infringement by Monsanto.”

      In a complicated ruling issued in June 2013 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., American farmers were handed a partial victory when the three justices agreed with the farmers’ assertion that contamination by Monsanto was inevitable. The justices ordered Monsanto not to sue American farmers whose fields were contaminated with trace amounts of patented material, which the Court defined as 1 percent.

      In a related situation, Canadian soybean farmer Stephen Webster of Ontario experienced just how abusively Monsanto treats innocent contamination victims. Through no fault of his own Webster, who farms with his elderly father, had his 2012 identify-preserved non-GMO soybean crop contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered seed. Their soybeans were ruined for export to specialty markets in Japan.

      “First Monsanto claimed we had too many bees and that we were at fault for the contaminated crop,” said Webster. “Then they threatened to run up $100,000 in legal bills that we would have to pay.” Tragically, Webster’s story is the norm in farm country, with Monsanto using its extreme economic power to silence family farmers even before they can legally defend themselves.

      Notably, none of the plaintiffs are customers of Monsanto. None have signed licensing agreements with Monsanto. The plaintiffs do not want Monsanto’s seed and they do not want Monsanto’s gene-spliced technology and have sought legal protection from significant economic harm to their businesses and way of life.

      “We have a fourth generation farm,” said organic dairy farmer and plaintiff Rose Marie Burroughs of California Cloverleaf Farms. “Monsanto cannot be trusted. Their refusal to provide a binding legal covenant not to sue our fellow farmers would make anyone wonder, what are their real motives? GMO contamination levels can easily rise above one percent and then we would have zero protection from a costly and burdensome lawsuit.”

      Significant contamination events, including Starlink corn and LibertyLink rice, have already cost farmers and the food companies nearly $2 billion dollars. In the past year alone, the discovery of Monsanto’s illegal GMO wheat in an Oregon farmer’s field and GMO alfalfa in Washington statesent foreign markets, where GMOs are not wanted, reeling. In both instances farmers’ economic livelihoods were put at risk as buyers in foreign markets refused to buy the GMO contaminated crops.

      “If Monsanto can patent seeds for financial gain, they should be forced to pay for contaminating a farmer’s field, not be allowed to sue them,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! “Once again, America’s farmers have been denied justice, while Monsanto’s reign of intimidation is allowed to continue in rural America.” 

      “Monsanto has effectively gotten away with stealing the world’s seed heritage and abusing farmers for the flawed nature of their patented seed technology,” said Murphy. “This is an outrage of historic proportions and will not stand.” 

       
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      4)
       
      By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
      January 10, 2014|1:59 pm

      Progressive Christians, or those who believe in evolution, are "more dangerous to Christianity than the atheists" are, says Creation Museum CEO and President Ken Ham. He made the argument in response to criticism that his insistence on Young Earth Creationism is driving believers away.

      "Apparently they call this sort of thing 'Progressive Christianity.' I guess that means 'evolving Christianity' – whatever the secular world believes about where they came from, you accept that as infallible and then change their assumed fallible Word of God to fit! So sad," Ham wrote on Facebook Friday, as he was responding to a critical post written about him in the "Unfundamentalist Christians" blog about his upcoming debate with "The Science Guy" Bill Nye in February.

      The blog, which expresses its beliefs in Jesus Christ and the Bible but rejects some traditional teachings on subjects like hell and homosexuality, argued on Thursday that young people are not dismissing the Bible because they are being taught evolution, but because people like Ham are "telling them what it (the Bible) says and means, rather than letting them seek that out for themselves."

      "Mr. Ham, they're leaving the church because of people like you: people who fervently create walls, erect barriers, establish rigid rules for what one must believe in order to be a Christian," the blog continued, arguing that Ham's version of Christianity is not about right practice but about "right belief."

      "They're leaving the church because by essentially demonizing everyone who doesn't agree with you, you've made believing in Young Earth Creationism* more important than Jesus' explicit commandment to love God and neighbor."

      In his post on Friday, the Creation Museum CEO called the article a personal attack against him, and said that it holds "man's word as infallible and God's Word as fallible."

      Follow us

      "Any attack on the WORD is an attack on Christ the WORD," Ham insisted.

      The much-anticipated debate between Ham and Nye in February, tickets for which sold out within minutes on Monday, will focus on the question: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific world?"

      According to a December 2013 Pew Research Center poll, 60 percent of Americans believe that evolution is how the human species came to be, with 33 percent suggesting that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning.

      About 24 percent of American adults, however, believe that a "supreme being" guided the process of evolution, while 32 percent say that evolution is entirely due to natural processes.


      Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/ken-ham-calls-progressive-christians-more-dangerous-than-atheists-after-criticism-hes-driving-believers-away-112393/#imsTT3ardpsG6FfW.99
      Ken Ham Calls Progressive Christians 'More Dangerous' Than Atheists After Criticism He's Driving Believers Away

      By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter

      January 10, 2014  1:59 pm

       
      Progressive Christians, or those who believe in evolution, are "more dangerous to Christianity than the atheists" are, says Creation Museum CEO and President Ken Ham. He made the argument in response to criticism that his insistence on Young Earth Creationism is driving believers away.

      "Apparently they call this sort of thing 'Progressive Christianity.' I guess that means 'evolving Christianity' – whatever the secular world believes about where they came from, you accept that as infallible and then change their assumed fallible Word of God to fit! So sad," Ham wrote on Facebook Friday, as he was responding to a critical post written about him in the "Unfundamentalist Christians" blog about his upcoming debate with "The Science Guy" Bill Nye in February.

      The blog, which expresses its beliefs in Jesus Christ and the Bible but rejects some traditional teachings on subjects like hell and homosexuality, argued on Thursday that young people are not dismissing the Bible because they are being taught evolution, but because people like Ham are "telling them what it (the Bible) says and means, rather than letting them seek that out for themselves."

      "Mr. Ham, they're leaving the church because of people like you: people who fervently create walls, erect barriers, establish rigid rules for what one must believe in order to be a Christian," the blog continued, arguing that Ham's version of Christianity is not about right practice but about "right belief."

      "They're leaving the church because by essentially demonizing everyone who doesn't agree with you, you've made believing in Young Earth Creationism* more important than Jesus' explicit commandment to love God and neighbor."

      In his post on Friday, the Creation Museum CEO called the article a personal attack against him, and said that it holds "man's word as infallible and God's Word as fallible."

      "Any attack on the WORD is an attack on Christ the WORD," Ham insisted.

      The much-anticipated debate between Ham and Nye in February, tickets for which sold out within minutes on Monday, will focus on the question: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific world?"

      According to a December 2013 Pew Research Center poll, 60 percent of Americans believe that evolution is how the human species came to be, with 33 percent suggesting that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning.

      About 24 percent of American adults, however, believe that a "supreme being" guided the process of evolution, while 32 percent say that evolution is entirely due to natural processes.

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      "Sorry, all tickets for the debate with Bill Nye sold out within minutes!" Ham posted on Facebook on Monday, when the $25 tickets for the Feb. 4 debate at The Creation Museum's 900-seat Legacy Hall in Petersburg, Ky., went on sale.
      Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/bill-nye-ken-ham-creationism-debate-tickets-sell-out-in-minutes-streaming-info-released-112170/#6fZvEQPwZOYGv74v.99
      "Sorry, all tickets for the debate with Bill Nye sold out within minutes!" Ham posted on Facebook on Monday, when the $25 tickets for the Feb. 4 debate at The Creation Museum's 900-seat Legacy Hall in Petersburg, Ky., went on sale.
       
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      5)

      Bank of America and Citigroup Are Ready to Laugh at New Regulations

      By Matt Koppenheffer and David Hanson | More Articles
      January 13, 2014 | Comments (0)

      When the financial crisis struck, Bank of America and Citigroup were both caught unprepared. Their low capital levels forced the banks to take bailouts and significantly dilute shareholders. Fast forward to today and both banks are boosting capital levels to strengthen their balance sheets and meet new regulations.

      In this segment of The Motley Fool's financials-focused show, Where the Money Is, banking analysts Matt Koppenheffer and David Hanson discuss some banking news coming out of Europe and how Bank of America and Citigroup are prepared for any changes to U.S. laws.

      The best investors know that you have to make every stock in your portfolio count. Motley Fool Chief Investment Officer Andy Cross knows that very well, and that's why he's chosen just one stock to be his single pick for the coming year. Learn about The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014 right now; it's all yours just by clicking here.

       
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      6)
       
       

      William Rivers Pitt | The Easy Problem With Government

      William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: "Clearly, the decades-long push to privatize everything will lead us all to paradise on Earth. Please excuse me while I enjoy a glass of tap-provided poison while watching my bank account get looted. Or maybe, just maybe, government isn't the problem. Maybe the people we allow into government are the problem with government."

      Read the Article 

      EPA: California Offshore Frackers Must Disclose Chemicals Dumped Into Ocean

      Mike Ludwig, Truthout: The EPA issued a rule last week requiring oil and gas firms using fracking technology in federal waters off the coast of southern California to regularly report the volume and chemical makeup of any fracking fluids or wastewater dumped into the ocean.

      Read the Article 

      From AIDS to Lyme: Will We Let History Repeat Itself?

      Jessica Bernstein, Truthout: Some argue that the inadequate early government response to the AIDS epidemic - including diagnostic, treatment, funding and research failures - is being repeated with Lyme disease, affecting hundreds of thousands.

      Read the Article 

      Chris Hedges | The Trouble With Chris Christie

      Chris Hedges, Truthdig: The Bridgegate scandal is a window into how federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged his tiny cabal's grip on power.

      Read the Article 

      Red Tape: Controlling the International Flow of Apparel

      Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes, Truthout: More than half a million jobs in the apparel industry have been lost since NAFTA. Ladydrawers connects the dots between homeland security, bras and the loss of US jobs in Moore and Mendes' latest strip.

      View the Comic 

      America's Real Welfare Queens

      The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program: When Republicans talk about "welfare queens," they're really talking about their buddies in big banks, Big Oil and giant transnational corporations. It's time to cut off the corporate welfare pipeline and use those billions of dollars to help our economy recover.

      Read the Article     http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21228-americas-real-welfare-queens

      India's Arab Spring in Winter 2014

      Papri Sri Raman, Truthout: When Delhi state's November elections brought the new anticorruption Aam Admi Party to power, calculations about India's upcoming national elections were upset, and a previously narrow field suddenly widened.

      Read the Article 

      Win Today, Lose Tomorrow: Why Republicans Protect the "Honor" of Offensive Team Names

      Jeremiah Goulka, TomDispatch: There may be no bigger headache for NFL team owner Dan Snyder than the matter of his franchise's name: the Redskins. It's offensive, and activists want it changed. But there is at least one bloc of public figures that fully supports the name.

      Read the Article 

      On the News With Thom Hartmann: Senate Delays Vote on Unemployment Benefits, and More

      In today's On the News segment: On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had to delay a crucial vote on unemployment benefits so Republican lawmakers could finalize their list of demands; out-of-work Floridians have been denied $20 million of jobless benefits - and it has nothing to do with Congress; a Republican millionaire in California is making the case for a higher minimum wage; and more.

      Watch the Video and Read the Transcript 

      West Virginia Water Crisis: Behind Chemical Spill, Gaping Holes in State and Federal Regulation

      Amy Goodman and Aaron Mate, Democracy Now!: The Freedom Industries site behind the West Virginia chemical spill is just a mile upriver from the state's largest water treatment plant. But despite the obvious dangers to the source of 16 percent of West Virginia residents' water, the spill has exposed major holes in how the state regulates these dangerous chemicals.

      Watch the Video and Read the Transcript 

       
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      7)
       

      Net Neutrality Is Dead. Here's How to Get it Back

      By Craig Aaron, Free Press

      15 January 2014

      Three judges in D.C. just killed Net Neutrality.

      This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. But it doesn't have to be.

      The big news: A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order. This decision means that companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon - which brought the lawsuit - are now free to block or slow down any website, application or service they like.

      These companies will rush to change the Web and line their own pockets at our expense - creating new tolls for app makers, expensive price tiers for popular sites, and fast lanes open only to the few content providers that can afford them.

      It didn't have to be this way.

      The FCC's rules were designed to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with Web traffic. Instead of reversing a Bush-era decision that weakened the FCC's authority over broadband, and establishing solid legal footing, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the rules in 2010 under the complicated and shaky legal framework the court rejected today.

      The rules the court struck down left much to be desired, but they were a step toward preserving Internet users' freedom to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

      Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV - where they pick and choose the channels for you. They'll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.

      We could pay dearly for the previous FCC's weak political will and wishy-washy approach. But today's ruling leaves the door wide open to a better approach. It's not too late for the FCC to reverse its terrible decisions and repair its doomed strategy.

      That's right. The FCC could make all this go away by simply reading the law correctly and reclaiming the authority it already has to protect Internet users for good. The agency had clear authority before the Bush administration abdicated it and the Obama administration failed to fix the mistake.

      New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently stated that the FCC must be able to protect broadband users and preserve the Internet's fundamental open architecture. Now he has no other choice but to restore and reassert the FCC's clear authority over our nation's communications infrastructure.

      There will be serious pushback from the most powerful phone and cable companies (and an array of hired guns and front groups). They will make threats, recycle all of their debunked myths about the Internet - and promise we can trust them not to do any of the bad things they've fought so hard to do.

      For too long, the FCC has worked to fulfill the wish lists of the big phone and cable monopolies - instead of looking out for Internet users like us.

      Now the free and open Internet is flat-lining. But Wheeler has the paddles in his hands and the power to resuscitate Net Neutrality. We'll know soon if he has the political guts to use them.

      We need strong protections and sensible policies to ensure the Internet continues to thrive and prosper. But to make that happen the millions of people who have fought for Net Neutrality - and the millions more who have rallied against Web-censorship bills like SOPA/PIPA and outrages like the NSA's unchecked spying and surveillance - must rise up like never before.

      Together we can fight back against these greedy Internet service providers. We can save the Internet we love. But we have to act now.   http://act.freepress.net/sign/internet_FCC_court_decision2/

      See Also: Federal Court Guts Net Neutrality Rules

       
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      7)

      It Is Expensive to Be Poor

      Minimum-wage jobs are physically demanding, have unpredictable schedules, and pay so meagerly that workers can't save up enough to move on.
       
      Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a move that was unprecedented at the time and remains unmatched by succeeding administrations. He announced a War on Poverty, saying that its “chief weapons” would be “better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities.”

      So starting in 1964 and for almost a decade, the federal government poured at least some of its resources in the direction they should have been going all along: toward those who were most in need. Longstanding programs like Head Start, Legal Services, and the Job Corps were created. Medicaid was established. Poverty among seniors was significantly reduced by improvements in Social Security.

      Johnson seemed to have established the principle that it is the responsibility of government to intervene on behalf of the disadvantaged and deprived. But there was never enough money for the fight against poverty, and Johnson found himself increasingly distracted by another and deadlier war—the one in Vietnam. Although underfunded, the War on Poverty still managed to provoke an intense backlash from conservative intellectuals and politicians.

      The original welfare reform bill—a bill, it should be recalled, which was signed by President Bill Clinton—included an allocation of $100 million for "chastity training" for low-income women.
      In their view, government programs could do nothing to help the poor because poverty arises from the twisted psychology of the poor themselves. By the Reagan era, it had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology that poverty is caused not by low wages or a lack of jobs and education, but by the bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles of the poor.

      Picking up on this theory, pundits and politicians have bemoaned the character failings and bad habits of the poor for at least the past 50 years. In their view, the poor are shiftless, irresponsible, and prone to addiction. They have too many children and fail to get married. So if they suffer from grievous material deprivation, if they run out of money between paychecks, if they do not always have food on their tables—then they have no one to blame but themselves.

      In the 1990s, with a bipartisan attack on welfare, this kind of prejudice against the poor took a drastically misogynistic turn. Poor single mothers were identified as a key link in what was called “the cycle of poverty.” By staying at home and collecting welfare, they set a toxic example for their children, who—important policymakers came to believe—would be better off being cared for by paid child care workers or even, as Newt Gingrich proposed, in orphanages.

      Welfare “reform” was the answer, and it was intended not only to end financial support for imperiled families, but also to cure the self-induced “culture of poverty” that was supposedly at the root of their misery. The original welfare reform bill—a bill, it should be recalled, which was signed by President Bill Clinton—included an allocation of $100 million for “chastity training” for low-income women.

      The Great Recession should have put the victim-blaming theory of poverty to rest. In the space of only a few months, millions of people entered the ranks of the officially poor—not only laid-off blue-collar workers, but also downsized tech workers, managers, lawyers, and other once-comfortable professionals. No one could accuse these “nouveau poor” Americans of having made bad choices or bad lifestyle decisions. They were educated, hardworking, and ambitious, and now they were also poor—applying for food stamps, showing up in shelters, lining up for entry-level jobs in retail. This would have been the moment for the pundits to finally admit the truth: Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.

      For most women in poverty, in both good times and bad, the shortage of money arises largely from inadequate wages. When I worked on my book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I took jobs as a waitress, nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate, and a maid with a house-cleaning service. I did not choose these jobs because they were low-paying. I chose them because these are the entry-level jobs most readily available to women.

      What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience the physical deterioration—especially knee and back problems—that can bring a painful end to their work life.

      I was also dismayed to find that in some ways, it is actually more expensive to be poor than not poor. If you can’t afford the first month’s rent and security deposit you need in order to rent an apartment, you may get stuck in an overpriced residential motel. If you don’t have a kitchen or even a refrigerator and microwave, you will find yourself falling back on convenience store food, which—in addition to its nutritional deficits—is also alarmingly overpriced. If you need a loan, as most poor people eventually do, you will end up paying an interest rate many times more than what a more affluent borrower would be charged. To be poor—especially with children to support and care for—is a perpetual high-wire act.

      The criminalization of poverty has accelerated since the recession.

      Most private-sector employers offer no sick days, and many will fire a person who misses a day of work, even to stay home with a sick child. A nonfunctioning car can also mean lost pay and sudden expenses. A broken headlight invites a ticket, plus a fine greater than the cost of a new headlight, and possible court costs. If a creditor decides to get nasty, a court summons may be issued, often leading to an arrest warrant. No amount of training in financial literacy can prepare someone for such exigencies—or make up for an income that is impossibly low to start with. Instead of treating low-wage mothers as the struggling heroines they are, our political culture still tends to view them as miscreants and contributors to the “cycle of poverty.”

      If anything, the criminalization of poverty has accelerated since the recession, with growing numbers of states drug testing applicants for temporary assistance, imposing steep fines for school truancy, and imprisoning people for debt. Such measures constitute a cruel inversion of the Johnson-era principle that it is the responsibility of government to extend a helping hand to the poor. Sadly, this has become the means by which the wealthiest country in the world manages to remain complacent in the face of alarmingly high levels of poverty: by continuing to blame poverty not on the economy or inadequate social supports, but on the poor themselves.

      It’s time to revive the notion of a collective national responsibility to the poorest among us, who are disproportionately women and especially women of color. Until that happens, we need to wake up to the fact that the underpaid women who clean our homes and offices, prepare and serve our meals, and care for our elderly—earning wages that do not provide enough to live on—are the true philanthropists of our society.

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      Lots of comments at the URL.
       
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