Multiply Justice

Archive for the category “Poverty”

Fight social immobility, not ‘inequality’

Scott Winship writes at e21:

With long-term unemployment historically high and still-pervasive economic insecurity in the wake of the Great Recession, it is understandable that many Americans have grown more concerned about the nation’s levels of inequality. Too many families struggle in poverty, too many workers have given up on finding fulltime work, and too many young adults have graduated into a weak economy that will lower their lifetime earnings. …

While upward mobility has not diminished over time, and while it has not been hurt by rising income inequality, it has nevertheless been stuck at unacceptably low levels for decades. If past patterns hold, 70 percent of poor children today will fail to make it to the middle class as adults. Four in ten will be mired in poverty themselves in midlife.

These are not the kind of odds those of us solidly in the middle class would accept for our children. The American Dream is in poor health if children who grow up in the bottom can aspire only to fill the same sorts of jobs as their parents hold.

The challenge is to identify real solutions to the problem of limited upward mobility. Fifty years after Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of war on poverty, we should establish a second front against immobility. Attacking inequality, however, is unlikely to mitigate either problem.

Attacking “inequality” by seizing wealth only weakens the engines of economic prosperity and further cripples the poor by worsening dependence. Far better is for those who know how to show those who do not. God’s justice is established as his people teach others how to walk in his ways. Do not blame the desperate poor for looking to the government when God’s people have ignored their cries. If you want to foil rabble-rousers and petty tyrants, show the poor where to find abundant life. If you want to help the poor, multiply justice.

Left with nothing

Is your congregation involved deeply enough with the poor in your community to know who is preying on them?

nothingMichael Sallah, Debbie Cenziper, and Steven Rich report for the Washington Post:

On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.

Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.

All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.

The retired Marine sergeant lost his house on that summer day two years ago through a tax lien sale — an obscure program run by D.C. government that enlists private investors to help the city recover unpaid taxes.

For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.

But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.

Read the full text of this provocative story by clicking here.

A Light of Hope for impoverished girls

lohc daughter 2Pamela Swithin writes for BGR:

BANGLADESH — The small, ramshackle “home” sits just feet from the edge of railroad tracks. The house made of corrugated tin, bamboo, plastic tarps and wood is one small room shared by a family of six. The roof leaks when it rains and looks in danger of collapsing.

But this home is all 10-year-old Farjana’s family can — barely — afford.

Farjana and her youngest brother, 8-year-old Shukor Ali, must beg to help their family survive. Nearly every day, the children can be found begging at a busy intersection in their city that’s surrounded by shops, restaurants and businesses.

“When I was very young, my father died,” Farjana says. “My mom was unable to manage our family by providing food and other needs for us. … The last six years I have been going to the [intersection] for begging and earning money for my family.”

Farjana’s family is doing what they can to make it. Farajana and her four siblings live with their mother, 50-year-old Khotija, in the one-room shack. Her eldest brother is 20 and divorced, living back home, and works in a garment factory — but doesn’t always share the money with his family. Her next brother is 17 and unemployed. Farjana’s 15-year-old sister works in a color factory and “sometimes she provides [money], and sometimes she does not,” her mother says. Khotija doesn’t have a job or beg because of her ill health.

Farjana and her sister are the breadwinners for this family — but it’s not enough.

Farjana isn’t able to attend school because of her family’s lack of resources and her role as breadwinner. She cannot read or write. But she wants to go to school someday because “without education, there is no significance in life,” she says.

‘THE SHELTER’

Farjana is just one of Bangladesh’s estimated 700,000 beggars. Girls from low-income families like Farjana face many obstacles and dangers in their life — including potentially being trafficked and exploited, says Christian worker Geri Hennerman.*

“They are seen as nobodies and only good for cleaning, cooking, sex and child-bearing,” Hennerman says. “They are often beaten verbally and physically. They have little — if any — encouragement, love, correct discipline or teaching. They do not have good female role models to follow. Many are given for marriage at extremely young ages.

“They are seen as objects instead of real people.”

But impoverished girls can have the chance to avoid this dark future through the Light of Hope Learning Center, which Geri and another Christian worker started more than six years ago.

Click here to read the rest of this marvelous story — and find out how to help.

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