Stars, Wonks Focus on the Fact That One in Three Americans Lives at or Near Poverty

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School food service worker Alina Mendoza stands in the kitchen of Scott Elementary School in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

School food service worker Alina Mendoza stands in the kitchen of Scott Elementary School in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Largely overlooked in the debate about poverty in America are the huge numbers of our fellow citizens who sit on the cusp of destitution – just a lost paycheck or unexpected medical bill away from joining the 46 million who struggled to get by beneath the poverty line last year. And despite claims that gender inequality is largely a thing of the past, working women and their children make up a disproportional share of those on the brink.

This week, researchers at the Center for American Progress (CAP) join forces with journalist Maria Shriver and big-name stars to shed light on this sorry reality. The Shriver Report — with chapters by CAP economist Heather Boushey, Barbara Ehrenreich and National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Ai-Jen Poo, along with Beyoncé, LeBron James and Eva Longoria — is titled, “A Woman’s Nation Pulls Back from the Brink,” and is being rolled out with much fanfare.

From the executive summary, written by Shriver:

The most common shared story in our country today is the financial insecurity of American families. Today, more than one in three Americans—more than 100 million people—live in poverty or on the edge of it. Half of all Americans will spend at least a few months churning into and out of poverty during their lifetimes. This economic immobility and inequality is a systemic and pervasive problem that President Barack Obama recently described as “the defining challenge of our time.”

The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink reveals this national crisis through the eyes of women. In an era when women have solidified their position as half of the U.S. workforce and a whopping two-thirds of the primary or co-breadwinners in American families, the reality is that a third of all American women are living at or near a space we call “the brink of poverty.”  We define this as less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $47,000 per year for a family of four…

The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink focuses the conversation on what working women need now to be successful in today’s economy, where women are powerful, but also powerless. Identifying why that is, why it matters, and what we as a nation can do about it is the mission of this report. What women need now is a country that supports the reality of women’s dual roles as by far the majority of the nation’s caregivers and breadwinners. At its heart, The Shriver Report is a call to the nation to modernize its relationship with women in order not only to strengthen our economy, but also to make it work better for everyone.

Or, as Maria Shriver says in her opening chapter, “Leave out the women, and you don’t have a full and robust economy. Lead with the women, and you do.”

The report will be accompanied by an HBO documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert, premiering in March.

You can download a free electronic copy of the report until January 15.

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  • Anonymous

    Aristotle was born in 384
    BC and died in 322 BC and nothing has changed since Aristotle’s time.
    The following is Aristotle’s rebuke of the sophists and sophism in
    favor of sublated dialectic balance and the reasons Aristotle gave
    for his rebuke of the sophists and sophism in favor of sublated
    dialectic balance:

    “Not only, it seems,
    does knowledge of a things essential nature help us to see the causes
    of its incidental properties — as in mathematics an understanding of
    straight and curve, line and plane, helps us to perceive the equality
    between the angles of a triangle and a certain number of right angles
    — but conversely as well, an acquaintance with a thing’s incidental
    properties greatly promotes an understanding of its essential nature.
    For we are best qualified to speak of a thing’s essential nature when
    we are able to give an account of all or most of its properties as
    they are directly experienced. To determine a thing’s real nature is
    the first step of any demonstration; HENCE DEFINITION THAT NEITHER
    PURPOSES OF DISPUTATION.” [Sophism.] –“Aristotle,”
    From ‘Psychology,’ Copyright 1935 by Odyssey Press, Inc. Page 119.

    “Should not our next
    task, then, be to inquire from whom and by what means we can learn to
    legislate? Legislation, as we have seen, is a branch of statecraft:
    are we to conclude, then, drawing an analogy from the other arts,
    that we must learn lawmaking from statesmen? Or is there a
    significant difference between statecraft and the other arts and
    sciences? In them, at any rate, we find instruction being offered by
    actual practitioners — by physicians and painters, for instance —
    whereas in the case of statecraft the SOPHISTS, who profess to teach
    it, are never found practicing it, while the politicians, who
    practice it, appear to rely less on reasoning than on a certain
    “natural ability” combined with experience. This seems
    clear from the fact that they never talk or write about their art;
    although to do so were doubtless worthier employment than to make
    speeches in courts and assemblies. Nor do they ever make statesmen of
    their own sons and friends — a thing which they presumably would
    have done had they been able, for apart from the invaluable legacy
    they would thereby confer on their city governments, there is no art
    whose possession they would have chosen for themselves, and
    consequently for their dearest friends, in preference to statecraft.
    At the same time, a statesman’s natural ability must be supplemented
    by experience; for otherwise we would not see men becoming statesmen
    by familiarity with practical statecraft. Anyone, therefore, who aims
    at a knowledge of statecraft will require practical experience as

    “Those of the
    sophists who profess to teach statecraft seem to be very far from
    doing anything of the kind: generally speaking, they scarcely know
    even the rudiments of the subject. If they did, they would not treat
    it as something identical with or even inferior to oratory, nor would
    they imagine it a simple matter to frame a system of laws by
    collecting whatever existing laws happen to be in good repute. In
    assuming that they can pick out whatever laws are best they forget
    that such selection presupposes sound understanding, and that it is
    every bit as hard to judge correctly in these matters as, say, in
    music. For while those who are well experienced in any department
    will pass valid judgments upon the particular results produced in it,
    and understand the means and method of their production, and know
    what combinations are harmonious; those, on the other hand, who are
    not well experienced must be content if they can perceive whether the
    general result produced is good or bad — as we may see also in the
    case of painting. Accordingly, since laws are, in a manner of
    speaking, the products of statecraft, how could anyone learn from the
    laws alone to become a legislator, or to judge which laws are best?
    Even physicians, it appears, are not made by the study of textbooks.
    It is true that the writers of medical textbooks undertake to
    describe not only the remedies but how to apply them in curing a
    particular type of patient, classified according to their bodily
    dispositions. But all that information, however serviceable it may be
    to those who have had experience, is useless to those who have had
    none. Similarly, then, while compilations of laws and constitutions
    are no doubt very serviceable to those who know how to examine them
    critically, to judge what is good or bad in them and what enactments
    suit what circumstances; yet when people without a “trained
    faculty” plod through such compilations, they cannot frame valid
    judgments unless they chance to do so by instinct — although they
    may, to be sure, acquire a certain amount of political discernment in
    the process.” — “Aristotle,” From ‘Nicomachean
    Ethics,’ Copyright 1935 by Odyssey Press, Inc. Pages 273 – 275.
    Posted by 1marthaa at 12:56 P.M. Jan. 13, 2014..