In a somewhat bizarre op-ed last week, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof acknowledged, “I’m no expert on domestic poverty,” and then seemingly set out to prove it.
Chrissy Fairbanks poses with her daughters Angela, 11, and Alexus, 12, at their home, in Keene, N.H. Chrissy Fairbanks has been legally blind since she was 9, and the Fairbanks family receives Supplemental Security Income for the disabled. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
He drew a dangerous and brazen, anecdotally based conclusion that the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which benefits one of the most vulnerable populations in the country — low-income children with disabilities and their parents — must be cut and those resources diverted to early education initiatives in order to help children escape poverty. The thrust of Kristof’s argument is based on a secondhand account of parents in Appalachian Kentucky who allegedly pulled their children out of a literacy program in order to continue receiving disability benefits.
Shop owner Tamara Doherty, paces outside her store just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
We’re spending a holiday season weekend at the home of friends in a small Connecticut town just a few miles up the road from Newtown. Returning from the local store, our friend Emily tells us that the talk there this morning is of nothing but the killings; every customer seems to know at least one of the families devastated by the volleys of gunshots. The headline on the front page of The Danbury News-Times is the single word, “Shattered,” in enormous type.
At The Atlantic website, I read a piece by Edward Small, a reporter who attended the school in Newtown when he was a kid and I remember my own elementary school in a small town in upstate New York. In those days, the only emergency drills we ever had were the duck-and-cover alerts that sent us into the hallways or under our desks during the depths of Cold War hysteria; the only violence was getting shoved from behind by a bully, books and binder flying.
An attack like this new deadly assault would have been unimaginable at my school, not unimaginable like it was in Newtown until yesterday but unimaginable, period — simply because I truly believe that back then it never would have happened. There were plenty of guns around; deer hunters abounded and as baby boomers many of our fathers had served during World War II and returned home with firearms they kept hidden away. (Mine didn’t have a gun but a small, ceremonial German dagger in a faux-ivory scabbard. He must have bought or traded for it. Dad was a pharmacist and had been a medical supply officer in the Army – that dagger certainly wasn’t acquired in hand-to-hand combat).
Tonya Crenshaw, left, and Kendrick Haraalson fill out applications at a job fair in Ohio in Brookpark, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
In May 2012, Richard Crowe was laid off when the steel mill where he had worked for thirty-four years was shut down. He’d worked there since graduating from high school. New ownership filed for bankruptcy.
“The judge threw the workers’ contract out, the owners walked away with $20 million, and we got nothing,” says Crowe, who is 54 and lives in eastern Ohio.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The Volcker Rule has hit a number of speed bumps recently. The rule is a proposed bit of regulation included in Dodd-Frank that would prevent banks from investing their own funds for profit, a practice called proprietary trading. It was designed to reinstitute some of the separation between investment banks and commercial banks that was lost when the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999.
When the rule was initially proposed by Paul Volcker, the former United States Federal Reserve chairman, it was estimated that it would cost big banks engaging in the practice about $4 billion dollars in pre-tax earnings annually. In October, the S&P released a report revising that estimate to $10 billion. According to Bloomberg, the S&P analysis looked at the profits of 8 U.S. banks, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
FCC Chairman Julias Genachowski. (photo credit: flickr user wiredbike)
This week the FCC is considering a proposal to relax longstanding media ownership rules in top markets — a move that would allow Big Media, like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, to monopolize print and electronic media in key markets, controlling local news and likely contributing to the lack of diversity in American media.
This isn’t a new idea. Similar attempts by the FCC to change ownership rules — under the dubious defense of saving newspapers — were thwarted in 2007 (and in 2003).
Bill covered the 2007 debacle for Bill Moyers Journal, reporting how then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin tried to change the rules, facing a blistering public response as a result. Watch the segment below not only to see Big Media politics at work, but also to see strong and moving American voices in protest making a difference.
In 1992, Pathways to Housing founder Dr. Sam Tsemberis offered a novel approach to ending a seemingly intractable problem: “The cure for homelessness is a home. It’s that simple,” he said.
He developed the “Housing First” model for the most severely psychiatrically disabled and addicted homeless people in New York City. It first provides a person with an apartment, and then combines that housing with comprehensive services in mental and physical health, substance abuse, education and employment. The apartments are scattered throughout a community, which fosters a sense of self-determination and speeds reintegration.
Homeless veteran George Krider poses for a portrait at a homeless shelter in San Diego. Krider has lived on and off the streets since leaving the navy with the rank of Petty Officer Second Class. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
“People want to feel normal,” Christy Respress, executive director of Pathways to Housing D.C., tells me. “That doesn’t really happen if ‘home’ is some building that says ‘Pathways to Housing’ across the front, and everyone knows that anyone who walks into that building has a serious mental illness.”
“They tweet and they titter. They chat and they chitter. But the bear snores on.” – from Bear Snores On
Inside the Beltway, the weather has turned cold, trees are mostly bare, and sounds and voices outside are distinct as more and more people remain indoors.
On Capitol Hill, conversations are focused on billions and trillions, cliffs and sequestrations, and theories and suppositions about ongoing negotiations. A thankful media cheers on, discovering a new horserace to replace the one just ended.
But for too many people – most of whom receive little or no attention in this town — there is nothing vague, abstract, or racy about these budget decisions.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives Chamber. (AP Photo/Kalim A. Bhatti)
The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch reports that during the primary and general elections in the 2012 election cycle, and during recall elections held since 2010, 117 members of the American Legislative Exchange Council lost their seats. Arizona, Wisconsin and Minnesota were three states where ALEC lost considerable ground.
BillMoyers.com ALEC map
ALEC is a national organization that brings state-level legislators and corporate lobbyists together to write legislation behind closed doors. The model bills developed by ALEC have been the subject of criticism by groups including Color of Change and CMD, which launched the site ALEC Exposed. Earlier this year, Moyers & Company took a closer look at ALEC with the documentary “United States of ALEC,” which will be rebroadcast this weekend on many public television stations.