Growing Number Of Americans Can’t Afford Food, Study Finds

The Huffington Post, Alexander Eichler 
First Posted: 02/28/2012 6:56 pm 
Updated: 02/28/2012 6:56 pm

Here in the United States, growing numbers of people can’t afford that most basic of necessities: food.

More Americans said they struggled to buy food in 2011 than in any year since the financial crisis, according to a recent report from the Food Research and Action Center, a nonprofit research group. About 18.6 percent of people — almost one out of every five — told Gallup pollsters that they couldn’t always afford to feed everyone in their family in 2011.

One might assume that number got smaller wrapped up with the national unemployment rate falling for several consecutive months. In actuality, the reverse proved true: the number of people who said they couldn’t afford food just kept rising and rising.

The findings from FRAC highlight what many people already know: The economic recovery, in theory now more than two years old, has done little to keep millions of Americans out of poverty and deprivation. Incomes for many haven’t kept pace with the cost of living, and for a large swath of the country, things today are as bad as ever, or worse.

Forty-six million people lived below the poverty line as of 2010, a record number, according to the Census Bureau, and one that’s not even as high as some other estimates would have it. Take a further step back and the situation appears even more dire. About 45 percent of people in the U.S. have reported not being able to cover their basic living expenses, including food, shelter and transportation, according to the group Wider Opportunities for Women.

The official poverty rate is about 15 percent, but over two-fifths of Americans have so little saved that one financial emergency is all it would take to put them in poverty, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

These high rates of financial insecurity — a consequence of the weak job market, and the prevalence of jobs that don’t pay very well – are making themselves felt at the level of everyday spending.

Recently, for example, a Center for Housing Policy study found that a growing number of middle-income owners and renters are paying more than half their earnings just to keep a roof over their heads. And as of 2009, almost one in five Americans over 50 years old were skipping on doctor visits, switching to cheaper medications or forgoing some medicines entirely out of financial necessity, according to a recently published study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a think tank.

As for widespread hunger of the kind recorded by FRAC, research shows that the entire country ends up paying one way or another. While the people who can’t afford food are obviously suffering the worst, the social costs incurred – from the money spent to keep food pantries open to the lifelong diminished earning power of impoverished children — come to about $167 billion a year, or $542 for every man, woman and child in the country.

via Growing Number Of Americans Can’t Afford Food, Study Finds – Occupy Monsanto.

Woman put in jail for being poor

Published: 14 January, 2012, 03:00

Woman jailed for 10 days because she’s too poor to pay fine

The recession ruined Linda Ruggles’ business and she has been selling plasma twice a week since to make ends meet. The blood bank couldn’t bail her out from behind bars though, which is where she ended up after she couldn’t pay a $480 fine.

That fine, say cops in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, came about because Linda Ruggles had a messy yard.

Barely getting by in recent years, Ruggles, 53, has been stockpiling scraps to pawn off in order to make her bill payments. In her yard rests a pile of metal that she routinely cashes in to get by.

Elsewhere outside her house is a shack of shingles. Paying to have her roof fixed, often a job that comes at a cost of several thousand dollars, has been out of the question.

So when cops ticketed her $480 for having a messy yard, Ruggles wasn’t exactly prepared to pay it.

“I told everyone, ‘If I had $480 to pay the fine, I’d fix the roof,’”‘ she told Charleston, South Carolina ‘s Post and Courier.

Ruggles couldn’t fix the roof, however, and she couldn’t pay the fine either. For being unable to do so, she was sentenced to serve 10 days in jail for failing to pay her “clean lot violation.”

“I feel like they want to make an example out of me,” Ms Ruggles tells the paper. “This should be an embarrassment for the town of Mount Pleasant. And it should be an embarrassment for my neighbors who called the code enforcement officer, because no one offered to help me – no one.”

Six days into her sentence, however, Ruggles was allowed home only to be greeted by an array of local residents who read about her plight and offered to help. That assistance came only after nearly a week in jail and legal complications which are surely only going to add onto the troubles (and scrap metal) which has already piled up.

“It didn’t change the situation,” she adds. “I just don’t think being handcuffed, photographed and fingerprinted is really a behavior-modification tool to keep me from being poor.”

On the bright side, the neighborhood grocery store that Ruggles works part-time at has allowed her to reclaim her position after her brief stint behind bars. On the bright side, that is, as long as she can forget about her last shift behind the register. It was on the job last month when the cops entered her place of business and hauled her off to jail.

via Woman put in jail for being poor — RT.

City of Cleveland Passes Emergency Vote to Support Occupy Movement

Written by admin on 06 December 2011

Cleveland City Council officially supports the Occupy Movement

 
The Cleveland City Council pass an emergency resolution 1720-11 in support of Occupy Cleveland and the Occupy Movement in general. The final vote from all the Wards was 18 yea and 1 nay.

With the passing of the 1720-11 resolution Cleveland (a US City with a population of 2,250,000 people) joins other cities (Seattle, LA and Chicago etc.) that also have voiced their official support of the Occupy Movement. The following Resolution was sent to President Barack Obama and all members of the U.S. Congress.

Cleveland City Council officially supports the Occupy Movement
Cleveland’s Resolution No. 1720-11

Council Members Cummins, Westbrook,Zone, Cimperman, Cleveland, Mitchell,J. Johnson, Brancatelli, Brady, Polensek, Pruitt, Conwell, K. Johnson, Dow. FOR ADOPTION December 5, 2012

AN EMERGENCY RESOLUTION

Recognizing and supporting the principles of the Occupy Movement and the peaceful and lawful exercise of the First Amendment as a cherished and fundamental right in the effort to seek solutions for economically distressed Americans at the federal, state and local levels; committing to work with the Jackson administration to take steps to minimize economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City of Cleveland; and requesting our County, State and U.S. elected leaders generate solutions for economically distressed Americans.

WHEREAS, Cleveland community members, like others across the United States, are frustrated by the continuing economic crisis that threatens individual, family, small local business and City finances, and our community’s quality of life, and are participating in Occupy protests to make their voices heard; and

WHEREAS, the economic roots of these protests are varied, including sustained unemployment, growing income disparity, banking system failures, stalled earning power, and unjust tax systems, that all contribute to ongoing wealth disparities; and

WHEREAS, the political roots of these protests are also varied, including the growing political power of corporations, influence of money on elections and public policy and inability of average citizens to have their voices heard and needs met through formal political forums,thus contributing to citizens pursuing alternative political arenas; and

WHEREAS, this prolonged economic downturn has hurt nearly all Americans, in the areas of wealth loss, unemployment, and housing access, it has taken an even greater toll on people of color and women. Women are 29% more likely to be poor than men. The poverty rate for single mother families has increased to 40.7%. Economic gains made by people of color since the Civil Rights Movement have been substantially reduced by the Great Recession; and Caucasian Americans experienced a net wealth loss of 16 percent from 2005 to 2009. African Americans lost about half of their wealth and Latinos lost two-thirds of their wealth in this same period [Ref: Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010]

WHEREAS, more than 25 million Americans are unemployed and seeking work; more than 50 million Americans are living without health insurance; and, more than one in five American children are growing up in households living in poverty without sufficient resources tomeet basic survival needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter
[Ref: unemployed defined as unemployed,marginally attached to the labor force, or working only part-time for economic reasons, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-15.Alternative measures of labor underutilization];
and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in its report, a “CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report – United States, 2011″ documents that income inequality in the United States is the highest among advanced industrialized nations, with wide-spread inequities in U.S. health outcomes by income, race, and gender; and

WHEREAS, over the past 30 years, gains in our economy have accrued largely to the top 1% of Americans, who now control 43% of the total net wealth, and to the next 19% on the top that control 50% of the wealth in the United States (top 20% controls 93% of wealth with the bottom 80% controlling only 7%) due in part to public policies that can be changed
[Ref:Wealth Income and Power , by G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz, 2011]
; and

WHEREAS, one of the largest problems distressing our economy is the prolonged foreclosure crisis, with many owners struggling to obtain loan adjustments and too many banks continuing the use of flawed review procedures which end up flooding the housing market with foreclosures and result in blighted and de-valued housing stock due to the high number of properties being left vacant and abandoned and poorly maintained; and

WHEREAS, the Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria metropolitan area has been particularly hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis, ranking 27th of 366 metropolitan statistical areas in the rate of foreclosures (8.2%) according to a March, 2011 ranking compiled by an analysis of LPS Applied Analytics Data by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); and

WHEREAS, the Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria metropolitan areas ranked eighth amongst the nation’s 25 largest metro areas in its percentage of underwater mortgages (41.5%) according to third quarter 2011 data provided by Zillow Real Estate Market reports; and

WHEREAS, local governments are straining under the increasing weight of responsibility to provide for basic support services at a time of declining tax revenues and as a result of budget reductions by the state and federal government; and

WHEREAS, the structural causes of the economic crisis facing our society require decisive and sustained action at the national and state levels. Cities are harmed by the crisis and must play an important role in the development of public policy to address it; and

WHEREAS, this Council commits to working with the Jackson administration to continue taking steps to minimize economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City by:

1. following the City’s Community Reinvestment Act practices to ensure that public funds are invested in responsible financial institutions that demonstrate strong support for our community. The Council may also consider future legislation to promote responsible banking and provide an incentive for banking institutions to invest more in our City, particularly with regard to stabilizing the housing market and supporting the creation of new businesses. This review should include evaluating City policies on responsible depositing and management of City funds;

2. examining the number of home foreclosures in Cleveland, the geographic neighborhoods in which the foreclosures are occurring, and lender information on homes involved in the foreclosure process, including real estate owned homes; working with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, the City of Cleveland Housing Court, and Case Western Reserve University’s NEOCanDo to gather qualitative data on the circumstances and causes of foreclosures and the foreclosure methods and practices of lenders, including reviewing apparent inequities many people in Cleveland face when lender foreclosure proceedings occur;

3. consulting with advocates of tax reform and experts on equitable taxation and review past tax reform efforts in order to work effectively with the County and State Legislature toward a more equitable tax structure;

4. as federal and state assistance dwindles, continuing to use available resources to provide assistance for the most vulnerable people in Cleveland; and

5. because reforms in education and career preparation are essential for building a viable future and disparities in these areas begin very early in life and often continue through adulthood,seeking maximum possible funding for Early Learning and Basic Education in the State Legislative Agenda; and recognizing the critical importance of supporting community colleges,technical colleges, and state universities as they provide access to retraining and workforce development opportunities; and

WHEREAS, Congress must generate solutions for economically distressed Americans by:

1. Supporting job creation, making substantial investments in the nation’s critical physical and technological infrastructure, and reducing the deficit by adopting fiscal policies with equitable corporate and individual taxation and by allowing the 2010 extension of President Bush’s tax cuts to expire in 2012 as the law currently requires;

2. Tightening regulation of the banking and financial sector, including adoption of new rules and vigorous investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporations that violate the fraud, theft, and securities laws; and

3. Retaining or increasing community-building block grants for local schools and social services and protect public education from devastating cuts and prevent tuition levels that block fair access to higher education; and

WHEREAS, this Council does not condone actions that infringe upon the lawful rights of others, obstruct or interfere with the efforts of law enforcement officers to protect such rights, or cause personal injury or property destruction; and

WHEREAS, Americans can and must resolve the divisive economic and social realitiesfacing our nation in a peaceful way that honors our commitment to democracy, equality and justice; and

WHEREAS, this resolution constitutes an emergency measure for the immediate preservation of public peace, property, health, or safety, now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CLEVELAND:

Section 1. That this Council recognizes and supports the principles of the Occupy Movement and the peaceful and lawful exercise of the First Amendment as a cherished and fundamental right in the effort to seek solutions for economically distressed Americans at the federal, state and local levels.

Section 2. That this Council commits to working with the Jackson administration to continue taking steps to minimize economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City of Cleveland.

Section 3.
That this Council requests our Congressional leaders generate solutions for economically distressed Americans.

Section 4.
That the Clerk of Council is directed to transmit copies of this resolution to President Barack Obama and all members of the U.S. Congress.

Section 5.
That this resolution is hereby declared to be an emergency measure and, provided it receives the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to Council, it shall take effect and be in force immediately upon its adoption and approval by the Mayor; otherwise, it shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by law.

BC:rns12/5/11
SLF ®12/5/2011 6:17 PM

via City of Cleveland Passes Emergency Vote to Support OWS | KenBurridge.com.

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