A weekly publication of 12/10/2013
|Did you know... ➢ Jobs in the US paying less than $34,000 a year: 50 percent.
➢ Jobs in the US paying below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 annually: 25 percent.
➢ Poverty-level wages, 2011: 28 percent of workers.
➢ Federal minimum wage: $7.25 ($2.13 for tipped workers).
I spent a few days in Baltimore last week at the State Fiscal Policy conference sponsored by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It was there that I heard the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber speak. Well, speak may not be the correct word to use. It was more like a Revival. And it was just what I needed to inspire and motivate me at a time when I felt the air starting to go out of my advocacy balloon.
This has been a long year for advocates, organizations, and agencies across the state and across the country who have worked tirelessly to ensure that basic needs are met for our most vulnerable population. But it has been an even longer and much harder year for the children and families who have seen their safety net shredded and the promise of health care through Medicaid expansion snatched out from under them.
It has been a year of frustration and anger as we watch more of our children slip into poverty, go to bed hungry, and wonder where that bed is going to betomorrow night. Unless Congress acts in the next week, before leaving DC for their warm homes and bountiful holiday festivities, sequestration will continue for another year resulting in more families slipping into poverty as jobs are cut or cut back, housing vouchers are cut, head start classrooms are cut, unemployment benefits are cut. Adding insult to injury our members of Congress are also debating how much more to cut from the food stamp program that was already cut on November 1st, leaving most with an average benefit of just $1.40 per meal.
So, I needed the thundering words of this brilliant orator to reignite the fire and give me a renewed sense of purpose. And now I’m ready to get back to work and that means playing offense instead of playing defense.
As Rev. Barber had us chanting in Baltimore, “Forward together. Not one step back.”
We are good at playing defense when it comes to addressing the difficult challenges that face our state. The primary obstacle we face is not related to a lack of goodwill, but rather to the fundamental way we understand the nature of the problems we face. More times than not, we merely respond to symptoms of a given problem [defense] and don’t pay adequate attention to the problem that is producing the symptoms [offense]. All of which puts the cart before the horse and keeps us from truly moving forward.
Take, for instance, the growing issue of child poverty. When we think about helping those in need (“giving back to those less fortunate,” as the popular adage goes), many of us usually focus on acts of charitable giving. After all it is the season of giving. In the malls we find Christmas trees with cards on them asking for a gift for a child in need. At the grocery store are pre-packaged groceries that we can purchase for a family in need. Charity in its many forms tries to help people who are in need, which is certainly important and worthy of our best efforts.
But even more important is figuring out why people are in need in the first place, and then working toward alleviating the root causes of such need (it’s one thing to give food to a person who is hungry, but it’s another thing entirely to eliminate the reasons they are hungry in the first place). While we can of course celebrate acts of charity that take place in our community, the ultimate goal isn’t simply about responding to symptoms, but abolishing the problems that produce the symptoms.
So, don’t you think that at a time when we see the income gap widening, ninety-five percent of the recovery gains since 2009 going to the top 1%, over ¼ of all jobs in the U.S. paying below poverty wages, and child well-being indicators falling in our state, now is the right time for all of us to rally around a set of common goals that will strengthen families and put them on a course leading to economic security?
This kind of change will require political will. Poverty and inequality are not naturally occurring events but rather products of our national and state economic policies.
Friday, December 13, 11am – 12pm, HHS Oversight Committee Meeting, Room 205, Legislative Office Building, Concord
Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!
This past January Greg Kaufmann, the poverty correspondent for The Nationand a contributor to BillMoyers.com, proposed an anti-poverty contractdesigned to organize the advocates, organizations, and agencies working to eradicate poverty around a simple, clear and concise anti-poverty agenda, that can engage new audiences and grow the movement.
Here are the 5 issues that Greg included in his contract:
- Raise the minimum wage
- Paid sick and family leave for all workers
- Affordable child care for all working families
- End childhood hunger
- TANF: a path to good jobs for those who can work, assistance for those who can’t
Over the next few weeks we will take a look at these issues and how they impact children and families in New Hampshire.
If you were building an anti-poverty contract what other issue areas would you include? Drop me an e-mail and let me know!
From our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute:
You are invited to...
NHFPI's 1st Annual Policy Conference
Government in the Granite State:
Past, Present, and Future
Join NHFPI and a range of local, regional, and national experts as we examine the role New Hampshire government has played - and may play in the years ahead - in fostering economic security, promoting health, supporting education, and addressing other critical public priorities.
Friday, January 31, 2014
8:30 am to 2:00 pm
Grappone Center, Concord, NH
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY
Do you need help with the new Health Insurance Marketplace?
Bi-State Primary Care Association and its Safety Net Coverage Collaborative comprised of twelve Community Health Centers and the North Country Health Consortium, is pleased to provide educational and enrollment assistance to New Hampshire residents accessing the NH Health Insurance Marketplace.
Trained navigators and certified application counselors are available throughout the state to provide impartial education about the Marketplace, help consumers understand and evaluate the Qualified Health Plans, apply for federal tax subsidies, and assist with the enrollment process.
The New Hampshire Health Insurance Marketplace is a state/federal partnership. Healthcare.gov is the website New Hampshire residents should use for additional information and to enroll.
For additional assistance, please contact:
:(603) 228-2830 x 160
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is also a NH Navigator Organization. Call 1-866-476-1321 to set up an appointment, or visit their website here to find answers to your questions about the new health care law, choosing a plan and more.
New Hampshire Campaign Director
Every Child Matters Education Fund
You can help win the fight for our kids by making a tax-deductible donation to ECM in any amount at www.everychildmatters.org.
Every Child Matters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to make children a national political priority. For more information, visit www.everychildmatters.org
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