Some modest good news this week from the Census Bureau [pdf]: for the first time since the Great Recession began, the poverty rate is down a little and the child poverty rate is down a little more. The latter was driven by a bit of job growth and—among families with children—higher income.
But at this pace it'll take years for the poverty rate to get back down just to where it was in 2000.
Reading David Brooks sometimes makes me want to tear my newspaper to shreds, throw the shreds in the fireplace, and douse them in something that burns even faster. Of course, my fireplace is decorative and my newspaper’s actually a laptop, so I control myself.
Ordinarily, when Paul Ryan puts something out about poverty and social spending, the response is predictable and polarized. The senior House Republican and 2012 vice presidential nominee likes Ayn Rand and small government and racially coded criticism. We know what box to put him in.
Survey question from Pew: "Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough to help them live decently, or poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything?"
Almost four out of five conservatives: Oh the poor, totally have it easy.
I stood in the damp grass, on a warm afternoon, eating a veggie dog at the foreclosure-free picnic, with members of Mercy Junction. My husband started a worshiping community in Chattanooga, and they determined that housing issues would be a central part of their ministry. So they gathered, in solidarity with a man who was facing foreclosure after losing his job.
Ezra Klein’s work at the Washington Post is indispensable; he brings much insight to the task of making domestic policy accessible to those of us who only follow it part time. But I’m not buying this one:
There’s a tendency among some on the left and, with the “libertarian populists,” some on the right, to portray the interests of corporate American and the interests of low-income Americans as directly opposed to each other. That’s not true. They can conflict, of course — it’s easy enough to imagine a proposal to raise taxes on corporations in order to fund a low-income tax cut — but they’re not always in tension. Sometimes they’re even in concert.
I can’t quit thinking about Yakub. In my purse I have a print clipping that includes a photo of the 12-year-old boy staring into the camera with a copy of Steve Jobs’s biography held high over his head. I pull it out from time to time and imagine Yakub at work.