Poverty and Banking

thinking1000104288Poverty and Banking

I’ve always wanted to teach a class with a spreadsheet analysis of several income groups. One would be a family of four at the poverty level, a little more than $20,000 a year and then two more at middle and upper class wage scales. I’d have the students calculate a budget. Then I would throw a few curve balls at them to see how they adapt – nothing spectacular, a flat tire, a child who wants $179 to go to band camp, etc. My students would see very quickly how awful it is to live on the line of financial disaster every day, to risk losing home and automobile constantly. They might see how difficult it is to live even while both parents are working. Of course, a good number of them are in that situation now. But for some, it would still be an important lesson.

It’s a small dream of mine.

James Pilant

8 surprising ways poverty is absurdly expensive – Salon.com

If you are poor you either don’t have a bank account (8 percent of American households) or have one that costs so much your money drains away. 28.3% of Americans conduct at least some of their financial transactions “outside of the mainstream banking system,” meaning they have to rely on expensive alternatives like non-bank money orders, check-cashing services, prepaid debit cards and payday loans.

For the poor, even being lucky enough to have a bank account means high fees. You don’t have enough to meet the minimum balance requirements so you pay a monthly fee that eats away at any money you have. You will pay a fee averaging $6 to cash your paycheck. You will be hit by terrible fees if the money runs out before the month does. Overdraft fees are incredible. A Pew graphic illustrates how the median overdraft for a $36 transaction racks up a median $35 in fees. “If an overdraft was treated like a short-term loan with a repayment period of seven days, then the annual percentage rate for a typical incidence would be over 5,000 percent.”

If you are not able to get a bank account (or don’t want to risk paying 5000% for writing a check), things are even worse. You turn to payday lenders. Payday loans cost an average of more than 138 percent in interest and fees. According to Think Progress,

“Most take out nine repeat loans per year with an interest rate as high as 400 percent. Forty-four percent of borrowers ultimately default, even after paying back their loans several times over, and thus are pushed ever closer to poverty. Critics have called the practice ‘legalized loan sharking’ and describe the industry as ‘bottom feeders.’ In recent years, major banks have also joined in the practice.”

via 8 surprising ways poverty is absurdly expensive – Salon.com.

From around the web.

From the web site, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty


Residents from the Jane and Finch community and their allies have been calling for a $14 minimum wage for over a year.

Thousands of residents in our community support the $14 minimum wage demand because workers, particularly low income workers in our community and across the province, need meaningful raise now in order to meet their most basic needs!

The rumour that the provincial government might increase the minimum wage to only $11/hour does not help.  It just continues to legislate a poverty wage.

Poor People Having Air Conditioning Offends Fox News

Fox News Channel
Fox News Channel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Poor People Having Air Conditioning Offends Fox News


I’m originally from Oklahoma and we often have weeks of above 100 degree temperature. In fact, one year Oklahoma City had fifty one days in a row of above 100 degree temperature.


So, I find air conditioning to be a necessity for many people not to mention those like me with serious allergies. And, of course, air conditioners are now mass produced to the extent that new ones are less than one hundred dollars and used ones much less. So, even poor people can often acquire one. It does not make me angry that poor people have them.


Should poor people have to actively suffer so that Fox News commentators can feel better about themselves? I hope not.


Being poor is hideous. Every expense is a problem that may not be solvable. Every day is another day of not having things other people take for granted; having things like food. Apparently the reality of food insecurity in this country is not taken seriously by Fox News.


  • In 2010, 17.2 million households, 14.5 percent of
    households (approximately one in seven), were food
    insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United
    States 1
    (Coleman-Jensen 2011, p. v.) 
  • In 2010, about one-third of food-insecure households
    (6.7 million households, or 5.4 percent of all U.S.
    households) had very low food security (compared with 4.7
    million households (4.1 percent) in 2007.
    In households with very low food security, the food
    intake of some household
    members was reduced, and their normal eating patterns
    were disrupted
    because of the household’s food insecurity
    (Coleman-Jensen 2011, p. v.,

    Nord  2009
    , p. iii.) .


I’ll let them have air conditioning. It doesn’t diminish me.


James Pilant


Hasselbeck Says People On Welfare Shouldn’t Have Air Conditioners




When the right-wing talks about welfare and ‘entitlements,’ their not-so Christian attitude becomes abundantly clear. They have all sorts of stories about how welfare recipients experience all of the finer things in life and clearly they are abusing the system. Welfare recipients are not supposed to have nice clothes; they should wear rags instead so that Republicans are satisfied that they are indeed poor. Recipients are not allowed to have a decent looking car, who cares if it was bought before they fell on hard times. People on welfare should never, ever buy junk food. Oh that cake was for your kid’s birthday? Too bad, celebrate with mud pies. A welfare recipient has a phone? Well they shouldn’t! Poor people shouldn’t have phones! Well now Elisabeth Hasselbeck and her fellow co-workers over at Fox News have new items to add to the list of things poor people should not own or use: televisions and air conditioning.


Hasselbeck Says Welfare Recipients Don’t Deserve Air Conditioning


Yes, you read that right. Hasselbeck thinks that if a person is on government assistance they are not entitled to a television in their home — or an air conditioner.


via Hasselbeck Says People On Welfare Shouldn’t Have Air Conditioners.


From around the web.


From the web site, Poverty and Policy.




Seems that the Heritage Foundation has dusted off some old rhetoric and shaped some new data to fit it. Thus it proclaims, much as it did
in 2007, that “many of the 30 million Americans defined as ‘poor’ and
in need of government assistance” are actually doing very nicely, thank


First, a word of clarification. The reference to 30 million is just sloppy blogging. The Foundation’s actual report says “over 30 million.” Technically accurate, but minimizing. The latest Census Bureau income and poverty report tell us that there were nearly 43.6 million people in poverty in 2009.


As I (and many others) have written before, this figure is based on a rather primitive and woefully outdated measure, i.e., the inflation-adjusted cost of what used to be the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s cheapest meal plan.


The Census Bureau is developing an alternative measure based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences.


But the Heritage Foundation doesn’t care for that — indeed, has
delivered its latest blast in part to argue (again) that the new measure
is a sneaky scheme by the Obama administration to advance a “spread the
wealth” agenda.


Its main goal, however, is to give aid and comfort to Republicans in Congress who want to slash spending on public benefits.



Ethics Bob has some Choice Words about Mitt Romney

English: Governor Mitt Romney of MA
Image via Wikipedia

Mitt Romney: Liar, liar, pants on fire. Said he didn’t care about poor people, now brushes it off as “I misspoke” « Ethics Bob

(Here’s a representative paragraph. jp)

But appearing so heartless can be costly to a Presidential candidate. So Romney tried to lie his way out of it, saying he misspoke. But he didn’t misspeak. Misspeaking is when I call my granddaughter by her sister’s name. Misspeaking is when John McCain tells a Romney gathering that he’s confident that President Obama will cure the nation’s ills. Misspeaking is not saying something, then when challenged explaining what you said. He didn’t misspeak.

Mitt Romney: Liar, liar, pants on fire. Said he didn’t care about poor people, now brushes it off as “I misspoke” « Ethics Bob

Ethics Bob is holding Romney to the standard of truth.

I also found Romney’s original statement much more credible than his later correction. The conviction that he worked hard and others have not making them unworthy is part of his make up. Otherwise his overwhelming sense of entitlement would make no sense to him.

I do not believe that the struggles and the pain of American workers and the middle class have any relevance to him. His devotion is only to the comically titled, “job creators.”

James Pilant

Enhanced by Zemanta

Adding Insult to Injury – America’s Debt Ceiling Crisis & Who is responsible for the financial crisis in America? (via Tucson Blonde)

This is a explanation of why the rich are gaining ground and the middle class losing it. It cites statistics on a regular basis. No statistic cited is anything that I have heard contrary data on. So, I think the report was written with considerable research. I would note that there is not just a little passion in the post which is delightful to me but not always to my readers.

This blogger wrote a lengthy, well written and thoughtful article. Please visit the web site and reward those efforts.

James Pilant

Whose side is Congress on? In November 2009 the New York Times published an article about the number of US Senators and House members who were millionaires.[i] At the time two-thirds (66%) of the senate and more than half (55%) of the house were also millionaires. That year recorded an estimate of nearly 7% (ca. 21 million) Americans who were, at least, millionaires. If our “representatives” truly reflected the current state of our great Nation w … Read More

via Tucson Blonde

Human Rights Facts (229): Tens of Thousands of U.S. Citizens Die of Poverty Each Year (via P.a.p.-Blog)

The data is for 2000 but as all of us familiar with the economic data know, we live in worse times. But don’t expect any concern from Congress or the President. They are scurrying to the commands of the tens of thousands of lobbyists in Washington. The poor are generally unable to deploy lobbyists and their campaign contributions are small, very small.

James Pilant

Human Rights Facts (229): Tens of Thousands of U.S. Citizens Die of Poverty Each Year (source) Poverty kills, it seems. As if it's not bad enough in itself. Although death is often multicausal, a study has tried to estimate in how many cases poverty is a contributing factor: For 2000, the study attributed 176,000 deaths to racial segregation and 133,000 to individual poverty. The nu … Read More

via P.a.p.-Blog

Heritage Foundation’s Report Lacks Real Information (via Colloquial Usage)

I was appalled when I read the Heritage report. Apparently if your children have video games and you can afford a fridge, you really can’t be in that much economic distress? How weird are these guys? I appreciate this take down of their case that appliance ownership negates economic insecurity.

James Pilant

Heritage Foundation's Report Lacks Real Information What is Poverty? a new report by The Heritage Foundation, has been getting a lot of press this week, first from Fox News and then from The Colbert Report. In fact, a link to the report was the first item that came up this morning when I searched for the term “poor in America” on Google. According to the abstract, the report's aim is to address the following problem: Exaggeration and misinformation about poverty obscure the nature, extent, and cau … Read More

via Colloquial Usage

Are Things As Bad As They Seem? (via Info Ink)

Yes, they are every bit that bad.

James Pilant

The partisanship…..the extremism……lack of respect…….the out right lies…….the misinformation (and yes, it is different from lies)…….and it all comes down to the American voter….YOU voted for morons and now you are paying the price for that vote…..I know, what could be so bad we might get lower taxes and balanced budget and spending controls….what could be so bad? Glad you asked!  While you were bobbing and weaving through t … Read More

via Info Ink

Philip Yancey on what american churches have become. (via Dover Beach)


James Pilant

Philip Yancey on what american churches have become. “In view of Jesus’ clear example, how is it that the church has now become a community of respectability, where the down-and-out no longer feel welcome? The middle-class church many of us know today bears little resemblance to the diverse group of social rejects described in the Gospels and the book of Acts.”   – Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew … Read More

via Dover Beach

Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 2) (via For A Better Malaysia)

To use or not to use nuclear power? This article focuses on Malaysia but the issues are the same everywhere on our planet.

Costs, safety, and most important, trust, are the primary elements. That trust is on the list might surprise you. But I can’t help but feel the soothing hand of corporate PR every time I read some right-wing blog’s assurances that the amount of radiation is inconsequential and the constant, continuous claims that the technology is better now. Didn’t they say that after Chernobyl? Didn’t they say that after Three Mile Island, etc? It’s one of the classics, reassuringly pointless.

I am tired of PR. If the nuclear industry had ever been in anyway honest over the last fifty years I would feel differently but there is no trust here and without trust there can be no agreement.

This posting is an intelligent analysis and I enjoyed it.

James Pilant

Radiation is invisible and cannot be recalled. In a nuclear crisis, there will be many questions about radiation. As the Japanese people are now discovering, it is a nightmare trying to make sense of the uncertainties. How do you know when you are in danger?How long will this danger persist?How can you reduce the danger to yourself and your family?What level of exposure is safe?How do you get access to vital information in time to prevent or mini … Read More

via For A Better Malaysia

New Paradigms Needed (via Zielona Grzybnia)

Thinking allowed! Wow, I’d like to see more of this.

This essay is entirely correct. We are in the middle of a new age and those that wave the flag while endlessly repeating the failed answers of a disastrous last fifty years are simply out of touch. We are going to have to change and pretense doesn’t cut it.

It’s time to go to the next step. What are the paradigms? Let’s state what the basic principles are going to look like from the worm’s eye view.

As a member of the intelligentsia, I get the new paradigm thing. Around here, paradigms come and go like falling leaves.

Whether I understand them or not is not that important. How can they be stated in a way that is persuasive to a new generation? How can they be stated in such a way that those clinging to the nonsense of the past will realize they have to move on?

Read the essay. I’m sure we will see more from this blog.

James Pilant

Through all its history humanity has been facing challanges which often seemed unsolvable. Nevertheless, we have been able to achieve a solution every time so far – sometimes better, sometimes worse, but we’ve done it. Today again we face a whole spectrum of huge challanges: the climate change with all its facettes. Biodiversity reduction due to general damages to ecosystems all over the world. Poverty and undernourishment. There are many proposa … Read More

via Zielona Grzybnia