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Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

Department of Juvenile Justice: Miami’s River of Life

By Shelly Lynn | NFP | April 12th, 2014 |

George E. Ellis has over thirty years of dedicated involvement with youth, civic and social issues within Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida. His experience and expertise has allowed him to serve as a member of several state and local Boards and provided Miami’s River of Life with the unique opportunity of being chosen by Miami-Dade County government to provide Home Detention and Juvenile Probationary Supervision in 2001 when the state budget fell short of the community’s needs. As a provider of residential and shelter services to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and other state agencies, Mr. Ellis has unequivocally demonstrated his knowledge of the issues and needs of our state and local communities. He truly believes that many of the behavior problems exhibited by our youth today is due to “a broken spirit caused by a lack of love,” He is committed to serving the youth and families of our communities, whose situation in life looks hopeless, through Miami’s River of Life programs and assistance.

Department of Juvenile Justice: Miami’s River of Life by Michelle Marie Mlacker on Mixcloud

RadioActive—Jogging in Place: The Anti-Hunger Movement in America

By Michael Matthiesen | November 11th, 2013 |

Sunday @ 6PM, To those in the realm of community social change, food charity will never be an adequate response to the hunger crisis. Not only does it fail to put a dent in the problem, by averting our gaze from the real issue—growing inequality—it ends up costing us all in ballooning health care expenditure, lost productivity, unsafe and divided neighborhoods, and unrealized potential. UM Ph.D Candidate Natalie Kivell discussed more on routes this growing social movement can take.

Natalie Brown Kivell is trained in Community Psychology and is an Agent of Social Change whose passion and skill overlap to create an ideal consultant for community and organizational level change. She is very enthusiastic about her work and her community, and she endeavors to support and work with those who continue to make this community a wonderful place to live.

RadioActive—Jogging in Place: The Anti-Hunger Movement in America by Wvumnews on Mixcloud

Interview: Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders and #TakeOverFL [Audio]

By Hyan Freitas | News Director | July 26th, 2013 |

Phillip B. Agnew is executive director of the Dream Defenders.  The organization, made up mainly of young people and college students, is getting a lot of attention for their efforts to “take over Florida”. They’re literally making Florida’s state capital building their home for now as they push for Florida’s state legislature to, via a special session, pass something they’re calling “Trayvon’s Law” which they say would  address issues like the racial profiling, zero tolerance policies which create school-to-prison pipelines, and the Stand Your Ground.

They’ve already gotten  Governor Rick Scott’s attention, and other lawmakers in Tallahassee are starting to listen in as well.  Even celebrities and national media outlets are paying attention and helping spread their message.  In an interview with ‘The Weekly Voice’ live from the capital via phone, Agnew  discussed his organization, their efforts at the state capital and some of the roadblocks and successes that have come their way leading up to their 11th day of “occupation”.

Interview: Phillip Agnew | the Dream Defenders #TakeOverFL by Wvumnews on Mixcloud

The Weekly Voice airs Fridays at 10a.m. EST and is hosted by Hyan Freitas on WVUM 90.5FM | WVUM.org

The Farm Bill and Poverty in the United States

By Jordan Lewis | Counterpoint | June 14th, 2013 |

 

This week, the U.S. Senate passed an extensive, 955 billion dollar Farm Bill package that will extend certain subsidies and crop insurance packages for the next 10 years. The Senate also cut $3.9 billion from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which allows low-income families to pay for food costs, through the food stamp program. The Republican-led House of Representatives voted on its own version, cutting food stamps by $20.5 billion over the next 10 years, denying 2 million people the food they need.  From a policy and an ethical standpoint, Congress erred by cutting SNAP considering that poverty has only worsened since the Great Recession.

Over time, food stamps were integrated as part of the Farm Bill as a means for urbanites to support the agricultural sector. While preserving family farms should be a focus of the government, much of our agricultural policy is rooted in giving subsidies to large corporations such as Monsanto, whose bottom line is enhanced by the American taxpayer. Other recipients of this money include wealthy landowners, such as Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN), who cited the Bible in his defense of cutting food stamps: (while pocketing $70,000 in farm subsidies) “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Food stamps provide an important function in combating both urban and rural poverty. They not only provide additional resources for the user to pay for their other needs, but also help provide sensible nutrition, which will save us money in the long run. They also provide the biggest economic stimulus per dollar out of any policy the government could enact (multiplier effect of 1.73 per dollar spent). Americans think that hunger is a relic of the past, and while it is true that the United States produces a surplus of food, hunger is an everyday battle for many families. One out of five American children (16 million) struggle with hunger (No Kid Hungry). With extensive health and retirement benefits, and a healthy salary, most members of Congress are seemingly unaware of the challenges of surviving on food stamps. This week, nearly 30 congressmen will take the SNAP challenge and live on $4.50 a day, as 47 million Americans (1 in 7, half of whom are children) do. In many cases, SNAP isn’t enough, evidenced by record numbers serviced at food banks and other charities.

Furthermore, over half of Americans will spend a year under the poverty line. The government has the resources to combat poverty and has instead squandered it on corporate welfare, tax cuts for the wealthy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the drug war. The poor don’t have the political clout that America’s wealthy do. In an era where demagogues like Grover Norquist make any tax increase on America’s wealthiest an anathema, America’s poor are left to fight for themselves.

Over the last few years, conservatives have used welfare as a means to rile up their base and stoke racial divisions among Americans. In fact, the majority of welfare recipients are white, and working Americans. We’ve seen a rise in unemployment and a great increase in discouraged workers that artificially reduced the unemployment rate. Pension plans and other economic security measures have weakened over the last 10 years as employers look to cut back on expenses. Many Americans today work part-time jobs or work without a living wage, or suitable health care coverage. On this topic, the Florida Legislature voted to eliminate Miami-Dade County’s minimum wage provision that will only hurt the weakest in our society.

America’s working poor is growing and growing as the middle class has shrunk. Many workers are forced to take multiple jobs or make incredible sacrifices to make ends meet. The average Chartwells’ worker at UM makes less than $20,000 a year and often must rely on assistance programs to pay their mortgages, get health care, or eat.

If you thought that poverty in America was on the downturn, recent policy alternatives may make it worse.
The decline in unionization has cost millions of workers decent jobs, and the advent of Right to Work (for less) in states like Indiana (and already in Florida) will union and non-union workers alike.

The sequester has laid off millions of workers and hurt many more. Republican cuts to the social safety net have only worsened poverty.

A failure to pass a suitable immigration bill will jeopardize the prosperity of millions of Americans already here and allow owners the leverage to pay their legal workers less.

Unless Congress acts, the student loan interest rate will double to 6.8%, with student debt already surpassing $1 billion and difficult to remove even post-bankruptcy. (Our banks receive preferred rates of less than 1% from the Fed).
However, the biggest test to controlling poverty over the next generation is securing our entitlement programs. Republican ideas to reform our entitlement programs enrich the wealthy while damning the poor. Social Security has been the single-biggest anti-poverty measure undertaken, and have reduced poverty among our seniors by a wide margin. Medicare is effective, popular, and essential for our seniors’ health care needs. Finally, Medicaid provides vital health care to low income Americans. The refusal to take up Medicaid expansion paid for by the Affordable Care Act is a massive failure on the part of the Florida House and cuts millions off from health care coverage they need. Reducing entitlement benefits will only shrink the middle class and make the poor poorer.

We haven’t had a targeted approach to reducing poverty since Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Wall Street has recovered from the recession. The majority of Americans haven’t. Income inequality is at an all-time high, with record CEO compensation and giveaways to agribusiness and Big Oil. It’s time to address the problem that nobody really wants to talk about.  We need to make sure that our fellow Americans can lead dignified and prosperous lives. We have the both the means and moral responsibility to do so.

 

 Counterpoint airs Fridays at 1pm ET