Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013: Poverty In The United States

New Census Data Reveals More Than 46 Million Americans Live In Poverty

"The U.S. Census Bureau released annual poverty figures Tuesday, revealing that 15 percent of Americans—including one in five children—lived in poverty in 2012. "With poverty holding at such a high rate, the importance of federal safety net programs is clear," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "The figures could have been significantly worse if it were not for federal programs helping to keep more Americans from falling into poverty." At 46.5 million, this was the second time in the last five years that we did not see a significant increase in poverty. This information follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Sept. 4 announcement that 14.5 percent of American households—including 16 million children—suffered from food insecurity in 2012. The official poverty numbers do not account for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or the Child Tax Credit (CTC). If the data accounted for SNAP, it would show the poverty rate as 1.3 percentage points lower. “Federally funded programs play a tremendous role in reducing poverty and helping to keep hunger at bay, but the official data often excludes their impact,” added Beckmann. This data comes as the House prepares to vote Sept. 19 on the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 (HR 3102), which would cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP. “These programs have proven, time and again, that they work. We must let Congress know that programs that prevent children from going to bed hungry must be protected, not gutted,” Beckmann continued. “This bill is an abdication of our national responsibility. We urge members of the House to vote ‘no’ on the bill and protect the moral and economic stability of our country.”

Monday, September 16, 2013

Did You Think Today?

"The world is hostile to serious thought. Our lives are cluttered with barriers that sear our minds with the habit of lazy, shallow thinking. Consider the insipid television and movies that pass for entertainment, transparently hostile toward anything approximating deep thought. Consider the overstimulated, technology-driven, information saturated nature of modern life. It is too noisy for us to hear ourselves think, yet so omnipresent and addictive that silence disquiets us. Even within respected circles of society, intellectuals are plagued by fundamental flaws in their thinking. Consider the education and scientific communities, which staunchly stand by the unprovable theory of evolution. Formal education can actually be a hindrance to quality thought - emphasizing the wrong subjects, approaching certain subjects improperly, bullying students into specific political and/or intellectual mind-sets, fostering a destructive social atmosphere. Little wonder that many of the great men and women of history were self-educated. How we think is critical. Our thoughts govern our moods, our attitudes, our actions. Thinking is the core of our being. Superficial, unfocused thinking produces a superficial, unfocused life. We are what we think. Trouble is, generally we are not taught how to think. It is a skill we are expected to know, without specific instruction. What is the quality of your thinking? Are you skilled at analyzing problems? Are you able to concentrate on things you want to concentrate on, or are you easily distracted? Vigorous thinking is fundamentally a matter of replacing inferior thoughts with quality thoughts. You cannot think shallow thoughts and deep thoughts at the same time - it's one or the other. So first you must push out, put off and purge the one in order to clear space for the other. You must first expunge the shallow thought that so easily fills your mind, and then fill that mental vacuum with quality thought." - Anonymous