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Direct Provision: An Open Prison March 13, 2014

Posted by doctorfive in Community, Inequality, racism.
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Working poor August 2, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Capitalism, Economy, Inequality.
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Here’s an article from the NYT from 2004
by David Shipler who wrote “The Working Poor: invisible in America” that looks at some of the perhaps less obvious ways that poverty functions – health issues, health/appearance issues, the nature of work that is available, how family relationships impinge, and so on and so forth. It seems to me to be particularly good at point how there are something analogous to a cascade of problems, with each individual problem perhaps unconnected to another, but collectively and cumulatively each operating to further pull a person down.

And there’s one very telling paragraph which points to the primacy of the workplace, but also its effective reification above criticism… the main focus of the story Caroline, found that she was unable to juggle rotating shifts and homelife looking after her daughter. So she was getting grief from schools and social services for neglect but…

Perhaps the most curious and troubling facet of this confounding puzzle was everybody’s failure to pursue the most obvious solution: if the factory had just let Caroline work day shifts, her problem would have disappeared. She asked a supervisor and got brushed off, but nobody else — not the school principal, not the doctor, not the myriad agencies she contacted — nobody in the profession of helping thought to pick up the phone and appeal to the factory manager or the foreman or anybody else in authority at her workplace.

And the article is explicit about this:

Indeed, this solemn regard for the employer as untouchable and beyond the realm of persuasion unless in violation of the law permeates the culture of American antipoverty efforts, with only a few exceptions. The most socially minded physicians and psychologists who treat malnourished children, for example, will advocate vigorously with government agencies to provide food stamps, health insurance, housing and the like. But when they are asked if they ever urge the parents’ employers to raise wages enough to pay for nutritious food, the doctors express surprise at the notion. First, it has never occurred to them, and second, it seems hopeless. Wages and hours are set by the marketplace, and you cannot expect magnanimity from the marketplace. It is the final arbiter from which there is no appeal.

That is as true in this state as it is in the United States.

“Income Inequality: Evidence and Policy Implications” March 25, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Economics, Inequality, Taxation Policy, Uncategorized.

Emmanuel Saez does not propose replacing capitalism, but within its terms, this is a useful lecture that could do with an airing here.

Living from hand to mouth July 10, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Capitalism, Inequality.

I’m an Ulster Bank customer and naturally I’ve been on the phone or in the branch over delayed wages. (Luckily the Mortgage is with them so they couldn’t take it out.)
An aspect of the Ulster Bank crisis that hasn’t garnered that much attention was how it also revealed the vast numbers of people barely surviving financially from month to month. The panic that any delay in wages caused people. The knock on effect to the direct debits for everything from Mortgage repayments to childcare. How structured many peoples finances were by necessity. How little wriggle room people have financially.
This of course is reflected in the Irish League of Credit Unions’ ‘What’s Left?’ survey

The survey is quoted in todays Irish  Independent under the headline
“Harsh reality of austerity: 1.8m have less than €100 left each month” (When did the Indo start talking about Austerity?)

MORE than 1.8 million people are struggling to survive on €100 or less a month after bills are paid, a study showed.
Four out of 10 adults have borrowed to pay a household bill in the last year, with the most desperate 10pc using a moneylender, it revealed.

The Campaign Against Household and Water Charges also had an article on the survey

Where they stated that

The Irish League of Credit Unions’ ‘What’s Left?’ survey showed that 602,000 people have absolutely nothing left when they pay their bills, that half of households struggle to pay their bills on time and that 40% of households have had to borrow to pay their bills over the last 12 months.

In this context, how does the government possibly believe that it can impose property and water taxes which will amount to over €1,000 per household? People’s incomes have been slashed by a combination of austerity measures and stealth taxes. They have had enough and cannot take the imposition of any more financial pain.

The survey makes sad reading. The stress people are under is immense…. and things don’t appear to be improving.

Profits Before Pay February 20, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Business, Economy, Employment Rights, Inequality, International Finance.

This evening I listened to an interesting and informative programme in BBC Radio 4′s Analysis series, ‘Profits Before Pay’. The audio is available here.

The programme blurb from the BBC web site
It may come as no great surprise that many of us have experienced a wage squeeze, while the cost of living has gone the other way, since the financial crisis of 2008. However, as Duncan Weldon, a senior economist at the Trades Union Congress, points out, wages for most people in the UK began stagnating years before the crisis.

We tend to think of the early 2000s as a time of relative wealth: house prices were rising, credit flowed easily, the government introduced a generous tax credit scheme and people generally felt better off. But Duncan Weldon argues these masked the reality of what was going on.

Work done by the think tank The Resolution Foundation, which focuses on those on low and modest incomes, shows that there was almost no wage growth in the middle and below during the five years leading up to 2008 and yet the economy grew by 11% in that period. Others also point out that the share of the national income which goes into wages, as opposed to profits, has been decreasing since the mid-1970s. The argument is that less of the economic pie is going into the pockets of ordinary workers.

What is also clear is that a disproportionate amount of the economic wealth has been going to those at the top. The earnings of the richest few per cent have increased rapidly in the UK since the 1980s and that pattern accelerated in the last ten years. In the United States that process began earlier and has been more extreme.

Some economists argue that this is not a problem in itself as taxation, for example, helps to re-distribute the money to the less well off or those with disadvantages.

In Analysis Duncan Weldon asks why wages stopped rising in the years before the crash and what was the driving force for the squeeze?

And a feature item posted by the BBC based on the programme

The Wealth Gap February 3, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in British Politics, Inequality.

Quite an interesting documentary series on BBC World Service called The Wealth Gap. Available to listen to here

As the wealth gap widens, are the super-rich to blame? Michael Robinson investigates.

There is a good accompanying piece by Michael Robinson with some figures, charts etc which begins

Until protestors took to the streets last year, first in New York and then in financial centres across the world, inequality had been a low-key issue.
Not any more.

With the political temperature rising, a stream of new analysis is revealing how sharply inequality has been growing.

“The Roots of The Crisis” – Interview with Conor McCabe January 20, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Capitalism, Economy, Inequality, Irish Politics.
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A recent interview by Dole TV with “Sins of the Father” author Conor McCabe who explains Ireland’s long history of sacrificing its people to save currencies at immense social cost.
As ever excellent stuff.

DEIS and other Education Cuts January 15, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Inequality.

It looks that thankfully the proposed cutbacks to DEIS schools may well be reversed, however as of yet there is nothing concrete.  Minister Ruairi Quinn was on Pat Kennys radio show during the week and to me sounded as if he didn’t fully understand the role of DEIS schools and the DEIS schemes.

In the long run schemes like this are to tackle educational disadvantage. Needless to say as part of the schemes there is a lot of onus on school staff, part of that lazy public sector. In primary schools on the DEIS programme the children will get their breakfast, which in many disadvantaged areas is reason enough to send the child to school. No guess as to who feeds the children, those lazy public sector teachers.

As most families can not afford school books, teachers create a curriculum and produce materials so that the children can be taught using handouts and other facilities. In some areas many of the parents would have had drug problems which leads to behavioural difficulties in children. For example ADD and ADHD are far more common in disadvantaged areas than elsewhere.

I could go on, but the idea of these being cut , when there are so many other cuts that would be of less harm  , such as building grants to private schools, is sickening, especially from a Labour Party Minister. The long term impact of cuts to the DEIS schemes would cost far more than any cuts now.

(According to the Sunday Business Post)

“In the fall-out from the controvsery,  Labour TDs privately voiced criticism of the party’s leadership and advisers for not “politically proofing the budget cuts.”

So maybe they’re not Worth it!

Elsewhere though there are plenty of education cuts being done on the sly. You May have read or heard about some of these, except they are not classed as cutbacks.
The Department of Education is withdrawing separate funding for career guidance posts, leaving schools to find the money themselves.
This will lead to dedicated Career Guidance hours coming out of the general teaching hours. Which will mean two things, less teacher hours and less career guidance time. Which in turn means less teachers and less career guidance teachers.
So bigger class sizes and a few more teachers on the Dole.
Its rumoured too of chaplaincys going the same way. Many in these roles are actually Lay people and along with Career Guidance teachers play a vital role within the school. They are very much part of a support structure for pupils that goes well beyond advice on careers and filling out CAO and other forms. They provide counselling services for the mass of problems teenagers face today, be it depression, suicide, sexuality, family issues, bullying and so on.

This month another tidy sum will land in the pockets of unsecured bondholders, next month another bunch of promissory notes will be paid off too. I’m no financial expert but I gather that once these Anglo promissory notes get paid off next month (€3 billion plus) the money will be destroyed. Its fairly sick that all these cutbacks are to pay off money that will be instantly destroyed. Madness…….

Equality Authority gets 23% cut in non-pay budget December 8, 2011

Posted by Tomboktu in Inequality, Irish Politics.
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Over on TASC’s Progressive Economy, David Joyce has added a comment to the discussion of the budget:

People may have noticed a cut from €150,000 to zero for Equality Proofing in the Department of Justice and Equality estimates. What’s that you might say..Well, this was a mechanism by which the already financially challenged Equality Authority was able to use €150,000 drawn down from the European Social Fund to via the Department to run a programme of activities supporting equality competence and mainstreaming measures by employers, trade unions and others. And at absolutely no extra cost to the Exchequer because it was match funded by salary money the Equality Auhtority already had. Combined with the stated 2% cut to the Equality Authority, this amounts to a 23% cut in the non pay budget of the Authority and flys in the face of stated intentions to create a new “enhanced” equality and rights commission by merging the Authority with the Irish Human Rights Commission (also financially challenged and facing anothe 3% cut in 2012). Madness..

The ESF piece may not be the clearest, but what it means is that the money that has been cut is “free cash” — it would be refunded by the EU through the European Social Fund.

The post on the budget is here.

Class and Sizes December 8, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Inequality.

During the Summer Ed Maloneys Broken Elbow Blog had an excellent article on the links between Class and Diet in the US which is well worth reading.

He makes the observation that

Nine of the ten fattest states in America are in the South and it is no accident that they are also the poorest states in the Union. Being poor does not just mean that people are not well educated and therefore ignorant about which food is best for their health. It means they just can’t afford to buy decent, healthy food or don’t have the opportunity to access cheaper, high-quality produce because they live in places where farmers’ markets exist only on TV shows.

Then last week whilst browsing through my free Irish Independent in work I saw the catchy headline of “Expert warns we’ll be fatter than Americans in 20 years

Yet there was nothing about one of the main findings of the report. That Children’s weight is directly linked to social class. Needless to say that this story wasn’t the one that made the headline. Instead it was hidden away in the paper.

Children’s weight is directly linked to social class. 5pc of three-year-olds from professional family backgrounds were classified as obese compared to 9pc from disadvantaged families.

The Report ,the Latest research report from ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ is available to download here in both full, by section, in summary form and also other material related to the report. Its well worth spending a while reading it.

Amongst its recommendations

Worse health behaviours (worse diets and less physical exercise) and higher levels of obesity among working-class children suggest that resources for interventions should be heavily targeted at lower socio-economic schools and communities. However, interventions to promote behavioural change will have limited effect if the structural reasons for the higher levels of risk factors among lower socio-economic groups are not also tackled. This will require a far larger effort across a number of different agencies that would be facilitated by leadership from a core government department such as the Department of the Taoiseach, in a similar manner to that adopted for ‘poverty proofing’ under the National Anti-Poverty Strategy.

In the Supermarkets the less healthy foods are generally much cheaper and more processed. For those on lower incomes, due to prices the choices are limited. another problem shown was the distance to supermarkets for those living in less well off areas. If you are relying on public transport it makes sense to go to the local shop for a few bits a pieces rather than going to the supermarket.
Even when you do go to the supermarket it may involve the added expense of getting a taxi home with your shopping. Compare the taxi queues in The Square with those in Dundrum.

Its a huge topic (which I won’t expand on) but one we know to be at the core of the well being of society.
Its hard to see any of the budget measures making the situation any better.


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