Mathew Desmond | America Is in a Disgraced Class of Its Own (allowing poverty) – The New York Times

“The United States has a poverty problem.

A third of the country’s people live in households making less than $55,000. Many are not officially counted among the poor, but there is plenty of economic hardship above the poverty line. And plenty far below it as well. According to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for government aid and living expenses, more than one in 25 people in America 65 or older lived in deep poverty in 2021, meaning that they’d have to at minimum double their incomes just to reach the poverty line.

Programs like housing assistance and food stamps are effective and essential, protecting millions of families from hunger and homelessness each year. But the United States devotes far fewer resources to these programs, as a share of its gross domestic product, than other rich democracies, which places America in a disgraced class of its own on the world stage.

On the eve of the pandemic, in 2019, our child poverty rate was roughly double that of several peer nations, including Canada, South Korea and Germany. Anyone who has visited these countries can plainly see the difference, can experience what it might be like to live in a country without widespread public decay. When abroad, I have on several occasions heard Europeans use the phrase “American-style deprivation.” “

Peter Coy | Do Handouts Work? – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Josephy Amosi Kamanga, who lives in Malawi, couldn’t afford to pay the examination fee for his eldest child, so she dropped out of school two years ago. She later got pregnant and is living at home. The fee that changed his daughter’s life? Just $4.98.

That story comes from GiveDirectly Inc., an American charity that offers a simple proposition: Give poor people cash, with no strings attached, and good things will tend to happen. It certainly did to Kamanga and his family. GiveDirectly gave him $51.75 a month for a year. That enabled him to reopen a shop that sells soap, drinks, body lotion, sugar, eggs and cooking oil, and to buy a secondhand phone to operate the business. With the profits from the grocery he covered school expenses for three other children. He told a GiveDirectly interviewer that the news he’d been selected to receive the money “brought joy in my heart.” “

Nicholas Kristof | This Kenyan Slum Has Something to Teach the World – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

NAIROBI, Kenya — Here in the Kibera slum, life sometimes seems a free-for-all. Residents steal electricity by tapping into overhead lines, children walk barefoot through alleys trickling with sewage, and people occasionally must dodge “flying toilets” — plastic bags that residents use as toilets and then dispose of by hurling them in one direction or another.

Yet this is an uplifting slum. Against all odds, Kibera is also a place of hope, and it offers a lesson in bottom-up development that the world should learn from.

How Houston  Moved 25,000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own – The New York Times

Michael Kimmelman and 

“One steamy morning last July, Ana Rausch commandeered a shady corner of a parking lot on the northwest side of Houston. Downing a jumbo iced coffee, she issued brisk orders to a dozen outreach workers toting iPads. Her attention was fixed on a highway underpass nearby, where a handful of people were living in tents and cardboard lean-tos. As a vice president of Houston’s Coalition for the Homeless, Ms. Rausch was there to move them out.

I had come to watch the process and, more broadly, to see Houston’s approach to homelessness, which has won a lot of praise. At first, I couldn’t figure out why this particular underpass had been colonized. The sound of trucks revving their engines ricocheted against the concrete walls like rifle shots; and most of Houston’s homeless services were miles away. But then Ms. Rausch’s team, and a few camp residents, pointed out the nearby fast food outlets, the Shell station with a convenience store, and the Planet Fitness, where a $10 monthly membership meant access to showers and outlets for charging phones.

It also wasn’t initially visible what distinguished this encampment clearance from the ones in cities like Los Angeles and Austin, where the number of homeless people has been skyrocketing along with frustrations. The difference couldn’t be seen because it had already happened. For more than a month, Ms. Rausch and her colleagues had been coordinating with Harris County officials, as well as with the mayor’s office and local landlords. They had visited the encampment and talked to people living there, so that now, as tents were being dismantled, the occupants could move directly into one-bedroom apartments, some for a year, others for longer. In other words, the people living in the encampment would not be consigned to homeless shelters, cited for trespassing or scattered to the winds, but, rather, given a home.”

Lori Teresa Yearwood | The Bill for My Homelessness Was $54,000 – The New York Times

Ms. Yearwood is a reporter covering housing for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

“My descent into homelessness felt as though it happened in the blink of an eye. It was as if one moment I was standing in a meadow next to my horses, stroking their manes, and the next I was lying inside a plastic garbage bag on a park bench, wrapping clothes around my shivering body.

In fact, it happened over the course of 12 devastating months from 2013 to 2014. The house I was renting in Oregon burned down. My mother died of a cancer that, until a short time earlier, no one knew she had. My family fell into a bitter dispute over her inheritance and ostracized me. My beagle died. I was emotionally burdened to the point of being unable to run the business I had owned for nearly a decade, let alone pay my rent. Eventually, I was told to pack my bags and leave the new place I had rented after the fire.

My journey into homelessness was traumatic, but it was also incredibly expensive, and that’s what I want to focus on here. By the time I walked away from that park bench two years later, I had accrued more than $54,000 in debt.”

Binyamin Appelbaum | It’s Too Early to Celebrate the Child Tax Credit – The New York Times

Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.+

“The United States provides big tax incentives to encourage people to work, to buy a home, to save for retirement. But the government provides less money than almost every other developed nation to help people raise children. Last year, the tax credit for buying an electric car was almost four times as large as the tax credit for having a child.

On Thursday, the government began to provide more help, initiating monthly payments of up to $300 per child to most families with children. This is needed assistance for children and parents, and investment in the nation’s future. It’s an overdue adjustment of tax policy to support something obviously important but too often taken for granted.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Is it really that hard to communicate with these poor people? Let’s contact them in ten different ways.
Off the top of my head, let’s ask the Jehovah’s Witnesses to sell this good news, since they like to go door to door, or do they only do middle class neighborhoods?
I also like the comment about paying people not to have children, for the sake of the environment.
So many new goals in life. Let’s eradicate poverty, and also move towards negative population growth.
As a child, I played, Remember the Alamo. As an elder now, I’ve learned that Mexico had abolished slavery, and the fight for Texas was in part to keep slavery there. My new war game, is, Remember the Sixth Extinction is going on today!
David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Opinion | The World’s Malnourished Kids Don’t Need a $295 Burger – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

A child at the Casa Jackson Hospital for Malnourished Children, in Antigua, Guatemala.CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

“ANTIGUA, Guatemala — Raúl is a happy preschooler, tumbling around among 4- and 5-year-olds, but something is off.

It’s not his behavior, for it’s the same as that of the other little kids. Rather, it’s his face. The baby fat is gone, and although he’s only 3 feet 5 inches tall, the height of an average 5-year-old, an older face seems grafted on.

Sure enough, Raúl turns out to be 9. Malnutrition has left his body and mind badly stunted. He’s one of almost one-quarter of all children worldwide who are stunted from malnutrition.

Here in Guatemala, almost half of children are stunted. In some Mayan villages, it’s 70 percent.

In another world, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the restaurant Serendipity 3 offers a $295 hamburger. Alternatively, it sells a $214 grilled cheese sandwich and a $1,000 sundae.”


David Lindsay: Thank you Nicholas Kristoff.

I would like to see more foreign aid that connects food, education and family planning.
Sustainablity studies suggest we need negative population growth for our own survival.

Here is a comment I liked:


Many years ago, at the supper table, my Dad would remind us kids to only take what we could eat, and don’t leave anything on your plate when finished. And then it was, did you now right now there are millions in the world starving. That was in the 50’s. Mom and Dad were struck by the poverty of Native Americans when traveling out west during their retirement. So every year they made a strong donation to a reservation school for native children. Never stopped. Today our family follows the tradition of giving annually to charity or  other non-profit of our choice. My wife and I choose Doctors Without Borders and the Environmental Defense Fund. Thank you Nick, it’s individuals like you that reminds us of those in need. The sadness of it though is our Government is too busy yelling at one another about petty stuff, while the children suffer.

1 Reply156 Recommended

3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“Too many American kids are set up for failure when they are born into what might be called the “broken class,” where violence, mental illness, drugs and sexual abuse infuse childhood. Yes, such young people sometimes do stupid things, but as a society, we fail them long before they fail us.

There are no silver bullets to eradicate these challenges, but there is “silver buckshot” — an array of policies that make a difference. Early childhood initiatives have a particularly good record, as do efforts to promote work, like the earned-income tax credit. Financial literacy programs help families manage money — and avoid buying large-screen TVs on credit.

One indication that we have the tools and know-how to cut poverty is that other countries have done so. In Britain in 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a major attack on child poverty, and over the next five years the child poverty rate there dropped to 14 percent from 26 percent.”

Source: 3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America – The New York Times

Great writing. Kristof also writes: “Bethany and Cassidy are similar — both ebullient, friendly personalities, charming and quick to laugh. But in effect they grew up on different planets. And anybody who blames Bethany for her troubles doesn’t understand the axiom of America today: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”

I’m not familiar with this axiom, and talent is certainly not universal. But Kathleen heard it from her dad. She understands it to mean that the distribution of talent is wider than the distribution of opportunity.


So Little to Ask For: A Home, Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

….. “In a year in which there finally is serious talk about inequality, the ultimate poverty is lack of shelter. And the good news is that in the last decade or so, we’ve figured out what works to address it; the problem is not inevitable. The Housing First approach, which gets people quickly into permanent housing and then offers support services to keep them there, seems particularly cost-effective.Family homelessness is down almost one-fifth since 2010, and veteran homelessness is down much more — two states say they have functionally ended homelessness of veterans.Another reason for optimism: With almost no fanfare, President Obama’s budget proposal includes $11 billion over 10 years, which he says would end family and youth homelessness. This is a step to end a level of homelessness that just isn’t tolerated in other developed countries.”

Source: So Little to Ask For: A Home – The New York Times

Here is a comment from the NYT:
3 hours ago

“I read “Evicted” after reading the favorable NYT review. I recommend it, particularly in this election year, to anyone interested in poverty and its causes.

As Nick Kristof writes, Desmond’s research indicates that the behaviors associated with poverty are poverty’s result, not cause, and that homelessness is the primary factor in making people poor. People with permanent, stable housing find jobs, create safe environments in which their kids can attend school regularly, and form neighborhoods with low crime rates, less drug use and a sense of community that supports those who are ill or in need. Yet, in today’s America, we are destroying, not building, stable families.

How bitterly ironic that the Republican Party, which purports to represent and promote family values, enacts legislation and institutes policies that cause the economic meltdowns that cast millions into the streets- and is then the first to blame those victims, decrying their lack of moral fiber, when, inevitably, they develop symptoms of emotional disintegration. If they call 911 for help, they are evicted once again.

When I read a column, such as those written by David Brooks, decrying Americans’ so-called moral deterioration, I think “cart before the horse.” Desmond has it right: moral decay follows social deterioration follows poverty follows homelessness; and homeless is caused by policies, not accidents of fate.

We can change this. Voters are the ultimate source of policy. Vote for homes.”

Reply 58 Recommended

The Most Important Thing, and It’s Almost a Secret Everyone knows about the spread of war and the hopeless intractability of poverty. But everyone is wrong.|By Nicholas Kristof

Saint Nicholas begins: “We journalists are a bit like vultures, feasting on war, scandal and disaster. Turn on the news, and you see Syrian refugees, Volkswagen corruption, dysfunctional government.

Yet that reflects a selection bias in how we report the news: We cover planes that crash, not planes that take off. Indeed, maybe the most important thing happening in the world today is something that we almost never cover: a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy and disease.”

Nicholas Kristof claims that birthrates are falling dramatically, the ghoul of overpopulation is fading. I hope, but do not expect, that he is right. However, many now recognize that k-12 education for all children, means a declining birth rate, which is desperately needed for the world ecology.

Everyone knows about the spread of war and the hopeless intractability of poverty. But everyone is wrong.|By Nicholas Kristof