A Budget for the Poor
Earlier this week President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year 2011 budget blueprint, setting up the priorities he hopes to accomplish in the coming year. Coming on the heels of his State of the Union address, the President has made it very clear that he is focused on healing our struggling economy and sending Americans back to work. He has set forth a number of priorities in his budget including funding green job creation and training, extending funding for the enhanced Federal Medicare Assistance Percentage (FMAP), supporting new infrastructure, and funding programs like Unemployment Insurance and COBRA that assist those who are still jobless. President Obama has also prioritized child nutrition, education, and child care programs−all critical programs in the fight against poverty.
Fixing Our Economy Through Good, Green Jobs
The new mantra of Washington is "jobs, jobs, jobs." To improve the economy and jumpstart growth, the American government needs promote job creation and encourage businesses to hire more workers. When the U.S. Labor Department released its unemployment figures for the month of December, the jobless rate remained unchanged at 10%. Furthermore, the number of people who have stopped looking for work or can't find full-time employment went up slightly by 0.1% to 17.3%−a strong indication that the U.S. is still coping with the effects of the recession. The first set of unemployment figures for 2010 will be announced next week and it is unlikely that we will see major improvements.
A Poor People's Campaign for a New Decade
This week, as our nation participated in a Day of Service in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we were reminded of his commitment to freedom, justice, and civil rights for all Americans. Towards the end his life, during the "second stage" of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King focused on America's poor and committed himself to "bridging the gulf between the haves and the have-notes." In collaboration with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King organized the Poor People's Campaign in order to address issues of economic justice, poverty, and housing. Dr. King advocated for a "guaranteed annual income," a commitment to full employment, more secure low-income housing, and systemic social change to uplift the poorest Americans. He recognized that poverty affected all types of Americas and wasn't restricted to any region, ethnicity or race.
This was the final fight of Dr. King's life. He recognized that the problems of discrimination and segregation would continue to exist if we as a nation did not address the issue of poverty. Economic justice not only goes hand-in-hand with social justice but is also a key component to any civil rights movement. Dr. King did not just mobilize the grassroots to combat poverty, he called on the government, through his Economic Bill of Rights, to pass a multi-faceted anti-poverty package. Dr. King explained the importance of alleviating poverty and moral compulsion one should feel to do so by saying:
Combating Childhood Hunger: Starting in Our Schools
This past November the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual study on the state of hunger in America. The report shockingly stated that this past year 17 million children (compared to 12 million the year before) were living in families where there was a food shortage at times. And the number of children who were outright hungry at one point during the year rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million. It is clear that this report reflects the mounting reality of our country's economic state. In addition is also hints at the fact that some of the federal feeding programs are not being accessed in adequate numbers.
Bound Together: Slavery and Global Poverty
In our work, we seem to hopscotch from one high-profile issue to the next-current events dictate our policy and advocacy. However, below the shine of the media spotlight, JCPA continually works on dozens of important issues that don't seem to attract the same attention. In this article, which was adapted for a recent blog post by the same name in the Huffington Post, I want to elevate one of these issues: global slavery. Yes, slavery does still exist. In fact due to the global economic crisis, it is getting worse.
Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA President
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17