Tag Archives: children

How about we stop moralizing and end child poverty tomorrow?

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Brainstorming about suffering is always a challenge yet Cohen offers an important perspective on a complex problem.

Family Inequality

How much would you pay to stop having to listen to rich people tell poor people how to run their families?

If my calculations are correct, we can end child poverty for $62 billion per year. Is that a lot? No, it’s not. It’s $578 per non-poor family — but (if Twitter analytics are to be believed) my typical reader will pay less because I’ll put it on a sliding scale for you. Details below.

Americans tend to think of poverty as a giant, intractable problem, combining intergenerational dynamics, complex policy tradeoffs, conflicting cultural values, and “personal responsibility” (not to mention genetics). For example, in her book Generation Unbound, Isabel Sawhill says, “If we could return marriage rates to their 1970 level, the child poverty rate would be about 20% lower.” She’s (wisely) not advocating that, because it’s impossible, but think of it — rolling back one of the…

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Since It Takes a Village

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A few years ago my local grocery had a tree with cards for Christmas gift requests from people who were homeless or nearly so.

For many good reasons, I’ve struggled financially in my life but when I read the individual requests it shifted my perspective: winter gloves; a man’s razor for shaving; socks; barrettes or a hair tie for a girl; a scarf and hat.

I have or can easily buy these things. It doesn’t matter if they’re old, or from a thrift store, or unstylish. I can still use or buy them. I don’t need to hope that someone will read my request and give me a pair of socks.

These few examples shifted my perspective on my own financial situation. I no longer accept bag credit when I fill my cloth bags with produce, but instead ask that it’s donated because my “need” diminished to slightly more than zero that day.

Some of my favorite parts of the season are the lights, spending time with those I love, and going to the local toy store to buy toys (well, usually art supplies and a stuffed animal) for children I’ll never recognize though I apply the care I use for my loved ones.

I then drop them off at Toys for Tots to be distributed to children who get little material support and fewer gifts that may provide comfort or allow them to express themselves.

When I was little I was inseparable from my stuffed grey squirrel…Grayee was my Linus blanket. When I was seven we moved and Grayee disappeared. Sobbing, I begged my mom to call the police because “the moving men stole Grayee.”

It was more than ten years before I could laugh at the idea that these grown men would have stolen my battered squirrel, but Grayee had been my comfort and companion. I hope my gifts provide the comfort I got from Grayee…and they’re never lost.

The Screaming Beet

Emily’s mom left a month after Rose’s birth, two weeks after Rose started crying, not with the half-formed gaspy cries of an infant but with a determination reserved for two and three year olds. Emily woke several…

Thank you to the editors of Halfway Down the Stairs for first publishing this story.