Posted on 09. Feb, 2016 by Franciscans For Justice.
The following is from the Coalition on Human Needs:
Income. Housing. Education. Racial justice. These are just a few of the areas where inequality is evident in our society. But what does inequality mean to you? That’s the question the Ford Foundation is exploring with their new series of videos and conversations about inequality in all its forms called #InequalityIs.
Leaders in business, entertainment and social justice including Elton John, Gloria Steinem, Jose Antonio Vargas and others weigh in via these videos on how they see inequality and what they’re doing to change it. You’ll hear Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, say that “Inequality undermines the fabric of society.” You’ll hear Rajiv Joshi, managing director of the B Team, say that the fact that 99% of the world’s people have less wealth combined than 1% of world’s people is “an injustice that needs to be resolved.” You’ll hear Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, talk about how mass incarceration has been “particularly devastating on the poor and people of color.” You’ll hear Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring across Generations, discuss how the she sees “the experience of caregivers in this country as emblematic of inequality today.”
But beyond just listening to what these people think about inequality, you’re invited to join the conversation and share what inequality means to you. How would you finish the sentence “Inequality is…”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and use the hashtag #InequalityIs on Twitter.
If you read our latest Human Needs Report, you know that the federal budget season is upon us once again. As we prepare to delve through the different budget proposals released by the Obama Administration, the House and Senate Budget Committees, the House Democrats, the Progressive Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus, you can be sure we’ll be doing so through the lens of inequality – and what policies would lessen or deepen it.
Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by Franciscans For Justice.
The following article is from the Coalition on Human Needs
President Obama in his State of the Union address called us to a better politics, and Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) likewise called for us to resist the temptation to “follow the siren call of the angriest voices.” Such remarks should bring glimmers of hope to voters frustrated by a hyper-partisan Congress that is often unable to pass pragmatic legislation on areas of broad bi-partisan agreement.
One of the clearest and most impactful next steps Congress can take in 2016 is to expand tax credits for low-income workers who don’t have dependent children: a bipartisan idea that would lift millions out of poverty. President Obama described this proposal in his speech as a strategy “we can all support,” and prominent Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have favored it.
So let’s get to it!
Last month, Congress recognized the importance of tax credits for low-income workers by ensuring that these credits will not expire for families with children. That means a minimum wage-earning mother with two children will not lose her $1,725 tax credit. These credits for families with children are increasing incomes for 16 million people. They provide a proven work incentive, and the work-plus-tax-credit package is lifting millions out of poverty.
But we do far less for workers without dependent children. Millions of childless cooks and restaurant workers, home health aides, maintenance and housekeeping workers, retail staff and many more are taxed into poverty, creating disincentives for work and inflicting needless suffering. When clear, proven pathways out of poverty, widening them is the right thing to do.
Surprisingly, a woman with adult kids who works in a nursing home at a poverty-level wage of $12,566 gets a tax credit estimated at only $172 for 2015. If she manages to increase her hours to full-time at the minimum wage, her tax credit drops to only $23. The same goes for a young man just out of school in an entry-level job struggling to make ends meet.
Proposals by Obama and Ryan would raise the credit for the poverty-level worker from $172 to $841. The full-time minimum wage worker would see his or her credit rise from $23 to $542. While not the complete answer to low-wage work (raising wages would help a lot), this advance would do more to make work pay and to help workers make ends meet.
Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit as Obama and Ryan have proposed would help young workers just starting out by making the credit available to people as young as 21 (under current law, you can’t be younger than 25). It will help middle-aged and older workers (raising the maximum age from 64 to 66). It will help 13.5 million workers, either by making them newly eligible or by increasing their credits. Ten million poor people would see the severity of their poverty reduced; 500,000 would be lifted out of poverty. Unfortunately, not every job is a ladder out of poverty, but these tax credits provide just that for many working Americans that elected officials claim to represent.
Faith communities have lobbied persuasively for this tax cut on the principle that every great society is measured by how it cares for the least among us. Others have focused on the importance of helping more young people get a foothold in the labor force, or the greater support that noncustodial parents can provide to their children. These are central values shared by the vast majority of Americans.
It’s amazing what we can do when we come together. Millions of children provided with a brighter future, families and communities strengthened. Such a small yet powerful step forward will also be welcome proof that our leaders can overcome partisan divides to work for all of our people, not just the well-connected.
Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by Franciscans For Justice.
The following is from a writer from Yahoo:
Nearly 750 men who have all been condemned to death live in San Quentin State Prison, California, home to the largest death row in America. Many inmates have been held in the facility for years, unsure when and if the lethal injection – the punishment allotted to them – will be administered. Executions are currently on hold in the state while a new three-drug method is considered to replace the previous one-drug technique, which was ruled to be a cruel and unusual punishment by a federal judge in 2002. This state of limbo means inmates are currently more likely to die from natural causes than to be executed. Inmates receive a minimum of 10 hours recreation time each week, spent in the caged prison yard. They are able to communicate with their cell neighbours, and to purchase small TVs to watch. Since 1978, 13 people have been executed in California.
For the full story and for more photos, click here.
Posted on 07. Feb, 2016 by Franciscans For Justice.
Last December, Congress handed sacred Apache land to two foreign mining companies.
Oak Flat is an important ecological, recreational, and spiritual site, but now its future is at risk. Thankfully, Congressman Grijalva introduced a bill with bi-partisan support to repeal the land exchange and protect Oak Flat.
For another perspective on this issue we turn to Trevor Noah and the Daily Show:
Posted on 31. Jan, 2016 by Franciscans For Justice.
January was human trafficking awareness month.
The following is from the Franciscan Action Network (FAN):
The Washington Inter-Religious Staff Community (WISC) is an informal convening of the Washington, D.C.-area offices of national-level religious denominations and faith-based groups. Organizations participating in WISC (of which, FAN is one) work on a range of public policy issues, and seek to contribute a moral and faith-informed perspective to the discourse and advocacy around these topics. WISC has several working groups that focus on issues of particular concern to the faith-based community.
The WISC Working Group on Human Trafficking was formed in 2015 in recognition of a growing awareness among people of all faiths regarding the oppression and injustice of human trafficking and a burgeoning movement within the faith-based community to end all forms of modern-day slavery. The Working Group is intended to serve as a resource and a catalyst for the faith community as it seeks to engage more deeply with the issue and work shoulder-to-shoulder with governments and civil society to help end trafficking.
Because January is Human Trafficking month, we are proud to promote this Interfaith Toolkit on Human Trafficking. It contains information on the basics of human trafficking along with impacts on children and faith-based resources from 5 different religious traditions. You can download the toolkit here.
To access the Interfaith Toolkit on Human Trafficking, click here.