IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

So when we moved to Cincinnati, we got the cheapest apartment we could find. It was the lowest apartment in the building, and we got hit by a summer storm. So what didn’t get destroyed by water got destroyed by mold. And I was, I think, seven and a half months pregnant, eight months pregnant at the time.

So I was calling every charity I could, thinking, I just need a chair. For – for whatever reason in my head, if I could just get a chair, then everything else would be fine. But I needed a place to sit. I, I got in touch with one charity who said, yeah, you can come and pick up a chair but we’re gonna need you to go to a resume-writing class. And I said, “For what?” and they said, “Well, because we need you to be looking for work and trying to better your situation; we don’t just give charity to just anybody. We need to make sure that you’re, you know, invested, you got some skin in the game.” And I said, “Okay, when is the resume-writing class?” And he gave me two different times. And I said, “Well, I have to be at work at both of those times.” And they said, “Well, if you want the charity you have to show up to the class.” And I was like, “If I come to the class I’ll get fired.” And this woman was telling me how I really needed to learn to write my resume so that I could find gainful employment, so that I could get the stupid chair that was probably worth five bucks.

That is what personal responsibility means to somebody on welfare. It means here are these stupid hoops that we’re gonna make you jump through and then we’re going to give you a solution that absolutely won’t work for you. It’s that kind of just over and over beating your head against these ridiculous regulations and these double-blinds that don’t make any sense. And the whole thing is set up specifically to humiliate you as much as possible because what we need poor people to do in America more than anything else in the world is know their place.

  • That from an amazing series busting myths about poverty in America from On The Media. The series goes into the many double binds the poor are often put in to get themselves out of poverty, because of societal myths about the causes of poverty. They also show how media portrayals of the poor can be driven by reporters searching for confirmatory stories to play to their audiences, typically focusing on the personal qualities of the individual, rather than circumstances they’ve been put in.
  • Zimbabwe is becoming a cashless economy because they don’t have cash.
  • A good primer from Planet Money on what happened to Venezuela’s economy (Shorter version here, Even shorter version: dependent on oil, imported lots, and spent oil profits on social programs. When things went bad, they pegged the currency to dollar, which the government controlled access to which means scarce everything.)
  • The U.N. fired the head of its South Sudan peacekeeping operation following a report documenting failures to help when local troops broke into a compound housing foreign aid workers, torturing and raping there.
  • Why the U.N. keeps repeating a misleading statistic that 75 percent of Liberian women were raped.
  • A story circulated this week about a medical study of male injectable birth control being stopped because men couldn’t handle side effects that sounded similar to those of female birth control. The “Men are wusses” story was more hasty science reporting. Vox pointed out if the reporters had dug a little deeper they would have found that most men wanted to continue the study but a safety monitoring panel stopped it because:

The 320 men who participated in the research reported a whopping 1,491 adverse events, and the researchers running the trial determined that 900 of these events were caused by the injectable contraceptive.

My favorite of this past weeks’ #EconoPumpkin entries