Beginning August 29, PBS is broadcasting the documentary Waging a Living by filmmaker Roger Weisberg.
Shot over a three-year period in the Northeast and California, this observational documentary captures the dreams, frustrations, and accomplishments of a diverse group of people who struggle to live from paycheck to paycheck. By presenting an unvarnished look at the barriers that these workers must overcome to lift their families out of poverty, Waging a Living offers a sobering view of the elusive American Dream.
The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) has published a study titled “When Work Doesn’t Pay: What Every Policymaker Should Know,” which includes a Family Resource Simulator.
Here is the dilemma: although our nation highly values work, parents working full-time cannot always provide adequately for their families. Nearly 30 million Americans—a quarter of the U.S. labor force—work in jobs that pay poverty-level wages and provide few prospects for advancement and wage growth. Some 24 million children live in low-income families despite having at least one parent who works … In other words, this is no small problem.
America’s Second Harvest has published the Hunger Almanac 2006, featuring analysis and statistics keyed to each of the 50 states.
More than 25 million Americans rely on charitable food assistance to make ends meet. An estimated 9 million children live in families where getting food from food pantries, soup kitchen lines or homeless shelters is as commonplace as getting food from grocery stores. Nearly 3 million seniors are spending their golden years relying on the generosity of others for a meal. The Almanac contains these and more difficult truths …
The American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a detailed “Resolution on Poverty and Socioeconomic Status” in 2000. The document is supported by a bibliography and chock-full of interesting data:
WHEREAS, perceptions of the poor and of welfare—by those not in those circumstances—tend to reflect attitudes and stereotypes that attribute poverty to personal failings rather than socioeconomic structures and systems and that ignore strengths and competencies in these groups (Ehrenreich, 1987; Katz, 1989; Quadagno, 1994), and public policy and anti-poverty programs continue to reflect these stereotypes (Bullock, 1995; Furnham, 1993; Furnham & Gunter, 1984; Rubin & Peplau, 1975);
A report from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), “Katrina’s Vanishing Victims,” takes the media to task for ignoring the “rediscovered poor” in New Orleans and elsewhere:
What Slate’s Jack Shafer had written during the height of the storm (8/31/05) remained true months later: “I don’t recall any reporter exploring the class issue directly by getting a paycheck-to-paycheck victim to explain that he couldn’t risk leaving because if he lost his furniture and appliances, his pots and pans, his bedding and clothes, to Katrina or looters, he’d have no way to replace them …”