Tag Archives: federal

Federal marijuana bill would legalize some cannabis strains

Federal marijuana bill would legalize some cannabis strains

“…A bill being introduced Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives could be Cox’s ticket home. The three-page bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act — the federal law that criminalizes marijuana — to exempt plants with an extremely low percentage of THC, the chemical that makes users high…”

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Ex-governor tries to live on a minimum wage budget — and fails

Ex-governor tries to live on a minimum wage budget — and fails

“I had $77 to spend on food, transportation, activities and other personal expenses for the week,” the Ohio Democrat and current president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund wrote in Politico magazine. “I didn’t make it.”

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Post-Hobby Lobby, Religious Orgs Want Exemption From LGBT Hiring Order

Post-Hobby Lobby, Religious Orgs Want Exemption From LGBT Hiring Order

*explosion of expletives* 

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From the Mouths of Babes

I’ve been on food stamps since August of last year to help me feed myself while I interned  at a theatre in Louisville, KY. My internship paid me $1000 for 8 months, that’s roughly $30 a week, and it kept me working for over full time (sometimes hitting 60 hours a week). Food stamps helped me make ends meet on top of a $600/mo. apartment plus utilities of $30-80/mo. and phone bills of $80/mo., etc. I got $200/mo. from food stamps which helped out enormously. I view it as the government investing in my future because I’ve paid taxes since I was 15 and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I was lucky to have parents that paid out of pocket for my college education so that I wasn’t saddled with any debt. But, that also means that they don’t have much more left to help me survive now. So, what do you think? Am I part of the entitled poor that are sucking up tax-payers money? – Claire E Jones

 

 

 

 

By 

Published: May 30, 2013

“Like many observers, I usually read reports about political goings-on with a sort of weary cynicism. Every once in a while, however, politicians do something so wrong, substantively and morally, that cynicism just won’t cut it; it’s time to get really angry instead. So it is with the ugly, destructive war against food stamps.

The food stamp program — which these days actually uses debit cards, and is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — tries to provide modest but crucial aid to families in need. And the evidence is crystal clear both that the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients really need the help, and that the program is highly successful at reducing “food insecurity,” in which families go hungry at least some of the time.

Food stamps have played an especially useful — indeed, almost heroic — role in recent years. In fact, they have done triple duty.

First, as millions of workers lost their jobs through no fault of their own, many families turned to food stamps to help them get by — and while food aid is no substitute for a good job, it did significantly mitigate their misery. Food stamps were especially helpful to children who would otherwise be living in extreme poverty, defined as an income less than half the official poverty line.

But there’s more. Why is our economy depressed? Because many players in the economy slashed spending at the same time, while relatively few players were willing to spend more. And because the economy is not like an individual household — your spending is my income, my spending is your income — the result was a general fall in incomes and plunge in employment. We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis — and the expansion of food stamps, which helps families living on the edge and let them spend more on other necessities, is just such a policy.

Indeed, estimates from the consulting firm Moody’s Analytics suggest that each dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. by about $1.70 — which means, by the way, that much of the money laid out to help families in need actually comes right back to the government in the form of higher revenue.

Wait, we’re not done yet. Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of doing well in school and growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are in a very real sense an investment in the nation’s future — an investment that in the long run almost surely reduces the budget deficit, because tomorrow’s adults will also be tomorrow’s taxpayers.

So what do Republicans want to do with this paragon of programs? First, shrink it; then, effectively kill it.

The shrinking part comes from the latest farm bill released by the House Agriculture Committee (for historical reasons, the food stamp program is administered by the Agriculture Department). That bill would push about two million people off the program. You should bear in mind, by the way, that one effect of the sequester has been to pose a serious threat to a different but related program that provides nutritional aid to millions of pregnant mothers, infants, and children. Ensuring that the next generation grows up nutritionally deprived — now that’s what I call forward thinking.

And why must food stamps be cut? We can’t afford it, say politicians like Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican of Tennessee, who backed his position with biblical quotations — and who also, it turns out, has personally received millions in farm subsidies over the years.

These cuts are, however, just the beginning of the assault on food stamps. Remember, Representative Paul Ryan’s budget is still the official G.O.P. position on fiscal policy, and that budget calls for converting food stamps into a block grant program with sharply reduced spending. If this proposal had been in effect when the Great Recession struck, the food stamp program could not have expanded the way it did, which would have meant vastly more hardship, including a lot of outright hunger, for millions of Americans, and for children in particular.

Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency — and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis.

But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on May 31, 2013, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: From The Mouths Of Babes.”

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May 31, 2013 · 7:44 pm

After Recession, More Young Adults Are Living on Street

This trend is even seen in those that do have housing, but are forced to share a one bedroom apartment with 5 other people (like people I know in Washington D.C. for example).

By 

Published: December 18, 2012

“SEATTLE — Duane Taylor was studying the humanities in community college and living in his own place when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found, and lost, a second job. And a third.

Now, with what he calls “lowered standards” and a tenuous new position at a Jack in the Box restaurant, Mr. Taylor, 24, does not make enough to rent an apartment or share one. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter, except when his sister lets him crash on her couch.

“At any time I could lose my job, my security,” said Mr. Taylor, explaining how he was always the last hired and the first fired. “I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.”

Across the country, tens of thousands of underemployed and jobless young people, many with college credits or work histories, are struggling to house themselves in the wake of the recession, which has left workers between the ages of 18 and 24 with the highest unemployment rate of all adults.

Those who can move back home with their parents — the so-called boomerang set — are the lucky ones. But that is not an option for those whose families have been hit hard by the economy, including Mr. Taylor, whose mother is barely scraping by while working in a laundromat. Without a stable home address, they are an elusive group that mostly couch surfs or sleeps hidden away in cars or other private places, hoping to avoid the lasting stigma of public homelessness during what they hope will be a temporary predicament.

These young adults are the new face of a national homeless population, one that poverty experts and case workers say is growing. Yet the problem is mostly invisible. Most cities and states, focusing on homeless families, have not made special efforts to identify young adults, who tend to shy away from ordinary shelters out of fear of being victimized by an older, chronically homeless population. The unemployment rate and the number of young adults who cannot afford college “point to the fact there is a dramatic increase in homelessness” in that age group, said Barbara Poppe, the executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The Obama administration has begun an initiative with nine communities, most of them big cities, to seek out those between 18 and 24 who are without a consistent home address. New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Boston are among the cities included in the effort.

“One of our first approaches is getting a more confident estimate,” said Ms. Poppe, whose agency is coordinating the initiative.

Those who provide services to the poor in many cities say the economic recovery has not relieved the problem. “Years ago, you didn’t see what looked like people of college age sitting and waiting to talk to a crisis worker because they are homeless on the street,” said Andrae Bailey, the executive director of the Community Food and Outreach Center, one of the largest charitable organizations in Florida. “Now that’s a normal thing.”

Los Angeles first attempted a count of young adults living on the street in 2011. It found 3,600, but the city had shelter capacity for only 17 percent of them.

“The rest are left to their own devices,” said Michael Arnold, the executive director of theLos Angeles Homeless Services Authority. “And when you start adding in those who are couch surfing and staying with friends, that number increases exponentially.”

Boston also attempted counts in 2010 and 2011. The homeless young adult population seeking shelter grew 3 percentage points to 12 percent of the 6,000 homeless people served over that period.

“It’s a significant enough jump to know that it’s also just the tip of the iceberg,” said Jim Greene, director of emergency shelters for the Boston Public Health Commission.

In Washington, Lance Fuller, a 26-year-old with a degree in journalism, spent the end of last month packing up a one-bedroom apartment he can no longer afford after being laid off. Mr. Fuller said he had been unable to keep a job for more than eight months since graduating from the University of Florida in 2010.

“Thankfully, I have a girlfriend who is willing to let me stay with her until I get back on my feet again,” said Mr. Fuller, who writes a blog, Voices of a Lost Generation. “It’s really hard for people in my generation not to feel completely defeated by this economy.”

Mr. Taylor, the fast-food worker in Seattle, said he felt lucky when he could find a coveted space at Roots, a shelter for young adults in a church basement. Such shelters are rare.

For generations, services for the homeless were directed to two groups: dependent children and older people. There was scant attention focused on what experts now call “transitional age youth” — young adults whose needs are distinct.

“I see them coming back day after day, more defeated, more tired out, wondering, ‘When will it be my turn?’ ” said Kristine Cunningham, executive director of Roots. “And it’s heartbreaking. This is the age when you want to show the world you have value.”

They need more than just clean clothes and shelter to move into a secure adulthood, experts say. “They want a way out,” said Ms. Poppe, whose agency is also gathering evidence on what kinds of programs and outreach work best. “They want an opportunity to develop skills so they are marketable in the long term.”

“A more individualized approach seems to work,” she added.

But two obstacles stand in the way: young adults, eager for independence, are reluctant to admit that they need help and housing. And shelters designed with young adults in mind — those with career and trauma counseling, and education and training programs — are usually small.

Roots holds only 35 people, and a nightly lottery decides who gets a spot, which includes meals, laundry services and counseling. It is expanding to 45 beds.

Anna Wiley, 20, and her boyfriend, Bobby Jollineau, 24, spent several nights at Roots two weeks ago, but were unable to get in one night in November. “We ended up sleeping outside,” Mr. Jollineau said. “I have a sleeping pad and a really warm sleeping bag. There’s a couple of nooks and crannies that are safe around here, but you have to be careful. It can make for a rough night.”

Asked whether she could go to her parents’ home, Ms. Wiley said that her father is unemployed and that her mother works in a deli, making about as little as she does.

“I don’t like relying on other people too much, anyway,” she said.

Across town, Roman Tano, 20, woke up recently at YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center, another shelter for young adults that offers training programs. In October, its capacity grew to 20 beds from 15.

Two months ago, Mr. Tano gave up an apartment in his native Dallas after losing his job. He sold his Toyota and sought opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.

He rented a room and set out with his résumé (expertise: fund-raising). But when his $2,000 in savings withered to nothing, “I ended up sleeping on the street for the first time in my life,” he said. “I just kind of had to walk around and try to stay warm.”

Mr. Tano found the YouthCare shelter online, and has been staying there for a month. He has a new job as a canvasser for an environmental organization.

“Coming into it, I was, like, completely out of my element,” he said of YouthCare. “But in the time I’ve been here, it’s a pretty diverse group of people. There are a lot of people just trying to work to get out of this.”

“After I get my paycheck,” he said brightly, “I should be on my way.””

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December 19, 2012 · 9:50 pm