Thinking like a social worker

…any questions? Yes. I have plenty.

Read: “Fables of Wealth”

Check out the NYTimes article here discussing the woes of capitalism due of the pure selfishness of the system. I appreciate the point about the systems need for workers in order to produce wealth.  I often feel the importance of employees is left out of the conversation in the current discussion about unemployment and the economy.

The article also put up a red flag for my readings so far.  I am lacking readings by female thinkers.  I really need to begin reading articles and books my female authors and gaining a women’s prospective on issues impacting women.  Also, I continue to read articles making the same (valid) points about the system without any solutions.  It’s time for action.

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Read: Shame of the Nation

Just started reading Kozol’s book, Shame of the Nation.  I am infuriated with the current public education system.

This quote by Kozol says it all:  “Higher standards, higher expectations, are insistently demanded of these urban principals, and of their teachers and the students in their schools, but far lower standards certainly in ethical respects appear to be expected of dominant society that isolates these children in unequal institutions.”

I will give my full review of the book when I finish.  As always, please send interesting articles or videos my way!

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Read: “Blacks in Virginia”

The article by the Weldon Cooper Center at UVA (Check it out here) may be a smack in the face to the current thought that education is the great equalizer, at least in Virginia.  While having a higher education level does increase income for all, blacks with the same education level as whites are lagging behind in regards to income.  So while education is key to higher income and a lower chance of unemployment, whites enjoy a greater reward for the same effort that blacks put in.  Is there an aspect of “human capital” that black workers are missing that would make them worth less?  I highly doubt it.  To me, it suggests structural racism outside of the control of the individual worker.

The article also has interesting information on racial segregation in Virginia’s metropolitan areas, which can effect quality of education for students living there.

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Listen: “Poverty in America”

All Things Considered recently released an interesting segment discussing poverty and its connection with welfare reform.  Listen here.

A little background: 

In the early 1990’s, Congress saw welfare as a program that taught its recipients become dependent on the federal government (still evident by Ron Haskin comments in the link above).  So when it came time for a solution, it became caseload reduction, which had nothing to do with actually helping people get out of poverty.

In 1996, Bill Clinton signed Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act replacing the permanent aid with Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).  TANF was a work first initiative that required work in order to receive benefits, and only allowed individuals to receive benefits for a lifetime total of five years.  The “work” positions were mainly in low-paying career fields, which would not necessarily raise a family out of poverty.

The new policy did achieve its goal and welfare rolls dropped dramatically.  Of those that left the rolls, some found employment and some did not.  Sixteen years after welfare reform, many highly-skilled individual are struggling to find employment.  Where does this leave low-skill, low-wage families not eligible for TANF?  As nutritional assistance program, is it appropriate for SNAP/food stamps to be serving as the main safety net for these families?

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