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An article donated by Alton C. Thompson:

Poverty and other matters:

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The website of the Institue for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discusses how poverty is measured in the United States. Its article begins this way:

"Poverty is measured in the United States by comparing a person’s or family’s income to a set poverty threshold or minimum amount of income needed to cover basic needs. People whose income falls under their threshold are considered poor.

The U.S. Census Bureau is the government agency in charge of measuring poverty. To do so, it uses two main measures, the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) and the Supplemental Poverty Measure.

The article adds:

"In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, the OPM national poverty rate was 12.7 percent.  There were 40.6 million people in poverty." 

This “Basic Statistics” article at www.poverty.org in 2019 lists poverty for several different categories of people; I have used their data to create the following table.  Note that this article gives the total in poverty as 38.1 million, rather than the 40.6 million. It’s not clear if this is more recent data, projections for 2019, or something else.

Poverty Rate Number in Poverty Percentage of Total
Overall 3.81 million 11.8%
White 15.7 8.1
African American 8.9 20.8
Hispanic 10.5 17.6

What I wish to note about the above data is that about 12% of USans are in poverty, most of those in poverty being Whites, with Hispanics, being second, and African Americans being close behind.  From a percentage standpoint, however, the rankings are the reverse, with far more African Americans, than Whites, relatively, being in poverty.

In describing how Whites explain the disparities, this article notes that there has been a shift in racial prejudice away from the biological foundations and strict segregation of the Jim Crow era, toward the more contemporary era, characterized by a denial of the existence of race-based discrimination, persistent negative stereotypes focused on the idea that blacks violate cherished American values, and a belief in cultural—rather than biological—differences among racial groups.  This constellation of beliefs, including but not limited to explanations for racial inequality, is the cornerstone of a new contemporary racial ideology, which has been variously labeled “colorblind racism,” “symbolic racism,” “modern racism,” “racial resentment,” or “laissez faire racism.” 

This article adds that: Many white men say they feel threatened by the increasing presence and success of minorities in the workplace. 

It adds that: working-class white men are the group that is most racially resentful and most opposed to further immigration.  This finding is based on analyses of survey data of the whole U.S. population examining both voting behavior and attitudes toward blacks and immigrants, zeroing in on President Donald Trump’s core supporters and the content of his political messaging to them. 

Although one wouldn’t know this, from the attention being given today to police brutality against African Americans, the fact of the matter is that:

Today, less privileged white Americans are considered to be in crisis, and the language of sociologists and pathologists predominates.  Charles Murray’s Coming Apart:  The State of White America, 1960–2010 was published in 2012, and Robert D. Putnam’s Our Kids:  The American Dream in Crisis came out in 2019.  From opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, they made the case that social breakdown among low-income whites was starting to mimic trends that had begun decades earlier among African Americans:  Rates of out-of-wedlock births and male joblessness were rising sharply.  Then came the stories about a surge in opiate addiction among white Americans, alongside shocking reports of rising mortality rates (including by suicide) among middle-aged whites.  And then, of course, came the 2016 Presidential campaign. The question was suddenly no longer why Democrats struggled to appeal to regular Americans.  It was why so many regular Americans were drawn to a man like Donald Trump.  [I added the two links.]

The above is from a review of White Trash:  The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, by Nancy Isenberg (2016): and  Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance (2016).

As one who himself grew up in the working class (my dad was a carpenter), I can appreciate this title:  Liberal elites don't have a clue about the white working class!  It appears to me that too many of our society’s “leaders” think of the “races” in our society as homogeneous groups.  And as a consequence, they fail to recognize variation within not only the African American and Latino groups, but their own racial group as well.  And because they fail to recognize that it’s fellow Whites who are the major poverty group in this society, they fail to:

  1. Recognize that working-class people of all races are in need of help -- because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on the economy and the resultant unemployment.

  2. Recognizing the situation of White working-class people, and then addressing their needs, would likely make our society safer and with fewer social problems—benefiting all of us.

Our “leaders” are not only “clueless” on race matters; of even more importance they are clueless about the threat to our species posed by global warming.  They are unlikely to know, for example that:

  1. We humans are now living in the period of “the sixth extinction”!
  1. One million species are on the verge of going extinct soon!

  2. Our species may be among that number!   See my article "Why We Are Doomed!"

In 2019-NOV, 11,000 scientists warned of “untold suffering” ahead, and asserted that “we must change how we live.

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One possible response:

I have taken their “we must change how we live” seriously, and propose that ecologically- and societally-conscious entrepreneurs begin creating, and working for the proliferation, of “company-town ecovillages.”  Here’s a definition: of an ecovillage.

An ecovillage is an intentional, traditional or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate social and natural environments. This article provides a number of descriptions of ecovillages.

In being a company town, a company-town ecovillage would have been initiated by one or more entrepreneurs who is/are both ecologically conscious and socially aware. My hope is that any creator(s) of such a community would strive to make it heterogeneos, in racial and other respects. What I have in mind is discussed in this Viking Villages for Today and the much longer A Road to Survival?   Note that the “Viking” part is just one possibility.  I believe that it was Hägar the Horrible who said that “Everyone loves the Vikings!”  That’s why I suggest the creation of Viking-themed company-town ecovillages!

Were my proposal to be implemented, this would constitute a “return” of sorts to a more natural way of life. As anthropologist Alan Barnard asserted recently, on Page 56 of his book Hunters and Gatherers:  What We Can Learn From Them (2020), we humans are “designed” for a way of life based on hunting and gathering!  (This downloadable book offers a “Paleolithic Prescription”!)

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in small groups, were egalitarian, etc.  Given that inequality is the direct cause of many of our social problems, the small size of company-town ecovillages would enable them to be, and continue to be over time, egalitarian.

In my  Creating Company-Town Ecovillages I discuss other reasons for creating such communities.

I discuss the historical background of my proposal in this paper: Not Completely Novel

Now, to find entrepreneurs “willing and able” to initiate this “plan”!  Or, do all of them lack the wisdom to do so?!  But how could that be?  After all, does not the “sapiens” in our species name, Homo sapiens, mean “wise”?!

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Original posting: 2020-JUN-28
Author: Alton C. Thompson

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