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Economic Inequality: An Introduction

Brought up on the Declaration of Independence and the idea that all people are created equal, Americans have traditionally described themselves as living in a classless society. This classless society meant that individual effort and talent contributed to one’s place in society. The vast majority of Americans, it has been believed, are middle class. Looking at the data, however, it’s clear that economic inequality exists. But what is it? Economic inequality is the unequal distribution of income (earnings) or wealth (net worth or savings) in a society.

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Food Assistance in the United States

Food Assistance in the United States  By: Laura Crouch In the United States, millions of people face hunger and food insecurity each day. Unable to provide for themselves and their families, they turn to food assistance programs for both short and long term needs.    The USDA defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social…

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Seventeenth Street Mission, Richmond VA

The Seventeenth Street Mission Paula Skreslet, D.Min. and Alice W. Campbell   In 1911, Murray Grey and other students from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (later, Union Presbyterian Seminary) started an urban ministry outreach program in Shockoe Bottom, the most impoverished neighborhood of Richmond, Va. The area suffered from unpaved streets, inadequate sewage facilities, and…

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Children Who Labor – film (1912)

Children Who Labor (1912)   Children Who Labor was a collaboration between the Edison Company and the National Child Labor Committee, the nonprofit organization founded in 1904 and chartered by Congress to promote the rights of “children and youth as they relate to work and working.” In this melodrama, the daughter of a well-to-do industrialist is…

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Tuberculosis has been known by many names throughout history, among them “consumption,” “the white death,” and “the great white plague.” Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s most deadly diseases.

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Poverty: An Anthropologist’s View – 1961

This means that we must give money in amounts generous enough to be really constructive, to people who have done nothing to earn or deserve it. This brings us back to the barrier of the relative values prevailing in our society. The necessary generosity will be forthcoming only when our society really accepts the premise that people are deserving simply because they are people; that is, because they are fellow human beings.

To be realistic, this acceptance will not develop magically or through appeals to conscience. Power rests in the middle class. And we in the middle class are notoriously anxious and defensive in the presence of people whose way of life is more primitive and violent than our own. We are threatened, and hence our response is rejection, not acceptance.

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Indoor And Outdoor Relief (1890)

A Report of the Committee by F. B. Sanborn, Chairman, at the Seventeenth Annual Session of the National Conference of Charities And Correction, 1890. “Both indoor relief…and family aid, or outdoor relief, as properly practiced, are both indispensable in any comprehensive plan of public charity. Wherever and whenever one of these methods has been wholly given up, accidentally or purposely, evils have followed which only the introduction of the omitted method could wholly remove.”

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Carrots from California (1939)

“How much is stoop labor paid in a day?”

“Almost everything is piece rate here. A Mex, working ten hours, can make $2 at pulling and tying carrots, but he has to go like hell. In the pea fields it’s a penny a pound. A white man is good if he can pick more than two hundred pounds a day. Other wages are about the same.

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