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Posted by on Oct 25, 2015 in About Blackacre, crime, Criminal Justice, Death, Economic Disparity, Family and Children, Homelessness, incarceration, Income Inequality, Justice, Leadership, money, politics, Poverty, Progressive policy, Progressive Think Tank, Progressives, Public Policy, social welfare, Socio Economics, Think Tank | 45 comments

Life is Hard but Poverty Kills

Life is Hard but Poverty Kills

Friday, October 24, 2015, 8:45 a.m. “Two Piece” stands outside her home, a Save-A-Lot grocery cart. As typical she is disheveled, but this time something is different; amiss. Judging from the strange bulge in her stomach she has either gained weight or is once again pregnant. And crack heads don’t gain weight. God help “Two Piece” and her child who if born, is all but doomed.

12:00 p.m., high noon Lawanda stands outside a trash bin that doubles as her office transacting business that is cold and impersonal, intimate but nasty. Everything on the menu is cheap but potentially fatal. Hell, get her high enough; give her enough hooch and you can do her for free.

3:30 p.m. the same day. TeShe traverses Majestic Blvd. and Meadows Court, near the 25th Street viaduct. Mumbling to himself either his bi-polar condition has kicked-in or someone has wronged him. In any case his right hand punches and slaps the air in furious protest of some slight, some injury, or some indignity real or imagined.

Each day the poor are stranded wherever fate deposits them, their worldly possessions piled atop shopping carts, stuffed in baby strollers or on their backs. Others work the corners where traffic is heavy, taking handouts from anyone who will roll down their windows.

ca. 1980s, Santa Monica, California, USA --- A homeless woman wheels a shopping cart filled with bags full of her belongings down a street in Santa Monica. --- Image by © Joseph Schwartz/CORBIS

Many share a lifetime of bad choices. But their unifying theme is abject poverty, defined as “the state or condition of having no money, goods or means of support; the condition of being poor.”

However, poverty is more than the absence of or the need for. It is a condition, a cancer, a leukemia that kills.

Exposing the soft and vulnerable parts of our soul, chafing nerves that are already raw and exposed poverty is a mill that grinds daily. “When the basic rights and needs of people are not met and they are trapped in the cycle of poverty there is an accrued toll on human life, as living on the margin creates chronic stress and pressure to make ends meet.”


The economic despair becomes so threatening and destabilizing to individual safety and health, the cost and cumulative damage so great, that it robs people of years of life. Research by the MacArthur Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health provides biomechanical evidence of the life threatening consequences of stress.

Poverty is also a tool by which to discriminate; to fashion a permeate underclass. Wealth is no indicator of character or worth. Nevertheless, as reflected by our political dialogue, i.e., “takers versus makers”, “welfare queens,” “free stuff”, and/or that “47% or Americans are dependant on government and pay no taxes” we judge people in substantial part by who prospers and who does not.


This economic contempt is so well ensconced that even the poor hate the poor. Nonetheless these assertions are classic examples of ideology trumping fact.

Everyone pays taxes whether payroll, state or sales. And half of those who pay no federal income taxes, such as the low-income, elderly or low-income working families, have no taxable income. Others benefit from legitimate tax preferences, e.g., child credit or earned income tax credit. More significantly, the wealthy with their 15% preferential rate on capital gains, as well as additional preferential treatment, benefits greatly from “big gubmit”. See

A bullet aimed at the heart and head privation is equally a weapon of mass destruction. It destabilizes and twists society into unrecognizable shapes and contributes to if not creates crime, chemical abuse, urban blight, homelessness, pan handling, mental illness and other quality of life issues.

The leading cause of divorce, the primary threat to the family is neither infidelity nor the lack of communication. It is instead poverty, deprivation and the stress caused thereby. Children of poor families are 1.7 times more likely to be born with low birth rates, 2 times more likely to repeat a grade in school and 3.1 times more likely to have out-of-wedlock birth than children from wealthy families. They are also more likely to die a violent death or feed the “Beast” also known as the criminal justice system.

Plus, penury fosters revolution, insurrection, war, mass emigration, terrorism and other forms of political instability. Consider for example our southern immigration problem as well as the emigration crisis in Europe.

Clearly, money does not solve all problems and some have indeed made their sparse and spare beds. But at the very least, financial resources afford those with issues, options they would not otherwise enjoy. This is perhaps poverty at its most unjust.

Hence, insolvency is not the predictor of failure. It is instead the promise of failure. Destitution does not hastens death. Poverty is death, the passing of hope, the obliteration of dreams.

Finally, the intentional and systematic impoverishment of a people is hopeless immorality, the evil and enormity of which are difficult to deny. It is a holocaust writ large that spans continents and transcends centuries. And while some may escape the gravitational pull of poverty, the vast majority, do not.

Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum


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