poverty

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

20% Increase in Child Poverty in Constituencies Represented by MPs Who Have Earned £6 Million

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 1:07am in

20% Increase in Child PovertyIn Constituencies Represented by MPsWho Have Earned £6 Million

Sam Bright and Sascha Lavin reveal the rising levels of deprivation seen in the areas represented by the highest-earning MPs

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

On average, there has been a 20.4% increase in child poverty in recent years within the 10 constituencies represented by the highest-earning MPs, the Byline Intelligence Team can reveal.

These MPs – all of whom are Conservatives – cumulatively earned £6.7 million in second jobs from the start of the 2014/15 financial year to the end of the 2019/20 financial year. Meanwhile, the number of children in poverty in their constituencies increased by 4,526 – an average increase of 20.4%.

One of the highest earners during this period was John Redwood, the pro-Brexit, Conservative MP for Wokingham. Redwood earned more than £1 million from supplementary employment from 2014/15 to 2019/20, largely in the investment banking sector. During the same period, child poverty in Wokingham increased by 35.8%. Records show that Redwood currently earns more than £200,000-a-year for various roles at private equity and investment companies. One of the roles requires Redwood to work for 50 hours-a-month, equivalent to a-third of an average working month.

Another top earner during the period was Fiona Bruce, the MP for Congleton, who also earned more than £1 million in supplementary income during the period – exclusively from legal consultancy work. Meanwhile, child poverty increased in Bruce’s constituency by 24.5%.

Parliament’s other top earners include Andrew Mitchell – who made some £900,000 from second jobs from 2014/15 to 2019/20, while child poverty in his Sutton Coldfield constituency rose by 18.8%.

Geoffrey Cox, who is the top earner in Parliament, made a staggering £2.6 million from legal work during the period in question. While child poverty marginally fell in his Torridge and West Devon seat from 2014/15 to 2019/20 – by 3.2% – it rose in subsequent years, from 2015/16 to 2019/20, by 3.4%.

Cox has attracted fierce criticism recently for his private-sector interests, which currently provide him with £970,000 in additional annual income – on top of his MP salary of £81,932. The nature of his outside work has also been scrutinised – with recent stories revealing that Cox has been working for the British Virgin Islands, defending the offshore jurisdiction against allegations of corruption made by the UK Foreign Office. Cox has also been accused of using his parliamentary office for private consulting work – which would be a breach of parliamentary rules.


‘Not Remotely a Corrupt Country’11 Shocking Sleaze StatisticsThat Prove Boris Johnson Wrong
Sascha Lavin

A furore about the second jobs of MPs has been triggered by the case of Conservative MP Owen Paterson, who was accused of “egregious” lobbying on behalf of two private firms that paid him more than £100,000-a-year. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner issued Paterson with a 30-day suspension, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially sought to overturn, before reversing his decision under public and political pressure. Paterson has now announced his resignation from Parliament.

Facing calls for a more stringent approach to the outside income of MPs, Johnson has now announced new proposals that would see representatives banned from accepting paid work as parliamentary advisers, strategists or consultants. The second jobs of MPs should also be “within reasonable limits and should not prevent them from fully carrying out their range of duties,” the proposed reforms suggest.

These changes, however, will seemingly only prevent a limited number of MPs from continuing their outside employment – given that the vast majority of outside earners do not explicitly work as “parliamentary” consultants.

However, even despite these modest proposals, many Conservative MPs are seemingly unhappy at the Prime Minister. Appearing on BBC Newsnight last night, Andrew Rosindell pleaded for Johnson’s to consider the “lifestyles” of MPs, and what they may have to sacrifice if they are forced to give up their second jobs.

ENJOYING THIS ARTICLE?
HELP US TO PRODUCE MORE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and help to support fearless, independent journalism that breaks stories, shapes the agenda and holds power to account.

PAY ANNUALLY – £39 A YEAR

PAY MONTHLY – £3.50 A MONTH

MORE OPTIONS

We’re not funded by a billionaire oligarch or an offshore hedge-fund. We rely on our readers to fund our journalism. If you like what we do, please subscribe.

This has provoked comparisons to the Conservative Party’s attitude to lower-income earners – particularly those on Universal Credit. A £20-a-week uplift to the flagship benefits programme ended in October, affecting 5.8 million claimants. According to the Resolution Foundation, the standard allowance for a single person aged under 25 dropped by 25% due to the end of the uplift, while for a couple both aged 25 or over, their allowance fell by 15%. The £20 uplift had been instated due to the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Not showing the same sympathy for Universal Credit claimants as for his fellow MPs, Rosindell told the BBC in July that: “I think there are people that quite like getting the extra £20 but maybe they don’t need it”.

“It really sticks in the throat to see Conservative MPs raising taxes for working families and cutting £1,000 a year in Universal Credit, which will see more children plunged into poverty, while at the same time lining their own pockets,” Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Child Poverty Secretary, told Byline Times.

From 2014/15 to 2019/20, the number of children in poverty in the UK increased by 540,000, official figures show. As Byline Times has previously revealed, the impacts of poverty and public spending cuts have been acutely felt in poorer, ‘Red Wall’ seats across the north of England, the Midlands and north Wales. During this period, for example, child poverty in the north east of England jumped markedly, by 41.9%, from 26% to 36.9%. Meanwhile, child poverty in the south east of England fell, from 24% to 23.8%, while it only marginally increased in the south west – from 26% to 26.1%.

‘One rule for them; one rule for us’ has been a common phrase used to describe the attitudes of MPs, many of whom seem to care more about their own incomes than the wellbeing of their constituents. As time goes by, this perception is merely intensifying.

None of the MPs mentioned in this article, approached by Byline Times, responded to our request for comment.

This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigative project formed by Byline Times with The Citizens. If you would like to find out more about the Intelligence Team and how to fund its work, click on the button below.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BYLINE INTELLIGENCE TEAM

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

The post 20% Increase in Child Poverty in Constituencies Represented by MPs Who Have Earned £6 Million appeared first on Byline Times.

More supportive housing for semi-independent seniors

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/11/2021 - 5:09am in

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives asked me for a ‘big idea.’

I wrote about the need for more supportive housing for semi-independent seniors.

Here’s my submission: https://nickfalvo.ca/more-supportive-housing-for-semi-independent-seniors/

More supportive housing for semi-independent seniors

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/11/2021 - 5:09am in

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives asked me for a ‘big idea.’

I wrote about the need for more supportive housing for semi-independent seniors.

Here’s my submission: https://nickfalvo.ca/more-supportive-housing-for-semi-independent-seniors/

Come Hell, High Water, or Both

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/11/2021 - 1:10am in
by Haley Mullins

Sea-level rise is one of the “highlights” (if we can call it that) of our climate emergency, yet most of us know so little about it. For many, the polar bears on Coca-Cola’s cans are the closest they’ve come to the issue. But marketing campaigns and halfhearted sympathies do little for the most vulnerable species and people. We should be doing far more. We certainly can’t afford complacency in the face of sea-level rise.

Climate Change = More Climate Refugees protest sign

Sea-level rise affects everyone, not just coastal inhabitants. (Image: CC BY-SA 2.0, Credit: John Englart)

While flooding, erosion of beaches, and storm surges pose the most immediate threat to coastal communities and island nations, upland areas and even landlocked states are not immune to the consequences of sea-level rise. Eight of the ten largest cities worldwide are near a coast, and nearly 40 percent of U.S. residents live in populous coastal areas. Those who are able will uproot their lives and migrate landward or overseas, resulting in already overpopulated regions becoming more populated still.

Meanwhile, influxes of refugees threaten the national security of recipient countries. At the local level, population density strains welfare services and worsens housing crises, leaving many displaced and without viable options.

Bail Water or Jump Ship?

Depending on our pathway, sea level is projected to rise between one and eight feet by the turn of the century. This mounting reality forces nations to simultaneously fight on two fronts: mitigation and adaptation. While many governments, organizations, and corporations continue trying to mitigate the worst-possible long-term damages, other communities find themselves in the trenches now, taking action to adapt to what already is and is to come.

A group of Maldivian climate activists urging governments to protect them from sea-level rise

Maldivians combat sea-level rise with artificial islands. Will it save them from going under? (Image: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, Credit: 350.org)

Small low-lying island nations are most vulnerable to sea-level rise. Even discounting coastal encroachment (which can vary significantly depending on region, season, etc.), low-lying islands experience the worst of extreme weather, which continues to intensify and become more frequent. With only so much higher ground and inland to retreat to, island governments are forced to choose: invest in ways to hold back the sea or plan for mass migration. Apart from a few instances of inland mass migration, it looks like the majority thus far have chosen to stay put and invest in defensive infrastructure.

The Maldives is perhaps the most vulnerable island nation, with over 80 percent of its roughly 1,200 islands less than a meter above sea level. Having recognized the problems of overpopulation and sea-level rise early, the Maldivian government began constructing Hulhumalé in 1997 and finished the artificial island in 2002 at a cost of over $32 million. Through a process called land reclamation, whereby millions of cubic meters of sand were pumped from the sea bed onto existing reefs, Hulhumalé was formed and is now home to roughly 100,000 people. Though the “City of Hope” was designed with sustainability in mind, it is expected to continue growing.

Treading Water

The Dutch have been building seawalls for nearly a millennium. With at least a third of the country below sea level, the Netherlands is synonymous with low-lying, inundated land and a comprehensive system of protective dikes. The Dutch quickly learned, however, that while dikes, dams, and other barriers were helpful, other costly and complex flood-control measures were needed for long-term security. Such innovations have been successful enough that other nations facing the early consequences of global heating look to the Netherlands for guidance. However, as waters continue to rise at an increasing rate and extreme weather becomes more common, even the Dutch are having to get more creative. A multi-billion-dollar project to reinforce the Afsluitdijk, the Netherlands’ first line of defense against rising waters, is just one preventative measure underway.

Like the Netherlands, the iconic canalized city of Venice has long experienced the blessings and curses of the water. In 1976, Venetian authorities announced MOSE, a project name which aptly evokes the water-parting prophet. The floodgate system, made of semi-permeable yellow steel barriers that retract under the sea bed when not in use, functions as a less oppressive eyesore for the sake of the Venetian tourism industry. It wasn’t until 44 years, the throes of a scandal, and over seven-billion dollars later that the floodgate system became operable, only to make residents wonder if it was all worth it. Once-exceptional floods over 4.5 feet are now happening regularly, as sea level continues to rise and the city slowly sinks.

Sink or Swim

Even if we could completely cut carbon emissions now, sea levels would continue to rise for the next century. As sea levels rise and warm, the migratory patterns of marine life are likely to change, posing another devastating threat—in tandem with overfishing—to impoverished coastal countries. Without food security, community health and wellbeing will decline, making it evermore laborious to adapt and respond to the changing environment. What are these nations expected to do without the resources needed to adapt? What if they cannot afford to migrate?

Effective coastal protection systems require tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year to install and maintain, a large cost for any nation, but unfathomable for many who need them most. Low-lying islands such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands are among the most-affected by and least-equipped to equitably address the effects of sea-level rise. Without funding assistance from wealthier nations for hard protection or mass migration (and opening borders for these refugees), the peoples of these islands and others like them will be forced to retreat inland. Internal migration will spark land-use conflict, ultimately causing many sacred and/or ecologically vital areas to be destroyed for human settlement.

The Vexation of Adaptation

The reality of climate change demands that we take measures to both mitigate and adapt for the sake of our survival. Mitigation is largely the burden of the wealthiest countries—having caused the bulk of emissions through insatiable growth—while underdeveloped, coastal countries are left to adapt to the decaying world they inherited. Communities confronted by the worsening effects of sea-level rise face an agonizing decision: to stay or to go.

Signs posted on the beach indicating predicted sea-level rise by certain dates

Despite our efforts to mitigate climate change, sea levels will continue to rise long into the future. (Image: CC BY-ND 2.0, Credit: go_greener_oz)

One of the many problems of adapting to climate change is the sheer magnitude of environmental and economic costs. Countries that can afford to construct manmade barriers and floodgate systems do so at a hefty price. Producing and operating such equipment requires resources, releases emissions, and often interferes with local ecosystems. Here, we’re faced with a bit of a Catch-22, where what we need to build to survive contributes to the problem that threatens our survival.

What’s worse is that many of these countries, despite such catastrophic futures, continue to believe that more growth is not only possible, but will save them. Yet GDP growth is tightly linked to greenhouse gas emissions; CO2 alone emanates from every part of the supply chain. Even fans of Coca-Cola’s polar bears know that the heating resulting from these gases melts ice sheets and glaciers, endangering Arctic ecosystems, and contributing to sea-level rise. What is often overlooked is that much of the global heating is absorbed by the oceans. As the oceans warm, thermal expansion occurs, causing “eustatic” sea-level rise. The problem with thermal expansion is that it takes only marginally higher temperatures to cause significant eustatic rise. Now that we’ve come to terms with our near-certain failure to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, we must also recognize that regardless of our mitigation efforts, any increase in global temperature will result in sea-level rise. Our incessant refusal to accept limits to growth and restructure our economic priorities will only exacerbate the problem.

Photo of Haley Mullins, Managing Editor at CASSE

Haley Mullins is Managing Editor at CASSE, and graduate student in George Washington University’s M.P.S. in Publishing program.

The post Come Hell, High Water, or Both appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.

11 Players Who Have Made a Difference Off the Football Field

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/11/2021 - 8:30pm in

11 Players Who HaveMade a Difference Off the Football Field

As Marcus Rashford is honoured with an MBE for his work campaigning to end food poverty for children, Nathan O’Hagan selects his team of football heroes, past and present, who have influenced the world of politics

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

There has been much popular debate in recent months about the role of football in promoting social justice causes – prompted largely by the decision of Premier League players, and the England team, to take the knee before games in a stand against racism.

In this spirit follow 11 footballers, past and present, who have led the way in campaigning for a more just form of politics.

Goalkeeper: Neville Southall

There’s only one choice between the sticks. The Everton and Wales legend is a perfect example of what can happen when a straight, white middle-aged male opens his heart and mind to the experiences of others.

In recent years Southall has used social media to reach out to many people – the trans community in particular – to understand their experiences, moving from someone who was simply curious to a prominent advocate and ally. Since then, he has taken part in regular Twitter takeovers, allowing sex workers, mental health advocates, addiction support services and broadcast their view to his 170,00 follower-strong Twitter account.

Defender: Gary Neville

In recent months, the former Manchester United and England right back has gained headlines for more than his football punditry. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he opened up his two Manchester hotels to be used by NHS staff free of charge, and since then has been increasingly outspoken about politics, most recently appearing on Good Morning Britain to criticise the scrapping of the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift. Responding to former Conservative MP Edwina Currie, who was defending the Government, he said: “To me the language is always divisive, it’s not helpful. It’s really dangerous, we’re one team in this country, we’re one group of people.”

“Honestly,” he added, “to remove Universal Credit payments at this moment in time is brutal. Let’s be clear, it’s brutal.”

Defender: Ben Mee

The Burnley captain may not be the most high-profile figure in football’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, Mee condemned the Burnley fans who in June 2020 hired a plane to fly a banner bearing the message “White Lives Matter Burnley” over the club’s home ground. Mee said that he and his teammates felt “ashamed and embarrassed”.

Two months earlier, Mee criticised comments made by then Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s that footballers needed to “play their part” in the fight against the pandemic by accepting pay cuts; something many had already done voluntarily and without fanfare.

Writing in The Guardian, Mee said, “… as we’ve worked hard to do our part, those headlines have created a distraction, needlessly trying to make villains out of footballers, rather than praising the great work of key workers who are putting themselves at risk to help others.”

The defender was also instrumental in efforts by Premier League players to set up a fund into which players donated wages to support NHS charities.


Kicking BackWhy the ‘Culture Wars’ Backfired
Jon Bloomfield and David Edgar

Defender: Tyrone Mings

The Aston Villa and England defender was present at the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and was praised for his response to Priti Patel’s, after the Home Secretary claimed to be “disgusted” by the racial abuse received by England players following their Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

“You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens,” Mings tweeted. 

Right Wing: Pat Nevin

Nevin’s position here is right-wing, but that’s the only thing about him that is. Far from a conventional footballer (how many other former professionals have had DJ slots at an obscure music festival ?) Nevin has always worn his politics on his sleeve, not least in his role as chair of the players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association.

He risked the wrath of a certain section of his Chelsea support in the early-to-mid ‘80s by speaking out against their racial abuse of his teammates and opponents, as well as against homophobia. Nevin was an ally log before the term had even been coined.

Midfield: Jordan Henderson

As well as being a vocal figure in the England squad’s decision to take the knee, Henderson has also spoken out more than once in support of LGBTQ+ football fans. He also surprised one non-binary England fan who tweeted how “terrified” they were attending their first match. Henderson responded, “Hi Joe great to hear you enjoyed the game as you should. No one should be afraid to go and support their club or country because football is for everyone no matter what.”

Midfield: Peter Reid

The engine of the same Everton team as Southall in the ‘80s, Reid is a proud socialist who has never been afraid to express an opinion, as Boris Johnson found out when playing on a charity England XI side that Reid was managing in 2006. 

“As soon as he walked into the dressing room I went for him,’ Reid wrote in his 2017 autobiography.

“Hello Peter, Boris Johnson, pleased to meet you,” Reid recalls. “I wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries, though.

“I’ve been meaning to have a word with you, you twat; having a go at Scousers, who the fuck do you think you are?

“You could hear a pin drop and the likes of John Barnes, Richard Ashcroft, Nigel Benn and Sean Bean were all open-mouthed. I could tell he couldn’t work out whether I was pulling his leg because he was half-smirking and half-shocked but I wasn’t messing.

“You are a f**king disgrace… He s**t himself”.

The former Sunderland and Manchester City manager frequently uses Twitter and a column in The Independent to make his feelings on Brexit and the Conservative Party very clear. 


Euro 2020A New England
Adrian Goldberg

Left Wing: Marcus Rashford

What can one say about Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford? A man who decided to use his platform to take on the Government and won – to ensure millions of children living in food poverty were provided with support both during school terms and in school holidays. He forced the Government into multiple U-turns with his respectful but relentless campaigning, leading some to dub him “the real leader of the opposition”, and earning and MBE for his efforts.

Forward: Raheem Sterling

After he was racially abused by Chelsea supporters while playing for Manchester City in 2018, Sterling spoke out against the kind of media coverage he had received – which he felt had emboldened racists. Sterling had long been targeted by the right-wing press more than most, with racially-charged headlines that analysed his every act, from smoking shisha, to having a gun tattoo, to every time he spent what the papers decided was too much – or even not enough – money.

Posting on Instagram, Sterling said the coverage received by him and other black players “helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour, so for all the newspapers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity an give all players an equal chance.”

Forward: Gary Lineker

Few footballers enrage the right to the same extent as the Match Of The Day presenter, a man for whom the tiresome riposte of “stick to football mate” could have been invented. There’s something about a wealthy man speaking out on issues like Brexit, racism and the plight of refugees that certain people seem to find particularly infuriating.

Many people have attempted to catch out Lineker. When he dares to express empathy for refugees, many ask whether he’d be willing to have one in his own home. To which England’s third top goal-scorer points out that he already has. 

Forward: Troy Deeney

When he was captain of Watford, Deeney was one of the key organisers in football’s decision to take the knee, and to replace the traditional players’ names on the back of their shirts with the Black Lives Matter slogan. While always keen to highlight the role others played in the process, particularly Leicester’s Wes Morgan, there’s no doubt how crucial Deeney himself was. He also previously fronted the Football Association’s Heads Up campaign, designed to increase awareness of men’s mental health. 

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

The post 11 Players Who Have Made a Difference Off the Football Field appeared first on Byline Times.

The Program That is Changing Lives by Phone

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/11/2021 - 12:00am in

text message

Sharon did want to talk about it. At 64, she’d taught herself to walk again after being shot on the way to work at the San Francisco airport. She’d grieved the loss of her husband to gunfire. And though she’d found relief in drugs and the streets, she was ready for change. A go-getter, she’d signed up for a course called Desk Ready so that she could work at one of the shelters she was staying at. But she didn’t know how to use Zoom or email on her phone, so she’d flunked the class.

“So I was hurting. I called Bill, and I said, ‘Bill, I’m going to get drunk,’” she recalls. “He was like, ‘Well Sharon…You the one who made the first step to decide you’re going to leave them streets alone.’”

Bill, a retired corporate accountant, also in his sixties, is a volunteer with a program called Miracle Friends. The program pairs people who are unhoused with housed volunteers in an effort to tackle what founder Kevin Adler calls “relational poverty.” For people experiencing homelessness, case managers, social workers and other service representatives abound. But what’s often missing is a stable and consistent person to rely on when the going gets rough. A growing body of research shows that relationships with peers or volunteers like Bill can help people living in precarious situations and even improve outcomes within existing programs. 

Other programs like Miracle Friends exist. In San Jose, Streets Team builds peer-support networks to help folks re-enter the workforce, and in Baltimore Thread seeks to replicate the social fabric of family for youth-at-risk. And the evidence is on their side. Social support is widely known to protect against health problems like cardiovascular disease and depression. More specifically, one study, showed that 51 percent of unhoused women in Los Angeles reported no substantial source of social support. Yet those with support from someone who was not a substance user reported higher self‐esteem, greater life satisfaction and lower anxiety and depression. One analysis even found that women living in poverty with social supports had a lower risk of experiencing violence.

Adler himself believes that Miracle Friends was integral to the success of their recent universal basic income pilot, Miracle Money. Modelled off a similar program from Vancouver that RTBC reported on last year, Miracle Money gives participants $500 a month, no strings attached. ​​“A little bit of support, walking with someone, not by someone, can lead to a transformative outcome,” he says. 

‘I kept talking’

Miracle Friends got its start just as the pandemic hit, when suddenly thousands of people living on the streets of San Franciso were moved into shelter-in-place hotels, alone, and could easily slip through the cracks.

Before the pandemic, Sharon was getting tired of life on the streets and had started to turn her life around. When she first connected with Bill a year and a half ago, “I think we stayed on the phone for a couple of hours,” she recalls. “And you can say a lot talking to somebody in a couple of hours. He made me feel so comfortable… And from that day on I kept talking to him.”

Shortly after that, she flunked the course. She was also facing many other challenges — bureaucratic barriers to stable housing, racist bullying in the shelters, less-than-on-top-of-it case managers. But having Bill there as a nudge to persevere helped her stay accountable to her own goals. He’d remind her of her many accomplishments: that she was one of the best cleaners at the airport. That she cared for her sister who was disabled. That she’d always kept herself out of debt. 

She hung in there. Months later, Sharon finally secured a suite in an income-assisted housing complex for seniors.

‘You’ve gotta be ready’

A couple of months after launching, Miracle Friends conducted a survey of participants. Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, they found unhoused friends were less lonely than when they started. Forty-three percent said the program uplifts their spirits. This is important, but Miracle Friends is really about connecting people who are unhoused with a stable and emotionally supportive person. Whether the volunteer is simply listening, helping them open a bank account or serving as a reference, over time, this relationship could be the thing that indirectly helps them secure housing. 

Importantly, people in the program are met exactly where they are at. They opt-in for a friend and only stay in the program if it’s benefitting them. If a participant stops responding, the volunteers do their best to find out why. In one instance, a fellow’s primary language wasn’t English so they matched him with an Urdu-speaking volunteer. But he became frustrated with the volunteer’s limited vocabulary. The volunteer asked her dad to break the ice, and the original pair have since grown to be friends. 

At times, underlying mental illnesses as a result of life on the streets can get in the way, and in a few instances, pairs have required intervention due to inappropriate behaviour from the participant toward the volunteer. 

According to the program, the biggest barrier remains access to phones — they’ve had to turn people away who don’t have one. But the biggest barrier as far as Sharon is concerned? “You’ve gotta be ready to want to clean your own life up.”

‘It goes both ways’ 

Miracle Friends volunteers can nominate unhoused friends who they think would benefit from the Miracle Money program. In December, 2020, Bill nominated Sharon. Sharon thought it was fake. Bill still titles the call he got from her after she received her first payment in May “The Happy Call.” She used the funds to get settled into her new place.

text message

“I moved here with an air mattress and nothing else, a bunch of boxes of packed clothes,” Sharon says. “Today, I have a living room set, a dinette set and a bed, and I am very happy.” She’s returned to a healthy weight. Recently, she came full circle and was hired to work full-time at a shelter.

Having spent over a decade working with another homelessness outreach organization, Bill says the beauty in Miracle Friends is its simplicity. “You listen, you encourage. Sometimes you have to hold them accountable. It goes both ways.”

He’s clear he can’t take any credit — Sharon did it all herself. And while she’s enormously grateful to Bill, she agrees. “I came from the gutter back to reality,” she says. “I’ve done it and I’m not going to stop doing it now.” 

The post The Program That is Changing Lives by Phone appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

COP26: Politicians and corporations greenwash ‘business as usual’ at climate change conference

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/11/2021 - 1:45am in

Chancellor Rishi Sunak holding up a green version of his ministerial box at the COP26 Climate Change ConferencePhoto by HM Treasury on Flickr. Creative Commons 2.0 license

You cannot simply *ask* the rich to reduce their emissions and resource use. The only reasonable approach is to tax them to the point where they are no longer rich.

Jason Hickel, Economic Anthropologist

 

This week, the COP26 conference being held in Glasgow has dominated the news headlines and reporting. Given the urgency of the climate crisis we are facing, there still seems to be little real commitment to turning pledges into reality. Words are cheap, actions much harder. In a tasteless photo op during the G20 Summit that preceded COP26, world leaders were pictured tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, sending an awful message that suggested that a miracle was all we could hope for.

It has not been difficult to see who is dictating the pace in this round of talks. Let’s start with the corporate sponsors of the event, those very same companies which are spending vast sums of advertising money to promote their greenwashing, whilst doing very little, or privately lobbying government in their own interests. As noted in an investigation, eleven of those major sponsors produced, ‘more greenhouse gas pollution than the whole of the UK’, and they were understood to have ‘poured millions of pounds into the talks […] in Glasgow.

Gaston Browne, who is the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda and the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, blamed powerful private sector interests and cuttingly remarked that ‘We are here to save the planet, not protect profits.’

 Furthermore, and as Adam Ramsey noted in an article in Open Democracy earlier this week:

“UK government hosts said Big Oil companies wouldn’t be welcome, but BP’s CEO is among fossil fuel lobbyists at the heart of the conference.

 

[…]. These companies are the greatest perpetrators of the climate crisis, and none of them have committed to rapidly phase out their oil, gas and coal extraction in line with the 1.5°C target. But BP and Chevron still get a platform and the industry still gets access to influential decision-makers behind the scenes,”

Jess Worth, a director of Culture Unstained, quoted in the same article, told Open Democracy:

“While so many vital voices from frontline and Indigenous communities around the world have been excluded from the summit, this clearly demonstrates the injustice baked into the heart of the process.’

The voices of indigenous activists who see meeting net-zero targets via carbon offsetting, through mass reforestation, biofuels and new technologies, as a mechanism for further land grabs and environmental and cultural destruction, often remain unheard. Ita Mendoza, an indigenous land defender from Southern Mexico, attending for the first time, was clear:

‘The Cop is a big business, a continuation of colonialism where people come not to listen to us, but to make money from our land and natural resources.’

These few words sum up the crux of the matter, as western leaders and the global corporations whose interests they serve as a priority, fail to grapple with the concept that the only real way to limit global heating and its destructive impacts is to keep fossil fuels and minerals in the ground. That we have to tackle, with great urgency, carbon emission reduction and the vast inequalities which persist, particularly in the Global South which has borne the brunt of western exploitation for centuries. That we must take into consideration not the financial cost, but the real and finite nature of the resources that will be needed to drive change, and how they can be distributed globally in a fair and equitable manner.

As Jennifer Morgan of Greenpeace was clear in a Guardian article this week:

“The world needs to make immediate, dramatic and consistent emissions reductions now – not push the global south, in particular, further to the brink with offset schemes. They have led to land-grabbing, biodiversity destruction and human rights abuses. To protect nature, and people’s futures, governments must work in partnership with local Indigenous peoples to manage the land justly.”

However, when Boris Johnson suggests that ‘we can build back greener without so much as a hair shirt in sight’, he is promoting a view that we can carry on with no change to the way we do things, that technology will provide all the solutions, (even though many of them aren’t even off the drawing board and time is running out), and that we can carry on with a two-hundred-year-old economic system which has been based on the exploitation of humans, land and finite resources, and which has already done considerable damage.

Even if new technologies have a role to play in creating a sustainable planet, it will still require a transformation of our priorities, a change in our patterns of consumption of goods and services, and crucially, that the global political establishment has the political will to move beyond words and towards urgent action. Government will have to start acting as government, by doing what only government can; make the rules by standing up to myopic corporate power and spend as if tomorrow and future generations really counted.

Up until now, government has ceded its powers to the global corporates, bowing to their demands through lobbying or self-interest. It has also lied about its capacities, as the holder of the public purse, to spend to serve the public purpose. In his recent budget, Rishi Sunak scarcely mentioned funding for climate change action, and there are many others who question its financial affordability, focusing instead on growing the economy in a post-covid age to raise revenue, as if government actually needed to do so to fund its programmes or pay down debt – which it doesn’t. Given the growing challenge by a growing global MMT movement, the fact that the political establishment continues to promote these frameworks says much about the politicians who use them to drive their own political and personal agendas, rather than using such knowledge to deliver an economy that works for everyone. Seeing it in that light, one might be forgiven for wondering what the purpose of government is, if it has simply become a mechanism for an unfair distribution of real wealth and resources.

If we had naively thought that the COP26 was all about saving the planet for future generations, then, so far, we have been sadly disappointed. The continuing global obsession with growth, along with Conference hosts whose commitment to addressing the climate crisis has so far been shown to be lukewarm and always skewed in favour of business, should by now be making clear who is in charge.

As Greta Thunberg tweeted:

#COP26 is no longer a climate conference.

 

This is a Global North greenwash festival.

 

A two-week celebration of business as usual and blah blah blah.”

 Whilst the World Meteorological Organisation published its report ‘State of the Climate in 2021: Extreme Events and Major Impacts’ this week, we clearly have some still in denial and a Prime Minister existing in a complete disconnect, not just to climate threats, but also how that is bound up so closely with resource use and delivery of a green agenda. There are no limits to green growth in his rosy picture of the future, it would appear.

But as the UN Secretary, Antonio Guterres, attending the Conference made clear;

‘The report shows our planet is changing before our eyes. From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, communities and ecosystems around the globe are being devastated. […] Scientists are clear on the facts. Now leaders need to be just as clear in their actions. We must act now, with ambition and solidarity, to safeguard our future and save humanity.’

[…]

Recent climate action announcements might give the impression that we are on track to turn things around. This is an illusion. “Our addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink. We face a stark choice: either we stop it, or it stops us. It’s time to say, ‘Enough … Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.’

When Boris Johnson stood up at the conference podium and talked about it ‘being a minute to midnight moment’, it was, according to the reports, greeted with stony silence. The audience were surely open-mouthed at the hypocrisy falling from his lips, with a government claiming on the one hand that it was committed to reducing reliance on coal, whilst at the same time, supporting a controversial new mine opening in Cumbria, or proposing to give the go-ahead for a new oil field in Shetland. And that’s without the other failed measures such as the government insulation scheme, or the reduction in foreign aid (because apparently balancing budgets was more important than the planet or people’s lives).

While other countries are being asked to take action to prevent global temperatures from spinning out of control, it would appear that it doesn’t apply to the UK. We are the exception to the rule, and all we need to do is a bit of reforestation, promote expensive heat pumps (for which the proposed government spending will scarcely scratch the surface of the task) and encourage us to buy electric cars, and everything will be just fine and dandy. Business as usual, in a country where over 10 years, austerity has done huge damage, left the nation impoverished and public and social infrastructure in a state of decay.

We have a Prime Minister who can’t even manage to speak with the necessary gravitas on such an occasion as this, which requires us to move beyond rhetoric and silly references to James Bond, or Kermit as he did at a UN meeting in September. When Johnson said at that meeting, ‘It’s not only easy being green, it’s lucrative […]. We have the technology’, one immediately understands that being green for him is a business opportunity for his friends and their technology will deliver that ‘brave new world’. Only it won’t. Reality is much more complicated than that.

Shamefully, later in the week, we were then treated to another piece of astonishing hypocrisy, as the Prime Minister, whilst entreating the world to behave responsibly, climbed into a private plane to fly back to London. But according to his propaganda team, we don’t need to worry, because the aircraft was run partly on sustainable aviation fuel.

This ignored the uncomfortable fact revealed by research carried out by the Swedish government in 2019, that biofuels in aeroplane tanks were a ‘false solution for the climate’, and that if we are serious about saving the planet then we would have to fly a lot less than we do today. Lina Burnelius, one of the authors of the report, was clear that biofuels were not a sustainable solution as flight fuel, given the intense pressures on land use on an already strained ecosystem. She noted that:

‘If we increase the amount of bio-fuel from crops, enormous areas will have to be cultivated for this purpose. To replace half of our fossil fuels with bio-fuels, a third of the world’s croplands would need to be taken out of other production. This type of unprecedented expansion will require enormous additional forest areas to be logged, resulting in exposure and atmospheric release of vast quantities of carbon. On top of this, it will have a strong detrimental effect on our biodiversity.’

 She also discounted another proposed solution for sourcing biofuel – the use of food waste. It should be clear that in a world with increasing pressures on land use as climate change affects agriculture and food production, that in the future we should be aiming to reduce fuel use considerably instead.

In the face of a political class and a corporate body that has no real solutions but continuing growth, and the maintenance of the status quo nurtured under the now ubiquitous greenwashing brand, without real commitment we are staring over the precipice as wealth inequality and lack of fair access to real resources becomes ever more marked.

In a report published this week by Oxfam, which commissioned the study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy and the Stockholm Environment Institute, the policy lead, Nafkote Dabi, said that ‘a tiny elite appear to have a free pass to pollute’, and that ‘their oversized emissions are fuelling extreme weather around the world and jeopardising the international goal of limiting global heating.’

Scientists have urged governments to ‘constrain luxury carbon consumption’ of private jets, mega-yachts and space travel. The report noted that:

The world’s richest 1% are set to have per capita consumption emissions in 2030 that are still 30 times higher than the global per capita level compatible with the 1.5⁰C goal of the Paris Agreement, while the footprints of the poorest half of the world population are set to remain several times below that level. By 2030, the richest 1% are on course for an even greater share of total global emissions than when the Paris Agreement was signed.”

Seen from this perspective, there are questions to be asked about how global corporations and their CEOs, get the ear of government, or can be allowed to speak at the Conference as Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and an excessively wealthy individual, did this week. Referring in his speech to his four minutes in space, he said, ‘Looking back at Earth from up there the atmosphere seems so thin, the world so finite and so fragile.’

Surely Bezos didn’t have to travel into space in a penis-shaped spacecraft that cost $5.5bn or $1.38 bn a minute to tell us that? Climate activists could have told him for free without ever stepping off terra firma. Questions need to be asked as to why indigenous people, whose livelihoods are threatened by climate change, and the neocolonial exploitation which serves to sustain a rotten economic system have no voice, but the rich can use their wealth to influence what happens next in their favour. One can only conclude that it is to save that rotten economic system to maintain the status quo, the existing power structures, and excessive wealth, while the rest remain an exploited, enslaved underclass.

When another wealthy entrepreneur, Elon Musk, says that his ‘plan is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness (whatever the light of consciousness means) one must ask which planet is he actually on, and wouldn’t it be preferable to put all our finite resources into saving the planet on which we actually live, and create a sustainable and equitable living space for all?

As growth is promoted as a solution, even in these days of climate crisis, people are being encouraged to save the economy rather than the planet, by endless appeals to consume in the aftermath of the pandemic. However, as the Australian economist Steven Hail noted on social media in 2015:

“The reluctance of heterodox, as well as orthodox economists, to accept that we do genuinely have limited wants, still surprises me.

 

They put so much effort into trying to prove that ever more consumption gives people ever more utility, that they miss the point, where well-being is concerned.

 

Most people, beyond a critical level, unless encouraged to compare themselves with others, are not made significantly happier by the ability to acquire ever greater quantities of goods and services.

 

What most people crave is security, and a sense that they are being treated fairly.

 

The security which would come with a job guarantee, and the fact that a job guarantee at a living wage with fair working conditions would protect those with less bargaining power from being treated unfairly, could make a permanent and very significant difference to people’s feelings of subjective well being.

 

We could change the lives of many thousands of people for the better, permanently.

 

What do our politicians do, instead?

 

Talk about a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to introduce ‘tax reforms’ which are likely to drive the distribution of income to even greater levels of inequality and inequity, and which are otherwise largely irrelevant to the interests of people who just want to know they will have decent paying, and socially worthwhile job opportunities, and a guarantee of security and self respect.”

This should be the subject of a big conversation about how we can move away from satiating our endless desires for what is often useless consumption, to create a society that operates in the interests of people and the planet. There is an alternative, but without the political will to achieve it, all we are left with is leaders tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain in the hope of a miracle.

It was, therefore, once again depressing to read an article in the Morning Star this week, in which the MP Richard Burgon, proposed a budget amendment that the ‘UK’s richest 1% should pay more tax to finance a just transition away from fossil fuels’.

Quite rightly he suggested that it is vital to reform the tax system to tackle damaging over-consumption by the very wealthiest elites, but to suggest that money raised could be used to fund a transition is yet more bunkum. The idea that taxing the wealthiest will finance anything is just more handbag economics which bears no relationship to monetary reality. It is sad to have to keep noting that progressive politicians are still accepting Thatcher’s lies with no challenge.

Let’s talk about public money. Let’s make it clear that this government lacks the political will to act, (unless it’s in favour of the wealthy elites), and this has nothing to do with financial affordability where the government is a fully sovereign currency issuer, as the UK is. Let’s make it totally unambiguous that the only constraints any sovereign currency-issuing government faces when it spends, are real resources, and that is what must be managed.

Shortly before Johnson left for London in his private plane, he told a roundtable of developing nations that ‘when it comes to tackling climate change, words without action, without deeds are absolutely pointless.’ How right he is. But it is equally clear that so far, corporate power is still dictating the game, the commitments lack real backbone and the financing for change still falls short of what is needed.

As David Wengrow, co-author with David Graeber of ‘The Dawn of Everything’, so succinctly expressed it in a Guardian article this week, the challenge is to ‘re-imagine and then remake our societies and our relationship with our planet in a new form.”

The big question that should be in our minds is whether we will, and whether the current global corporate power structures will allow us to.

On Friday it was Youth Day in Glasgow. Young people demonstrated in their thousands, and spoke passionately and articulately. One demonstrator held aloft a placard which said: ‘Your failure will be our future’.

And therein lies the challenge we face. So far, the response is not enough. With still a week to go, as negotiations progress, we can only hope that leaders grasp the nettle, and that governments around the world recognise that they are the only bodies that have the legislative and spending powers to oversee change. That we live on one world, and those with the most, must act in concert with those with the least, to ensure their voices are heeded and respected as equal partners, rather than being viewed as opportunities to exploit to deliver a western green agenda. And finally, that individual and corporate responsibility will only ever be as good as the willingness of governments to make it happen.

 

 

Join our mailing list

If you would like GIMMS to let you know about news and events, please click to sign up here

Support us

The Gower Initiative for Money Studies is run by volunteers and relies on donations to continue its work. If you would like to donate, please see our donations page here

 

Share

Tweet

Whatsapp

Messenger

Share

Email

reddit

Pinterest

tumblr

Viber icon
Viber

The post COP26: Politicians and corporations greenwash ‘business as usual’ at climate change conference appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Budget 2021 – Those with the least receive only crumbs

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves No11 Downing Street with his red ministerial box to deliver his 2021 Budget Picture by Luca Boffa / No 10 Downing Street. Creative Commons 2.0 License

You have to ask yourself: if our economic system actively destroys the biosphere *and* fails to meet most people’s basic needs, then what is actually the point?

Jason Hickel – Economic Anthropologist

 

The Chancellor’s Budget and Spending Review has dominated the media reporting this week. It was summed up in the Mirror headline, ‘Champagne budget for the rich means real pain for poor as bills rocket’. Whilst the Chancellor gave his banking chums a helping hand with a tax cut, slashed the duties on champagne and domestic flights (what environmental crisis?) those with the least are left with the crumbs. With increasing costs as food and energy prices rise, combined with the recent £20 cut to universal credit which is already affecting some of the UK’s poorest families, a mere 59p increase in the misnamed ‘national living wage’ and a universal credit taper rate cut which will allow people to earn more before they lose benefit, is just yet more smoke and mirrors.

As the expensively dressed Chancellor gave his speech, you could be mistaken for believing that he really cared to make a difference as he set out what he termed his ‘moral mission’. However, subsequent analysis has shown that it will do little to address the financial struggle that many people in this country are facing. A crisis that has resulted, not just from the effects of the pandemic, but also from the 10 years of government policies and spending decisions that preceded it. Like many organisations pleading for the Chancellor to act, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation noted in the week before the Budget:

‘There is a debt crisis hanging over millions of families on low incomes. Behind these figures are parents gripped by anxiety, wondering how they will put food on their children’s plates and pay the gas bill; young people forced to rely on friends to help cover their rent and avoid eviction.

 

‘While many households on higher incomes have enjoyed increased savings and rising house prices during the pandemic, people on low incomes are under serious financial pressure that shows no sign of abating. As a society, we believe in protecting one another from harm. As costs pile up and incomes have been cut, we urgently need to rethink the support in place for people at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis.’

This week’s budget, as is to be expected despite the hype, has barely scratched the surface of the mounting crisis which experts are saying can only worsen over the coming months, not just in terms of the lives of working people, but also our public and social infrastructure. Institutions that, whilst forming the foundational backbone of a civilised society, are in a state of deepening decay as a result of the lack of funding, and the encroachment of the private sector leaching away public money. From the NHS to social care, education, and local government, all have come under increasing pressure as budgets have been cut, and the consequences are in plain sight. We live them every day. In addition, the chickens are finally coming home to roost on the strategically vital but privatised energy, water and transport networks. The passage of time since the first privatisations has shown the limitations of competition and the deregulated environment which accompanied it. Higher prices and poorer service quality have been the principal consequences, whilst CEOs and shareholders have been the beneficiaries.

Whilst the pay freeze for public sector workers has been lifted, there is little suggestion that they will benefit from it. Just more pleasing soundbites which do not reflect the real issues, and which do not present immediate solutions to the shortages of nurses, doctors, paramedics and care workers.

When Boris Johnson claims that he has got ‘social care done’ or that he has fixed it, it demonstrates his lack of intellectual reasoning. This should tell him that it won’t matter how much money he throws at the problem, (and it isn’t anywhere enough anyway), it won’t magic up social care workers. People who are currently working in a low wage and insecure employment environment, brought about by, yes, you guessed it, government policies! Policies that have shifted responsibility to a profit-motivated private sector and failed to plan and train, along with inadequate spending and cuts to local government budgets.

To emphasise the scale of the coming winter disaster, Stephen Chandler, who is president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, issued a very stark warning, saying on the Telegraph website:

‘Unless the government takes immediate steps to shore up the care system for winter, tens of thousands of people will lose services on which they rely to get up, wash and dress, eat and drink, take vital medication, go out to work or to other activities and go to bed.

 

‘Family carers, already exhausted by the extra demands of Covid, will have to do even more to plug the gaps and may have to cut their working hours or give up jobs altogether. The NHS, which depends utterly on social care support, will be put in jeopardy.’

And whilst, contrary to expectations, Sunak announced that Whitehall departments would receive a proposed 3% yearly increase, as has been noted, this will not make up for the impact of a decade of austerity, especially in local councils (and many other public institutions) which are struggling to cope with the additional pressures that Covid-19 presented, on top of their already dire financial state.

While the Chancellor declared that the UK was entering an economic ‘age of optimism’, the reality on the ground is somewhat different. His budget is nothing more than a sop that will do little to remedy a decade of tory austerity and fiscal discipline which has done so much harm, justified as it was, on the supposed need to restore the public finances, and also concealing another objective to destroy the UK’s public infrastructure through privatisation. It was promoted as being about being a low tax, small state economy with a hands-off approach, but which, in reality, has turned into a government-funded corporate fest of public money, whilst at the same time our public services have been decimated on the basis of the lie of financial unaffordability. As a result, as Frances Ryan noted in a recent Guardian article,what was once a functioning state is now a patchwork of broken services’. The neoliberal state has failed us completely.

Furthermore, the four million low-income families who are behind on rent, bills and debt payments, a number that has increased threefold since the pandemic began, cannot be relegated to a set of unfortunate statistics which bear no relationship to government policies or the economic ideology that drives them. Poverty cannot be ascribed, as some politicians allege, to the failings of the individual human beings who suffer it. Such thinking has poisoned the public discourse and created a damning but false picture of the feckless and lazy poor. It has also led to a general acceptance of food banks and other charitable support, on the grounds that we have been persuaded that feeding the hungry and housing the homeless are not the responsibility of the government. As a result, the public dutifully puts food donations into the crate at the local supermarket or makes cash contributions to local charities. We seem to have stepped back in time to the Victorian Poor Law boards and Dickens’ Beadle in Oliver Twist, deciding arbitrarily who was deserving of help. But if anyone has been feckless or ineffectual, it is, in fact, the government, which has abdicated responsibility for its citizens. Where we are now is a direct consequence of government decisions which have cut spending on essential public infrastructure, along with its ideological preference for a great free market ‘free-for-all’, which has left families to struggle on low incomes and in precarious employment to suit its corporate donors. The question is never ‘Is there enough money?’ The question is ‘What are the government’s priorities and who benefits from them?’

As the Dispatches programme this week, Growing up Poor: Hidden Homeless, showed so starkly, poverty destroys people’s lives. For those suffering in the midst of it through no fault of their own, from those on low incomes, involuntarily unemployed, sick or with disabilities, their lives are an endless round of struggle and stress, and not just for the adults. In the end, it comes down to the social determinants of health and well-being, and disregarding those, as this government has done over a decade, will have significant real human costs on future generations, as a result of childhoods that have been blighted by this government’s policies. To listen to those children’s hopes and fears, expressed in this programme, should be a salutary lesson for us all.

It is pathetic that the Tories, after having cut funding to local councils and charities, which, in turn, affected Labour’s Sure Start Programme and led to many centres being scaled back or closed, are now committing a measly £500 million of support for families, which includes a similar network of ‘family hubs’ as ‘one-stop shops’ for advice and guidance. It amounts to a sticking plaster that will not fix the problems they caused in the first place. It is a drop in the ocean in terms of repairing the damage which has already been done by the government through a decade of cuts and austerity measures. People on low incomes and in insecure employment are disadvantaged from the start. It leads to grinding poverty, hunger, and homelessness, the consequences of which then filter into every aspect of their lives, leaving families ill-equipped and struggling to manage. This isn’t an accident. It is by government design. A policy choice. Society is creaking under the weight of decades of neoliberal orthodoxy and handbag economics, which this cruel government has purposefully refined to cause increased pain and suffering for those who least deserve it.

It is truly sickening to hear the Chancellor defending that decade of cuts to vital support for families with young children, by saying that the ‘one thing my predecessors, not just George [Osborne] did was ensure that I had a very strong economy and set of public finances that I inherited’.

And here we come to the crux of the matter. A political establishment, that includes both sides of the spectrum, touting handbag economics as if they represented monetary reality. The cult of fiscal discipline has had dire consequences for those burdened by its yoke. The real costs to working people and their families have been substantial. People who should be able to depend on good economic governance to ride the waves of the inevitable economic cycles and emergency events like the pandemic and the climate crisis (which critically was scarcely mentioned in the Chancellor’s budget), and which require an effective macroeconomic response.

It is further compounded by a compliant neoliberal media which largely fails to challenge the ideology which drives such policy, as well as left-wing economists who, whilst claiming to want to tackle the huge inequity that exists and address the climate crisis, hunker down in mainstream orthodoxy, thus inhibiting, at a stroke, any progress that could be made. Indeed, prior to the Budget, a Guardian editorial opined that the government would shortly have to ‘disclose its cash position; how much it expects to be taxing the public over the next few years, how much it will spend on schools, policing, and mitigating climate change – and how much it will have to borrow…’

The mainstream media does its very best to keep the public in the dark and fails to ask the right questions. The government doesn’t have a ‘cash position’. It’s not a business. It doesn’t have to tax or borrow to fund its spending or cut one departmental budget to fund another.

The only thing the editorial helpfully gets right, is what is the point of a capital investment programme to build libraries or hospitals, if then, because of the rules on day-to-day spending, you can’t employ librarians or nurses and doctors to work in them? These are arbitrary rules which make no sense if one knows how the government spends and that its real constraints are resources, not money.

There is no limited pot of money to be divvied out, and a post-covid economic miracle will not take place while such ideology influences government spending and policy decisions. If people don’t have good, secure, well-paying jobs, as is the case for so many because of an economic ideology which has allowed worker exploitation over decades and the fruits of that productivity to be taken by a bloated corporate sector obsessed with profit, then we cannot make any progress.

As usual, Labour can’t help but reinforce that dominant narrative. This week, John Trickett set out his radical alternative to target the rich, saying that wealth taxes would ‘raise’ up to £86bn a year to rebuild Britain. Labour’s Rachel Reeves told ITV that it was important to ‘raise money … but not in the way the government was doing it’. Once again, the use of language, in this case the word ‘raise’, implies that they think that government needs taxes to spend, or pay down its debts. Yet again the smoke and mirrors of public accounting continue to obfuscate the truth about how the government spends. It also ignores the real roles that taxation plays in managing the nation’s economy, one of them being to deal with the huge wealth inequities that exist, as well as to facilitate through taxes and government policies, a fairer access for all to the nation’s resources. But no, they both imply, that government should be taxing the wealthy to raise money to spend on public services. Taxing the rich will not transform our public services or the economy, and the idea that we are beholden to the rich for a functioning public sector is just more cap doffing to big business and the excessively wealthy, as well as being offensive.

The State, as the currency issuer, is the only institution that has the capacity to spend money into existence to do what is needed within the context of available resources and their allocation. It is desperately depressing to see progressive politicians framing their plans in Thatcherite terms of household budgets and taxes paying for stuff.

The left-wing mainstream economist Grace Blakeley, in The Tribune, got a little closer to the truth this week by exposing the fallacy. The government is not a household, and therefore ‘not subject to any imperative to balance its books, and as the currency issuer, ‘cannot meaningfully run out of money’. But then in a show of inconsistency, whilst referring to government stepping in to create employment to ensure that underutilised resources can be put to work, went on to say, ‘In doing so, it triggers higher rates of growth and ultimately creates the revenues needed to repay the initial borrowing over the long term’. It then begs the question, if the government is not a household and cannot meaningfully run out of money, why would it need to create revenues to repay its borrowing? It doesn’t make any logical sense and leads to inevitable confusion on the part of anyone who reads it. Given the serious nature of the challenges we face, we have no time for incremental progress. Let’s tell the story of money correctly.

Both sides of the political spectrum collude in these lies in one way or another and to varying degrees. As such we will be a laughingstock at the COP26 table next week, and will effectively drown in the cost of these lies, should the government fail to act with purpose through its real spending capacity.

It is worrying that a report from the Treasury has suggested that moving towards net-zero would require tax rises, as revenue from fossil fuel-related activity is eroded. As the Guardian reported, the Treasury warned that serious economic damage could occur ‘if the UK overspends or misdirects green investment.’ They suggested that the government ‘may need to consider changes to existing taxes and new sources of revenue throughout the transition in order to deliver net-zero sustainably, and consistently with the government’s fiscal principles.’

None of this will matter, least of all a balanced budget or fiscal principles, if we haven’t got a healthy planet to sustain human survival. And as for new sources of revenue, the Chancellor doesn’t need them to spend in the public interest or to address the climate emergency. Whilst government can overspend, that is not an issue of the scarcity of money. The Chancellor has the power to authorise the central bank to spend what is necessary, within the boundaries of available resources and deciding how those resources will be allocated and to whom.

As Ed Matthew, campaign director of the E3G think tank, noted:

‘To governments looking to Cop26, this looks unprofessional and embarrassing. The UK is standing in front of the world at Cop26 trying to galvanise ambitious action from every country. If the government has not presented the robust economic case in favour of action, that’s going to significantly undermine those attempts.’

The government is in disarray on the subject, and we are being led to believe by the Treasury that growing the economy to get the public finances back in order should be prioritised over addressing the climate emergency. Fiscal discipline rules.

There is still much uncertainty about the outcome of COP26, with many fearing that it will go the way of all other climate conferences, with lots of hot air and meaningless promises, and little real commitment to change. However, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN has warned that the world is risking a ‘hellish future’ if it fails to confront the crisis. On the current trajectory, the hosts of COP26 will, depressingly, oversee failure.

The Channel 4 programme ‘Growing up Poor’, ended with a clip from a speech by Boris Johnson who said that the UK needs, ‘every other country to follow its lead and commit to net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.’ Aside from the fact that 2050 is too late, as Peter Kalmus noted in an article a few weeks ago, in the light of the government’s record on poverty and inequality which has overseen growing societal destabilisation and the decay of our public and social infrastructure, why would anyone follow our lead on anything, let alone addressing the climate and planetary crisis for which, so far, Johnson has shown no commitment? If we fail to make progress, the planet will continue to face increasing frequency of heatwaves, storms, flooding and crop failures, which will lead to the displacement of millions of people.

Depressingly, it all feels very ‘last minute.com’, and, as such, leaves us little time to act decisively. But as the MP Richard Burgon, recently speaking in Parliament, made clear, we need to be on a war footing. We need to replicate the war effort in the US and the UK from 1940 onwards, with the same sense of urgency as they did, but for very different reasons and objectives. Perhaps we need to issue climate bonds, not to fund anything, but to ensure that the government can access the real resources it will need to address the climate emergency without creating inflationary pressures. We need to stop deferring to big business and philanthropists as if markets and technology can provide all solutions without a radical rethink about how we live. Their agendas are not about challenging the status quo but serving their own interests rather than the public purpose. Bill Gates and his philanthropist cronies should not be dictating the agenda because their wealth allows them to.

We need, above all, to realise what is at stake and what it will mean for our children and their children, if we fail to act now. Instead, currently we have a government helping the corporate sector to greenwash its way to maintaining the status quo with all that means for human survival on a wasted planet.

 

 

Join our mailing list

If you would like GIMMS to let you know about news and events, please click to sign up here

Support us

The Gower Initiative for Money Studies is run by volunteers and relies on donations to continue its work. If you would like to donate, please see our donations page here

 

Share

Tweet

Whatsapp

Messenger

Share

Email

reddit

Pinterest

tumblr

Viber icon
Viber

The post Budget 2021 – Those with the least receive only crumbs appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Women’s Economic Empowerment and Control over Time in Sub-Saharan Africa (Nov 1-2)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/10/2021 - 7:27am in

November 1–November 2, 2021

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent losses in lives and livelihoods are looming over Sub-Saharan Africa. As in the rest of the world, the pandemic has exposed the enduring inequalities and injustices in stark terms, including those based on gender and those intersecting with gender, such as economic deprivation. There is a growing realization that collective action to overcome the long-term and ongoing challenges requires greater engagements between researchers, civil society organizations, and policymakers. Accordingly, we are organizing a two-day virtual workshop that will feature research and policy discussions that address economic aspects of gender inequalities in Sub-Saharan Africa from various angles. Part of the research to be presented is work conducted by scholars at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College in collaboration with scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa with the generous support of the Hewlett Foundation. The workshop will also highlight recent research by leading scholars in the region. The presentation of research will be accompanied by a free-wheeling exchange of ideas between scholars and participants. A policy roundtable with a select group of prominent members of the academic, policymaking, and civil society communities will conclude the workshop.

The workshop will be held between 13:00 and 15:30 (GMT) on November 1, 2021 and between 13:00 and 16:00 (GMT) on November 2, 2021.

This event is free and open to the public.

The complete schedule and information for participants is available below:

Participation Instructions

The workshop will be hosted on Zoom. Please use the following links to participate:

November 1
https://bard.zoom.us/j/81117573608?pwd=Z3gyaXlkY0pSSkpGY1JHQlBNQmt5UT09

November 2
https://bard.zoom.us/j/88110321894?pwd=TWFiTnVPUklzN0VLWm5uQ0JUNm81Zz09

Back to Top

Program

GMT
EDT

13:00–15:30
9:00–11:30
Day 1: Women’s Decision-making Power and Patriarchal Structures in Sub-Sharan Africa

Welcome and Overview

Dimitri Papadimitriou, Levy Economics Institute

Determinants of Women’s Decision-making Power in Sub-Saharan Africa and Consequences for the Use of their Time: What Have We Learned?

Luiza Nassif Pires, Levy Economics Institute

Measuring Patriarchy: Meso-level Variations in the Strength of Patriarchy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ajit Zacharias, Levy Economics Institute

A Cautionary Tale: Consistency in the Construction of Decision-making Indices with Endogenous Weights

Fernando Rios-Avila, Levy Economics Institute

Women’s Decision-making Power in Ghana

Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute

Discussant: Nkechi Owoo, University of Ghana

Discussant: Beatrice Kalinda Mkenda, University of Dar es Salaam

Q&A

Closing Remarks

Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute

Day 2:

13:00–14:05
9:00–10:05
Session 1:

Opening Remarks

Ajit Zacharias, Levy Economics Institute

Asset Ownership and Egalitarian Decision Making Among Couples: Some Evidence from Ghana

Abena Oduro, University of Ghana, Legon

Nthabiseng Moleko, University of Stellenbosch

Women Economic Empowerment in East Africa: Policy and Practice Focus on Ethiopia (Oxfam Program)

Ankets Petros, Oxfam Ethiopia

Q&A

14:15–15:55
10:15–11:55
Session 2:  Policy Roundtable: Challenges in Achieving Women’s Economic Empowerment

Opening Remarks

Chalachew Getahun Desta, Center for Population Studies, Addis Ababa University

Flora Myamba, Women and Social Protection, Tanzania

Sadou Doumbo, Demographic Dividend National Observatory, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mali

Patricia Blankson Akakpo, Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana

Mamadou Bobo Diallo, UN Women

Q&A

15:55–16:00
11:55–12:00
Closing Remarks & Thank Yous

Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute

Back to Top

Biographies

Patricia Blankson Akakpo is a Programme Manager of the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) – a women’s rights and economic justice advocacy network. Patricia holds a BA in political science with philosophy; MA in development studies with specialization in human resources and employment; and gender studies; and a diploma in development leadership. Patricia joined NETRIGHT in 2003. She has over twenty-five years of experience in gender and development in Ghana working with women and vulnerable groups, young women collectives, and women’s rights organizations (WROs). Patricia is a past cochair of CPDE representing the feminist sector and currently the Africa regional coordinator for CPDE’s Feminist Group (CPDE Africa FG).

Chalachew Getahun Desta (Ph.D. in socioeconomic development planning and geography) is assistant professor of population studies, socioeconomic development planning, geography, and environment at the Center for Population Studies (College of Development Studies, Addis Ababa University). He teaches courses on human geography (including population, economics, and urban and regional geographies), population and development, and research methods. His areas of research interest include women, fertility, and household well-being (maternal labor force participation, maternal time allocation, consumption); urbanization, rural–urban migration, employment, and the informal sector; forced migration, refugees, and internally displaced persons; labor migration, diasporas, and return migrants; and population, resources, and the environment.

Mamadou Bobo Diallo is an economics specialist on macroeconomics, in the economic empowerment section at UN Women. Bobo’s areas of focus include capacity development/technical support and research on gender, macroeconomics, gender-based inequalities, poverty, the care economy, and social protection. Prior to joining UN Women, he was an actuarial analyst for Manulife Financial in Boston, a research fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis in New York, a macroeconomics consultant for two with the World Bank’s Governance and Public Policy Division, a policy specialist for UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa in New York, and an economic affairs officer with the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Ethiopia. Bobo holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Salem State University (Boston) and a Ph.D. in economics, with a focus on development, growth, and econometrics from the New School for Social Research (New York City, NY).

M. Sadou Doumbo is the general director of the National Demographic Dividend Observatory in Mali and the coordinator of the national transfer accounts (NTA) team. He is also involved in doctoral studies based on the lifecycle deficit financing (Generational Economy Regional Research Centre and Centre de recherche en Economie et Finance Appliquée / Université de Thiès).

With about 15 years’ experience in development planning activities in several structures such as the ministry of development planning and UNFPA, M. Doumbo developed great competencies in advocacy and communication for the integration of population and demographic issues in national policies, strategies, and demographics. Since 2015, he has participated in the definition and monitoring of the Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend project (SWEDD). He is very involved, as a resource person, in several national and international population and development frameworks, working with UNFPA, PRB, and UNECA, among others, to highlight the need to invest in youth, girls, and women.

Thomas Masterson is director of applied micromodeling and a research scholar in the Levy Economics Institute’s Distribution of Income and Wealth program. He has worked extensively on the Levy Institute Measure of Well-being (LIMEW), an alternative, household-based measure that reflects the resources the household can command for facilitating current consumption or acquiring physical or financial assets. With other Levy scholars, Masterson was also involved in developing the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP), and has contributed to estimating the LIMTIP for countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. He has also taken a lead role in developing the Levy Institute Microsimulation Model.

Masterson’s specific research interests include the distribution of land, income, and wealth, with a focus on gender and racial disparities. He has recently published articles in The Review of Black Political Economy and The Journal of Economic Issues. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Beatrice Kalinda Mkenda is a senior lecturer and acting dean of the School of Economics at the University of Dar es Salaam. She has a Ph.D. in economics from Göteborg University in Sweden. She teaches international economics and macroeconomics at both postgraduate and undergraduate levels.

Prior to joining the University of Dar es Salaam, she worked as lecturer at the University of Zambia, and later worked as a research fellow with the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) under the “Globalization in East Africa” project. She participated in teaching a postgraduate diploma course in poverty analysis that was jointly offered by the International Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University), Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), and ESRF.

Her recent research has looked at diverse areas such as indigenous knowledge and employment generation among women; empowering women in tourism micro, small, and medium enterprises; determinants and constraints of women’s sole-owned tourism micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Tanzania; why it is imperative for Tanzania to industrialize; informal sector employment; regional integration for accelerating industrialization in Tanzania: opportunities and challenges in the East African community; and ability of SMEs to penetrate export markets. She is currently working on a joint research proposal to examine the gendered impact of food safety compliance: the case of Tanzania and Uganda’s exports to the EU market.

Nthabiseng Moleko is a development economist who is a core faculty member at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) where she teaches economics and statistics as a senior lecturer since 2017.  She also serves as a commissioner for the Commission for Gender Equality appointed by the president in 2017 and is currently the deputy chairperson of the commission.  She completed her Ph.D. in development finance at USB on pension funds and national development and is the first South African woman to be conferred a doctorate in this discipline. Dr. Moleko regularly appears on various network’s programming on economic and business coverage as a thought leader.

Flora Myamba is a senior specialist on social protection and gender based in Tanzania. She has consulted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Center for Global Development, UN Agencies, EU-OECD, World Bank, and Government of Tanzania, among others. Flora is a master trainer for the African Union–owned TRANSFORM Training for Social Protection Floors. She earned her doctorate from Western Michigan University, and has published in local and reputable international journals including Oxford Development Studies, Cambridge University Press, Global Social Policy, and African Development Review. She is currently leading a project on gender, financed by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and collaborating with the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College on a study on women’s economic empowerment and control over time, among other works.

Luiza Nassif Pires is a research fellow working in the Gender Equality and the Economy program at the Levy Institute. Her research interests include gender and political economy, distributional aspects of gender discrimination, gender and racial aspects of development, and input-output methods. Her recent research relies on statistical equilibrium and game theory to formalize the impacts of gender and racial segregation in the labor movement with an application to the United States. Nassif Pires has also written on intersectional political economy with a focus on the impacts of social conflict for the labor theory of value and the long-run profit rate. She is also collaborating with Prof. Katherine Moos at University of Masschusetts, Amherst on a feminist input-output project.

Nassif Pires has taught microeconomics, macroeconomics, and political economy at the New York City College of Technology and at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School for Social Research. She holds a BS and MS in economics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a Ph. D. in economics from The New School for Social Research.

Abena D. Oduro is associate professor in the department of economics and is currently director (Ghana) of the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) at the University of Ghana, Legon. Her current research interests are in the areas of unpaid household work, poverty, inequality and vulnerability analysis, gender-responsive budgeting, and African regional integration. She is associate editor of Feminist Economics and a member of the International Association for Feminist Economics.

Nkechi S. Owoo is a senior lecturer at the department of economics at the University of Ghana. She is also a research associate with the African Centre of Research on Inequality Research (ACEIR) and a senior research fellow at the Environment for Development institute. Dr. Owoo’s research focuses on spatial econometrics in addition to microeconomic issues in developing countries, including household behavior, health, agriculture, gender issues, and population and demographic economics. Her current research focuses on the effects of the internalization of patriarchal attitudes by women and male partners on women’s labor market outcomes in Nigeria. Dr. Owoo received her BA in economics from the University of Ghana in 2006 and received a master’s degree in Economics from Clark University in 2009. She completed her Ph.D. in Economics from Clark University in 2012.

Ankets Petros has over 15 years of work experience in the development sector in Ethiopia. She holds an MA in sociology and BA in political science and international relations from Addis Ababa University.

Ankets has worked with Oxfam Ethiopia since 2016 as a gender specialist and currently in the capacity of gender program manager since 2019. She is responsible for developing and managing women’s empowerment projects, providing technical support to mainstream gender in Oxfam programs (humanitarian and long-term development) and specifically leading an influencing project called we-care (women economic empowerment and care).

Before joining Oxfam, Ankets worked with Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations (CCRDA) for two years as a networking and partnership senior officer overseeing more than 350 local and international NGOs who are members in the association in Ethiopia. She has also worked in policy engagement roles as gender program officer in ActionAid Ethiopia, engaging in designing and implementation of various women’s empowerment projects at the grassroots and regional levels.

Fernando Rios-Avila is a research scholar working on the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being under the Distribution of Income and Wealth program. His research interests include labor economics, applied microeconomics, development economics, and poverty and inequality.

As a doctoral candidate at Georgia State University, Rios-Avila worked as a graduate research assistant to Felix Rioja, and interned in the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, working under the supervision of Julie L. Hotchkiss. He formerly served as a researcher at the Social and Economic Policy Unit (UDAPE)—a government advisory unit and public policy think tank in La Paz, Bolivia—on issues of development, impact evaluation, and social expenditure, with an emphasis on children’s welfare. His research has been published in The Review of Income and Wealth, Industrial Relations, Southern Economic Journal, Applied Economics Letters, Stata Journal, and Business and Economics Research.

Rios-Avila holds a Licenciatura in economics from the Universidad Católica Boliviana, La Paz; an advanced studies program certificate in international economics and policy research from Kiel University; and a Ph.D. in economics from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Ajit Zacharias is a senior scholar and director of the Levy Institute’s Distribution of Income and Wealth program. His research primarily focuses on the theory, measurement, and analysis of economic well-being and deprivation.

Along with other Levy scholars, Zacharias has developed alternative measures of economic welfare and deprivation. The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW) offers a framework that accounts for how changes in labor markets, wealth accumulation, government spending and taxes, and household production shape the economic determinants of standard of living. Levy scholars have utilized the LIMEW to track trends in economic inequality and well-being in the United States. The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty is aimed at revealing the nexus between income poverty and unpaid work. This measure has been applied to the study of poverty in several Latin American countries, Turkey, South Korea, Tanzania, and Ghana.

Women’s Economic Empowerment and Control over Time in Sub-Saharan Africa (Nov 1-2)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/10/2021 - 7:27am in

November 1–November 2, 2021

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent losses in lives and livelihoods are looming over Sub-Saharan Africa. As in the rest of the world, the pandemic has exposed the enduring inequalities and injustices in stark terms, including those based on gender and those intersecting with gender, such as economic deprivation. There is a growing realization that collective action to overcome the long-term and ongoing challenges requires greater engagements between researchers, civil society organizations, and policymakers. Accordingly, we are organizing a two-day virtual workshop that will feature research and policy discussions that address economic aspects of gender inequalities in Sub-Saharan Africa from various angles. Part of the research to be presented is work conducted by scholars at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College in collaboration with scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa with the generous support of the Hewlett Foundation. The workshop will also highlight recent research by leading scholars in the region. The presentation of research will be accompanied by a free-wheeling exchange of ideas between scholars and participants. A policy roundtable with a select group of prominent members of the academic, policymaking, and civil society communities will conclude the workshop.

The workshop will be held between 13:00 and 15:30 (GMT) on November 1, 2021 and between 13:00 and 16:00 (GMT) on November 2, 2021.

This event is free and open to the public.

The complete schedule and information for participants is available below:

Participation Instructions

The workshop will be hosted on Zoom. Please use the following links to participate:

November 1
https://bard.zoom.us/j/81117573608?pwd=Z3gyaXlkY0pSSkpGY1JHQlBNQmt5UT09

November 2
https://bard.zoom.us/j/88110321894?pwd=TWFiTnVPUklzN0VLWm5uQ0JUNm81Zz09

Back to Top

Program

GMT
EDT

13:00–15:30
9:00–11:30
Day 1: Women’s Decision-making Power and Patriarchal Structures in Sub-Sharan Africa

Welcome and Overview

Dimitri Papadimitriou, Levy Economics Institute

Determinants of Women’s Decision-making Power in Sub-Saharan Africa and Consequences for the Use of their Time: What Have We Learned?

Luiza Nassif Pires, Levy Economics Institute

Measuring Patriarchy: Meso-level Variations in the Strength of Patriarchy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ajit Zacharias, Levy Economics Institute

A Cautionary Tale: Consistency in the Construction of Decision-making Indices with Endogenous Weights

Fernando Rios-Avila, Levy Economics Institute

Women’s Decision-making Power in Ghana

Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute

Discussant: Nkechi Owoo, University of Ghana

Discussant: Beatrice Kalinda Mkenda, University of Dar es Salaam

Q&A

Closing Remarks

Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute

Day 2:

13:00–14:05
9:00–10:05
Session 1:

Opening Remarks

Ajit Zacharias, Levy Economics Institute

Asset Ownership and Egalitarian Decision Making Among Couples: Some Evidence from Ghana

Abena Oduro, University of Ghana, Legon

Nthabiseng Moleko, University of Stellenbosch

Women Economic Empowerment in East Africa: Policy and Practice Focus on Ethiopia (Oxfam Program)

Ankets Petros, Oxfam Ethiopia

Q&A

14:15–15:55
10:15–11:55
Session 2:  Policy Roundtable: Challenges in Achieving Women’s Economic Empowerment

Opening Remarks

Chalachew Getahun Desta, Center for Population Studies, Addis Ababa University

Flora Myamba, Women and Social Protection, Tanzania

Sadou Doumbo, Demographic Dividend National Observatory, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mali

Patricia Blankson Akakpo, Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana

Mamadou Bobo Diallo, UN Women

Q&A

15:55–16:00
11:55–12:00
Closing Remarks & Thank Yous

Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute

Back to Top

Biographies

Patricia Blankson Akakpo is a Programme Manager of the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) – a women’s rights and economic justice advocacy network. Patricia holds a BA in political science with philosophy; MA in development studies with specialization in human resources and employment; and gender studies; and a diploma in development leadership. Patricia joined NETRIGHT in 2003. She has over twenty-five years of experience in gender and development in Ghana working with women and vulnerable groups, young women collectives, and women’s rights organizations (WROs). Patricia is a past cochair of CPDE representing the feminist sector and currently the Africa regional coordinator for CPDE’s Feminist Group (CPDE Africa FG).

Chalachew Getahun Desta (Ph.D. in socioeconomic development planning and geography) is assistant professor of population studies, socioeconomic development planning, geography, and environment at the Center for Population Studies (College of Development Studies, Addis Ababa University). He teaches courses on human geography (including population, economics, and urban and regional geographies), population and development, and research methods. His areas of research interest include women, fertility, and household well-being (maternal labor force participation, maternal time allocation, consumption); urbanization, rural–urban migration, employment, and the informal sector; forced migration, refugees, and internally displaced persons; labor migration, diasporas, and return migrants; and population, resources, and the environment.

Mamadou Bobo Diallo is an economics specialist on macroeconomics, in the economic empowerment section at UN Women. Bobo’s areas of focus include capacity development/technical support and research on gender, macroeconomics, gender-based inequalities, poverty, the care economy, and social protection. Prior to joining UN Women, he was an actuarial analyst for Manulife Financial in Boston, a research fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis in New York, a macroeconomics consultant for two with the World Bank’s Governance and Public Policy Division, a policy specialist for UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa in New York, and an economic affairs officer with the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Ethiopia. Bobo holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Salem State University (Boston) and a Ph.D. in economics, with a focus on development, growth, and econometrics from the New School for Social Research (New York City, NY).

M. Sadou Doumbo is the general director of the National Demographic Dividend Observatory in Mali and the coordinator of the national transfer accounts (NTA) team. He is also involved in doctoral studies based on the lifecycle deficit financing (Generational Economy Regional Research Centre and Centre de recherche en Economie et Finance Appliquée / Université de Thiès).

With about 15 years’ experience in development planning activities in several structures such as the ministry of development planning and UNFPA, M. Doumbo developed great competencies in advocacy and communication for the integration of population and demographic issues in national policies, strategies, and demographics. Since 2015, he has participated in the definition and monitoring of the Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend project (SWEDD). He is very involved, as a resource person, in several national and international population and development frameworks, working with UNFPA, PRB, and UNECA, among others, to highlight the need to invest in youth, girls, and women.

Thomas Masterson is director of applied micromodeling and a research scholar in the Levy Economics Institute’s Distribution of Income and Wealth program. He has worked extensively on the Levy Institute Measure of Well-being (LIMEW), an alternative, household-based measure that reflects the resources the household can command for facilitating current consumption or acquiring physical or financial assets. With other Levy scholars, Masterson was also involved in developing the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP), and has contributed to estimating the LIMTIP for countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. He has also taken a lead role in developing the Levy Institute Microsimulation Model.

Masterson’s specific research interests include the distribution of land, income, and wealth, with a focus on gender and racial disparities. He has recently published articles in The Review of Black Political Economy and The Journal of Economic Issues. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Beatrice Kalinda Mkenda is a senior lecturer and acting dean of the School of Economics at the University of Dar es Salaam. She has a Ph.D. in economics from Göteborg University in Sweden. She teaches international economics and macroeconomics at both postgraduate and undergraduate levels.

Prior to joining the University of Dar es Salaam, she worked as lecturer at the University of Zambia, and later worked as a research fellow with the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) under the “Globalization in East Africa” project. She participated in teaching a postgraduate diploma course in poverty analysis that was jointly offered by the International Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University), Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), and ESRF.

Her recent research has looked at diverse areas such as indigenous knowledge and employment generation among women; empowering women in tourism micro, small, and medium enterprises; determinants and constraints of women’s sole-owned tourism micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Tanzania; why it is imperative for Tanzania to industrialize; informal sector employment; regional integration for accelerating industrialization in Tanzania: opportunities and challenges in the East African community; and ability of SMEs to penetrate export markets. She is currently working on a joint research proposal to examine the gendered impact of food safety compliance: the case of Tanzania and Uganda’s exports to the EU market.

Nthabiseng Moleko is a development economist who is a core faculty member at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) where she teaches economics and statistics as a senior lecturer since 2017.  She also serves as a commissioner for the Commission for Gender Equality appointed by the president in 2017 and is currently the deputy chairperson of the commission.  She completed her Ph.D. in development finance at USB on pension funds and national development and is the first South African woman to be conferred a doctorate in this discipline. Dr. Moleko regularly appears on various network’s programming on economic and business coverage as a thought leader.

Flora Myamba is a senior specialist on social protection and gender based in Tanzania. She has consulted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Center for Global Development, UN Agencies, EU-OECD, World Bank, and Government of Tanzania, among others. Flora is a master trainer for the African Union–owned TRANSFORM Training for Social Protection Floors. She earned her doctorate from Western Michigan University, and has published in local and reputable international journals including Oxford Development Studies, Cambridge University Press, Global Social Policy, and African Development Review. She is currently leading a project on gender, financed by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and collaborating with the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College on a study on women’s economic empowerment and control over time, among other works.

Luiza Nassif Pires is a research fellow working in the Gender Equality and the Economy program at the Levy Institute. Her research interests include gender and political economy, distributional aspects of gender discrimination, gender and racial aspects of development, and input-output methods. Her recent research relies on statistical equilibrium and game theory to formalize the impacts of gender and racial segregation in the labor movement with an application to the United States. Nassif Pires has also written on intersectional political economy with a focus on the impacts of social conflict for the labor theory of value and the long-run profit rate. She is also collaborating with Prof. Katherine Moos at University of Masschusetts, Amherst on a feminist input-output project.

Nassif Pires has taught microeconomics, macroeconomics, and political economy at the New York City College of Technology and at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School for Social Research. She holds a BS and MS in economics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a Ph. D. in economics from The New School for Social Research.

Abena D. Oduro is associate professor in the department of economics and is currently director (Ghana) of the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) at the University of Ghana, Legon. Her current research interests are in the areas of unpaid household work, poverty, inequality and vulnerability analysis, gender-responsive budgeting, and African regional integration. She is associate editor of Feminist Economics and a member of the International Association for Feminist Economics.

Nkechi S. Owoo is a senior lecturer at the department of economics at the University of Ghana. She is also a research associate with the African Centre of Research on Inequality Research (ACEIR) and a senior research fellow at the Environment for Development institute. Dr. Owoo’s research focuses on spatial econometrics in addition to microeconomic issues in developing countries, including household behavior, health, agriculture, gender issues, and population and demographic economics. Her current research focuses on the effects of the internalization of patriarchal attitudes by women and male partners on women’s labor market outcomes in Nigeria. Dr. Owoo received her BA in economics from the University of Ghana in 2006 and received a master’s degree in Economics from Clark University in 2009. She completed her Ph.D. in Economics from Clark University in 2012.

Ankets Petros has over 15 years of work experience in the development sector in Ethiopia. She holds an MA in sociology and BA in political science and international relations from Addis Ababa University.

Ankets has worked with Oxfam Ethiopia since 2016 as a gender specialist and currently in the capacity of gender program manager since 2019. She is responsible for developing and managing women’s empowerment projects, providing technical support to mainstream gender in Oxfam programs (humanitarian and long-term development) and specifically leading an influencing project called we-care (women economic empowerment and care).

Before joining Oxfam, Ankets worked with Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations (CCRDA) for two years as a networking and partnership senior officer overseeing more than 350 local and international NGOs who are members in the association in Ethiopia. She has also worked in policy engagement roles as gender program officer in ActionAid Ethiopia, engaging in designing and implementation of various women’s empowerment projects at the grassroots and regional levels.

Fernando Rios-Avila is a research scholar working on the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being under the Distribution of Income and Wealth program. His research interests include labor economics, applied microeconomics, development economics, and poverty and inequality.

As a doctoral candidate at Georgia State University, Rios-Avila worked as a graduate research assistant to Felix Rioja, and interned in the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, working under the supervision of Julie L. Hotchkiss. He formerly served as a researcher at the Social and Economic Policy Unit (UDAPE)—a government advisory unit and public policy think tank in La Paz, Bolivia—on issues of development, impact evaluation, and social expenditure, with an emphasis on children’s welfare. His research has been published in The Review of Income and Wealth, Industrial Relations, Southern Economic Journal, Applied Economics Letters, Stata Journal, and Business and Economics Research.

Rios-Avila holds a Licenciatura in economics from the Universidad Católica Boliviana, La Paz; an advanced studies program certificate in international economics and policy research from Kiel University; and a Ph.D. in economics from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Ajit Zacharias is a senior scholar and director of the Levy Institute’s Distribution of Income and Wealth program. His research primarily focuses on the theory, measurement, and analysis of economic well-being and deprivation.

Along with other Levy scholars, Zacharias has developed alternative measures of economic welfare and deprivation. The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW) offers a framework that accounts for how changes in labor markets, wealth accumulation, government spending and taxes, and household production shape the economic determinants of standard of living. Levy scholars have utilized the LIMEW to track trends in economic inequality and well-being in the United States. The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty is aimed at revealing the nexus between income poverty and unpaid work. This measure has been applied to the study of poverty in several Latin American countries, Turkey, South Korea, Tanzania, and Ghana.

Pages