Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
In this afternoon's Le Monde, this big number, from a World Bank study:


En cinq ans, le nombre de pauvres a baissé de 40 millions en Europe de l'Est et dans l'ex-Union soviétique

In 5 years, the number of poor people in Eastern Europe and the FSU went down by 40 million

Cent deux millions de pauvres en 1998 en Europe de l'Est, 61 millions en 2003. C'est l'impressionnant décompte effectué par la Banque mondiale dans une étude, publiée mercredi 12 octobre, et qui s'intitule "Growth, Poverty and Inequality in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union" (Croissance, pauvreté et inégalités en Europe de l'Est et en ex-Union soviétique).

102 M in 1998, 61 M in 2003 are the impressive numbers published by the World Bank in "Growth, Poverty and Inequality in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union"

Pour effectuer son calcul, l'institution a choisi de retenir comme critère de pauvreté extrême celui de personnes vivant avec moins de 2 dollars par jour  et non celui, traditionnel, de 1 dollar  afin de tenir compte des dépenses additionnelles, notamment de vêtements et de chauffage, nécessaires pour vivre dans cette région froide.

The criteria for poverty was 2$/day, equivalent to 1$/day in less cold climates.

Alors que 20 % de la population vivaient dans la pauvreté en 1998, soit une personne sur cinq, ils n'étaient plus que 12 % en 2003 (une personne sur huit).

The poverty rate is down from 20% to 12%

(...)

Durant la période 1998-2003, la pauvreté a baissé dans tous les pays de la zone étudiée, sauf trois : Pologne, Lituanie et Géorgie.

During that period, poverty went down in all countries except three: Poland, Lithuania and Georgia.

(...)

Les économistes ont aussi passé en revue les mesures  non monétaires  de la pauvreté. "Les tendances de l'accès à l'éducation, aux soins de santé, à l'eau et au chauffage sont très variables.

The World Bank economists also looked at non-monetary criteria for poverty: access to education, healthcare, water and heating. Evolutions vary wildly.

(...)

Et ce sont plus de 150 millions d'individus qui étaient économiquement "vulné ra bles" , selon la Banque mondiale, c'est-à-dire qu'ils disposaient quotidiennement de moins de 4 dollars.

Poverty remains prevalent in the region.  There are an additional 150 million who live with less than 4$/day.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 07:09:14 PM EST
Pour effectuer son calcul, l'institution a choisi de retenir comme critère de pauvreté extrême celui de personnes vivant avec moins de 2 dollars par jour  et non celui, traditionnel, de 1 dollar  afin de tenir compte des dépenses additionnelles, notamment de vêtements et de chauffage, nécessaires pour vivre dans cette région froide.

The criteria for poverty was 2$/day, equivalent to 1$/day in less cold climates.
Et ce sont plus de 150 millions d'individus qui étaient économiquement "vulné ra bles" , selon la Banque mondiale, c'est-à-dire qu'ils disposaient quotidiennement de moins de 4 dollars.

Poverty remains prevalent in the region.  There are an additional 150 million who live with less than 4$/day.

So here we have three different criteria of poverty used by the World Bank (less than $1, $2 or $4 per day). Elsewhere in this discussion AFew mentioned that the UNICEF defines poverty as 50% of median income, and the EuroStat as 60% of median income.

With such disparity of criteria it is not surprising that people cannot agree on whether or to what degree there is poverty.

Les économistes ont aussi passé en revue les mesures  non monétaires  de la pauvreté. "Les tendances de l'accès à l'éducation, aux soins de santé, à l'eau et au chauffage sont très variables.

The World Bank economists also looked at non-monetary criteria for poverty: access to education, healthcare, water and heating. Evolutions vary wildly.

Apparently either the World Bank or Le Monde decided to highlight the income criteria of poverty because it lends itself to a newt soundbite: 40% less poor!. But, apparently, also in terms of income things vary widely:

Durant la période 1998-2003, la pauvreté a baissé dans tous les pays de la zone étudiée, sauf trois : Pologne, Lituanie et Géorgie.

During that period, poverty went down in all countries except three: Poland, Lithuania and Georgia.

I suppose this vindicates MarekNYC's points about poverty in Poland, although I suspect he would rather not be vindicated.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 07:51:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just hard for me to get my head around the poverty rate concept as we compare country to country.  In 2004 the "official" poverty rate was computed as $19,307 for a family of four in the US.  So I guess a family of four in Eastern Europe would be in poverty with an income of $2920 ($2 per day X 4 people X 365).  Now of course there are cost of living adjustments, but that is 6.6 times the income level, which would account for one heck of a cost of living adjustment.

There was either a diary or a post lately that claimed something like America's poverty is 3rd world.  It just doesn't make common sense,,to me anyway.

let me hasten to add, I think it does make common sense to look at income distribution in a country.  and like I think almost everyone on this site, I think America is going to wrong way here.  I've expressed that concern previously and recommended a few (not enough) policy changes to stem that tide.  But it just seems that we are at our best when we are logical and precise.  Comparing American poor with third world poor, or even that ballpark, just turns people off we would like to persuade.  Attacking the outrageous incomes of CEO's, I would add ballplayers and actors, and looking for policy programs to change that--that allows an opponent to be engaged and discussion to happen.  and then are tons of arguments around this--psychological poverty due to being on the bottom,etc

by wchurchill on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 08:08:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, see this is one of the reasons I don't like statistics, although they have their uses.  Statistically speaking, every person in the United States is among the richest in the world.  Then, because all sorts of statistical arguments can be made, there has been this argument over whether US poverty is "real bad" or merely "relative."

Now, my contention all along which I keep repeating is that dying of starvation, exposure, or lack of medical treatment is the same experience in the US as it is anywhere else.  Also, that we have quite a bit of this here.  For some reason, this simple statement seems to piss people off.

Certainly, we have many "poor" in the US who are relatively or "psychologically" poor.  Certainly we have many comfortable and affluent people.  But we also do have an actual, real life dying of poverty population.  Is it on the same scale as other countries?  No.  But does that make it any less real or important?

We keep talking about the people who fall through the cracks.  And I agree, yeah, that's them.  But that makes it sound as though it's a tiny number, statistically insignificant.  But there's a lot of them and more every day.  And they're not relatively, or psychologically, or any other kind of poor.  There not poor from a certain perspective.  They're plain ol' poor -- dying poor, starving poor, or whatever else you want to call it.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 09:05:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I agree with this statement.  But we might not agree with how many people are in this group.  For example, I don't think you'll find the family of four with income of $19,300 living in Kirksville, Missoouri, Springfield, Illinois, Henderson ,North Carolina, Mountain Home, Arkansas would be living in the condition of "that dying of starvation, exposure, or lack of medical treatment".  There are lots of people living well below that amount of money, with happy productive lives.  now I don't see how it's done in NY or San Fran.

another example is retirees who live on social security, own their own condo or homes, and have some income off of savings.  they don't meet your definition, and aren't in 3rd world poverty, but their likely under the poverty level in the US.

I've heard some of the military is on food stamps, which I think is atrocious by the way.  those people should be paid much better.  but they are included in the poverty figures (I assume) and they are not dying of starvation, exposure or lack of medical treatment.

so I agree there are people that are like 3rd world poor, and we should take steps to better care for them.  but they are not in the 12--20% of the population that are batted around--saying that many people are "dying of starvation, exposure, or lack of medical treatment".  I would guess at least 50% of my friends and colleagues just tune someone out that makes such a statement--it's an educated and worldly group that travels and has seen 3rd world poverty, but not particularly rich so they don't know what is going on in our country.  

and I would also like to raise the level of incomes at the lower ends--have more opportunity for kids down there.  we should have an estate tax.  we should have great 1--16 schooling.  I would like a combination of our healthcare system with the European model--I think there is a better syhstem for both, taking the best from each.  I just think we undermine our positions with our rhetoric sometimes.

by wchurchill on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 10:24:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well obviously everyone under the poverty line isn't in this condition.  The argument that has been ongoing is whether or not these conditions exist here.  They do.  And of course not on the scale of the third-world -- no one is making either of these claims.

The problem as I see it -- that I've been having -- is I merely say there are indeed people in the US living under these dreadful conditions.  That it's not an insignificant number.  That we ignore it.  Very simple statements of fact, which have been established.

And then people drag in the statistics and say it's relative or we need some perspective.  No.  No we don't.  We allow a certain segment of society to fend for themselves.  We just flat out let it happen to women, to children, we don't care.

And that's not right.  We need to admit it and deal with it.  That kind of poverty exists here.  It's not relative, it's extreme.  It's not people thinking they're poor because they don't know any better, it's a life and death struggle.  And we have the resources to fix it and we're not even trying.  That's a political problem.  To deny or minimize it -- to be politically narrow minded -- is one of the definitions of bigotry.

Now, I'm one of the ones saying this problem exists.  I have never claimed 12 -20% live this way.  I've just said many do and it's near impossible to get out of.  I state simple facts and then have to defend them with descriptions -- do your friends not believe there are people starving and dying?  

Because I think they do know this, but they say -- ohh, you mean the homeless, the ghettos, the immigrants, the underclass -- what does that imply to you?  Because to me, it reeks of bigotry.  "Those" people live in America.  Those people are Americans.  This problem exists in America.  Yes, they're in "certain" areas, "certain" segments.  But they are our people in our country and I'm sick of people acting as though they don't count.

Forget the statistics.  Add up the population in our prisons.  Add up the population in our inner cities.  Add up the population in the fields.  Add up the junkies and the whores.  Add up the elderly who die from heat every summer and cold every winter because they can't afford utilities.  Add up the homeless teenagers you can find in every city.  

Add up the people in the Appalachians and the reservations.  Add up the people still in tents from hurricanes in Florida last year.  Add up the folks from Katrina.  Add up the folks in the shelters and under bridges and on the streets.  Add up everyone who dies every year from AIDS or from suicide, scraped off the street every year from killing frosts in New York to crushing heat in Arizona.

Add all those up and tell me how small that number is.  Add it up and tell me my rhetoric is over the top.  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 11:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem as I see it -- that I've been having -- is I merely say there are indeed people in the US living under these dreadful conditions.  That it's not an insignificant number.  That we ignore it.  Very simple statements of fact, which have been established.

And then people drag in the statistics and say it's relative or we need some perspective.

well I agree with this.  and know many people that agree with this.  many of them get interested in one aspect of the problem, and try to tackle it in many ways.  some by working with local charity groups focused on an aspect of what you are describing.  some that give money to groups that are workiing on one aspect of the poor and underprivleged, etc., etc.  there are lots of ways to help--but I think the most satisfying are those where you can  contribute and see that you make an impact.  this usually means your local community.

but I don't think I've been misinterpretting the arguments on this site--comparing absolute to relative poverty across countries is not an issue that really addresses the people that you are talking about.  it's about comparing the bottom quintile of incomes, one to another, and arguing that this European social system is better than the Anglo/Saxon system, and the same for the middle class.  At least that's very definitely the strong impression I've gotten from the dialogues.

I can see you have a big heart, and are very caring.  But even Mother Theresa didn't try to take on everything you're talking about.  IMHO, at an individual level, it just requires some focus in places where you can do some good.  But there are tons of people and $$ aimed at so many areas you have listed--AIDS victims, suicide programs, Katrina and hurricane victims, cities like Chicago addressing issues on utility bills and issues for the elderly.  Some of the other areas could use committed people like you.  

I don't want to drift off subject, nor pretend to give you advice about what to do--I'm sure you know this area much better than I.

by wchurchill on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 01:51:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that was certainly a kind and reasonable reply to my rather overwrought comment.  And I do know all these problems can't be solved overnight -- I dragged it all in just to illustrate that the numbers are significant, when added together (I'm prone to getting carried away).

I think Colman said it best, though -- in other wealthy countries, these people are examples of the system failing.  For ours, there is no system.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She was concerned with helping the sick and dying poor endure their suffering but she was not interested in changing the conditions that led to so many people being in poverty. That is the difference between charity and social justice.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 04:42:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's about comparing the bottom quintile of incomes, one to another, and arguing that this European social system is better than the Anglo/Saxon system

Just to clear up a few misapprehensions:

  • comparisons with Europe were asked for right at the top of the thread by asdf, who, let it be said, fairly consistently expresses the belief that there's not much wrong with America and that contributors here (American or otherwise) are pretty much over the top on the subject;

  • you yourself, here and elsewhere, have often asked, even with insistence, that people put data on the table (you might take your own advice, if you don't mind me saying so);

  • nothing here is about proving that Europe is superior to America, or that America is screwed up and should learn from the "European model";

  • on the other hand, something that broadly unites the Europeans here is the idea that we have something we don't intend to lose or allow to be steamrollered by globalizing corporate/financial capitalism. This may seem strange to you, but you're not in our shoes.

Just sayin'.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 03:55:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you take my comment pejoratively, and I didn't intend it that way.  I was simply trying to say to Izzy that I didn't think the stats we had would really pick up the groups she was talking about.

yes I definitely believe in stats.  and will try to remember your comments on future posts regarding providing more data--though I don't think I'm totally guilty here.  I do a fair amount of research before most of my posts (not all,,,ahem).

Actually as I've said before, I love many aspects of Europe--the life style is great.  If I were world dictator, I would combine aspects of both systems, and maybe get the best of both worlds.

And perhaps on your 3rd and 4th dotpoints, maybe there is a little defenseness on both sides of the pond--each side interpretting a statement as more of an attack than was intended?

(BTW, and only answer if this is simple for you, how do you get those dot points in your post?)

by wchurchill on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 05:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't take your statement for an attack, but for what it was: a second (in this thread) attempt to say what you think this site is about. This site doesn't have an agenda. It's about you as much as me, since we're both users, like Izzy, DeAnander, Migeru, many others here.

As to defensiveness on both sides of the pond -- I'm sorry, but you should take a look at how you behave, and then tell me I'm the defensive one! What's more, non-Americans have a hundred times more reason to feel defensive than Americans do. One of the effects of American exceptionalism is to blind many Americans to the extent to which their country dominates world discourse.

But this thread is long and this can be discussed elsewhere...

The Comments Window in which we type handles lists and bullet points for you. Just put an asterisk * (or a dash - )at the beginning of each line you want formated with a dot. If you type 1 2 etc at the beginning of each line you'll get a numbered list. (beginning of line = against left margin, you don't need to type in spaces).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Oct 16th, 2005 at 03:49:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a few examples of random comments attacking American positions, IMHO, without justification.  

"If you hold a job in the US you pay Federal and State Unemployment tax, but the benefits you get, if you lose your job, especially if you haven't worked yet a long time, are so low a"  WRONG

"On an average the tuition costs per month is well over $ 2,000.00 plus for the cheapest public university "  ABSURD

"It's not comprehensible to me why Americans don't revolt against the lack of any common sense  security net that covers people from the worst, homelessness through joblessness and bankruptcy through sickness."  WE DO VOTE FOR WHAT WE WANT, REGARDLESS OF SOMEONE ELSE'S OPINION OF OUR COMMON SENSE.  IS IT POSSIBLE THAT YOU JUST DON'T GET AMERICAN OPINION?  NO, I GUESS WE'RE JUST F''''ING IDIOTS, AND OUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE SHOULD JUST BE TAKEN AWAY FROM US.

Analsis of WSJ article, which project much of American opinion:
"They tell these lies over and over, that it's not the system it's the people, the underclass with their "certain characteristics."  It's not a lack of jobs, education, skills, or opportunity, they say.  It's the people.  The inert mothers and lazy fathers who won't get out of bed.  These people do nothing to help themselves, they always say.  And they profit from these lies and this fear and make the moat wider while the castle grounds shrink."
YEAH AMERICANS COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE POOR, DON'T DO ANYTHING TO TRY TO ALLEVIATE IT, DON'T CONTRIBUTE THEIR HOURS OF WORK OR MONEY.  AMERICANS ARE JUST BLOOD SUCKERS ON THE LOWER CLASS.

"As for the US, I meant what I said:  Yes I believe poverty is a goal of the system.  The social programs you allude to are, in the US, being thoroughly trashed.  The New Deal was seventy years ago, and after a fine run of four decades, it is now road kill."  THIS WAS PART OF A DISCUSSION THAT ACCUSED THE USA OF HAVING A POLICY OF CONDEMNING ITS CITIZENS TO POVERTY.  ABSURD OF COURSE.

by wchurchill on Sun Oct 16th, 2005 at 05:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think you read my comment properly. What are your quotes trying to prove? That there are Americans who don't share your point of view on America? That you get mad and shout when they express their point of view? (Yes, using capitals is like bolding -- use it in a neutral way to point something up, OK, but if you're arguing with force, it gives the impression you're shouting. I'm surprised this needs explaining.)

It wasn't worth your arguing elsewhere with restraint and respect for others, to blow it now with this kind of intemperate display.

In matter of fact, it is clear that America differs from other developed countries by not alleviating poverty by means of social transfers. That is part of a system. It's an expression of political will -- and not from one side of the aisle only, since Clinton greatly reduced welfare payments. Now there may be arguments in favour of a system like that, but I don't think you can portray a country that has made that choice as kind-hearted and caring. If the system is all-out competition, winner-take-all, then it's not simultaneously sweetness and light. You can't have your cake and eat it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Oct 16th, 2005 at 07:58:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Analsis of WSJ article, which project much of American opinion

The WSJ is definitely written from the perspective of America's business elite, not the people. Is this another example of working Americans identifying with their employers more than with their coworkers?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 16th, 2005 at 07:59:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again -- wrong, false, and absurd from where you stand.  And you're also jumping to some very wrong conclusions.  Afew has already commented, but I feel I need to add a couple of things.

First, as already argued, you state as wrong three comments from one person who was clearly sharing her own thoughts, experiences, and observations.  Not only that, but she has already corrected her statements and put them in context -- as you yourself also did in the same thread.  And what did we establish?

*She misstated about who was paying Federal unemployment tax and was corrected.  She admitted she'd been incorrect and thanked the person who corrected it.  Her central point had been and remained that unemployment payments were low -- a point never refuted.

*She clarified that her observations about tuition were based on non-resident status, which makes her claim correct in those circumstances (which you know).

*She expresses her own opinion, basically wondering why we aren't angry about certain situations.  You have seemingly read a lot into that.  You are arguing against things never stated or implied.

Before I get into defending myself and my interpretation of the WSJ article, I'll ask you this -- you made some incorrect statements in that thread as well.  How would you feel if someone who had read the whole thread and your consequent corrections, went into another thread and quoted you out of context?  

I could easily comb through and say many things like "wchurchill believes everyone making $20k per year pays NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX.  WRONG!"  

Would that be fair?  I don't think you'd be very happy about it, especially since you and I went back and forth quite a bit to establish the veracity of that statement and corrected it.  In fact, quoting your original statement without acknowledging your correction would be, in essence, telling a falsehood, since I know better.

Now, as to my very own statement about the WSJ and their ilk.  You say:

Analsis of WSJ article, which project much of American opinion:
"They tell these lies over and over, that it's not the system it's the people, the underclass with their "certain characteristics."  It's not a lack of jobs, education, skills, or opportunity, they say.  It's the people.  The inert mothers and lazy fathers who won't get out of bed.  These people do nothing to help themselves, they always say.  And they profit from these lies and this fear and make the moat wider while the castle grounds shrink."
YEAH AMERICANS COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE POOR, DON'T DO ANYTHING TO TRY TO ALLEVIATE IT, DON'T CONTRIBUTE THEIR HOURS OF WORK OR MONEY.  AMERICANS ARE JUST BLOOD SUCKERS ON THE LOWER CLASS.

First, I'm happy you acknowledge that the article reflects the opinion of many people in America -- the fact that many believe these conditions are the poor's own fault and not a flaw in the system is one of the problems I'm addressing.  It's good to hear someone admit it instead of denying it.  

But I think it was clear, although perhaps not, that I was not talking about all the American people.  I was describing, as afew basically points out, the statements of those in power as regards those without.

You accuse me of viewing all Americans in a certain way -- uncaring and unhelpful.  I did not write this and, further, I don't think it.  I believe many Americans are exceedingly kind, generous, and hardworking.

What particularly interests me though, is your continued view of the "lower class" as seperate from "Americans" as illustrated in your false claim that I think Americans are bloodsuckers.

To be clear, the point of my using the WSJ article was to illustrate how some powerful people and institutions in America dehumanize the poor.  Calling the poor inert, lazy, and that they cannot be helped through normal means is vile propaganda -- even when framed as a search for solutions.

Now.  The fact that seemingly nice enough people such as yourself apparently can't see anything wrong with calling fellow Americans in dire straits lazy and inert is, in my view, a very clear example of the problem I am speaking to.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 16th, 2005 at 01:54:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two kinds of people intent on relativizing American poverty. Patriotic Americans who don't want to admit that the situation in the US can be that bad, and foreigners who insist that their home country is worse off.

But the point shouldn't be to rank countries on a linear scale of "poverty". The point should be to identify the markers of poverty (like we have done: infant mortality, child malnourishment, illiteracy, shortened life expectancy) and explore 1) to what extent these problems affect the whole society and not only who sufferes from them; 2) what the society at large can or should do about it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 04:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i agree.  But you have to dig behind the numbers to understand the root causes, so they can actually be fixed.  for example, note some of the dialogue around infant mortality in the US--VLBW and LBW babies, according to the report behind the numbers, were a big factor in the change.  That is a normal outcome of babies born to mothers on drugs--if that is the case, and I'm not sure but intuitively think it is--based on some personal experience around neonatal icu's.  so if the root cause is drug use, what programs are needed to fix that--it's complex.
by wchurchill on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 12:26:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what is the root cause of widespread drug use?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 12:59:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
because America is so degenerate and immoral, and pedaling their evil ways around the world?
by wchurchill on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha, ha. Not funny.

I am serious. Is drug use a cause, or a consequence, of poverty, or is it neither? Drug abuse does not need to be a societal problem, but it becomes one when a whole community is touched by it, and with the violent crime associated with illegal drug trafficking. But again, what are the causal relationships?

And now, going back to dark humour, isn't it the case that the CIA financed itself in the 1970's by getting involved in drug dealing in America's inner cities?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:25:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
lol.  great comment.  I agree with your points on drug usage--a difficult answer to get at.  and we all neec some occassional black humor.
by wchurchill on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 05:37:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drug use rises in war zones and during prohibitions (putting the supply in the hands of criminals who have no qualms about creating addicts to increase demand).

And I don't know about the 1970s situation, but the CIA and our own government were complicit in allowing drugs into the country during Iran-contra during the 80s.  Award winning investigative journalist Gary Webb documented some of this again in 1996 for the San Jose Mercury News which debuted it with an interactive website which was soon taken down.

Narco News has put the site back online.  It has the original series and also the supporting documentation.  The website is here:

Dark Alliance

I also wrote about it when it came online again.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 06:16:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in the US has been increasing even after correcting for VLBW and LBW babies, while it has been still decreasing in Europe despite similar numbers of VLBW babies. So that particular explanation does not hold. (I am sorry I do not have a source at hand, but it was discussed on dKos).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 01:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this would be interesting to research in some of the medical journals.  unfortunately that would take quite a bit of time.  my personal experience on this is 10 years old.  it would be interesting to understand why Europe would be better with similar numbers on these tinier babies.
by wchurchill on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:15:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Infant mortality is usually defined (correct me if I'm wrong) as the fraction of children born alive who die in their first year of life. Obviously low birth weight is a factor, but post-natal care would seem to be very important as well.

So maybe there are two factors that conspire to increase the infant mortality rate among low-income Americans: higher prevalence of LWB and inadequate access to post-natal health care. Either one of the two factors by itself might not cause a substantial increase in infant mortality.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 03:32:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like you're right Migeru.  here's some other information, though the statistics must be old, because they don't mention the worsening of infant mortality in the States.  I found the emboldened paragraph interesting in the sense of helping us better understand this.  The point on problems with access to health care is very concerning.  (I'm not yelling, just don't know another way to accent than these two)
Definition of Mortality, infant

Mortality, infant: The death of an infant before his or her first birthday.

The infant mortality rate is, by definition, the number of children dying under a year of age divided by the number of live births that year. The infant mortality rate is also called the infant death rate.

The infant mortality rate is an important measure of the well-being of infants, children, and pregnant women because it is associated with a variety of factors, such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices.

In the United States, about two-thirds of infant deaths occur in the first month after birth and are due mostly to health problems of the infant or the pregnancy, such as preterm delivery or birth defects. About one-third of infant deaths occur after the first month and are influenced greatly by social or environmental factors, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or problems with access to health care.

The infant mortality rate in the US, which was 12.5 per 1,000 live births in 1980, fell to 9.2 per 1,000 live births in 1990. However, in 1999 it was reported that "Over the past 8 years, the death rate among black infants has remained nearly 2.5 times that among white infants." (Pediatrics 104: 1229-1246, 1999.)

The US Government ChildStats Health Indicators include the following additional information about the infant mortality rate:

The 1997 infant mortality rate for the United States, according to preliminary data, was 7.1 deaths per 1,000 births, substantially below the 1983 rate of 10.9.
Infant mortality data are available by mother's race and ethnicity through 1996. Black, non-Hispanics have consistently had a higher infant mortality rate than white, non-Hispanics. In 1996, the black, non-Hispanic infant mortality rate was 14.2, compared to 6.0 for white, non-Hispanics.
Infant mortality has dropped for all race and ethnic groups over time, but there are still substantial racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality. In 1996, black, non-Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native infants had significantly higher infant mortality rates than white, non-Hispanic, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander infants. In 1996, infant mortality rates varied from 5.2 among Asian/Pacific Islander infants and 6.1 for Hispanics, to 10.0 among American Indians/Alaska Natives.
Infant mortality rates also vary within race and ethnic populations. For example, among Hispanics in the United States, the infant mortality rate ranged from a low of 5.0 for infants of Central and South American origin to a high of 8.6 for Puerto Ricans. Among Asians/Pacific Islanders, infant mortality rates ranged from 3.2 for infants of Chinese origin to 5.8 for Filipinos.

by wchurchill on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 05:34:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What seems to make more difference to birth weight in the developed countries is maternal stress in pregnancy. A study of 2,378 women in Missouri found that mothers of LBW babies are more likely to give histories of stressful pregnancies (Sable and Wilkinson 2000).There is also evidence that if you stress animals in pregnancy, they have smaller offspring (Drago, Di Leo, and Giardina 1999). Some of the mechanisms ... are now understood. For instance, anxious mothers seem to have reduced uterine blood flow (Texeira, Fisk, and Gloves 1998).
[snip]
Mothers stressed in pregnancy have higher cortisol levels and there is a strong correlation between maternal and fetal cortisol, which shows that babies are affected by maternal stress before birth (Gitau et al 1998).
From Richard Wilkinson, The Impact of Inequality, 2005.

Drug abuse (alcohol and tobacco included) may be causal factors in low birth weight, but they themselves are symptoms:

Many women who use drugs have faced serious challenges to their well-being during their lives. For example, research indicates that up to 70 percent of drug abusing women report histories of physical and sexual abuse. Data also indicate that women are far more likely than men to report a parental history of alcohol and drug abuse. Often, women who use drugs have low self-esteem and little self-confidence and may feel powerless. In addition, minority women may face additional cultural and language barriers that can affect or hinder their treatment and recovery.
From a National Institute on Drug Abuse Factsheet

It would seem fairer to look at the overall situation of young women in multi-generational poverty, at the psychological price of poverty, than to pinpoint drug abuse as the core of the problem. (Though a problem of course it is.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We keep talking about the people who fall through the cracks

Yes, this term has been used secveral times in this thread. But "falling through the cracks" is about downward mobility, people's situation getting worse. It seems to me important to stress that there's long-term, inter-generational poverty that's more important. It's the lack of upward mobility that matters most. It's not falling through the cracks, it's not being able to climb up through them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank goodness, afew -- a voice of reason.  As you may or may not have surmised, my head has been doing a slo-mo explosion on and off in here!  :-)

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:36:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's true (as Migeru points out) that there are different definitions of poverty. Absolute (eg the official US threshold) which calculate the cost of a minimal living standard, or relative, which consider poverty in relation with surrounding economic conditions. Once you start arguing about these things, you can quickly bring discussion to a standstill.

The usefulness of taking a percentage of median income as a standard (whether it be 40%, 50%, or 60%, all three of which are examined in the Unicef document which I encourage you to look at), is precisely that we are using income distribution, and that it becomes possible to make broad comparisons between countries (comparisons that would otherwise be plagued by uncertainty about purchasing power and differing expectations in different cultures, etc). But as I pointed out beneath the graphs, their value is not absolute. The point is not to say: "Here lies the true definition of poverty", but to look at the relative importance of the lower brackets of income distribution across different countries (the OECD countries in the Unicef report).

And one thing that is clear when you do that is, that the US -- though the initial level is somewhat similar to the UK and France, for example -- alleviates poverty much less by means of tax and social transfers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 15th, 2005 at 02:10:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Impeachment gets real

by ARGeezer - Jan 17
25 comments

A Final Warning

by Oui - Jan 10
112 comments

Environment Anarchists

by Oui - Jan 13
4 comments

More Spanish repression

by IdiotSavant - Jan 6
8 comments

Occasional Series