Recent quotes:

Childhood poverty can rob adults of psychological health -- ScienceDaily

In his study, Evans tracked 341 participants over a 15-year period, and tested them at ages 9, 13, 17 and 24. Short-term spatial memory was tested by asking adult study participants to repeat increasingly complex sequences of lights and sounds by pressing four colored pads in the correct order -- similar to the "Simon" game. The adults who grew up in poverty had a diminished ability to recall the sequences, compared to those who did not. "This is an important result because the ability to retain information in short-term memory is fundamental to a host of basic cognitive skills, including language and achievement," the study said. Although the participants were assessed on this measure only when they were adults, this test had the strongest association with childhood poverty of the four measures. Helplessness was assessed by asking the participants to solve an impossible puzzle. Adults growing up in poverty gave up 8 percent more quickly than those who weren't poor as kids. Previous research has shown chronic exposure to uncontrollable stressors -- such as family turmoil and substandard housing -- tends to induce helplessness. Mental health was measured with a well validated, standardized index of mental health with statements including "I argue a lot" and "I am too impatient." Adults who grew up in poverty were more likely to agree with those questions than adults from a middle-income background. Chronic physiological stress was tested by measuring the participants' blood pressure, stress hormones and body mass index. Adults who grew up in poverty had a higher level of chronic physical stress throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Alt takes on unemployment

Yes, true: there are approximately seven million more Americans in poverty now than when Obama was elected. On the other hand, the economy under Obama has gained about seven times as many jobs as it did under Bush; even given the financial meltdown, the unemployment rate has dropped to just below the historical average. But, yes: the poverty rate is up by 1.6 percentage points since 2008. Then again the number of Americans in poverty fell by nearly 1.2 million between 2012 and 2013. However, true: the proportion of people who depend on welfare for the majority of their income has increased (although it was also increasing under Bush). And under Obama unemployment has dropped, G.D.P. growth has been “robust,” and there have been close to seventy straight months of job growth. But, O.K.: there has indeed been a “skyrocketing” in the number of Americans needing some form of means-tested federal aid, although Obama’s initiatives kept some six million people out of poverty in 2009, including more than two million children.

The economics of poor policing in poor towns

There are almost fifty municipalities in North County. The officers in some of the towns are not just fighting crime; they also issue countless traffic tickets and ordinance-violation citations. The local governments often rely on the fines generated by tickets and violations to balance their budgets. (In 2013, the town of Edmundson, which comprises less than a square mile, issued nearly five thousand traffic tickets.) Police officers, meanwhile, can be paid as little as ten dollars an hour, according to Kevin Ahlbrand, the president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. Ahlbrand says that the low pay can create “unprofessional police officers,” adding, “You get what you pay for.”

Impact of housing vouchers

After the Los Angeles riots in 1992 the federal government tried to copy this scheme in other cities. Until recently, the results were considered disappointing. Those who moved out of public housing in crime-ridden places showed lower rates of diabetes than those who remained, and mothers who moved showed an increase in happiness similar to the effects of Prozac, an antidepressant. However, children did no better after moving and their mothers did not get better jobs. In a paper published this month, however, Raj Chetty and colleagues at Harvard re-examined the numbers and found that the children who moved earned considerably more in their 20s. This was true only of children who moved before their 13th birthday: older children saw no benefit later on. More recently, Baltimore lost a public-housing case similar to the one in Chicago and, in 2005, provided vouchers for 7,000 families to move to other parts of Maryland. They are still there, and three-quarters of their children are attending much better schools, says Stefanie Deluca of Johns Hopkins. Yet since giving a golden ticket to every poor black family would cost about $30 billion a year, those stuck in highly segregated places will have to save in order to get out.

Growing Up on Easy Street Has Its Own Dangers

Using a variety of data that included families with median household incomes of about $150,000, she found that the adolescents in higher-income families had higher rates of substance abuse of all kinds than those in lower-income ones. This makes a certain amount of sense, since they can afford the drugs, the vehicles to go buy them and the fake IDs that help with the procurement of Stoli and Jägermeister.But there was more. The more affluent suburban youth stole from their parents more often than city youth with less money and were more likely to experience clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety and physical ailments that seemed to stem from those mental conditions. These things began emerging as early as seventh grade.

Smoking as a regressive tax

Consider a married couple with a $30,000 a year income. If each spouse smokes a pack a day and they live in a state where cigarettes cost an average of, say, $6.00 a pack, they will devote 15 percent of their very limited income to cigarettes. Six percent of their income will go to cigarette taxes alone. If they live in New York City, the city’s new minimum price per pack of $10.50 will drain a full quarter of their income. Some low-income New Yorkers surely pay more in tobacco taxes than they do in taxes to support Social Security and Medicare.

Smoking isn't a problem -- for the affluent

Why is there no Brown Ribbon campaign to combat cigarette smoking? We fear that the answer lies in the fact that smoking is largely a low-income problem, and the resulting illnesses and deaths are often blamed on the victims. In certain circles, cigarettes are not only common but practically ubiquitous. Yet for those who run the nation’s businesses, those who shape its policies, those who fundraise, blog, and tweet, those who read and vote in the highest numbers, the issue has largely disappeared from view.