Tag Archives: poverty

Students Should Join Fight Against Poverty

The statistics of poverty around the world are by now well-known facts: 3 billion people around the world live on less than $2.50 a day, 24,000 children per day die as a result of poverty and there are approximately 1.1 billion in the world who lack access to clean water. Yet when faced with the news that our own country is now experiencing poverty levels unseen since the 1950s, we face the decision of whether we should act globally or lend a hand here at home.

There is of course, a paradox to comparisons of poverty at home or abroad. While one in four children in the United States faces hunger at some point, we need to look at things in relative terms. The United States Census Bureau, the author of a recent report on poverty levels within the U.S., says that 97 percent of those classified as poor own a color TV and 75 percent of them own a car. How do we make decisions regarding who is most in need? Do we ignore the hungry person on the sidewalk, only to go donate to UNICEF? It doesn’t make it any easier to decide when we live in a city with one of the highest levels of homelessness in the country. Perhaps what is needed is not a decision between where to donate our money (“What money?” says the college student), but where to focus our attention. There are multiple opportunities within the city and the Bay Area for students to donate time, service, skills, whatever is needed, to fight back against rising poverty levels here and raise awareness about wealth disparities internationally.  Glide Memorial serves as a church, clinic, housing center, daycare/after-school program and dining room; all in outreach to San Francisco’s growing population of those who can’t make ends meet. Anyone can walk in and help serve a meal, right then and there. Working at Glide helps one realize that hunger is something that affects every human being, from California to Kenya and that when we look at global poverty statistics; we aren’t just looking at the third world.

Another place to consider is De Marillac Academy. Students at De Marillac come from low-income households, where school is not always a top priority and often times English is not the first language. De Marillac is located in the heart of the Tenderloin, and to get in the school one must walk past lines of people begging on the street and buzz to be let into two separate gates. In other words, it does all it can to protect its students from their surroundings. It is a school that loves USF volunteers, and it doesn’t hurt that its students are some of the cutest and brightest kids you will ever meet.

De Marillac and Glide are only two examples. I promise you there are dozens more. While community service within the city may not feel like an action against poverty around the world, it eventually becomes one. We often forget that our seemingly wealthy and safe society is just one out of hundreds, and when global tallies of the hungry and desperate are taken, they do not exclude the United States. Ultimately, it does not come down to a decision between the hungry street beggar and UNICEF, but a decision of whether you do anything or not.

Andrea Powell is a junior International Relations major

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Opinion Editor: Laura Waldron

Students Bare Soles for Day of Poverty Awareness


A campaign seeks to bring awareness to poverty in the third world by asking people to walk barefoot for a day. (Photo Illustration by Melissa Stihl)

Take a moment and look down at your feet. For most people in the U.S., the view is of a lightly worn shoe and a smoothly paved cement sidewalk. Here, people’s feet are warm, dry and kept from possible stubbed toes or tetanus-imposed wounds. The ability to own one or more pairs of shoes is a luxury that is commonly overlooked and seen mainly as another way to make a latest fashion statement. It is a luxury that people often take for granted. In the developing world owning a pair of shoes is an unusual luxury. There, many people’s feet have dirt caked deep into their nails, old sores that sting, and jagged rocks under their feet opening new sores.

This is reality for many people in developing countries where walking is the primary mode of transportation, making their feet susceptible to disease and injury. For these people, shoes are a distant dream beyond their reach. However, an organization called TOMS Shoes is working to make this dream an attainable one. In 2006, a man named Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina, where he befriended many local children with nothing to protect their feet. He felt compelled to help them and went on to establish a shoe company that matches every pair of shoes sold with a pair given to a child in need; over 140,000 pairs have been donated so far.

Mycoskie’s next endeavor is a movement to raise awareness for the plight of these children. He is asking people to go barefoot on April 16 to bring awareness to the have-nots of the world.  This is the day to share the pair for pair mission and bring attention to the impact that a pair of shoes can have on one’s life.  Mycoskie asks people to remove their shoes and walk for a cause. The event extends internationally; from the United States to Canada, England, France and Italy, people are going barefoot, along with several USF students who have pledged to join the campaign.

New Taxes Puts More Burden on California Workers

On Wednesday, April 1st, the new temporary California sales tax increase officially took effect across the state as part of California’s new tax –and-spend state budget.  The one percent increase is due to expire on either July 1, 2011, or July 1, 2012, depending on the outcome of a statewide vote on May 19, 2009 on Proposition 1A, the Budget Stabilization Act.  The increase raised the rate from a minimum of 7.25% to at least 8.25% statewide.

If the proposition is approved, many of the tax increases passed in the Feb. 2009 budget package would be extended by one to two years.  Also, state tax revenues would increase by about $16 billion from 2010-11 through 2012-13, according to the Proposition 1A proposal.

The tax increase that recently went into effect is the largest one-time tax increase in the state’s history.  The increase will take between $1-2 thousand more per year from California families who are already struggling with everything from keeping up with car payments to putting food on the table.

Instead of repenting from overspending and government waste, 75 Democrats and 6 Republicans in the state legislature, along with Governor Schwarzenegger, voted to empty out the already thin pockets of Californians.  Once again, state bureaucrats have dug a hole and California citizens are being forced to fill it.

The increase will raise the rate higher than 8.25% in some California counties, according to the Los Angeles Times.  City and county level tax increases are added on to the one percent increase.  For some Californians the sales tax has been pushed over nine percent, and in Pico Rivera, CA and South Gate, CA, people began paying a 10.25% sales tax on April 1st.  The argument is that these people in cities with higher taxes can afford to pay them.  According to citytowninfo.com, Pico Rivera, CA is in the lower half of both cities in the nation and in California in terms of people at middle class or better.  In South Gate, CA, the person above the poverty rate is below 25%, as well as the number of people who are considered middle class or better.

There is no better example a city being pinched by the tax increase than Oakland, CA, where people above the poverty line is in the lower 25% compared to both state and national cities, and the city’s sales tax is the third highest in the state, but possibly not for long.  According to SFGate.com, there is a proposal to raise Oakland’s sales tax to between 10-10.25 percent, equaling the state’s highest sales tax.

Our “No new taxes” Governor has now presided over a record breaking tax hike in order to avoid defaulting on the state budget, which would have been catastrophic for our great state.  Running out of time and faced with making either a catastrophic or damaging decision, the legislature chose the damaging one.

Make no mistake, the tax increase is severely damaging.  Thousands of Californians are facing foreclosure each week.  One in ten Californians is unemployed.  While the federal government is cutting taxes and dishing money out to states, California is offsetting the help by making it difficult for people to make daily purchases.

The best to deal with an economic crisis is not taxing the people you depend on to revive the economy.  The Foghorn does not support the increase in sales tax.  All of the tax hikes in the two-year plan fall on the shoulders of California workers.  When they passed the budget, Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California legislature said everyone had to give a little to solve the state’s financial problems, but apparently that doesn’t apply to big California businesses.  The state budget has a plethora of corporate tax breaks and credits that would save businesses hundreds of mullions of dollars but would cost the California Treasury at least $2.5 billion over a five-year period.

The plan runs counter to the Obama Administration’s plan to give tax cuts to low and middle income Americans.  California law-makers are asking voters to approve five budget-related measures during a special election in May, including one that would implement a state spending cap in exchange for extending tax increase for one or two years.  The Foghorn does not support any of the five proposed measures in May, nor do we support any proposal in tax increase until the tax burden is more evenly distributed among workers and businesses.