THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

AZ Poverty Growing

This is all the more reason why shifting the tax burden from the rich onto the working and middle classes through regressive tax schemes (like increasing sales tax while decreasing corporate, property and upper income taxes) is such a brilliant idea for Arizona. The more people we shove into poverty - after we've fired them, foreclosed on their home, and seized their assets to pay off high-interest credit card debt - the more people we'll have paying taxes. If they can't pay their bills, we'll send them to prion and charge them for their room and board. Since they really can't pay their room and board we'll be putting them up for $26,000/year, and therefore won't have enough money to send their child to college, unfortunately. We will happily send him to jail for stealing food instead.

Arizona poverty rate increased last year
September 28, 2009 By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

The percentage of Arizonans living in poverty increased twice as fast as the national average last year.
U.S. income gap widens as recession hits poor [http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/145082]
Scholars: Hidden pockets of seniors in poverty [http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/143951]

New figures Monday from the U.S. Census Bureau show an estimated 938,924 residents were in households below the poverty level. That computes to 14.7 percent of the state.

By comparison, the figure for Arizona in 2007 was 14.2 percent.

That half-point increase compares with a jump of two-tenths of a percent nationally, to 13.2 percent last year.
But the numbers — and the trends — are not uniform throughout the state.

Tucson and Yuma reported at least one out of five residents living in poverty last year, both after posting increases.

For example, the percentage of Chandler residents living in poverty went from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 8.6 percent last year.

But both nearby Gilbert and Tempe posted year-over-year decreases, as did Surprise.

There also was a big increase in the number of Arizonans who received food stamps during 2008 over the prior year. That figure went from 155,043 in 2007 to 187,331 last year.

Put another way, 6.9 percent of Arizonans were getting that kind of assistance in 2007. By 2008 that had jumped to 8.2 percent.

But that figure is still below the national average of 8.6 percent.

One potential reason for participation in this program being below the national average, as compared with the poverty rate, is that food stamps are restricted to those who are in this country legally. The poverty rate, however, measures everyone in Arizona regardless of legal status.

Here, too, there were major differences among various Arizona communities — and even changes in patterns from the poverty figures.

For example, while Gilbert had fewer people living in poverty between 2007 and 2008, the percentage of its residents receiving food stamps at some point during the year more than doubled.

Louisiana, Maine and Kentucky had the highest percentages of residents getting food stamps, all at more than 13.7 percent.

At the other extreme, just 4.2 percent of Wyoming residents were enrolled in the program.

Poverty figures also are a bit more complex, with standards that change every year.

The index originated in the early 1960s with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which looked at food budgets. In more recent years, the Census Bureau determines how much is needed by families of different sizes.

In 2007, for example, the cutoff for a family of three was $17,170. By last year it had risen to $17,600; it now stands at $18,310.

Mississippi tops the list with 21.2 percent of its population considered living in poverty.

Percent of individuals living below the poverty level in selected communities:
Community
2007
2008
Arizona
14.2%
14.7%
Chandler
5.2%
8.6%
Gilbert
5.4%
3.6%
Mesa
10.2%
11.7%
Surprise
10.0%
6.9%
Tempe
19.8%
17.8%
Tucson
18.4%
20.9%
Yuma
14.5%
21.2%
Cochise County
15.5%
14.9%
Coconino County
16.1%
16.4%
Percentage of families receiving food stamps in past 12 months:
Community
2007
2008
Arizona
6.9%
8.2%
Chandler
2.4%
4.6%
Gilbert
1.3%
3.4%
Mesa
4.3%
5.2%
Surprise
2.4%
5.2%
Tempe
6.4%
4.8%
Tucson
10.6%
12.2%
Yuma
9.7%
17.0%
Cochise County
9.3%
11.8%
Coconino County
5.7%
8.2%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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