Friday, May 28, 2010

A found poem about women and poverty

The new British government has put out a State of the Nation Report: Poverty, Worklessness and Welfare Dependency in the UK. Their statistics are not very different from ours. While it's a bit better than similar reports from our own governments, because it recognises the complexity of 'multiple disadvantage', it still fails completely to display any real understanding of what it's reporting on. Three things stand out.

First, there has been a massive rise in inequality and poverty over the last few decades. The bottom third of people on the wealth distribution range own just 3% of the wealth.

Secondly, as usual, there is a complete absence of any discussion about changes in the UK labour market and in the global economy over the last 30 years. All the emphasis is on 'people not working' and the enormous cost of keeping them and their children alive (though certainly not healthy and well) in the absence of work. One particularly nasty graph compares the cost of 'working-age benefits' to the amounts spent on schools, defence, justice, climate change...

Thirdly, it is clearly women and children who bear the brunt of poverty and "disadvantage". Here's a 'found poem' I put together, drawn from the report.

One in ten married parents and
one in three parents cohabiting at birth
separate before the child is five years old
Women are 40% more likely
to enter poverty if they divorce

Most at risk of multiple disadvantage:
lone parents, a young mother, a black mother
working-age women without dependent children
manual, sick and disabled, never married
aged 80 years and over, living alone

At the heart of this fight
against poverty must be work
I will work to deliver
radical reforms to the welfare system

The material used in this
publication is constituted from
50% post consumer waste
and 50% virgin fibre

[Corss-posted to The Hand Mirror]

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