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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Questions/Comments for Jim Ziliak

In preparation for our class with Jim Ziliak at the Wild Fig Bookstore, please post here your paragraph-long responses to each of the two assigned articles by noon on Wednesday.

13 comments:

  1. In your article on rural poverty you point to a diversified economy as a tool to fight back against poverty. I am from Southern West Virginia, a region with a long history of poverty that many people blame on coal companies. While I agree that diversifying the economy is an important step towards stability, I don't believe that the people in poor, rural areas will be particularly welcoming to such efforts. How might we overcome resistance to the introduction of new businesses in such areas?

    SNAP seems to be an effective program in terms of reducing food security and helping families get out of deep poverty. I have two questions about SNAP. How is SNAP different from an EBT program? What are other programs that could be implemented to benefit multigenerational families in particular?

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  2. I noticed that, in both articles, you mention that female-headed families, particularly those headed by single mothers, tend to have lower income, a subtle reminder of the wage gap. Your research suggests that these poorer families are more likely to participate in SNAP, thus reducing food insecurity. I wonder if the level of education the head of the household has also influences these families' incomes, or if the wage gap is so wide/other factors outweigh education levels so that human capital does not make a significant difference? If education level does have an impact on single-mother families, how might these mothers and their families benefit from investment in education?

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  3. What role do personal narratives play in conversations like this? I am thinking mostly of Hollow, the interactive documentary about McDowell County, West Virginia. These are important discussion to have, but I know I always take away more when there is something like that to connect with. Hollow lacks the number of concrete graphs along with the analysis that your articles provide- is there a way to combine these two strategies, or does it ultimately come down to intended audience? What is the most effective way to have these conversations?

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    1. Ha! One of my questions asked about stories--because I, too, find it easier to connect to stories than to information presented abstractly.

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  4. i have never heard of SNAP before but am very glad it is a thing.my question is does it work with the EBT program or is it a separate things that you have to chose one or the other? will it also be affected by politicians efforts to restrict food that people are able to buy with EBT?

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  5. The area code Transylvania resides in, 40508, has the highest poverty concentration in the city, which is currently being gentrified and also considered as a food desert. What role does the SNAP program have in helping ares which are dense of poverty and in a food desert? Have there been any studies about this specific area in Lexington at all?

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  6. “Research suggests that this post- 1970 experience is due to a host of factors, the most prominent of which include the slowdown of economic growth, rising inequality (including declining inflation-adjusted wages among less- skilled workers), and the rise in female-headed families.” (Rural Poverty 5) Why is a female-headed family a factor? Does this stem from an absent male adult contributor or something else entirely? The article also says, “Our research points to the key role that education plays both contemporaneously and historically in the development of these poor counties” (Rural Poverty 7) If education has proven to be such a huge factor why is it so difficult to gain support to improve the education system across the board?

    “SNAP is operating to combat hunger and poverty during periods of economic hardship as Congress intended when it initially passed the Food Stamp Act in 1964, and with each subsequent reauthorization,” (SNAP 13). I see the benefit of these programs but I’ve sometimes heard of people taking advantage of programs like SNAP, which only furthers the problem rather than solving it. How do the organizations in charge of these programs ensure that they are not being abused?

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  7. “Testimony”
    What is the social safety net and why did the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) replace the Foot Stamp Program? How do other countries deal with populations experiencing food insecurity? I am especially interested in the Scandinavian countries because I always hear how their social programs are so much better than ours.
    “Rural Poverty Before and After the War”
    In this piece Ziliak brings up “place-based policies” as another factor, besides investment in education, that can help lift up people out of persistent poverty (9). The place-based policies suggested are “infrastructure projects, business subsidies, and even public-works jobs” (9), which are intended to keep people from leaving the area, to encourage college-graduates to return, to boost up education, and to improve economic opportunities. My question is about how all of this works in practice. What are places in the country where place-based policies have been successful? Are there stories to share?

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  8. In both studies regarding collection of poverty and SNAP data I'm interested in learning about how the information is gathered. Not that it is possible to have perfect data collection, I just wonder if numbers include undocumented peoples, and those experiencing homelessness? Also I wonder how many people still live in economically difficult situations, but just barely miss the cut off for SNAP?

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  9. I just wanted to make a comment on the stigma against poverty and the myth many people believe that impoverished people can just "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" and eventually solve problems on their own if they just work hard enough. How can we open up the discussion to people of all walks of life to try to end this problematic thinking? What experiences have you had while doing your research that relates to this problem?

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Jared AutonMarch 8, 2017 at 12:00 PM
    In the “Rural Poverty Before and After the War” selection, Ziliak notes, “… investments in education, coupled with economic development programs that aim to diversify the economic base around nearby urban centers, may offer a path out of persistent poverty.” As a progressive Appalachian, this quotation speaks to me. Coal is a monolith, and as Transylvania anthropologist Dr. Chris Begley often asserts, a ready source of human capital is the consisent economic factor in Appalachian history, meaning that large sums of working class people were kept in store (i.e. kept in-and-out of employment) in order to serve the coal industry above all else. Diversification of the Appalacian economy has been met with disdain by coal companies and the politicians that support them because if Appalachians were finding solid, consistent work in other industries, coal would lose out. We can look to two thriving cities, Pikeville and Whitesburg, amidst an otherwise dying contemporary Appalachia to see that economic diversification (as well as investments in education, a la University of Pikeville) is a step in the right direction for Appalachia to escape a long cycle of (intentional) impoverishment. But how can communities obtain such economic opportunities when facing fossil fuel corporations, whose clout is essentially infinite?

    With regard to the Congressional testimony, there is a good deal of talk (as always) by a Republican-dominated administration about getting families out of the welfare state. And while in theory it would be wonderful for every family and/or individual to be able to adequately provide for themselves, there is a risk of forcing families who need assistance off of government-sponsored aid in order to “encourage” them to work. Are there current threats to the SNAP program that are disguised as “pro-worker” policies but in actuality would hurt Americans who need assistance with obtaining food?

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  12. For me, the most intriguing fact of these articles was the mode by which the poverty line was first set and its failure to adjust to modern needs. The fact that the poverty estimate still lies at 3x the price of a basic diet despite the fact that on average food costs amount to 1/7 of a family's expenses, not 1/3. This enforces an interesting point about the way that arbitrary or misguided policy decisions do indeed have real impact on actual citizens' lives, as seen in the piece on SNAP benefits. If our policymakers are this out of touch with the public that such an important, easily researched ratio can be so greatly miscalculated, what does this say about the people in power and their attitude toward fellow citizens on the other side of the spectrum? By using massively outdated data, what may seem like a mathematical misstep can end up having drastic effects (hunger, inadequate benefits, impossibility of escaping poverty, and society-wide suffering).

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