SCDSS-TANF and SNAP Programs

Hi guys!

My mom brought me home an article from the SC Department of Social Services that gives information about the TANF and SNAP programs.  I thought it was interesting how it highlighted the strictness of South Carolina's time limits and its low assistance checks.  It also touches on the work requirements we read about in Deparle.  Thought some of y'all might be interested!

Which Way Home

Hi guys--hope y'all are having great breaks!

As I was watching the Oscars last night, this nominee for best documentary caught my eye, as it pertains to what we were just talking about last week.  Its called "Which Way Home" and deals with children riding freight trains through Mexico to gain entry into the US, where many of their parents have been living and working for many years.

child slavery in haiti

this is a heartbreaking video on the children of Haiti. It has a lot of information on before and after the earthquake.

The Price of Sugar

Has anyone seen this movie? I have not seen it but I've heard that it gives a difficult, but important perspective on one of the many facets of poverty in Haiti. I know we weren't supposed to add new finds, but I thought I would post the trailer and gauge interest.

Nobody wants your old shoes

"Nobody wants your old shoes: How not to help in Haiti" was the first article I read.  It was a bad one to start out with.

This article while helpful in telling what type of aid is beneficial and not right now at Haiti, carried an angsty tone that I don't think would leave too many readers wondering, "what more can I do to help?"  Because of the harsh tone in this blog post I was also very surprised to see it was actually written by a global health professional.  He was quick to say that money is the only thing we can contribute as long as we're not trained specifically in healthcare.  He also says choose wisely where to contribute your money.  But he leaves it at that and does not go on to recommend any worthy organizations and how they are planning to utilize those funds.  Only in the many other articles from the Economist and New York Times about the influx of aid, can you gain a better understanding of how you're contributions would alleviate the current suffering.

Haitian Children

I thought this was an interesting article about Haitian children after the earthquake.

An "unnatural disaster"

I found Paul Farmer's comments on Haiti from 2008 are extremely poignant in light of the recent disaster. I thought his comments on the "unnatural disaster" were extremely relevant regarding the statements that we made in class regarding whether or not this earthquake could be considered a "natural disaster" or whether it was something else. 

What I find most fascinating is that Paul Farmer was making these comments last year, and has been for years with his work in Haiti. We debated about this disaster, but for Haiti, every instance of severe weather that devastates their country in unexpected ways is an unnatural disaster. It just brings to light the fact that their poor defenses for such circumstances are not anything recent, but a fact that many have recognized in Haiti for years. 

This just makes me think about the enormous possibilities for improvement in Haiti that are possible out of this disaster. If Americans and the rest of the world are now listening to those who have been passionate about Haiti's needs for years, perhaps we can finally start to help a country stabilize and prevent these unnatural disasters from occurring. 

Temporary Protective Status to Haitians and other comments

Soon after the earthquake, the Obama administration announced that undocumented Haitians in the US would receive temporary protective status. This means the immigrants can live and work freely in the US for eighteen months. This created a firestorm of debate. One critic, Representative Steve King, said that Haitians, if deported, would be great assets as relief workers in Haiti. In opposition, these workers earning a sufficient wage in the US and sending it back to Haiti would likely be much more beneficial in a rebuilding process. Critics, like Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration studies (which should really be named the Center for Anti-immigration Studies), also say the TPS often ends us being not so temporary .

An interesting condition of TPS is that you must pay a fee to register , which ranges from $50-470 depending on the age of the individual (you can apply for a fee waiver). Here is an interesting article about a legal center set up in Brooklyn to help immigrants with the registration process: For Haitians in NY, Applying for Protected Status Encouraging – but Expensive . Here is another article about scammers taking advantage of the temporary status: Scammers Prey on Haitians .

How great of an impact does this process have on people attaining the temporary status. Where will Haitians be better able to aid the situation? Is temporary protective status a good policy? 

Response to Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson makes himself sound so ignorant in this AP clip. I can understand the theological perspective he is trying to use to explain why this happened to Haiti, but his argument lacks objectivity in that he does not look at institutional influences, such as trade, civil war, etc. To top it off he makes the ignorant remark comparing the Dominican and Haiti and describes the Dominican as a place far removed from the conditions of Haiti. 

First of all, it was not the WHOLE country of Haiti that was destroyed, it was one city and some of it's outer suburbs.

Secondly, the Dominican Republic is also an impoverished area and for Robertson to say that the Dominicans owe their prosperity to ignoring interaction with the Devil, is to undermine their impoverished situation.

Lastly, as I noted before, Robertson was correct in his comparison of the two countries because the Dominican is doing better economically than Haiti, but as far as it being because of religious reasons, is the issue I would confront him about. It is fine if you think that has some influence, but there are other things you need to take into consideration as well!

Here is an article I found to be a little more objective:

Comparing the 2 Countries: Haiti vs. Dominican Republic

Bill Clinton?!

So after all of this talk about postcolonialism and Globalization theories, why is there even a consideration to put yet another foreign leader to "guide" Haiti relief efforts?

I mean, I have nothing against Bill Clinton or anyone else for that matter coming in but why is there not a committee of people put together for this job? Many of the articles speak about pooling resources and the problem of having foreign powers run the programs. While it can be more efficient and can possibly steer the funds correctly, it may not necessarily get to where they would be needed the most.

What about the smaller villages on the outskirts of Port au Prince or even in the rural places that never did have running water or even a hospital but are being overrun by city people trying to escape the image of the dying or injured?  How are they getting aid to deal with the changes in their areas? This is why I would advocate what Robert Zoellick, the World Bank group president is advising: 

  • Why not start by getting the international aid organizations to cancel debts incurred by Haiti so that it can take the funds that it would have used to pay them back to rebuild the country? 
  • Yes there is not really a government there anymore because a few ministers were lost, but why should we allow outsiders to make all of the decisions? This clearly did not work in the past: from Haiti's forced independence from France, embargoes from the US on sugar (its cash crop)  as a result, the US coming in again after the coup during Aristide's regime and trying to reinstall him to a people who no longer trusted his judgement or his consideration for them as a people.  

I think that the solution to Haiti's growth *not back to its normal state before the earthquake but dare we say to its hay days as the richest colony* (without the colonizers of course), is to have a select few on a committee of foreigners from the UN, World Bank, relief organizations like the Red Cross but also people from Haiti. What is they hired the Haitians who worked with these relief organizations to be on this team? That way, it would be much easier to understand the Haitian culture, see what is needed where, and at the same time, get the funds allocated fairly and legally. 

Some might argue that there is the problem of going back to Papa Doc and Baby Doc regimes of the little bourgeoisie controlling the resources but I think that over time, we add more and more committees, keep the impartial leaders around to help make certain decisions and ensure that the people are catered to. It will take time,yes, but it will be worth it in the end. The first step is to begin replanting trees to create stronger soil, rebuild housing and other infrastructure to acknowledge safety codes, get drinking water, award land to the citizens and teach them to be self sufficient in farming methods (while giving them a subsidy that will help them until they start to yield crops). 

It might sound utopic, but how was Indonesia rebuilt so easily in such a short space of time? There was a central committee working on the different aspects with moneys allocated from the relief efforts. 


Ever since the earth quake in Haiti happened and all of these fund raisers and hot lines came about ive wondered how do we really know that 100 percent of our money is going to the relief fund and not being pocketed by the person who started it? I looked up some articles on this and found several, one couple in Rhode Island started a "relief fund" for Haiti, made 2,000 $ and was caught by the authorities for not giving a dime of that money to any one or any thing associated with Haiti. I have also heard of some suspect celebrities throwing parties and doing charitable events for Haiti, and i would bet that all of the money received at these events does not go towards Haiti either

How can we help?

After reading the article "Nobody wants your old shoes: How not to help in Haiti," I was left feeling discouraged and disappointed. The author makes some very valid points about the most effective way to help channel aid for disasters, but I feel like those who want to help are left with nothing to do. The author was extremely negative and pessimistic, saying not to donate clothes or medicine because we don't know what is needed. The author also says not to fly to Haiti, because you will only become an extra burden on the aid-workers. He basically says that all we can do is donate money. I understand that money is crucial in Haiti right now, but just throwing money at a problem will not always fix things! In my seminar (Origins of Global Poverty) last semester, we discussed how foreign aid can be the most effective. Funneling massive amounts of money into big organizations doesn't always solve the problems because there is no accountability or native people running the programs (who would actually know what is needed). Rather than just smoothing out the surface of what's going on in Haiti, aid workers need to take a serious look at how Haiti came to be the way it is today. The roots of poverty need to be examined and addressed. Rather than trying to fix everything at once, individual problems need to be looked at (although still in a interdisciplinary way). I also don't know if I completely buy into this blogger's argument that no other form of donations are helpful. Surely organizations could use some more trained workers. Even if a few Americans can go down *with an organization* and help rebuild, or go down to witness the atrocities themselves, they can return to the U.S. with ideas of how to keep this tragedy from repeating itself. Maybe a combined approach would work. Am I crazy, or what do you guys think? 


I just googled Haiti Earthquake...

I just thought it was interesting that when I googled Haiti Earthquake 2010, the main hits were not really about earthquake victims. Of the top 10 hits, 7 of them discussed celebrity involvement in raising funds for the victims, including Brad Pitt, Angleina Jolie, and Jennifer Aniston. Two hits detailed super bowl players of Haitian descent and the emotional hit they have taken. While it is worth acknowledging their loss, I do not think it is more emotional than those actually on the ground, without food, water, etc. My dad is down there now and they are performing amputations with Advil and Tylenol. I think that is pretty telling of what is going on rather than those who are playing in the Superbowl and have Haitian descent. I find this extremely frustrating. Before the earthquake, I would venture to guess that no one even knew that Jonathan Vilma and Pierre Garcon were even Haitian. Haiti is slowly becoming more and more popular among charities even though no one seemed to care about it prior to the earthquake. 

Where to Donate...?

Many people have pointed fingers since the earthquake in Haiti arguing how to best help the country. Some have sent millions of dollars, convoys of supplies, troops to maintain order. Some propose canceling Haiti's international debt. Others ague that is like sending old shoes and these individuals propose an approach I think many would agree with. Shipler makes sure to point out that we as readers understand that no single variable makes you poor and that it is systematic failures that prevent mobility. Like poverty, I think Haiti should have aid that really benefits the country as a whole and not a targeted group.

One important aspect to helping Haiti I think is to not find the best solution and instead of being critical of aid that is pouring in, to find a solution that is  better than those in the past. 

Another key to better helping Haiti is understanding the country. The Haiti Action Committee is a movement that provides many great tools for understanding a part of the history of the country and the many campaigns to alleviate poverty. This group is not a movement that sprang up post-disaster. They have called attention to Haiti long before and I think this disaster is finding them an audience. Please check it out if you do nothing else: Haiti Solidarity.