Is Poverty a Kind of Robbery?
Via The NY Times
In her presentation on Sept. 7 at a symposium on inequality at Yale, Alice Goffman, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, talked about the winter of 2011-2012, which she spent living in Detroit among the very poor. Goffman described some of the effects of extreme poverty by quoting the words of a Detroit resident to whom she gave the pseudonym “Marqueta”:
Your fingers get slow, you know, your whole body slows down. You can’t really do much, you try to put a good face on for the kids, but when they leave you just keep still, keep the covers around you. Almost like you kind of fold into the floor. Like you’re just waiting it out. You don’t really think about too much.… November your stomach is crying at you but by December you know, you start to just shut down…. Around 3 you get up for the kids. Put the space heaters, so they come home and it’s warm in here./blockquote>
There are further manifestations of the suffering on the east side of Detroit, according to Goffman:
The cold, hunger, and the depression that accompanies them both, makes for a certain moral relativism. Lots of people have written about what people become willing to do under conditions of uncertainty and extreme duress. Sailors who are lost at sea, or people in war. By the end of Detroit’s winter people become willing to do to things that they would not have considered in the more plentiful months. Like stealing, or selling their bodies.
[Full article here]