Katrina and the Least Among Us

A ten year restrospective- Part 1

by Fred Kammer, S.J. 

Katrina’s tenth anniversary (August 29th) brings many important stories about levees, wetlands, demography, entrepreneurs, venture capital, corruption convictions, and resiliency.  JSRI’s interests and Gospel focus on the “least among us” cause us to examine in this issue what happened—or not—in terms of poverty, housing availability, and criminal justice.  Next month we focus on public schools, health care, and new immigrants.  The picture, like much of the past ten years, is a blend of good and bad, success and failure.

Poverty and Jobs.  In brief, the income gap has widened, and New Orleans ranks second in income inequality among 300 U.S. cities.[1]  Poverty is entrenched, and the percent of children living in poverty in New Orleans, 38% in 2005, has risen to 39%.[2]  The racial income divide continues growing: white median household income in metro New Orleans, on a par with households nationwide, grew by 22% between 2005 and 2013 to $60,553.  That was three times the 7% growth rate of black median households (to $25,102).[3]  The disparity in 2013 incomes between white and black households was 54%, compared to 40% nationally.[4]  This worsened despite $71 billion dollars received by the State of Louisiana for rebuilding.  Closely tied was the fact that employment rates for white men in metro New Orleans was 77%, compared with 57% for black men.


Banner Photo: Shutterstock 


An Introduction to Poverty and Measures of Poverty

By Fred Kammer, SJ

Poverty is one of the three focus areas for the work of JSRI. In their 1986 book-length pastoral letter Economic Justice for All the US Bishops reminded us of the importance of confronting poverty in these words: "Dealing with poverty is not a luxury to which our nation can attend when it finds the time and resources. Rather, it is a moral imperative of the highest priority."

But what does it mean to speak of poverty in the United States? Drawing on the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, the bishops explained it this way, “By poverty, we are referring here to the lack of sufficient material resources required for a decent life.”  Then, in the next sentence, they acknowledge the complexity of the question, “We use the government’s definition of poverty, although we recognize its limits.” And a footnote introduces elements of the national debate about what we call “the poverty line.” [Continue on to MORE about measuring poverty and poverty in the Gulf South.]


Overtaxing the Poor and Blaming Oil in the Gulf South-- Bustamante

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Homelessness, Housing Shortages, Funding Cuts, and Misplaced Priorities-- Kammer

Oil Prices or Tax Structures: What does the price of oil have to do with cuts to higher education and healthcare?-- Bustamante 

Louisiana's $1 Billion Giveaway: giveaways cost the U.S. taxpayers $50 billion a year-- Kammer

Another Misleading Proposal: U.S. House Budget Committee Opportunity Proposal -- Kammer

Refusing To Expand Medicaid: Political Decisions with Deadly Consequences -- Kammer

The KIDS COUNT Gulf South: Children in the region continue not to count much! --Kammer

Raise the Minimum Wage! It's a Matter of Justice-- Kammer

The Affordable Care Act- Who, Why, and What?-- Kammer

The Relentless Assault on America's Hungry-- Kammer 

Labor Day justice: What's the real cost of your cheap, fast food? --Kammer

Where are the Jobs? Continuing Unemployment and Worse-- Kammer

Taxing the Poor: The Regressive Nature of State-Local Tax Systems--Kammer

The Tax Deal... and More Coming Horrors--Kammer

Fiscal Cliff, Fiscal Slope, or the Common Good: The U.S. Debt and Deficit Crisis, Lame Ducks, and a New Responsibility--Kammer

Catholic Social Thought and Global Financial Systems--Kammer

21 Million Americans Kept Out of Poverty: Social Security critical to income of millions--Kammer

Catholic Social Thought and the Common Good--Kammer

Fairy-Tale or Worse? The Ryan-Romney Budget Plan and Catholic Moral Criteria--Kammer

Health Care Reform for Some: Governors play politics with health of low-income citizens -- Kammer

Does Relative Mobility "Cure" Inequality?--Kammer

Catholic Social Thought and Distributive Justice--Kammer

Growing Economic Inequality Matters!: Why People of Faith Should Be Concerned--Kammer

The Common Good and Election 2012: It’s not about my business, my taxes, or my family -- Kammer

The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich

Catholicism and Capitalism -- Kammer

No Relief in Sight: Persistent High Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos in Gulf South States -- Mikulich

 View all Poverty articles »

Related links

Banner Image: Brenda Ann Keneally/AmericanPoverty.org