Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Wednesday
    May292013

    ICYMI: Bachmann is bowing out

    Sad news to tell you about today: Michele Bachmann has decided against running for reelection in 2014.

    As you can probably imagine, I am really devastated to see her go. I'm going to miss the woman who thinks that our founding fathers fought tirelessly to end slavery. Perhaps later I'll shed a tear. Though if you ask the ladies over at Smart Girl Politics, they seem to think that perhaps she's leaving so that she can focus on a U.S. Senate bid. Never mind that she - Bachmann - is currently under investigation. I think that they - SGP - are adorable. Adorable and delusional.

    Anyway, she's out. It's been real. Bye, girl. BYE.

    *image via Gawker
    Wednesday
    May222013

    Can We Talk About The IRS?

    I have been riveted by this IRS ‘scandal’. Like, to the point where I’ve watched three hearings featuring the same cast of characters who pretty much knew nothing about anything ever. Today I watched a five hour House Government Oversight Committee hearing chaired by Darrell Issa who has made it his mission to prove that this administration is up to something and one day he will be the one to uncover the truth about Obama’s secret Muslim past.

     

    I jest about this because in my little policy obsessed world this has been must see TV. Every time that poor Steven Miller guy is sworn in he looks as if this is the last place he wants to be. Here you can see for yourself. He's the one on the right.

     

    Right? He looks like he’s ready to throw his head back and yell out FML. But he doesn’t. He just repeats that he didn’t know and he’s sorry and half of the stuff that occurred didn’t even happen on his watch.

     

    Then on top of the people at the IRS and Treasury who neither know nothing nor speak to one another you have White House spokesman Jay Carney announcing that senior White House officials knew that the IRS had been targeting conservative organizations filing for 501(c)(4) status but they kept it from the president. And back on Capitol Hill the woman in charge of the office that determines tax exempt status is all, “I’m not saying anything” to which Darrell Issa replied, “Bye, Girl. BYE.”

     

    So, I’ve been watching and following all of this for like a week and I can say that what the IRS did (lying) and what they’re currently not doing (talking) and the subsequent disdain towards the agency has done more for bipartisanship in Washington than anything else. Well done, Internal Revenue Service! But really, NO ONE likes the IRS. My aunt once worked there and I was all, “Look, I love you but you’re evil” and she was OK with that. The thing is that the IRS isn’t doing anything to help its cause or its reputation. Now people just dislike them even more!

     

    Also - and I’m rather manic while writing this because it’s all so baffling - if anyone of us as American taxpayers were to respond to an IRS inquiry with a “Let me get back to you” or “I don’t recall” or a half-hearted “Ehhhh...maybe. I’ll need to consult with these 19 other people” we’d be up to our asses in fines, fees and a complimentary audit. And yet the IRS thinks that because it’s the IRS that they need not provide answers or know anything.

     

    Next April when they come for my taxes I’m going to respond to every line in my 1040 with a WE’LL SEE. LET ME THINK ABOUT IT.  And when they audit me, I’m just going to shrug. That’ll show ‘em.

    Monday
    Apr292013

    Could You Live Below the Line?

    In education we often speak of outside factors that can contribute  to or hinder a child’s ability to learn. For example a child who is unable to see the chalkboard but their parents cannot afford to bring that child to the eye doctor. So, the child sits in the class and suffers. Then there is the child who fears the walk to school because of whatever violence surrounding their neighborhood.  And then there is poverty. Poverty which is the root of the above. It’s poverty that causes a child to come to school hungry each day and yet that child is still expected to learn and perform. I’ve heard plenty of stories of children who hoard food come Thursday knowing that it will have to last until Monday morning. School is too often the one place for a child to receive proper nutrition.

     

    But poverty isn’t sexy. No one ever wants to talk about it. It's something that happens 'over there' not here. Unfortunately it happens everywhere. Hunger happens everywhere. 

      

    This is why I’ve teamed up with The Mission List and World Food Program USA to participate in the  Live Below the Line challenge. I bet I know what you’re thinking because I had the same thoughts starting with 'will this really do anything about the problem of poverty?' No. My eating on $1.50 a day will not eradicate poverty but the idea is that if  those of us fortunate enough not to live below the poverty line chipped in just a little then a dent can be made. Attention will be brought to the problem. That attention will (hopefully) get people talking and we - as a global society - can continue to make those dents until children don't have to go to school hungry. 

     

    That last part is my goal. It seems so basic to not have children starving while attempting to learn and yet very little is ever done about it. Budgets are cut, the funding for services aren’t there and I’m not even talking on a global level, I’m talking about kids 150 miles east of my current location in Upstate NY who are starving. I’m doing this because I want to bring attention to this problem and if it means living on yogurt and ramen all week then I’m up for the challenge.

     

     

    What I've been eating

     

    Why $1.50 per day:

     

    The challenge is set at $1.50 a day, because this is the current equivalent of the accepted global figure used to define extreme poverty. This was set by the World bank as US$1.25 per day in 2005. Basically, if you live on less than that every day, you’re recognized internationally as living in extreme poverty. Want the full detail? Check it out below.

     

     

    "It's not that bad," you might say - "$1.50 goes a lot further in developing countries". Unfortunately not. The $1.50 figure represents the amount someone living in extreme poverty in the U.S. would have to live on.

     

    And for people who live in extreme poverty that $1.50 has to cover far more than food and drink - we're talking everything - health, housing, transport, food, education... It's impossible to imagine, but that’s the reality for an incredible number of people.

     

    Gandhi said that "Poverty is the worst form of violence" - and we agree. We all feel and see the injustice of extreme poverty, whether it be directly in our neighborhoods or in countries far away, Live Below the Line is here to provide a platform that helps you do something about it.

    Check out how the calculation works in detail on our blog.

     

    The challenge?

     

    Spend 5 days feeding yourself with $1.50 a day - the U.S. equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

     

    The reason?

     

    To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make $1.50 cover a lot more than food…

    Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, an education and campaigning organization whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty.

    The Global Poverty Project educates and motivates citizens to become effectively engaged in the movement to end extreme poverty, and is best known for its world-class multimedia presentation 1.4 Billion Reasons. This feature presentation has been seen by over 100,000 people since 2009 and is delivered in schools, businesses and communities around the globe.

    We're passionate about equipping people to make a real difference in fighting poverty, and so we focus on connecting people up to the organizations and issues that have the biggest impact. We run Live Below the Line because we think that to really fight poverty, we've got to try to understand it – and the challenge provides a glimpse of what it is like to live on $1.50/day – a challenge that is faced by 1.4 billion people in our world today.

    We've teamed up with some of the best U.S. charities that fight extreme poverty around the world and have provided you with the opportunity to support their work through personal sponsorship as you undertake Live Below the Line.

    In 2013, Live Below the Line is running in the U.S., UK, and Australia simultaneously, with more than 20,000 people spending 5 days living below the line.To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make $1.50 cover a lot more than food...

    ***

    Let’s be honest I’m not experiencing true poverty. This morning when I thought I screwed up making rice I knew that I had pasta to fall back on. I have a car and new shoes to break in and a trip to California later this week. The irony of doing this challenge and preparing for a stay at the Ritz Carlton is not lost on me. It might seem like an insult to those who are living in poverty day to day for whom there is no luxury. For them this isn't a challenge that will end on Friday when they can gorge on overpriced sushi and a bottle of prosecco. I'm somewhat ashamed and yet it forces me to find out what more can be done. Does that make sense?  Even in the past 36 hours I have felt more aware of my great fortune and of my choices when it comes to food and what I am willing to commit to just so I can do my part.

     

    So, will you join me? Will you see what this is about? And if you’re so inclined you can even donate. No pressure. Just be aware and bring attention. Can you do that?

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