August 2008

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Race, Poverty & Obama

The average nett worth of white American families is US$70,000 compared to US$6,000 for African Americans, who are twice as likely to be unemployed. One in three African American males will go to prison during their life times, while this is likely to occur to only one in 17 white males. Leading African Americans, including Danny Glover, talk about what an Obama presidency could mean for race and poverty in America.

Bolivia: Can the Majority of People Vote for Change and Actually Get It?

Picture: miss mass Mark Weisbrot - Evo Morales changed the history of Bolivia when he was elected in December 2005 as the country's first indigenous president, and the first to get a majority of 54 percent. On August 10, he expanded his mandate considerably in a referendum, with 67 percent of voters opting to keep him in office. The conventional wisdom in Washington -- where the foreign policy establishment is decidedly not sympathetic to Morales' populist agenda -- has been that the referendum would settle nothing. Bolivia...

The Right to Social Security

Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: "Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality." This clip produced by Youth for Human Rights explains the right to social...

A New Twist to the South African Migration Debate

Picture: Sharon Schneider Aurelia Wa Kabwe Segatti - The May 2008 attacks and the responses they have triggered from both Government and South African civil society could well transform the migration debate much more profoundly than first meets the eye.  The South African situation combines an extreme degree of violence (62 deaths for the May events only) with classic migration management “mistakes” observed elsewhere in the world, i.e. a laissez-faire attitude, denial of the gravity, tragic events then forcing Government to...

Khayelitsha: Living with HIV

Members of an HIV support group in Khayelitsha talk about the challenges and successes of living with HIV. Members argue that "the stigma of AIDS" is still a huge problem that must be overcome. Highlighting the tragic circumstances of poverty, members report that some people deliberately drop their CD4 count to become eligible for the state's disability grant, valued at R940 per month (about US$120). See part two of the report here.

Seizing the Policy Moment: Making Social Security Work

Picture: khalilshah/Fickr Isobel Frye - South Africa has arguably one of the most extensive social security systems amongst developing countries. Currently just over 12 million people receive some form of social assistance grant, and in addition we have a number of social insurance schemes, including the Unemployment Insurance Fund and private pension and provident funds which together form a social security system. The main historical objective of social security is to secure people against vulnerability which arises as a...