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On this page, I provide information about current and emerging issues, and ask for your input through online surveys. The results of previous surveys are also available.

Over the next two months, I would like to engage as many of you as possible in a community dialogue on poverty and racism. This will take place through this newsletter, in your responses to me and our ongoing individual discussions, and during upcoming Constituent Conversations at Dunn Brothers Coffee. Almost one-half of children attending Columbia Public Schools qualify for free or reduced lunch because they are food-insecure at home.

And poverty is directly connected with numerous other social ailments such as low educational attainment, low earning potential, a lack of health insurance, poor physical and mental health, and feelings of hopelessness - in a self-reinforcing, multi-generational vicious cycle that undermines the fabric of our entire community. What can we do to break this cycle?

These are vitally important issues for local government, as we strive to create an environment that supports a high quality of life for everyone in this community. In recent years, I have become aware of deeply entrenched inequality in our society, and entered a steep learning curve about these issues and ways to correct them. During the course of my next three newsletters, I plan to share my thoughts on poverty and racism, provide links to online resources that go much deeper, and ask for your feedback.

Here is my proposed schedule:. I am binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year an expert in social science - just a concerned member of society who happens to have the privilege of serving on City Council for a while - and so your input is critical. So, to get us started, please send me your thoughts on the following question before November As mentioned in my most recent newsletterI am facilitating a series of conversations, this month and next, on the difficult topics of poverty and racism.

This is the first part of that series. About one-quarter of all Columbia residents live below the federal poverty level and almost one-half of children attending Columbia Public Schools qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Two weeks ago, I kicked off the conversations by asking you the following question:. Before I offer my thoughts, I would like to give someone who lives in poverty the opportunity to speak.

Angela Whitman, a resident of Quail Drive, Columbia, attended the September 18, City Council meeting and waited patiently until after midnight for the opportunity to address us during "Open Comments" at the end of the meeting. Please spend the next few minutes listening to what she had to say:.

Angela lives in "one of the worst neighborhoods in Columbia, Missouri" where "the crime is real, the drugs is real, everything is wrong. I will return to the causes of poverty, shortly. I am pleased to report that the Department of Utilities immediately went out to Binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year Drive and replaced the street lights with brighter LED bulbs, improving safety for Angela and her neighbors.

And, as part of a "social equity" focus in our new Strategic Plan adopted inwe identified three neighborhoods of poverty and made adjustments to our budget priorities to improve City services and projects in those areas.

While these are still early days, the strategic focus on these neighborhoods seems to be working. Since earlythe Columbia Police Department has implemented a community-oriented policing pilot program in the three neighborhoods, meaning that specially-trained patrol officers have been given the time and resources to get to know and build trust with residents, business-owners, community leaders, and school-kids. Other strategic neighborhood activities include community barbecues, installation of basketball hoops, and prioritization of infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks and parks in these areas.

And the community engagement process that was used to identify these projects, has created opportunities for neighborhood leaders to be heard - these include Angela Whitman, who has been an energetic participant in the process even though Quail Drive lies outside these neighborhoods. My purpose in discussing the Strategic Plan is binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year to give the City a "pat on the back," but to encourage more of a focus on social equity as a strategy for addressing poverty.

We seem to have a system in which poor families become concentrated in specific areas with few resources, and it is not surprising that this system leads to a reinforcing cycle of crime, hopelessness, and more poverty.

We need to break this cycle and one strategy is to improve public services and infrastructure, exactly as Angela requested. This still leaves the question about the causes of poverty unanswered - and in some ways, it may be unanswerable. Referring back to your comments at the start of this newsletter, just about everyone agrees that these binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year ailments - poverty, low educational attainment, low earning potential, a lack binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year health insurance, poor physical and mental health, feelings of hopelessness, criminal behavior, arrest and incarceration, exclusion from social services, more poverty - form numerous, intersecting and self-reinforcing vicious cycles.

Once you slip into "the poverty trap," it's extremely hard to get out! The fact that these vicious cycles trap people in poverty may give us a clue about the causes of poverty. We have a socio-economic system that reinforces success - those of us with the privilege of being born into economic security and receiving a quality education then go into well-paid careers, have good health care, live in more expensive neighborhoods, develop social networks with other well-off individuals, adopt similar political persuasions, and support public policies that reward success.

At the same time, an opposite reinforcing spiral punishes failure - over and over again. Maybe this is what Nelson Mandela meant when he said "Poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the action of human beings. The idea that poverty is natural and cannot be eradicated stems from a belief that certain individuals possess innate flaws that make it impossible for them to contribute positively to society.

However, the vast majority of poor people are decent, hard-working, compassionate individuals with qualities and talents that could benefit us all. They endure unfortunate circumstances that are usually beyond their control, they don't have access to economic resources many of us take for granted, and they are doing the best they possibly can.

For example, people with physical or mental disabilities and the family members who care for them make up a large proportion of those living in poverty. The problem is not that people will not work - it's that they cannot workthey cannot find workor they cannot find work that pays enough to get binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year out of poverty.

Poverty is like a vortex or whirlpool that tends to suck people down, making it almost impossible to escape. Millions of Americans are living on the edge of poverty so that one unfortunate event - someone loses their job, suffers an illness or injury without having binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year insurance, becomes a victim of crime - is all it takes to cause them to slip into that vicious cycle.

The friends and family of poor people are other poor people, and so the economic gap widens. I believe poverty is man-made in the sense that our public policies, social networks, and cultural beliefs have created this vicious cycle, and tend to reinforce it. Schools in poor communities are poorly funded because binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year are lower, so those children are less well educated; when poor families suffer an economic hardship, there's no-one in their social binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year who can help them out, as there is for a well-off family; myths about "Welfare Queens" and "the lazy poor" tend to harden public opinion against efforts to address the problem.

Poverty is a structural problem, and we can solve it by changing some of these structural components of our society. The United States is consistently among the most generous nations in the world.

But, while charities work tremendously hard to relieve the suffering of poverty, many of their actions amount to giving hand-outs that help people get through another day or another year, but do nothing to change the structures that generate and perpetuate poverty.

In order to dismantle these structures and create an economic environment in which everyone can thrive, I believe we need systemic change, and that will require a national conversation and a deeper understanding of the ways public policy and social culture impact society.

This has been a long newsletter, so I will wrap up with a list of possible strategies and links to further resources:. According to Darin Preis, Executive Director of Central Missouri Community Action, this federally-funded early childhood education program is starting to demonstrate success in breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

Health Care for All: Every developed country in the world, except the United States, provides universal health care coverage to all of its citizens through some form of taxpayer-funded national insurance program. Not only do these systems fight poverty by ensuring everyone receives prevention and treatment services, but they also produce better outcomes and cost less! Residential zoning policy has divided the rich from the poor, and this division works relentlessly to concentrate poverty in certain neighborhoods.

However, research shows that, when poor kids move to middle-class neighborhoods, they perform better in school and have better economic outcomes. An experiment in the strategy of providing a living stipend to every citizen suggests it will increase entrepreneurship. In conclusion, I feel that there is no single cause of poverty. Instead, it emerges from a complex system that allows both success and failure, but then rewards success and punishes failure.

What are your thoughts? Next time, we will talk about race and racism. To get us started, please send me your responses to the following question:. In my November 19 newsletterI presented your thoughts about the causes of poverty, and responded by discussing some of my own. Poverty and other mutually-reinforcing social ailments appear to emerge from a complex social, economic, and cultural system that allows both success and failure, but then rewards success and punishes failure Binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year on my individual exchanges with many of you over the last two weeks, it seems we all tend to agree with this general conclusion.

Today, I want to dig deeper into poverty statistics, and you don't have to dig very far to notice that poverty and other negative social outcomes are much more prevalent for some groups than for others.

The City has responded to these alarming racial disparities as have many other institutions, organizations and communities by focusing on "diversity," "inclusion," and "equity. A little later in this newsletter, I will present a selection of your remarks and discuss diversity, inclusion, and equity in more depth. In while visiting Binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year for a conference, I spent a couple of spare hours in a museum.

While I cannot remember the name of the museum, I recall vividly an exhibit about "Race" that shattered a lot of assumptions I had lived with all my life.

Growing up in England, all of my relatives and most of my friends were White, Binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year. At high school and college, I met Indians, Pakistanis, and Chinese, whose families had moved to Britain within the previous generation or two. I was aware of "West Indians" from the Caribbean islands, but did not really know any members of this group, personally - I also remember noticing that these immigrants tended to perform more menial, poorly-paid jobs and be less well represented in further education than Asians.

Without ever giving the matter a lot of thought, I held on to the vague notion that "race" was a scientific system for classifying different groups of human beings that had evolved in different parts of the world. When I moved to the United States, I encountered Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans and saw a similar hierarchical system with people of different races occupying different stations in life.

I assumed that these disparate outcomes had something to do with biology or genetics, and that each group of people naturally gravitated to its own social and economic status, with a few notable exceptions. That afternoon in the Pittsburgh museum, I learned how wrong I was!

The exhibit included credible research reports demonstrating that there is no scientific basis for the classification of "races" that is so common in non-scientific circles. There is no gene or other characteristic that can be used to distinguish members of one race from those of another, or infer anything about the intellectual capacity, willingness to work hard, or morality of different races. Further, the exhibit provided compelling historical evidence that our concept of "race" is, in truth, a social, economic, and political construct designed by White Europeans to disproportionately channel advantages and opportunities to White people.

Starting years ago with the International Slave Trade and continuing to the present day, "race" has existed and flourished as a concept in the minds of human beings White, Black, and everyone else. Continually reinforced through cultural imagery and self-perpetuating prejudice, we fail to recognize that racial hierarchies were designed to justify exploitation and unequal access to power and wealth.

The very idea of "race" is nothing more than an excuse for using brute force to benefit the dominant group. Despite the fact that "race" is nothing binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year than a social construct, it has enormous consequences in the real world.

For example, your life trajectory is likely to be very different, depending on whether you were born "Black" or "White" in the United States of America. This means that the typical Black worker earns about 60 cents for every dollar earned by the typical White worker. Yes, the typical Black family has just 8 cents of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by the typical White family, and more than one in four Black households have zero or negative net worth versus fewer than one in ten White households.

And, while educational achievement correlates with higher income and wealth for Black families, it does nothing to narrow the racial gap. If the extent of racial wealth disparity is surprising to you, you're not alone. A Yale University research team asked people to estimate these disparities and concluded that "Americans, and binary option trading brought in $23million profit last year Whites in particular, vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between Blacks and Whites.

History, if we care to study it, teaches us that most of the wealth currently enjoyed by many White families was created as a result of specific federal government policies and private sector practices in the decades following the second World War - policies and procedures that simultaneously denied the same opportunity to Blacks and most other minority races.

The primary driver of discrimination was a federal housing policy that injected vast public subsidies into new housing for Whites, and real estate practices such as "red-lining," "racial exclusion covenants," and housing market propaganda that preyed on the fears of Whites - a general fear of the "otherness" of Blacks, augmented by the economic fear of their property losing value if neighborhoods became integrated. Federal transportation policy contributed to this process with a massive public spending program of its own the Interstate Highway System and discriminatory practices implemented primarily by local officials and communities.

As writer Tim Wise describes in this National League of Cities panel discussion 10' - 15'not only did the Interstates enable the new, White middle class to commute to jobs in the city and then drive back to their segregated suburbs, but decisions about where to build the highways were driven by racial and economic prejudice.

I had the opportunity this summer to visit the Rondo neighborhood of St.

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