Friday, September 30, 2011


Photo by John Carroll

New York Times
David Brooks
September 30, 2011

"Nobody is against empathy. Nonetheless, it’s insufficient. These days empathy has become a shortcut. It has become a way to experience delicious moral emotions without confronting the weaknesses in our nature that prevent us from actually acting upon them. It has become a way to experience the illusion of moral progress without having to do the nasty work of making moral judgments. In a culture that is inarticulate about moral categories and touchy about giving offense, teaching empathy is a safe way for schools and other institutions to seem virtuous without risking controversy or hurting anybody’s feelings."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poverty in Peoria

Photo by John Carroll

From the Peoria Journal Star, September 2011--

About 19,000 Peorians, or 18 percent of the city's population, live below the poverty line, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That includes about 11,000 blacks, or 38 percent of the city's black population, and nearly 1,500 Latinos, or about 25 percent.

Almost 24 percent of all children in the city live in poverty.

Here are some other statistics for the city:

- 27 percent of families received some type of public assistance last year.

- 21 percent of families with children are in poverty.

- 44 percent of unmarried women who live alone with children fall under the poverty line.

While the statistics are alarming, they also come with a high margin of error because of the sample size and the way the Census Bureau conducted its survey last year. However, the numbers still fall in line with national averages.

"Even with the margin of error, Peoria still has a high number of people who live in poverty. This year's data looks to be that one in five people in Peoria are living in poverty," said Amy Rynell, the director of Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center, a private Chicago-based think tank that studies social issues. "Not only is there is a large number of people living in poverty but there is a growing number of people who are living at half poverty rate."

Meg Newell, a spokeswoman for the South Side Mission, sees it every day.

"The human side, for us, that people who never thought that they would be in that position are now in that position. People who five years ago were supporting our food pantry, who were buying extra at the grocery store to donate, are now our customers," Newell said.

She points to the 10 percent increase in food baskets distributed by the mission this year. In 2011 so far, the mission has passed out 4,918 baskets, compared to the 4,433 baskets during the same time period in 2010.

The numbers come from the annual American Community Survey, which is the Census Bureau's effort to keep track of yearly trends by surveying only about 2 percent of the population and then extrapolating estimates from there.

As such, the bureau only provides detailed information for cities and counties with populations of more than 65,000, meaning areas like Woodford County, East Peoria or Pekin would not have any detailed information.

The numbers released Thursday also state the obvious: Those who have less education and poor work history tend to fall below the poverty line.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Long Defeat

I posted this and this on the Peoria Journal Star website.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jenny Still Survives


(Photo by John Carroll--September 5, 2011)

Jenny had heart surgery at OSF-SFMC in Peoria in 1999. At nineteen years of age she looked like a victim from Auschwitz before her heart surgery.

I have been treating her in Haiti for over a decade since her surgery in Peoria. Haitian Hearts has provided her with medication, echocardiograms, and money in Haiti.

Jenny needs more heart surgery, but OSF-SFMC won't take her back. I gave OSF-Children's Hospital of Illinois a check for $23,000 dollars before her surgery in 1999. (All the physicians did pro-bono work.)

Other medical centers believe she is OSF's medical and ethical responsibility. And she is.

Jenny has survived tropical storms, hurricanes, kidnappings, heart failure, a biblical earthquake (she was living in a car), and poverty.

However, I don't think she will survive the greed and power of our Catholic hospital in Peoria.

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