Poverty

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Oklahoma is among just 13 states that still levy a sales tax on groceries, but there appears to be some agreement on addressing that.

Lawmakers, policy analysts and the Oklahoma Municipal League expressed interest during an interim study in altering a state tax credit established in 1990 to help offset the cost of groceries for low-income families.

On this edition of ST, we welcome writer Connie Cronley back to our program. She's one of our regular commentators; her previous books include "Sometimes a Wheel Falls Off," "Light and Variable," "Poke a Stick at It," and "Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace." Cronley joins us to discuss her latest book, "A Life on Fire," which is a fascinating new biography of Kate Barnard (1875-1930).

The Peace Corps is now 60 years old. The U.S. Government-run volunteer program -- which from the start has provided international aid in the form of person-to-person social, economic, and educational development -- was established per Executive Order by JFK in 1961; later that year, Congress passed the Peace Corps Act. On this edition of ST, we speak with Randy W. Hobler about his book, "101 Arabian Tales: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya." This work documents Hobler's own experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Libya in the late 1960s.

(Note: This interview first aired back in October.) We welcome Sarah Smarsh back to StudioTulsa for a discussion of her latest book. It's a collection of essays that all focus on a certain country-music icon who also happens to be one of the most unifying figures in American culture: Dolly Parton. Smarsh talks with us about how Parton has, for decades now, both embodied and emboldened American women who live and work in poverty.

Despite the pandemic-triggered federal moratorium on residential evictions, evictions do still happen in certain cases here in the Tulsa area. Why? Our guest is Prof. Roni Amit, who's with the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic at the University of Tulsa College of Law. This clinic, per its website, "addresses access to justice for marginalized communities in Tulsa, with a particular focus on the intersection of legal needs within these communities.

A new report finds Oklahoma families are experiencing several pain points during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With lost wages, closed schools and lack of child care, the KIDS COUNT report based on Census Bureau data found 40% of Oklahoma adults with kids said they’re having trouble paying for usual household expenses. More than 30% worry about eviction or foreclosure in the coming months.

Nearly 20% are without health insurance, and 13% say they don’t always have enough to eat.

Our guest is the author and doctor Michael Stein, who's also a professor of health law, policy, and management at Boston University. He tells us about his new book, which presents the many various moving, sobering, genuine, and often heartbreaking accounts of his patients about money...and about having (or not having) enough money to simply get by in the U.S. today. "Broke" gives us the words and thoughts of those now facing the reality of having to choose between getting medical treatments or paying their bills. As was noted of this book by Dr.

On this edition of our show, we listen back to an interview from 2018 about a book called "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century." This book is the basis for a forthcoming feature-film starring Frances McDormand. Our guest is the author of the book, Jessica Bruder.

Tulsa SEED

The sudden shift to distance learning in the spring was especially difficult for Tulsa’s low-income families.

A team of researchers already following kids from age 3 through fourth grade decided to survey parents and teachers after the sudden shift to distance learning in the spring. Almost 60% of parents reported lost household income, and 46% said they lost a job or had hours cut.

On this edition of ST, we're talking about State Question 802, the Medicaid expansion initiative that Oklahoma voters will cast ballots for or against on Tuesday of next week. This measure, per ballotpedia.org, would "expand Medicaid in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. It would provide Medicaid coverage for certain low-income adults between 18 and 65 with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL).

When "America: What Went Wrong?" originally appeared in the early 1990s, the book got a lot of attention, and became a bestseller, because it documented, in a sound, thorough way, the causes behind the shrinking of the American middle class. Now, the authors of that groundbreaking book, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele -- "two of the most talented investigative journalists in U.S. history," per The San Jose Mercury News -- have put out an updated edition of their text. Mr. Steele is our guest on ST today.

The current pandemic has brought keen economic hardship, of course, to a vast number of individials and families within various levels of American society. Given that so many folks who rent a house or apartment in our community now require extra time to acquire their unemployment checks and/or federal benefits, the Tulsa City Council voted unanimously last night to ask Gov. Stitt for a statewide moratorium on evictions. In addition to this, Tulsa County has historically had one of the highest rates of eviction in the country.

Our guest is Devin Fergus, the Strickland Distinguished Professor of History, Black Studies, and Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. He's written on politics, policy, and inequality in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The American Prospect, The Guardian, and so forth. He joins us to discuss his latest book, which is just out in paperback: "Land of the Fee: Hidden Costs and the Decline of the American Middle Class." This book exposes the effects that fees have on wealth redistribution, from the poor and the middle class up to wealthy corporations.

Our guest is Michael Brose, the longtime Chief Empowerment Officer at Mental Health Association Oklahoma (or MHAOK). Brose joins us to discuss this important nonprofit's ongoing work to secure permanent housing for the homeless throughout our city and our state. Per the MHAOK website: "The Association's statewide work is dedicated to promoting mental health and the equity of access to mental health care through advocacy, education, research, service, and housing. Since 1955, we have worked toward this goal.

On this edition of Medical Monday, as the Oklahoma Legislature has just recently completed its annual session, we offer a detailed review of whether and how our state's lawmakers have addressed various medical and healh-related issues. Our guest is Carly Putnam with the non-profit, non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute, where she serves as Policy Director and Health Care Policy Analyst.

Faculty and fellows participating in the HEAL Initiative in Hinche, Haiti. (UC-San Francisco)

On this edition of ST Medical Monday, an interesting discussion of global health -- that is, thinking about the health and well-being of the world's populations in a global context, and moreover, about how to serve those populations by improving care (and achieving equity of care) for all people. It's about seeing health care as a basic human right, and thus as something that people all over the world are fully entitled to. Our guest is Dr. Phuoc Le of the University of California at San Francisco, who also teaches in the public health program at UC-Berkeley. Dr.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we're discussing court fees, court fines, collection costs, and other court-related expenses, which, all told, make up somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the budget for the State of Oklahoma's court system. Therefore, and quite regrettably, our state's jails are by now brimming with people whose only "crime" is being unable to pay such costs.

Our guest on ST is Ren Barger, the founder and CEO of Tulsa Hub, which is, as noted at its website, "a syndicate of volunteers on a mission to change lives through cycling. It is the only nonprofit in Oklahoma providing certified bicycling-for-transportation education, refurbished bicycles, safety gear, and follow-up support to people in poverty, people with physical and mental disabilities, and people who are otherwise disenfranchised in our community.

This coming Friday and Saturday, the 30th and 31st, the Helmerich Center for American Research here in Tulsa will present "Dislocations and Migrations," an interdisciplinary symposium of academics, activists, archivists, curators, librarians, and other experts -- all of them exploring ideas of displacement, departure, arrival, relocation, removal, escape, and so on. Our guest on ST, the journalist Jessica Bruder, will be the keynote speaker at this upcoming gathering.

For every six Oklahomans, one is hungry, according to the latest data. And as the U.S. Congress looks to potentially address a $1.5 trillion projected deficit, many domestic programs face an uncertain if not bleak future -- including food-assistance and hunger-relief programs -- both here in the Sooner State and nationwide. On this edition of ST, we are discussing these matters with Effie Craven, who is the State Advocacy and Public Policy Director for both of the Oklahoma Food Banks (i.e., the Regional Food Bank in OKC as well as the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in Tulsa).

On this broadcast of ST Medical Monday, our guest is Chris Bernard, the executive director of Hunger Free Oklahoma. This nonprofit, per its website, "works to bring a unified, statewide voice to the issue and solutions surrounding hunger, with a goal to ensure all Oklahomans have access to affordable, nutritious food. Hunger Free Oklahoma holds the core belief that hunger is solvable, unnecessary, and unjust, and it impacts everyone living in Oklahoma.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. What does this revolution mean to us today? How do remember it; what lessons or themes do we draw from it? And moreover, how is the revolution thought of by Russians themselves? On this edition of ST, we speak with Donald J. Raleigh, a Distinguished Professor of Russian History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

On this edition of ST, a discussion with the USSR-born writer Anna Badkhen, whose well-regarded books of nonfiction include "Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah," "The World Is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village," and "Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through Northern Afghanistan." She's written about wars and warfare -- and about living with warfare -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Chechnya, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.

Our guest on ST today is Eileen Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. The Food Bank, as it's commonly known, is the largest private hunger-relief organization in eastern Oklahoma; it's been around since 1981. As is noted at this special nonprofit's website: "Our vision is food security, with dignity, for all eastern Oklahomans.... With locations in Tulsa and McAlester, we provide food and other donated goods to 450 Partner Programs in 24 counties of eastern Oklahoma.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we speak with Ted Piccone, a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy as well as the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution. His research is focused on global democracy and human rights policies, and he spoke recently at the Tulsa Committee on Foreign Relations. Piccone is the author of "Five Rising Democracies and the Fate of the International Liberal Order," and his talk here in Tulsa was basically an extension of this book.

On this edition of ST Medical Monday, we speak with two representatives from the Tulsa Housing Authority (or THA): Matt Letzig is the organization's Interim CEO and Terri Cole is its VP for Assisted Housing. THA, as noted at its website, "provides publicly assisted housing comprised of traditional public housing, mixed finance sites, and Section 8. Currently, THA provides assistance to more than 20,000 individuals, or 7,200 families....

On this edition of ST, we speak with Tamara Draut, who is Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos, a left-leaning national think tank. She's also the author of "Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead," and she joins to talk about her new book, which is called "Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America." As was noted of "Sleeping Giant" by Kirkus Reviews: "A close examination of the plight of the working class, the decline of organized labor's political power, and the stirrings of activism that indicate change may be on the way.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we speak with Jeff Olivet, who is the President and CEO of the Boston-based Center for Social Innovation. Olivet is also a nationally recognized expert on homelessness, poverty, affordable housing, behavioral health, public health, and HIV -- and he'll be speaking about "Racism and Homelessness in America" at this year's National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium, which happens here in Tulsa from today (the 28th) through Friday (the 30th) at the Cox Business Center downtown.

On this edition of ST, we speak with the author and historian Nancy Isenberg, who is the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at LSU, writes regularly for Salon.com, and was formerly on the History faculty here at The University of Tulsa.

On this edition of ST, we get to know Doug Levitt, an American singer-songwriter...and former London-based foreign correspondent (who once upon a time reported for, among others, ABC and NBC). About a decade ago -- or about 100,000 miles ago -- Levitt started riding Greyhound buses all across this nation in order to gather stories, songs, pictures, and memories of those who travel by bus in America.

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