Tag Archives | Poverty

Mainstream Media Not Mentioning The Poor

The huge and ever-ballooning portions of America trapped in poverty does not exist on TV or in magazine, Alternet writes:

Poverty as an issue is nearly invisible in U.S. media coverage of the 2012 election, a new FAIR study has found—even though what candidates plan to do about an alarmingly growing poverty rate would seem to be a ripe topic for discussion in campaign coverage.

Despite its widely experienced impact, FAIR’s study found poverty barely registers as a campaign issue. Just 17 of the 10,489 campaign stories studied (0.2 percent) addressed poverty in a substantive way.

Discussions of poverty in campaign coverage were so rare that PBS NewsHour had the highest percentage of its campaign stories addressing poverty—with a single story, 0.8 percent of its total. ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Newsweek ran no campaign stories substantively discussing poverty.

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Why Capitalism Has An Image Problem

Charles Murray, the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, makes the case for capitalism in, where else, the Wall Street Journal:

Mitt Romney’s résumé at Bain should be a slam dunk. He has been a successful capitalist, and capitalism is the best thing that has ever happened to the material condition of the human race. From the dawn of history until the 18th century, every society in the world was impoverished, with only the thinnest film of wealth on top. Then came capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall. Everywhere that capitalism didn’t take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased.

Capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty because it gives people a chance to get rich by creating value and reaping the rewards. Who better to be president of the greatest of all capitalist nations than a man who got rich by being a brilliant capitalist?

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Queen Rat: Victorian London’s Sewer Succubus

Toshers were scavengers who explored the vast, ancient sewers of Victorian London in search of lost coins and salvage, but even greater rewards awaited those fortunate enough to encounter the legendary Queen Rat. As Mike Dash of Smithsonian Magazine reports:

…A second myth, far more eagerly believed, told of the existence (Jacqueline Simpson and Jennifer Westwood record) “of a mysterious, luck-bringing Queen Rat”:

This was a supernatural creature whose true appearance was that of a rat; she would follow the toshers about, invisibly, as they worked, and when she saw one that she fancied she would turn into a sexy-looking woman and accost him. If he gave her a night to remember, she would give him luck in his work; he would be sure to find plenty of money and valuables. He would not necessarily guess who she was, for though the Queen Rat did have certain peculiarities in her human form (her eyes reflected light like an animal’s, and she had claws on her toes), he probably would not notice them while making love in some dark corner.

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Philadelphia Bans Serving Food To The Homeless In Public

 Municipalities around the country feel that the homeless have had it too easy for too long. Via NPR:

A growing number of cities want to tackle the problem of homelessness by outlawing what are known as “acts of daily living” — sleeping, eating and panhandling in public. In Philadelphia, a new rule is targeting not the homeless but those who feed them.

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced the ban on serving food in public parks last March, he said moving such services indoors was part of an effort to raise standards for the homeless.

But many advocates for the homeless are skeptical. “We do feel that communities are really, really frustrated with repeated efforts to end homelessness that have been quite unsuccessful,” says Neil Donovan, the executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

“But we push back and say, you know, that doesn’t mean that you simply throw your hands in the air and make criminals out of homeless people.” Donovan says around 30 cities have restricted food sharing in some way.

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Instead of Being Disgusted by Poverty, We are Disgusted by Poor People

Suzanne Moore writes at the Guardian:

She is there whenever I go the shops. Every time I think she can’t get any more skeletal, she manages it. Wild eyes staring in different directions, she must have been pretty once. I try not to look, for she is often aggressive. Sometimes, though, she is in my face and asking me to go into the shop, from which she has been banned, to buy her something. A scratchcard. She feels lucky. “Maybe some food?” I suggest pointlessly, but food is not what she craves. Food is not crack. Or luck. She has already lost every lottery going.

An addict is the author of their own misfortune. Her poverty is self-inflicted. All these hopeless people: where do they all come from? It is, of course, possible never to really see them, as their distress is so distressing. Who needs it? Poverty, we are often told, is not “actual”, because people have TVs. This gradual erosion of empathy is the triumph of an economic climate in which everyone, addicted or not, is personally responsible for their own lack of achievement. Poor people are not simply people like us, but with less money: they are an entirely different species. Their poverty is a personal failing. They have let themselves go. This now applies not just to individuals but to entire countries. Look at the Greeks! What were they thinking with their pensions and minimum wage? That they were like us? Out of the flames, they are now told to rise, phoenix–like, by a rich political elite. Perhaps they can grow money on trees?

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How Government and Corporations Loot the Poor

Capitalist Flag

Illustration: Hhemken (CC)

Barbara Ehrenreich writes at TomDispatch:

Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest.

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150 Million Americans are in Poverty

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West discuss their new book on Democracy Now!:

The latest census data shows nearly one in two Americans, or 150 million people, have fallen into poverty — or could be classified as low income. We’re joined by Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, who continue their efforts to spark a national dialog on the poverty crisis with the new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.

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Why Does Mississippi Vote Republican? (Video)

Alexandra Pelosi wrote on Real Time with Bill Maher:

Why is it that the poorest states in America are red states? It seems the poorer the state, the more Republican it is. The Census Bureau’s 2011 Statistical Abstract shows the GOP finds their strongest support in places where poverty and median household income are the worst. Case in point: Mississippi ranks dead last economically, with the lowest per capita income in the country, yet according to Gallup, Mississippi is the most conservative state in the union. It ranks first in the number of people living below the poverty line: 21.9 percent of Mississippi residents live below the poverty level. Dominated by conservative politicians, Mississippi has the lowest tax burden in the nation but ranks fourth in per capita federal aid. Mississippi is also a leader of the GOP effort to gut Medicaid but ranks first in the percentage of its Medicaid program that is funded by federal matching funds.

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There Are 24 Empty Houses for Every Homeless Person in America

Homeless PeopleLloyd Alter writes on Treehugger:

That is what the census says. Andrew Leonard in Salon notes that it is a bit misleading, that “4.7 million are for “seasonal use” only, the Census tells us — unoccupied vacation homes, in other words. 4.1 million are for rent, 2.3 million are for sale, and the remaining 7.5 million “were vacant for a variety of other reasons.”

The census also lists the total number of homeless in America as 759,101, so there are 24 empty houses for every homeless person in America. What a shocking mis-allocation of resources, materials and energy …

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