Dan Froomkin wonders why poverty, which is all around us (just look around), does not make the news. A nugget:
The reasons for the lack of coverage are familiar. Journalists are drawn more to people making things happen than those struggling to pay bills; poverty is not considered a beat; neither advertisers nor readers are likely to demand more coverage, so neither will editors; and poverty stories are almost always enterprise work, requiring extra time and commitment. Yet persistent poverty is in some ways the ultimate accountability story—because, often, poverty happens by design.
“Poverty exists in a wealthy country largely as a result of political choices, not as a result of pure economics,” argues Sasha Abramsky, a journalist whose upcoming book is called “The American Way of Poverty.” “The U.S. poverty rate is higher than most other developed nations, and the only way you can square that is there are political choices being made—or not being made—that accept a level of poverty that most wealthy democracies have said is unacceptable. We make these policy choices that perpetuate poverty, and then because poverty is so extreme, it becomes impolite to talk about.”
In this part of the world, about the only significant news coverage of poverty comes when a tent city gets cleared.
April 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm
I’d suggest reading Krugman’s The Aged of Diminished Expectations but it was done way before he was famous and probably is now too hard to find.
“The problem with poverty is that it has basically exhausted patience of the general public.” That was in 1992, it’s fifth printing, and things were lousy but not 2013 lousy. He spends some time discussing inequality and the explosion in the poverty level. “[Any] systemic initiative to raise the incomes of the poor seems unlikely for many years … The growing gap between the rich and poor was arguably the central fact about economic life in America in the 1980s. But no policy changes now under discussion seem likely to narrow the gap significantly.”
There is another factor that has been at work as a kind of salve groupthink, as long as I can remember. That is, and it’s very obvious, that poverty is a condition that exists for you as a matter of choice, a personal deficiency, basically — sin. You are unclean, deficient, bad, of low character, etc, if you are poor in America. Poverty is defined for almost half, maybe more than half the people in this country, as a personal choice, an evil one. And therefore nothing should be done about it because to do so is to aid in evil and the growth in poverty only means that more and more people are forsaking character, rectitude and natural godly American ways, mores and traditions.
April 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm
You said, “Poverty is defined for almost half, maybe more than half the people in this country, as a personal choice, an evil one.”
It’s bullshit, of course, but it’s bullshit that enables the listeners who are not poor to feel virtuous. Hence its appeal.
Until it happens to them.