American Media Fail to Cover Poverty

English: This is a figure illustrating the dif...
English: This is a figure illustrating the different rates of poverty by sex for Americans over 65 in 2006. It is based on Statistical Abstract data. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)








The American Media’s failure to cover poverty as a topic is morally wrong and a failure of business ethics. First, they have an obligation to cover important subjects as part of their duty as a functioning press. They are one of the balancing mechanisms that make democracy work. Second, they are ill-serving their largest stake holders, the consumers of news by providing them with a distorted view of reality. “If it bleeds it leads,” isn’t journalism, it’s entertainment and very poor entertainment. Thirdly, they have a duty to themselves to act responsibly as human beings and to leave a legacy for others.


Failure to deal intelligently and with an appropriate level of coverage of controversial topics is a business ethics failure.


James Pilant


About 15% of Americans live in poverty, so why is no one talking about it? | Daniel A Medina | Comment is free |


The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that out of 52 mainstream media outlets analysed, coverage of poverty amounted to less than 1% of available news space from 2007 to 2012. It’s even more astonishing considering that period covered a historic recession. One of the report’s conclusions was that media organizations chose not to cover poverty because it was potentially uncomfortable to advertisers seeking to reach a wealthy consumer audience. As Barbara Ehrenreich, who contributes articles on social issues for Time Magazine, put it:They don’t want really depressing articles about misery and hardship near their ads.Poverty coverage is seen as non-lucrative, time-consuming and involves high levels of commitment that editors are unwilling to give their reporters in this age of newsroom budget tightening. The greatest irony, however, is that poverty, as Tampa Bay Times media critic, Eric Deggans, told The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard earlier this year “is in some ways the ultimate accountability story – because, often, poverty happens by design”.


(Please visit the link and read the whole article.)


via About 15% of Americans live in poverty, so why is no one talking about it? | Daniel A Medina | Comment is free |

From around the web.

From the web site, Poverty and Policy.

Dr. Martin Luther King opened his famous March on Washington speech by proclaiming that “the Negro is still not free…. [He] lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast sea of material prosperity.”


This is still true 50 years later for 28% of blacks, Gutting says, citing last year’s official poverty figure. And the root cause is the way our free enterprise system works.


It’s geared primarily toward enabling individuals to amass personal wealth. And them’s what has gets, at the expense of them’s what don’t.


The end result is “a socioeconomic underclass deprived of the basic goods necessary for a fulfilling human life: adequate food, housing, health care and education, as well as meaningful and secure employment.”


Gutting asserts that “people should be free to pursue their happiness in the competitive market” — an odd conflation of happiness and riches.


But, he continues, “it makes no sense to require people to compete in the market for basic goods” because if they don’t have them, they’ve “little chance of gaining them in competition” with those that do.


We’ve got scads of evidence for this. For example, we’ve got research showing that more than 40% of children raised in the bottom fifth of the income scale stay there as adults — and more than half if they’re black.


And other studies showing that children of wealthy parents start kindergarten ahead of the pack — and stay there, while a very large number of poor children start with disadvantages that cause them to fall further and further behind.


And data showing that even the poor kids who make it through high school are far less likely to go on to college — and less likely to graduate if they do. Costs and other financial pressures are, for blacks, the single most important reason, according to yet other research. And probably not for them only.

From the web site,

Adenike Adebayo

Issues of great importance to me as an Economist.



Income Inequality


Pearson’s correlation coefficient (Table 1) for income inequality and TIMSS math test score shows a negative relationship -.655 at a significance level of .002 (p<. 01) where math test score decreases with higher income inequality (or lower income equality). The relationship between income inequality and science is also negative -.631 at a significance level of .004 (p<. 05) where science test score decreases with increased inequality of income (or with decreased equality of income). Income inequality has very little relationship with government spending on primary and secondary education. Child poverty rates are significantly and positively correlated to income inequality at .787, .792 and .742 with significance levels of .000, .000 and .001.

From the web site, Health Voices.

In North America, the Occupy movement cast the spotlight on an issue that has been the focus of grave concern around the world – income inequality. So the media flurry that came with the release of Statistics Canada’s latest report on the Income of Canadians (September 11, 2013) was no surprise. CBC’s Kelowna-based Daybreak South (September 12, 2013) and the CBC national show, The 180 (September 13, 2013), are two examples that featured leading economists, both of whom were completely uninformed of the health, social and even the economic costs of income inequality.


The numbers simply confirm what we all know – the rich are getting richer, leaving the rest of us behind. At an average of $381,000 each, the richest 1% of Canadians earn more than ten times the average Canadian income. More than the numbers, though, it is the response from leading economists that is troubling for the future of our country.


Income Inequality and Hubris

Income Inequality and Hubris

What They Really Think About Us | homophilosophicus

Surviving the post-apocalyptic landscape that Ireland has become in the wake of the Celtic Tiger is difficult enough for most people. The economic downturn and the past number of lean years and a governmental programme of austerity have exposed the serious divisions in Irish society. The years of plenty have spawned no small number of Tiger Cubs who feel no shame in flaunting their wealth and privilege in the faces of those who have been most affected by recession and hard times. As economic depression speeds the transfer of wealth from the working poor to the idle wealthy the mood of triumphalism in Ireland’s bourgeoisie reaches fever pitch. All the while the class war moves on from one middle class offensive to another: cheap ‘reality’ television shows depicting the fecklessness of the working classes, the publication of one ‘rich list’ after another, and the continual and propagandistic highlighting of social welfare fraud in the lowest economic brackets of Irish society. At no time since the Great Famine has the inequalities in this society been as acutely felt as they have these past few years. The poor have been despoiled of any platform from which to defend themselves as the attacks against them become ever more comprehensive and savage. Yet right in the heart of this darkness a red rag is waved before the bull. A young and wealthy woman was caught on video ranting and raving about the ‘losers’ who worked for minimum wage, and how she was ‘too rich’ for them.

What They Really Think About Us | homophilosophicus

Hubris is pride on a cosmic scale, and that is what we have here. I’ve heard this kind of thing myself. And, of course, here in the United States, we can see Honey Boo Boo on television, an American we can only understand through subtitles, a savage caricature of lower class Americans, who apparently doesn’t even realize she is being made sport of. I have heard those well off say the most amazing things about the unemployed, the poor and the homeless. They never seem to find it in their hearts to consider them fellow Americans but merely find them wanting in every regard.

But there is a just God, and there will be a reckoning in this world or the next.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, Inequalities:

On one level, the question of whether benefit cuts lead to higher income inequality is simple to answer.  Poorer people are more likely to claim benefits, ergo cutting benefits has less effect on people with high incomes – and from the 2010 Emergency Budget to the 2012 Budget, there were £19bn of net cuts due by 2014-15.[1]  Prof John Hills, the former chair of the National Equality Panel, calculates that £1000 of deficit reduction spread equally over all benefits and services will cut incomes of the poorest fifth by 12%, but less than 1% for the richest fifth.[2] In contrast, deficit reduction through equal rises across all taxes has roughly the same effect (a 3.5% reduction) on all.

However, the answer becomes more complex when we see the different ways that deficit reduction can be enacted.  Both benefit cuts and tax rises can be particularly targeted on the poor or rich; the Coalition can point to greater means-testing of Child Benefit as a benefits cut that is not targeting poorer people.  (This ignores the long-term political impacts of cutting universal benefits, (Baumberg, 2012)).  David Cameron has therefore argued (back in March 2009) that “fiscal responsibility needs a social conscience, or it is not responsible at all.”

our problem your problemFrom the web site, Dinmerican:

One can begin to unpack Lim Ewe Ghee’s logic by questioning if the hard earned innovations that triumph in a market economy, by virtue of the wealth they generate, do in fact serve us better.

For one, there are a lot of things a free market economy would welcome that is profitable without necessarily improving society as a whole. Cigarettes are widely purchased and consumed without leading to improvements in anyone’s health or finance. Whatever virtues there may be of having, among other things, pornography, prostitution or firearms in the open market cannot be confirmed purely on the basis of their potentially high demand.

How and why such things can be said to “serve humanity” must take into consideration a host of other factors, above and beyond what market forces or individual whims suggest.

One can extend that line of thinking to even more basic goods. The genetic modification that now routinely goes into the manufacturing of our everyday meats and vegetables has all to do with the necessity of rapid production in a competitive profit driven food economy.

The motivation in such cases is not the happiness, well-being or health of others, but the size of the product and the speed and quantity of production. So by that logic, it does not matter that the meat we eat is injected with cancer causing chemicals so long as an edge is gained by the producer to triumph in a rapidly competitive market.


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The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers — Daily Intel

The most important thing this article points out is the inadequacy of both the Republican and Democrat approaches to income inequality.

The Republicans wish to impose a system of taxation and corporate rules that will permanently enshrine an economic ruling class whose power will rival the most autocratic figures in history.

The Democrats wish to slow the increasing inequality by slightly raising taxes on the rich and protecting social programs.

One party is whole heartedly devoted to the interests of the corporate and wealthy elites, while the other is mainly motivated to serve the interests of the corporate and wealthy elites.

That’s not much of a choice.

The betrayal of the working class by the Democrats is a far worse crime than the willingness of the Republicans to barter away the middle class like so many butcherable farm animals. The Democrats were supposed to stand like Horatius at the Gate fighting for the great mass of the people, but once they discovered that the really big contributions came from the few, the wealthy and well placed, they found a new allegiance.

The disgusting spectacle of “Democrats” executing Republican policies is an almost daily occurrence everywhere in this nation in communities, counties, States and at the federal level.

The only way to get a party where the elected officials protect the rights and the income of the great mass of Americans is to organize and defeat any candidate who is on the other side, regardless of party affiliation. For too many years, I have been hearing the phrase, “We have to settle for what is possible.” This is used as justification for remaining passive while our supposed Democratic defenders sell us down the river, day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute.

I am fed up. It is better to let the Republicans win than to die bleeding drip by drip at the behest of the people we voted for.

I prefer open conflict than slow surrender.

I want a debate, a struggle, a battle between ideas.

Because when we talk about opportunity, rights, and justice we will win.

We will win because we are on the side of the great mass of working people.

We will win because we are on the side of civilization and history.

We will win because we are right.

Let’s start fighting.

James Pilant

Here’s a quote from the article.

Rising income inequality, like climate change, is an ideologically inconvenient issue for conservatives. They would prefer not to discuss it altogether. If forced to discuss it, they will generally either deny its existence or simply carry on as if it doesn’t exist.

The underlying facts, like the facts of climate change, are stark. Over the last few decades, income growth for most Americans has slowed to a crawl, while income for the very rich has exploded. That’s a reversal of the three decades following World War II, when all income groups got richer, with the poor and middle class rising at a faster rate than the rich. Crucially, the Congressional Budget Office’s new analysis shows that changes in government policy over this period have made inequality worse. (In CBO-speak: “The equalizing effect of transfers and taxes on household income was smaller in 2007 than it had been in 1979.”)

We’re not having a debate about how to reverse or even stop the growth of inequality. Nobody has a real plan to do that. The Democratic plan is to slightly arrest the growth of inequality by hiking taxes on the rich a few percentage points, so as to minimize the need to cut the social safety net. The Republican plan is to slash taxes for the rich and programs for the poor, thereby massively increasing inequality.

The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers — Daily Intel

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Income Inequality Squeezes the Middle Class [via Beat the Press]

Inflation adjusted percentage increase in mean...
Image via Wikipedia

I couldn’t agree more. There is less of the pie for the poor and middle class. No matter what your talents and your willingness to work, how do you compete with a system that distributes income upward toward those who already have the money? Income inequality continues to squeeze the middle class perhaps eventually into its disappearance.

James Pilant

This brief comment is from a posting on Beat the Press entitled –

If Millennials Do Worse Than Their Parents, It Will Be Because Bill Gates‘ Kids Have All the Money

The Washington Post had a column by a millennial columnist complaining about the lack of opportunity. It is striking that the column never once mentioned income inequality.

There is no doubt that millennials will on average be far wealthier than their parents. Output per hour has roughly doubled over the last three decades, meaning that the real wage could be almost twice as high today as it was in 1980. Insofar as the typical millennial is not seeing the benefits of this productivity growth it is due to the fact that so much income has been redistributed upwards, not the result of any generational dynamics.


Here’s some more from Mother Jones, the New York Times, and Slate.

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