The Poverty Beat

Monday, April 21, 2014

For this week’s installment of our series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America, Dale Maharidge, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Columbia Journalism School professor, and Greg Kaufmann, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former poverty correspondent for The Nation, discuss reporting on poverty and how poverty is portrayed—and why it’s under-covered—in the media. Kaufman is launching on May 19.


Greg Kaufmann and Dale Maharidge

Comments [14]

jgarbuz from Queens

RUCB_ ALUM wrote:

>You defeat your own 'poverty is the normal state' argument when you use the growth of Asian economies as a premise for the why you believe that American middle-tier workers have not shared in the growth of the U.S. economy.<

The Asian economies (except for Japan after 1860) were held back for 500 years because of (1) self-imposed isolationism; and (2) self-imposed socialism and communism. That's over.

And by poverty there are two kinds: absolute and relative. By absolute I mean subsistence where physical survival is literally from meal to meal, as was the case for millions of years before trade and civilization (towns and cities) lifted our species up and turned us into "human beings." By relative I mean western-style poverty, where a combination of charity plus public welfare programs assures a minimal degree of food and health security for the aged and disabled.

Apr. 21 2014 02:41 PM
Caesar Romaine from Manhattan

When will people in government and the media realize that the "war on poverty", after 50 years is lost? Perhaps it's time to change tactics. Creating 3 generations of people who have zero sense of personal responsibility to themselves, their families, communities and country was not the right solution. It would have been nice to have a commentator with a different perspective on the problem.

The NY Times article that was referred to repeatedly is worth a read. If you don't have time, here's a synopsis.

People in McDowell county, WV were poor before Kennedy arrived in 1961. Since his first executive order as president in 1961 they have survived on government assistance. They continue to have the highest levels of drug addiction, drug related crime, drug related incarceration, childhood obesity, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, and illiteracy. They were poor when the coal mines operated, they are poor with coal mines closed.

Apr. 21 2014 02:18 PM


GDP as measured in nominal, then-current U.S. dollars. $5.2T for 1988, $15.7 for 2013. Look it up.

You defeat your own 'poverty is the normal state' argument when you use the growth of Asian economies as a premise for the why you believe that American middle-tier workers have not shared in the growth of the U.S. economy.

Apr. 21 2014 01:54 PM
jgarbuz from Queens


>Since 1989, U.S. GDP has TRIPLED, can you name any broad measure of personal wealth that has tripled in the last 25 years?<

Tripled based on what, inflationary US dollars? The real question is what was our rate of growth compared to that of Asia since 1989? What part of GLOBAL GDP goes to us versus to China, India and Japan since 1989? Yes, the US has been growing but our Asian competitors are growing nearly three times as fast. So capital flows to Asia where growth is greatest. Of course the bosses and managers of global corporations can pay themselves more because they are international organizations much of whose wealth is now coming from Asian consumers and workers versus American consumers and workers.

Apr. 21 2014 01:46 PM
jgarbuz from Queens


"The theft of income from the middle and lower tier workers has been going on since the 1960's.."

Neo-Marxist baloney. The post war prosperity was merely a fleeting temporary phenomenon that only lasted until Europe and Asia rebuilt from the war and shook off the shackles of communism and socialism. Once US workers were faced with real competition from billions of foreign workers again, it was no longer a walk in the park. Life is easy when there is no competition, but that never lasts long.

Apr. 21 2014 01:38 PM

Wow, jgarbuz, couldn't even respond to your first nutty post before you give us something even nuttier.

Since 1989, U.S. GDP has TRIPLED, can you name any broad measure of personal wealth that has tripled in the last 25 years?

I can -- CEO salaries and the Federal budget. We are being robbed by our own tax policy. Fortunately, for us we can change that. The question is will we?

Apr. 21 2014 01:38 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Love is fleeting; Hatred is forever. Wealth is a mirage in the desert pulling us forward but poverty is the real sand underfoot where our bones will eventually rot.

Apr. 21 2014 01:33 PM
anna from queens

a profit sharing organization (i found in the Economist) that helps small businesses utilize opportunities on a corporate scale
the small businesses that participated in this organization weathered the great recession better than independently owned small businesses. They have 10 years of financials available online for everyone to check out

unfortunately just in the UK now, but with ESOP/employee shared owned plans
why shouldn't workers also be owners, and have personal responsibility to own the consequences of their own work during the day?

Apr. 21 2014 01:28 PM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Income, income distribution and poverty seem to be the hot topic for the upcoming election. That heartens me and frightens me. I don't want this topic to be a French fry...relevant for one election cycle before it is back to business as usual.

The theft of income from the middle and lower tier workers has been going on since the 1960's...and has been measurable since the 1980's. The destruction of the private savings function and tax policy that values capital above work have led to the death of the American dream.

Pick up Thomas Piketty's 'Capital...' for an extended lesson and what may happen to this nation if we permit it to continue.

Apr. 21 2014 01:28 PM
J C from NYC

I agree with Sophia!
Poor people can at least vote (unless they suffered a conviction). Vote for the party that does not cut your food stamps and give tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas.

Apr. 21 2014 01:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Poverty" or subsistence is the natural state in nature and what we call wealth is something new and unnatural introduced by our species. But as Jesus said, "The poor shall always be with us" meaning that subsistence will always be the lot of many of us and it is our job to be charitable and empathetic but not to expect the "elimination of poverty." This is nonsense. Subsistence is the norm; wealth is the exception.

Apr. 21 2014 01:27 PM

I doubt covering the poor will make a damn bit of difference to most right-wingers who are predisposed to loathe them.

Better for the media to drill down on all the dollars spent on corporate welfare now, vs all the money spent in the past to build a middle class.

Apr. 21 2014 01:23 PM
BigGuy from Forest Hills

The major reason poverty receives a paucity of press coverage is that poor people do not have enough money to make a difference. The egregiously wealthy do have enough which is why much of the poverty stories are provided free to the media by the Cato Institute and AEI, both of which have produce stories arguing that the Poor in America are much, much better off that generally perceived. Notably, Cato determined from data mining census stats that some single unemployed moms with kids receive benefits more than triple what they can obtain from working at the minimum wage. But Cato did not find even ONE mother out of the more than 100,000 that they purport to exist who obtains all the possible benefits they assert can be collected.

Apr. 21 2014 01:20 PM

Those pockets of poverty also tend to be the most conservative.

If the people there would get organized and direct their anger constructively, instead of voting for corporate tools, maybe the media would provide better coverage.

Apr. 21 2014 01:17 PM

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