MILES TO GO

MILES TO GO

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,19 March 2013

The Snap:

Oxford University says the world can eradicate extreme poverty in 20 years. Before you call it a day, like Fox “News,” this doesn’t mean it’s time to rest on our comfy laurels. Don’t get me wrong, this is good news. It just doesn’t mean we can give up on helping the poorest of the poor. Although he wasn’t my top choice, I appreciate Pope Francis’ emphasis on remembering the poor. That’s a lesson the media — conservative and liberal — could stand to learn.

The Download:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the poor need to get better at lobbying. They should have laid out a lavish spread or at least gotten their logo on a jumbo soda container at CPAC. They really need to bling it up if they want to get politicians to do something other than dream up earmarks and loopholes. Maybe then the poor would receive at least one percent of media coverage in any given year. That’s right, from 2007 through mid-2012, the media reported on the poor far less than one percent.

When we talk about the budget, we necessarily fixate on numbers. That’s what it’s all about, thousands and thousands of pages of numbers determining who gets what. We hear pundits decrying all the money we spend on foreign aid in the budget, when in truth that too is less than one percent. Less than one percent to help the world’s poor from the world’s most powerful country.

For those who think we shouldn’t focus on helping the world’s poor, here’s another set of numbers: 1 in 6. That’s how many Americans live below the poverty level. I know that these numbers are nearly meaningless to those believing the poor need to help themselves; after all wasn’t that what Jesus said? Oh, wait. That wasn’t Jesus; it was Benjamin Franklin. For those so ardently proclaiming the U.S. to be a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values, I recommend taking another read of what the Bible has to say about the poor. Don’t have enough time because you’re busy pulling yourself up by your bootstraps? Check out what Colbert has to say on the issue.

You can talk about numbers until you pass out but until you put a face on those numbers, we’ll likely continue to focus on taking care of ourselves rather than our fellow men and women. That’s why the Gantz brothers made their documentary, American Winter; “we just felt that politicians are so caught up in either the politics or the policy that the human face” gets lost.

Not all news organizations are happy with how poverty is covered. A few are making a real difference, such as the Springfield News-Leader which for five days straight focused on specific problems facing families in the area. The result? Community members shocked at seeing how many of their neighbors suffered reached out directly and worked to create long-term policy solutions.

Hat Tips:

The GuardianFox NewsVoice of AmericaThe HillNieman ReportsThe AtlanticForeign PolicyColbert ReportPoliticoNews-Leader, Image Credit: Flickr

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