Sunday, March 17, 2013

Where is the outrage?

I listened to a show recently on public television with a panel of journalists discussing the topic of whether or not the media understood poverty.  They observed that has been a shift away from the public responsibility of creating awareness of issues of injustice, including poverty, toward focusing on stories that sell to middle and upper middle class readers; providing them with the stories they want to see. Seems the once prophetic role of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable has greatly diminished. The poor don't purchase newspapers. One of the panelist observed that "outrage was bred out of journalist", to which there seemed to be general consensus.  The outrage at social injustice that was clearly communicated in the 1960's has turned to complacency.

I was delighted to read an opinion piece in today's StarTribune addressing this topic, Income inequality shapes Minnesota tax debate.  That said, it didn't make the list of the top 8 news stories being read online, six of which were sports related.

So, is it any wonder that the income gap has grown dramatically, and yet we're not seeing a genuine sense of outrage?  Where is the public sense of concern when a quarter of our nation's children under the age of five are now living in poverty* (American dream vanishing for 16.4 million children)?

“This is a national disgrace. Parents alone cannot protect children. Parents have no control over the massive joblessness and foreclosures and misguided tax cuts for the wealthy that have ravished our economy,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “Congress needs to wake up and change course to protect our children and their families. We must stop this devastation in our communities and protect children from all budget cuts. We need to invest in the health and education of our children and create jobs for their parents today.”

Perhaps the new Jesuit Pope, Francis, will bring light to this topic? The Jesuit order has traditionally been in solidarity with the poor.

To quote a bumper sticker... "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

Poverty is defined as an annual income of below $22,314 for a family of four - $1,860 a month, $429 a week, or $60 a day. Extreme poverty, defined as an annual income of less than half of the poverty level, means $11,157 a year, $930 a month, $215 a week, or $30 a day for a family of four.

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