James A. Baldwin said, “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”
Lots of people have been talking about poverty this past week. And it’s a good thing. But it also highlights the disdain people have for the poor.
“There’s a deep tradition in America of agitating those who aren’t well-off against people who have it even worse,” President Obama said during a panel discussion on poverty at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty hosted at Georgetown University.
The Washington Post’s Emily Badger in writing about the panel discussion pointed out something that greatly disturbs me. She wrote: “Much of our political rhetoric doesn’t simply disregard the poor, it actively disdains them. It treats them as takers, freeloaders, deadbeats. As morally weak and gleefully dependent. And like many narratives that are true in the rare anecdote but false on the whole, this one requires a whole lot of breathless storytelling.”
The “president had plenty to say about poverty in our ‘winner-take-all’ economy,” wrote Cathy Lynn Grossman, of Religion News Service.
He indeed weighed in quite a bit about the need for more dialogue.
“I think that we are at a moment — in part because of what’s happened in Baltimore and Ferguson and other places, but in part because a growing awareness of inequality in our society — where it may be possible not only to refocus attention on the issue of poverty, but also maybe to bridge some of the gaps that have existed and the ideological divides that have prevented us from making progress,” Obama said.
It’s worth your time to either watch or read the transcript because this issue affects us all. And as we discuss it further, we need to do so with compassion and understanding, which is the point Baldwin was making.
So, why should we all care about lifting people out of poverty?
Badger explains it like this: “The reality is that we’d all be better off — the middle class included — if poor communities had more opportunity, if poor children didn’t grow up to need food stamps, if poor men had the kind of work that enabled them to be stable fathers. In the long run, alleviating poverty (through, say, investment in early childhood education) is actually cheaper than paying for all of its products (in teens who enter the costly criminal justice system, or families who rely on emergency-room care). And that’s good for anyone who’s a taxpayer and wants their money well-spent.”
“Poverty is a subject we talk about mainly when tragic events, such as those we witnessed recently in Baltimore, grab our attention. Then we push it aside; we bury it; we say it’s not politically shrewd to talk about it,” says Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.
So what do you think it takes to help address the economic divide in America? Send your comments to email@example.com. Please include your full name, city and state, otherwise your comments might not be used. In the subject line put “Poverty Summit.”
Got a financial issue you need help figuring out? If so, I’m here to help. Every Thursday, I host a live online chat. To participate in the discussion click this link.
The boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is over. But another fight is taking place in courthouses across the country as disgruntled fans demand their money back because Pacquiao and his promoters failed to disclose he had a shoulder injury.
There are lawsuits filed in Nevada, Texas, Illinois and two in California. One of the California lawsuits was filed on behalf of a fan who paid $99.95 for a pay-per-view telecast. That suit says that “Pacquiao’s failure to disclose his injury turned the Fight of the Century into the ‘Sleight Of The Century,’ ” reported Darren Rovell, a business reporter for ESPN.com.
So for last week’s Color of Money Question of the Week I asked: Should fans be reimbursed for paying for a fight that might not have been fair?
Overwhelmingly, the folks who commented said fight fans who paid to see the fight should get their money back.
“Payers of the pay per view fee should be refunded,” wrote Diane Narikawa of California. “Here in Southern California my daughter threw a fight party and the centerpiece was a boring match. Not only is this rude but completely dishonest!”
Ron Young of Fairfield, Calif., wrote: “I also ordered the pay-per-view fight for $99.99. This was the first time in years that I had ordered a fight and was looking forward to it. To say the least, I was very disappointed in the fight. The real issue is that the public was misled about the shoulder injury and both fighters still got paid hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.