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Check your facts Mr. Beck

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The other day, CNN’s Glenn Beck wrote an article about poverty entitled “The poverty of Democrats’ ideas for cities” in urban America. Mr. Beck’s argument was that urban areas with high poverty concentrations are in their current state of affairs because the majority of their mayors have been Democrats. He comes to the conclusion that if Republicans were voted into office, poverty would somehow be reduced. Essentially this diatribe against Democratic mayors is misled and poorly argued.

 Mr. Beck fails to recognize the complex nature of poverty in urban America. He fails to include a fair and balanced analysis of other factors that might contribute to poverty in urban cities like lack of access to quality education, healthcare and other resources. Many of these social services are often supported by Democrats, but not by Republicans. Moreover, the lack of human capital (in terms of skilled workers) also deters businesses from investing in urban centers, especially when it comes to manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs were at the core of city employment, especially the Midwestern cities that Beck touches on. 

I went to school in Pittsburgh, where steel mining was one of the major industries, until business went elsewhere, which severely depressed the area, and some parts of Pittsburgh have never recovered. However, this means that both the public and private organizations in these cities need to work together to foster investment and growth and support education and social services, in order to have enough human capital to balance out the investments. 

Mr. Beck’s argument also fails to analyze factors like;  the number of Republican/Democrat city council members, how tax increases/decreases might have affected the budgets and whether economic downturns or federal and state level policies might have negatively impacted cities. (The Detroit Free Press’ article on urban poverty does a good job of looking at some of the issues and solutions.)

Finally, Mr. Beck continues to wage war against Newark. Perhaps if he paid closer attention, he would see that Cory Booker, who was elected in 2006, has made significant strides in trying to combat poverty, crime and rebuild the education system in Newark. In fact, Cory Booker is being recognized as a pioneer in the fight to rebuild Newark, not as Mr. Beck assumes, another cog in the democratic wheel of poverty.

Moreover, even a city like New York, where Mayor Bloomberg has been touted as being a fairly successful mayor, still has a poverty rate of 21%.   

This is simply another example of a media personality whose lens is so focused on the divisive nature of American politics that he has failed to see the bigger picture. Urban poverty is an extremely complex issue, and yes, a large responsibility does rely on the mayors of the various cities. It is appalling and devastating that so many in the United States are living below the poverty line. However, that is not a call to arms for Republican mayors, it is a call to arms for public officials and each citizen of this country to think about what they can do to improve this situation. It doesn’t have to be in donations, it can be through volunteering or voting. 

Glenn Beck might think that Republicans are better equipped to manage poverty. However, after seeing the way the top Republicans in this country have mismanaged our tax dollars, which could have gone to federal programs like Head Start, squander it in an unjust war, it does not seem likely that anything will change at the local level. Poverty is not a red or blue issue, its an issue that does affect everyone, but Democrats are much better poised to handle this issue because they actually have been fighting for the rights of the people who are so disenfranchised in this country. 

Mr. Beck – do your homework would you? 

 

 

Here are some real facts about poverty in the United States: 

1. According to the 2005 US census bureau statistics, nearly 40 million Americans live below the poverty line. 

2. 24% of American families make less than $30,000 a year. (US census bureau) 

3. According to the Detroit Free Press “Nearly 40 million Americans are officially poor — meaning an annual income of less than $16,000 for a family of three. Eight in 10 of them live in urban areas.”  

 

 

More Resources: 

* http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0672.pdf

* http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080217/OPINION01/802170547

Written by Veena

August 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm