Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kicking the Poor: An American Pastime

Barbara Ehrenreich has a trenchant and disturbing piece in this morning's Guardian. It is a well-reported piece, thoroughly footnoted and linked to sources of further information. So why is it labelled "opinion" rather than published as fact? (And why did Ehrenreich have to cross the Atlantic to get it published?) Fact editors have to be extra careful not to lay blame. Fact reporting is one more thing under the thumb of the advantaged. Journalism, which once took appropriate pride in discomforting the comfortable, is now especially careful not to offend. It's one more advantage in the powerful system of Accumulated Advantage and Disadvantage.

This journalistic caution has increased as the comfortable class has narrowed and grown comfortable beyond the dreams of avarice. Their comfort must not be disturbed, and reining in these systems that prey on the poor might result in the comfortable having to pony up their rightful share of public costs. The rich might have their puny taxes increased if we stopped hitting up the poor for the costs of being poor.

The bizarre injustices Ms. Ehrenreich describes here are positively Dickensian, but in a time so rich with injustice, too many of our best writers devote themselves to chronicling the struggles and ennui of the moneyed, the leisure classes.

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