Sunday, April 22, 2012

And now a word from our sponsors

The setting: Four smart people sitting at a shiny table on a TV set. At least two of them are wearing glasses.
They are discussing poverty in the United States.

Many things are said. Near the end of the segment, one of them identifies perhaps the most devastating reason for this growing poverty.

Too many working poor. It's simple. The burden of poverty belongs to many people who work one, two, maybe more jobs. The patchwork isn't enough to pay for the essentials. What their employers won't pay in exchange for their labor and productivity, the taxpayers must supplement if we're going to be a civilized society.

The not-quite-living-wage is a growing problem. Corporations large and small have funded laws to help them shift responsibility to the taxpayer for food, housing, and health care. Things that a living wage used to pay for. But that was before unions were eroded and trade agreements made it far more lucrative to employ people over seas.

The entire panel, even the token Republican, agree. Even if they'll never agree on who is to blame for this problem, they all agree the problem exists and things must change.

The devil always appears in the details. The question of how we can change things mires us in the quicksand of inaction.

Heads nod. The host touches the tiny speaker in his ear. Time for a break.

Cut to commercial.

The first advertisement announces how Walmart is helping to fight hunger.

Irony lives.