According to a 2005 World Bank study, the United States has the highest income inequality gap out of all of the developed countries in the world. As in any capitalist country, it is certain that there will be distinct social classes. Unfortunately, the distinction has created a radical separation between varying socioeconomic groups, which indicates a severe problem. The United States boasts an economy of unprecedented strength—given these circumstances, this extreme economic disparity is unacceptable.
What is the United States spending its money on if not the citizens of this country? For the past four years, President Bush has annually asked the congress to approve an ever-increasing war budget. This year, he asked for 46 billion dollars more in war funding for the coming years. This gross expenditure proves a waste of resources as Iraq eludes an expedient conclusion. As a consequence of this international focus, too many people in the United States suffer the injustices of poverty. This becomes a domestic human rights issue.
The government has proven inadequate in enforcing existing policy to alleviate this crisis. It is too easy to ignore the individual victimized by this negligence. There is always something that seems more significant—more urgent. However, there comes a point when it will be too late to resolve the consequences of poverty. America cannot prosper when a significant percentage of its population is left behind.
The mass media is also guilty of disregarding the social implications of poverty in the United States. E.J. Dionne Jr.’s recent Washington Post column, “Covering anything but poverty” addresses the negligence of the press regarding these same problems. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) conducted a study of broadcast television over the course of 38 months. The study cited an interesting example; during this time, there were only 58 stories about poverty on three distinct network newscasts. Compare this to the 69 stories concerning Michael Jackson—“and that’s just one celebrity.” Dionne’s allusion to the press “covering anything but poverty” parallels society’s tendency to do the same.
In the absence of legitimate press coverage and government representation, it is difficult to give voice to this persistent and problematic social issue. In light of the benefits the United States reaps as a developed and prosperous country, it is necessary that all sectors of our society are accounted for within this system. As Dionne concludes, “It’s more challenging and infinitely more important to tell the next story of the boy or girl now living in the shadows who will shake our consciences and change our country.” We must avoid being amongst those who ignore the very real problem of economic injustice.
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