Invisible Americans Get the Silent Treatment

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It’s just astonishing to us how long this campaign has gone on with no discussion of what’s happening to poor people. Official Washington continues to see poverty with tunnel vision – “out of sight, out of mind.”

And we’re not speaking just of Paul Ryan and his Draconian budget plan or Mitt Romney and their fellow Republicans.  Tipping their hats to America’s impoverished while themselves seeking handouts from billionaires and corporations is a bad habit that includes President Obama, who of all people should know better.

Remember: for three years in the 1980’s he was a community organizer in Roseland, one of the worst, most poverty-stricken and despair-driven neighborhoods in Chicago. He called it “the best education I ever had.” And when Obama left to go to Harvard Law School, author Paul Tough writes in The New York Times, he did so, “to gain the knowledge and resources that would allow him to eventually return and tackle the neighborhood’s problems anew.” There’s a moving line in Dreams from My Father where Obama writes: “I would learn power’s currency in all its intricacy and detail” and “bring it back like Promethean fire.”

Oddly, though, for all his rhetorical skills, Obama hasn’t made a single speech devoted to poverty since he moved into the White House.

Five years ago, he was one of the few politicians who would talk about it. Here he is in July 2007, speaking in Anacostia, one of the poorest parts of Washington, D.C.:

“The moral question about poverty in America — How can a country like this allow it? — has an easy answer: we can’t. The political question that follows — What do we do about it? —  has always been more difficult. But now that we’re finally seeing the beginnings of an answer, this country has an obligation to keep trying.”

 Barack Obama the candidate said he wanted to spend billions on a nationwide program similar to Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children Zone in New York City, widely praised for its focus on comprehensive child development. In the last three years, only $40 million have been spent with another $60 million scheduled for local community grants.

Obama’s White House team insisted their intentions were good, but the depth of the economic meltdown passed along by their predecessors has kept them from doing more. And yes, billions have been spent on direct aid to families in the form of welfare, food stamps, housing vouchers and other payments. What’s needed, as Paul Tough at the Times and others say, is a less scattershot, more comprehensive program that gets to the root of the problem, focusing on education and mentoring. Not easy to do when a disaffected middle class that votes says hey, what about us? — and the wealthy one percent who lay out the fat campaign contributions simply say, so what?

Just a few days ago, The Chronicle of Philanthropy issued a report on charitable giving. Among its findings: “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes  to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities.” Responding to that study, social psychologist Paul Piff told National Public Radio, “The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become.”

Those few who dedicate themselves to keeping the poor ever in sight realize how grave the situation really is. The Associated Press reports that, “The number of Americans with incomes at or below 125 percent of the poverty level is expected to reach an all-time high of 66 million this year.” A family of four earning 125 percent of the federal poverty level makes about $28,800 a year, according to government figures.

That number’s important because 125 percent is the income limit to qualify for legal aid, but although that family may qualify for help, budgets for legal services have been slashed, too, and pro bono work at the big law firms has fallen victim to downsizing.  So it’s not surprising, the AP goes on to say, that there’s a crisis in America’s civil courts because people slammed by the financial meltdown — overwhelmed by foreclosure, debt collection and bankruptcy cases —  can’t afford legal representation and have to represent themselves, creating gridlock in our justice system — and one more hammer blow for the poor.

We know, we know: It is written that, “The poor will always be with us.” But when it comes to our “out of sight, out of mind” population of the poor, you have to think we can help reduce their number, ease the suffering, and speak out, with whatever means at hand, on their behalf and against those who would prefer they remain invisible. Speak out:  that means you and me, and yes, Mr. President, you, too. You once told the big bankers on Wall Street that you were all that stood between them and the pitchforks of an angry public. How about telling the poor you will make sure our government stands between them and the cliff?

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  • Florida Guy

    Mr. Moyers, they are also forgetting a valuable historical lesson. If a society ignores the poor long enough, the rich are endangered and the political system is subject to overthrow. Even the most selfish individual should be concerned about the poor. It would be unwise not to be, and possibly fatal.

  • JHalgren

    I agree with Florida Guy. When one falls, we all fall together. It happens–we are all connected in a network of humanity. So, indeed, whoever becomes President must step up to the plate and hit a home run for those who need a helping hand. Is that so hard?

  • Jon C. Schultz

    Thank you, Bill Moyers. You and your company of friends are doing a much needed piece of work reminding us who we are and what we claim we are about.

  • Bunu

    The reality shows us the obvious : it’s not that easy. It is easier to pay lip service than to do something about it.

  • Gina de Miranda

    I just spent 5 days trying to get help for my son. He was dumped on the streets of Texas by his wealthy father with no provision for his care–DESPITE my urgent pleadings to create a plan for his transition to independent living. Thank goodness for ONE compassionate woman in San Marcos, TX. She was one of two bureaucrats who helped me out. Everybody else screamed “Jurisdiction” and ran for the hills.

    The indifference of these greedy people to the rest of the country will be their undoing. did I mention that his father was a guy who created the base element for real estate derivatives? I’d love to talk about these people. I am sickened by what is going on. There are vast bureaucracy organized seemingly to be an impenetrable barrier to rise out of the clutches of misfortune, illness, genetic accident and other problems.

    I have an education. I cannot get a decent job or I would be supporting my son. I am so angry at the mess that the greedy have made of this world with their “market efficiency” malarkey and other policies designed only for the benefit of multinationals and not human beings.

  • unkerjay

    Thank you, Bill.

  • SKPKnows

    I believe the Affordable Care Act is a major advancement in assisting “the poor.” The President rightfully gets the credit. His commitment to passage was courageous and may cost him this election. He and his team do need to speak out about why the ACA is a benefit to not only the poor but every American.

  • Shunke Weeya

    Mr. President Obama: how about a bold move like making the announcement to use all the campaign money raised for the upcoming re-election to fund services for the poor instead? In the light of such a compassionate act, you would undoubtedly have the respect and admiration of many of the American people.

  • Anonymous

    No, Romneycare is strengthening the problem (see Bill’s excellent coverage on the sell-out of Democracy on that one). Universal healthcare would have been courageous. He will lose because he didn’t stand up for people, but instead let Goldman Sachs an the rest of Wall Street go free from any prosecution. He is not a “New Deal” Democrat, he is a Corporatist. Obama had a chance, and he sold out.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for speaking so candidly about the shortcomings of the administration that we all had so many hopes. Unfortunately, Congress has done nothing to help the President realize his goals. And the President has been held hostage during this Recession to talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. No handouts now…

  • New Englander

    The prevailing, if unspoken, message in America now seems to be if you’re poor, it’s your own fault–just work harder and it will go away! Poor people often work harder than anyone else. I would refer readers to David Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America, and No Shame in My Game: Working Poor in the Inner City, by Katherine S. Newman. Thank you, Bill Moyers, for your vigilance on these and so many other important issues.

  • Dave Atch

    Educating and mentoring for what? That’s the root. What will a full employment economy mean when now industry itself has to (should) gear itself to a deteriorating environment…when there’s technology from China that cannot be whooped? The answer is something like the CCC, but that’s another thing pols and media can’t stomach after the “financial services revolution” (economy of cube jobs). What makes the present day scapegoats, Bill? Or, a better question…what makes the models models? They don’t have the debt? Or, they won’t have it by the time I run into it? The violence isn’t creeping into their neighborhood? Less austerity-sharkiness on their job? [ye olde Hobbesian “war of all against all”?] If their computers jam due to some virus, they’ll simply buy new ones without a thought and their banking, for instance, won’t be in the least phased? Anyway, media doesn’t exactly want to explain what makes them the models (or us the scapegoats), does it? Cause that would give the lie to the whole trip. Understanding this as you do (and media as you do), I suppose you will know why “Angela’s Ashes” wasn’t hailed for what it was…grossing 13 mil out of the 25 invested (which we watched at my house Thur night). And today I heard the “inattentional blindness” thing on Bob Edwards. We’re gonna be distracted by THEM, or at least they’ll keep burn’n up the megawatts trying.

  • Deborah

    Bill, when you returned to the air I literally danced a jig of happiness because finally news about what is really happening in this country was back on television. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Your guests have been outstanding and thought provoking. I hope it will get us, the people, to come together and fight the corruption in Congress and on Wall Street and fight to make the Constitution and the Bill of Rights a reality for ALL of the people of this nation. KEEP THE INFORMATION COMING!!

  • Bruce Bardes

    Mr. Moyers, an explanation for President Obama’s lack of attention to the poor is very simple. He and his campaign advisers believe that he is certain to receive as many votes from the poor people as it is possible for him to get. Poor people are beholden to the Democrats, and both parties know that. Also, poor people aren’t able to contribute money to the President’s re-election campaign — they don’t have any money. Therefore, why should President Obama waste his time campaigning for votes that are already in the bag? By similar reasoning, why should Governor Romney waste his time campaigning for votes he’ll never get?

  • QLangston

    I am glad that we holding the President to task, but I also think that we need to remember the pervasiveness of the conservative/libertarian system that BELIEVES that the poor are thieves (as a matter of ideological principle). Helping them then becomes synonomous with socialism and statism. Here is a Harvard video on the subject. Students make the case that any state intervention to help the poor is unjust.
    More than anything else, the President needs to win this election. I believe that he is committed to the poor, but will be of little help if he loses office.
    Yet, we might also hope that Mr. Obama could actually lead a meaningful debate –and confront some of the ideas concerning freedom, equality, and liberty that have become so twisted in recent years.


    There are some answers to how we can help the poor, but they
    may be political suicide; they involve putting more of the burden of government
    on those that can most afford it and giving more help to those that need
    it. My suggestions, unpopular though
    they may be, are;

    1) Rewrite the tax code so that those least able to afford it
    spend no more of a percentage of their income than those most able to afford
    it. Warren Buffet’s famous comment about
    how he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary is illustrative of this point. Increase the standard deduction so as to
    allow people to have a greater share of the fruits of their labor; I suggest
    $10,000 per person per return without a distinction as to marital status. It should allow any wage earners or person
    who files a return to file jointly with any other person in residence at their
    address. This eliminates any
    “marriage penalty” and allows for multi-generational families that
    share expenses to file as one unit. It also
    does not depend on any “marital status” definition so that domestic
    partners may file as one without the bother of registering as domestic

    1a) Eliminate deductions entirely for those whose income is
    more than 99% of the populace, with increasing deductions allowed based upon
    your relation to the rest of the populace; you make more than 98% you get to deduct
    1% of available deductions, 97% gets to use 2% and so on. But everyone gets that initial $10,000 personal
    deduction. All other deductions should
    be graduated as discussed above.

    1b) Just as a graduated tax structure is fairer to those
    that can least afford to fund government than a per capita tax structure, so is
    a per capita rebate system fairer to those that can least afford to fund
    government than a graduated rebate structure.
    When ever a rebate is offered it should be a per capita direct payment
    scheme, not a graduated rebate based upon tax rates. Those that need the money the most,
    especially as they WILL spend it thus stimulating economic activity, get the
    most benefit from any per capita rebate.
    Even with the pro-rata rebates of the last stimulus those at the top of
    the economic pile got little to no benefit (they did not even notice it) from
    the graduated system used and those at the bottom were not helped very much at

    1c) Employment has
    the greatest possibility of reducing poverty.
    As such we can use tax credits or deductions to businesses that hire the
    un/under-employed. For example, if you
    hire a person that is unemployed a business should get a tax credit/deduction
    for that act, say a deduction equal to twice the costs of employing that
    individual, including advanced training, for the length they were unemployed. Hiring a person that is underemployed should
    grant a deduction of twice the difference in salary for the term of their employment,
    maybe adjusted for inflation over that term.
    Terminating an employee and hiring another to do the same work, even if
    that “hiring” is restructuring to give the work to some else that is
    currently employed either wholly or partly, should be penalized possibly by
    paying that person’s salary for a term equal to their employment with COLA’s or
    until the person finds equal employment or retires.

    2) Establish a (semi-) permanent policy on the purpose of
    government. My idea is that government
    exists to protect the governed. These are
    expressed in four key areas.

    2a) National Defense;
    or defense against the invaders. Requires
    a military, like it or not. Until we are
    free from the possibility of aggressive military action from outside our borders
    we need to fund our defense.

    2b) Protection from
    violent actions not included in 2a above.
    This means police and a criminal court system.

    2c) Protection from
    fraud. Fraudulent behavior occurs on
    many fronts, from the need to enforce contracts and copyrights to preventing
    unscrupulous companies/individuals from selling inferior or dangerous products
    and even to damaging our living spaces by their industry, thus the need for the
    EPA, BLM and wildlife preservation efforts, and a civil court system.

    One such fraud is that corporate retirement plans have the
    assets remain the property of the corporation involved and not the individual
    who accepted such a plan as “deferred compensation.” Retirement funds should be held in trust by a
    trustworthy firm or agency (like a special branch of Social Security) and not
    be accessible by the employer for ANY reason.
    The employee should always be considered 100% vested in their retirement
    funds but unable to draw against them until they retire. Raiding retirement plans has become all too
    common a practice and leads to increased poverty. Only corporate retirement plans that have
    safeguards against employer abuses should be “qualified” for
    exemption from the Social Security OASDI payroll tax.

    2d) Protection from disadvantage
    by circumstance. People who are born
    poor have very little chance of rising out of that condition, no matter how
    industrious or intelligent they may be. The
    disadvantage of poverty, especially by a circumstance of birth, is extremely
    difficult to overcome and the instances of anyone doing so are so rare that the
    popularized stories of such are the exception that proves the rule. Our tax structure needs to be such that we give
    them the greatest assistance we can while asking the least of them in return.

    While many of our rights are specifically enshrined in our
    Constitution, the 9th Amendment tells us that we others as well. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights,
    shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The rights that ARE listed, as well as other
    founding documents, can help us infer some of those that are not. The “right to life, liberty and the pursuit
    of happiness” can be very illustrative in this regard.

    One is extremely liberated by being homeless but the right
    to life is endangered by that condition and the pursuit of happiness is
    extremely curtailed. Thus one might
    extrapolate a right to housing, secure and with basic utilities. So we have HUD and various energy and
    telephone assistance programs. We need
    to do more regardless of any evaluation as to if the individual deserves the
    assistance or not (Matt 7 and Matt 25 for biblical quotes)

    One cannot perform well while employed if one is hungry, so
    we have “food stamps” (SNAP). This
    is an illustration of our historic consideration of a right to food access
    irrespective of our economic condition. We
    have been less concerned with this of late.
    It is shameful that it has fallen so far in our estimation of our duty.

    Disadvantage in healthcare can lead to early death, poor
    health during life and decreased earning potential. In Europe
    and the Middle-East those countries where the effects of the global economic
    downturn have had the least effect they have universal coverage for healthcare,
    some even have “single payer.”
    Medicare for All” would solve much of our medical cost issues, but
    it would devastate the private insurance industry. They would have to get out of healthcare
    entirely. Never mind that they make
    plenty of profits on property and liability insurance. They will not only survive but they will

    Discrimination in employment is also an area that keeps the
    poor from succeeding. Therefore we have
    the DOJ’s Civil Rights division. Labor
    relations need to be closely monitored to protect worker’s rights, health and
    safety. Wage theft nets the employer
    little but contributes greatly to poverty conditions. 37signals is an example of a company that
    THRIVES on empowering their workers, not exploiting them.

    Disadvantage in Educational opportunities is another area
    that keeps the poor from succeeding. Quota
    systems based upon race only address an effect that poverty has (more of one
    ethnic group in poverty than another), not the condition of poverty
    itself. 100% of those in poverty are
    disadvantaged regardless of race. A
    non-impoverished person with the appropriate racial characteristic satisfies
    the quota without helping any impoverished individual. As reparation for past abuses it falls
    short. As a program to reduce poverty it
    is less than effective, at least on the scale it needs to be. Changing it to one based on income levels not
    only removes any racial discriminatory aspect of the program, it actually
    targets the condition of poverty itself.

    I’ll probably be called a racist for being against the
    current format of Affirmative Action. Call
    it what it is; reparations for past abuses, but use another program to attack
    poverty issues.

    We need to pay our teachers so that they do not live in
    poverty themselves. We need to fund our
    schools so that there are enough books, supplies, classrooms, staff and faculty
    to adequately educate our students. Teachers
    should not be buying supplies from their salaries. If vouchers are allowed they should only be
    payable to institutions whose curriculum match or exceed the standards of the
    public school system, including the prohibition of religious indoctrination
    (1st Amendment again) and prohibit pseudo-science classes (young earth science,
    etc.). Corporate donations/partnerships should
    be allowed as long as there is no marketing element involved. Students are there to learn, not be

    I am sure others can come up with more, but if we just
    implement these suggestions then we will have gone a long way to at least
    reducing poverty in the richest nation on earth.

  • Mary Welch-Birss

    It’s much safer to talk about women’s body parts don’t you think? Especially by a bunch of white men.

  • sally

    Thank you Bill, for another thoughtful essay.

    I take you to task for one thing, though: “I know, it is written that the poor will always be with us.” Written where? In a book of mythology, two thousand years ago, by men of the iron age? Can we please stop referring to such “writings” as wisdom?

    The poor will be with us until we decide they won’t be, not because it is ordained by stone age snake charmers. We have it in our power to eradicate this problem. Speaking as though some imaginary supreme being has deemed otherwise is powerfully self-fulfilling.

  • randy mayo

    i like this idea.

  • randy mayo

    the ACA gives people many new freedoms. for the middle income families: the freedom to live without fear of their insurance being cancelled because they got sick or went over their lifetime limit. for those who do not have insurance they have the freedom to get insurance at a price they can afford even if they have pre-existing conditions. it is also set up to make total healthcare more efficient and less costly.



  • rich

    The reason we have had these problems is when religion mixed in with politics (the tea party) astro turf phonies bent on one thing a smaller government. A smaller government for who?? Not them! They want bigger government when it comes to abortion rights not jobs!! So for Mr. Royal who I think is a right wing panderer not some holy person has missed the entire point of the topic. Remember a country is not judged by it wealth or military might or number of billionaires or stock market profits it is judged by how it treats it’s people! And what Sister Simone was talking about resonates with the MAJORITY of Americans! Mr. Royal talks about treating the poor as a complex problem that can’t be solved with common sense but rather the Paul Ryan budget. Well Mr. Ryan can’t even explain his own budget beyond the basics! So why would I want to listen to a CAREER politician instead of some Nun who actually travels the country to talk with all the people of American not the religious right that voted Mr. Ryan into office and has his undying attention on any matter of making government smaller only when it serves their interests!
    I have a question for Mr. Royal. How many jobs bills has Mr. Ryan put forth in the last 3 years since the monumental collapse of our economy???? The answer is 0. And the reason the answer is 0 Mr. Royal is because Mr. Ryan doesn’t care about creating jobs as much as he would like to be a congressmen for the next 20 years so he can collect a nice full pension with great benefits. One thing no one will take about is the military budget. 700 Billion/year and a black budget for secret programs 50 Billion. We could certainly cut at least 100 billion per year to do many solve many of the as Mr. Royal stated complex problems. Sister Simone was entirely correct in all of her statements and I would hope Bill you would bring someone on the show with a back bone instead of just someone crowing the status quo. Which is the reason for all of our problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Rich Sottilaro

  • William Dickenson

    Yes, something is wrong. Do you think the president could have gotten anything for the poor through the house?What do you think of the BILLIONS of dollars being spent on an election, while so many people are without adequate food, shelter and healthcare?

  • Mark

    Bill Moyers, along with Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, are about the only commentators worth listening to, when it comes to the economy and what’s happening to this country. I particularly appreciate Moyers’ understanding of how it all relates to spirituality. Not surprisingly, in a piece about the poor (who are mentioned as God’s special concern hundreds of times in the Bible), Bill will quote the tag, “you will always have the poor with you” as though that were a rebuttal of his point. I’m sure Bill knows this, but probably most others don’t, especially the “Randian” Republicans: that those are the words of Jesus that continue: “you will always have the poor with you, AND YOU CAN HELP THEM ANY TIME YOU WANT.” (Mark 14:7) Taken with the parable of the Kingdom in Matthew 25, it’s abundantly clear: Jesus is saying that there is no limit on taking care of the needs of the poor from a Christian perspective. And make no mistake: Jesus and Ayn Rand (pace Paul Ryan) have absolutely nothing in common.

  • Nicasio Martinez

    This is surprising to whom? Not to me. Years ago I said, when those who could afford houses, cars, and send their children to college, can no longer support their lifestyle– then you will see a clamour for change. Youth already in an uproar and it will get continually worse. I ate mayonnaise on cheap white bread and drank a glass of water back in the 1960s. I welcome the middle-class to the struggles of the American Dream.

  • Nuzpeg

    One correction to your statement that there has been no discussion of the poor during this campaign. Mitt Romney has mentioned the poor; he said he doesn’t care about them.

  • max

    A question. Who/what will be around in 30 years? Sally and her legacy or a historical document chronicling 3000 years of history?

    The wisdom of this book of mythology says the poor will always be with us and Sally says we can change that. Don’t let your personal beliefs cloud the fact that there will always be evil men who exploit others. As dangerous as it may be to say on this site, so,e people DO in fact choose poverty by the choices they make. My problem with your argument is that you ar essentially removing free choice and consequences from the equation. Not possible.

  • brianstacync

    the problem with this country and your miserable life, is that everyone blames SOMEONE ELSE for their problems. Your son is an adult I presume or his father would be in jail for child neglect. He has no legal obligation to support him nor do you. Mommy is not helping by bailing him out.

  • David F., N.A.

    Well said, Moyers. Unfortunately your humane insights are only small glimmers in today’s madness.

    Be it Obama or Romney, we can’t afford another four years of a “bate and switch” White House and Congress. Occupy DC!

  • MBrecker

    Here are a few hopefully helpful ideas to try and answer the headline. Bear with me if you already know all of this.
    The conventions aren’t necessary because we know the nominees, and we also know that they’re “brands” to be marketed in an over $2 billion ad campaign. Will Obama win another advertising award for this one? Many other countries see this and the still pervasive voter fraud happening. Rightly so, they call it a “banana republic”. Many of the rich and powerful say that’s the way it’s done. If you don’t like it, shut up and go home.
    This “campaign” will be the most expensive and racist in history. The ONLY goal for the right is to literally destroy Obama. We can’t openly use the N word. So we’ll use “coded racism” instead, and that’s ok. In 2008, Obama was essentially told, if you want to run, racism is how it’s done. You have to just sit there and take it. If you can’t take it, quit now and go home. Remember a lot of the racist and insulting comments during the “debates”? Would any of the other candidates have tolerated it if a person of color moderator did that to them? No. They’d be screaming racism all over the MSM.
    If Obama wins, all current signs point to another four years of gridlock. His advisors are all telling him, you can never be seen as weak. Why else would he extend many of Bush’s policies? As for the debt, maybe the worst for both Obama and Romney is the not admitting the fact that the total national debt will NEVER be repaid. Unfortunately, if you then try to talk about writing off debts, nationalizing banks and recapitalizing the system until it’s stable, you get this response from people:
    Why should I pay some deadbeat’s bills for him/her?
    If Obama tries a New Deal style program to create jobs, the right will scream socialism (even though it’s not). The higher the unemployment rate (and the more corporations that don’t pay taxes), the smaller the potential tax revenue. The rich and powerful will NEVER give up their loopholes. Despite the occasional group of rich people who say we LOVE to pay more taxes, it’s just a cheap stunt. Nothing more.
    When will we reach the “Great Tipping Point”? Two answers. First, from Crosby and Nash. When the govt. says mandatory draft, and they come for you or your kid(s). Second, various national progressive names (insert famous name here) can write books, appear on Moyers and Company and other shows and preach all they want about we need to rise up. The truth is, you can’t make people do anything. I won’t try to make anyone else feel guilty because I don’t know their circumstances. I will however say that the old saying is true. You’re responsible for what you do and say (or don’t do and say). Nobody else.

  • philip gregory

    Bill Moyer! Now your back on track! Thank you!

    But, as much as it needs to be said, I doubt Obama is listening. I don’t doubt he came to the whitehouse with good intentions, but to learn and us ‘power’s currency’ he surrounded himself with ‘experts’ that have convinced him of their wisdom and now blindly follows their lead.

    A more useful approach might be to forever diffuse the corporate/rich argument that ‘what is good for [them] is good for the country’ and ‘trickle down’ will eventually feed the poor. Instead, the rich see trickle down as a leak endangering their floating mansions of power and wealth and have hired the ‘experts’ (again) who have plugged those leaks.

    Thank you for being a ‘champion’ of the poor and downtrodden majority in this country. And, by the way, what happened to the Green party? Have they been bought out or crushed by the latest wave of corporate dominance in this country?

  • philip gregory

    Your ignorance is showing…. Too bad you don’t know anything about that ‘book’. But, instead believe what others say. Just don’t confuse what the so-called christian religions say or do. They have twisted the truth to make ‘a trap for fools’.

  • kippy G

    Jill Stein is the Green Party Candidate for President, and she is not ignoring the poor. She is on the the ground protesting at the RNC and pushing to get the homeless into the millions of vacant homes.

  • Art Dickinson

    Rather than trying to stand between poor and cliff, perhaps we should promote the idea of organizing a “poor, downtrodden” voting bloc…perhaps devoted to a living wage…

  • Grouse Feather

    Good point.

  • Andrea Morisette Grazzini

    I’d add to the disenfranchised population, the disabled, too. And, I add: leaving people like these out of the picture and invisible is not only inhumane, it is imprudent. Among these forgotten groups are gems, like this young man, David. Who though invisible, can make inspiringly outsized contributions to our society — not to mention us fellow citizens, less hobbled up by lacks of support. We ignore them to our loss. Because leaders like David can make winners out of far more of us. All they need is support. But first, as Mr. Moyers points out, they need to be seen.

    Andrea Morisette Grazzini, Founder DynamicShift

  • jan

    I think the only reason Obama talked about the poor last time was because of Edwards and “Two Americas”. This time, he’s an incumbent and guaranteed the nomination. No one else is going to talk about the poor, especially the republicans unless it’s to accuse them of being lazy, etc., therefore there is no need to talk about the poor.

  • Gina de Miranda

    Cheney blew a lot of money trying to prove that the poor cheat on their taxes. Guess what the study found? It wasn’t the poor who were cheating..but his patrons. This is detailed in the book, Perfectly Legal by David Cay Johnston.

  • Gina de Miranda

    We need to get rid of the dummies who force stupid books on the educational system. We need to begin adopting the practices of countries whose students outshine ours. We need to begin permitting educational excellence not this propagandizing under no child left unscarred. We need to dispense with these annual tests and focus on improving teaching.

    Education must focus on teaching students to learn, to think, to examine facts critically and to communicate ideas. Gosh…that would be so much like a McGuffey reader and the curriculum of the ’50s.

  • Gina de Miranda

    Rich…excellent summary. By the way, why isn’t anyone mentioning that Paul Ryan got his economic ideas from a FICTION writer who spent most of her career hopped up on Amphetamines?

  • Sylvia Scarletti

    Bill, I thought your show would be on TV tonight but it wasn’t. How come PBS never cancels their many, many Wall St. and business programs? They must have a lot of viewers who have big investments in the stock market . I am so glad you are online and I can watch you any time I want to. And I’m glad you don’t have all those trolls trying to derail the comment threads used to bedevil your PBS blog.
    I hope people are beginning to wake up because we have to stop Romney/Ryan and we have to keep the Senate and take back the house.

  • Lotusblossom5

    I can tell you, poor people are not beholden to the Democrats. I am as liberal as they come, but I know people who are at the bottom of the income scale and are staunch Republicans who plan on voting for R/R.