Afternoon Must Read: Poverty the Forgotten Campaign Issue

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There has been no shortage of issues to discuss in the 2012 presidential campaign, but one issue that is conspicuously absent from the debate is poverty. Some advocates, including Rev. Sandra Strauss of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches (who serves on the Keystone Research Center's board), decided to make it a campaign issue. Check out her op-ed in today's Patriot-News.

More than 46 million Americans are living in poverty — about 15 percent of our population. UNICEF recently released a report showing the U.S. ranks second in the world in “relative child poverty” at 23.1 percent. Only Romania ranks higher. Despite these shockingly high figures, campaigns and candidate debates have only addressed poverty peripherally, and it barely registers in the media.

“Poverty barely registers as a campaign issue. Just 17 of the 10,489 campaign stories studied addressed poverty in a substantive way. Moreover, none of the eight outlets included a substantive discussion of poverty in as much as 1 percent of its campaign stories,” found a study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. ...

Poverty remains largely invisible for millions, particularly in rural areas. Rural poor tend to hide their situations out of fear or embarrassment. Thus, poverty ends up being viewed as an urban problem. Many rural/suburban residents and elected officials believe that they have no stake or responsibility for helping to address it. ...

Poverty is everyone’s problem. As inequity increases, the impacts affect all of us. It not only deserves, but demands, our attention and our determined efforts to end it. Individuals, communities of faith and nonprofits have been instrumental in helping to address the urgent needs of people and families in poverty, but all these efforts are only a small bandage trying to cover a much deeper wound.

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