Recommended viewing on the so-called moochers

Those who blame poverty on poor people not trying hard enough (and even those who don’t) should watch the Frontline documentary “Poor Kids” about the kids in a few struggling families in the Midwest. I finally got around to watching it myself last night, something I’ve been meaning to do since it was named the winner of a 2013 RFK Journalism Award for Domestic TV. Warning: will make you realize everything is worse than you thought.


  • Alan Barta

    You want to scoop up all those waifs and lay out a banquet. Never begrudge paying taxes, but energy costs and taxes are the biggest items in our budget. Had to cut food costs myself, because it’s about the only expense you can personally manipulate.

    • Jen Sorensen

      The food those kids are eating is one of the saddest parts of that documentary.

      • Alan Barta

        The first things to go from a subsistence diet are fresh fruits and meats. They are eating canned vegetables alone, days with either dry cereal or milk without cereal, fifty cent frozen pizzas, or nothing at all. If you don’t cry buckets you’re inhuman.
        It’s been said that this nation is the worst to live in in the world when you’re poor, because surrrounding luxuries tantalize. Among planet’s most advanced industrialized countries, we still abide local shortages of electricity, food, potable water, propane for heating. Still, I’ll take it to China, Sudan or Syria right about now.

        • Benjamin Schwab

          To nitpick, eating 50 cent frozen pizzas is better then eating mud like the poor do in Hatti. This is one of the better nations to be poor in. Money may be an impediment to acceptable quality food in this country but it is not an impediment to having enough food to survive even if low quality.

          By my amateur research somewhere between 25% and 45% of the food produced for human consumption goes to waste in the US. It’s only a matter of organization why not everybody can have trivial access to quality food. That said matters of organization aren’t trivial. We (in the US) live in a land of such abundant plenty and yet we still see the poverty we see. It’s shameful.

          As far as why the poor are scapegoated and blamed not only for their own problems but those of those who are wealthy, was it Ovid who first said “we often hate those who we hurt.” This dynamic is easily understandable.

          As far as taxes, from my amateur research, the effective aggregate tax rate across all levels of government in the US is 30% which is up from 20% in 1970. Along with that the aggregate taxes in this country are almost proportional with federal taxes being slightly progressive on the whole but state and local taxes being highly regressive (this also varies from state to state and has been regressing over this same time). It makes me shake my head whenever I hear “only 54% of Americans pay taxes.” This is easily believable ignorance but one this is clear, over the past 40 years the tax burden has shifted towards to lower end of the income distribution and as popular movements have been lackluster at best as of late, the government exists to serve the wealthy who can purchase political power. In short the poor are paying more and getting less.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.