Poor America – BBC Panorama – 13 Feb 2012

This is a ‘must see’ relatively short but shocking documentary from that wonderful institution, the BBC.

Children missing meals. Tent cities – because the homeless shelters are full. All part of the post-GFC world for a growing number of Americans.

A debate ensues between the usual kinds of suspects in the documentary. Left-liberals advocate greater government intervention, and, in the right-corner, ‘conservatives’ (who are economic libertarians) callously push for less assistance placing their faith solely in private enterprise.

Additionally, we are told that these people are ‘not really poor’. However some of them clearly are living in extreme poverty (witness people living in storm water drains). More generally, poverty is relative. Those wealthy countries with greater income disparity suffer much higher levels of social problems.

Why should it merely be a choice between greater state intervention (while ‘letting the market rip’) and just letting the market rip (with failed ‘trickle down economics’)?

As the Equality Trust has pointed out, there needs to be a combination between better distribution of income and redistribution via tax and benefits.

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