Nobody Wants to Talk About the P-Word


The New York Times reports that neither major candidate for president is talking much about the poor:

Mrs. Clinton, who is scheduled to speak about her economic plans on Thursday near Detroit, is campaigning as an advocate for middle-class families whose fortunes have flagged. She has said much less about helping the millions of Americans who yearn to reach the middle class.

Her Republican rival, Donald J. Trump, spoke in Detroit on his economic proposals three days ago, and while their platforms are markedly different in details and emphasis, the candidates have this in common: Both promise to help Americans find jobs; neither has said much about helping people while they are not working.

“We don’t have a full-voiced condemnation of the level or extent of poverty in America today,” said Matthew Desmond, a Harvard professor of sociology. “We aren’t having in our presidential debate right now a serious conversation about the fact that we are the richest democracy in the world, with the most poverty. It should be at the very top of the agenda.”

Is that true? Pretty much. OECD numbers on poverty are fairly simplistic, but they provide a decent look at which rich countries have the most people in poverty after you account for social welfare payments. Greece edges us out for the top spot, but only barely. That’s really something when you consider just what Greece has been through lately.

I noted a few months ago that even Bernie Sanders didn’t talk too much about poverty during his campaign. Everybody seems to have either given up on it or else decided that it’s a campaign loser, so they shouldn’t talk about it. Sadly, I suspect they’re right.