Busting the poverty pimps

Our media loves to pimp the poor and tell us stories about poverty. The same happens in the UK and like here they get busted every time.

The latest poster child for the perils of poverty has just been busted for being a stupid cow.

This week, a charity called Church Action On Poverty launched a poster campaign that says ‘Britain Isn’t Eating’, mocking the Tories’ famous 1979 election campaign poster ‘Britain Isn’t Working’ that helped Margaret Thatcher to victory.

This time, the charity claims, the long queues are not for the dole office, but for food banks. ‘Thousands are going hungry because of benefits changes,’ it protests.

I thought of those posters when I read the story of Katie McGill, a 28-year-old unemployed single mum.

In an interview this week, Katie claimed her benefits payments soon won’t leave her enough to buy food and basic necessities for her two children.

Another victim of ‘cruel Tory cuts’? Hardly.

This Christmas, Katie gave her two children Mya-Renee, three, and Calvin, eight, two new bikes, TVs, DVDs and numerous computer games — all paid for after she took out eight payday loans that have left her £3,000 in debt.

The result? The repayments mean she’ll have no money left over from her welfare cheques to feed her children. Another candidate for the food banks, then.

Now, I realise that not all families in need have been as foolish as Katie — and that there are thousands who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, and who, with the cost of living soaring, are in genuine need. But I also suspect that there are a lot of self-indulgent and irresponsible fools like Katie.  

Stupid, irresponsible, yet pimped out as a poster child of poverty in the UK.

Part of the problem is that the very definition of ‘poverty’ in the UK has become so blurred that it’s hard to know who’s genuinely in desperate need — and who’s just not as well-off as they’d like to be. According to the Child Poverty Action Group, for instance, there are 3.5 million children living in poverty in Britain — more than one in four of all children.

Common sense alone tells you such statistics simply cannot be true — until you read their small print which defines ‘poverty’ as being families who ‘lack resources to obtain the type of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged and approved, in the societies to which they belong’.

In other words, if families can’t afford takeaways, go on foreign holidays, wear designer trainers and have satellite TV like their better-off neighbours then they’re ‘living in poverty’.

Try telling that to a starving child in Africa, or an orphan fleeing war-torn Syria with just the rags on their back.

Yes, those in crisis deserve our help and support — especially at this time of year. But cynically misleading campaigns about Britain’s starving masses help no one.

My word aren’t our countries similar. Manufactured and made statistics that ensure that there will always be poor people with us. You are poor, apparently, in New Zealand if you earn 60% of the median income. Now this is total rubbish of course, as the median income is always changing and therefore the 60% threshold will change too…so if the median income in NZ was $1 million then a “poor person” would be earning $600,000 using that measure.

As you can see it is rubbish. In a country that considers itself int eh first world we have no real poverty. We have welfare systems for those in need, never mind that there are some in society that seem to believe the welfare system is there to provide them with endless bounty without endeavour, it is a welfare system nonetheless.

People in NZ who are considered poor by various measurement all still have power, hot and cold running water, a fridge, a freezer, washing machine and drier plus numerous cars…they are hardly poor.

It is time the media stopped pimping the poor, especially when they aren’t.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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