The few times I've listened to NPR lately, I've noticed something interesting. Instead of examining how deliberate US policies and practices of the last 40 years (and most dramatically of the past 10-15 years) have created stunning rates of poverty and extreme income inequality in the US (40th from the bottom out of 140 countries according to the CIA!), NPR is featuring stories that assert that people suffering from the effects of policies redistributing wealth upwards were "spoiled" by having better incomes in the past and need to accept the reality of working harder for less so that the rich can continue to enrich themselves.
Two recent features caught my attention:
- One was on Friday's ATC and reported on the suck-wages ($11 an hour) for mill work in Maine (BTW, $11/hr for a 40 hour week comes out to $22880 a year) which is frankly squat (and the six-figure script readers at NPR know that very well).
- The second story was on Saturday's ATC and looked at unemployment and debt among recent college grads.
"They're spoiled. They're spoiled. They got so used to the bigger paychecks. They don't know how to live without.....it's better than nothing, she says, which is what she had as a kid...Folks today, she says, need to learn how to make do with less."and
"This might be a good thing for this town. They've had things easy for a long time. They've got all of these toys. They have the snowmobiles, they own a camp. You know, it's - people, I think, should pare back anyway in what they do. You know, a little attitude adjustment, you know?"
The NPR reporter on this story, Tovia Smith, offers her editorial approval of these attitudes, commenting that "It's a kind of bravado that's not uncommon up here in this cold, northern corner of New England, where folks are as hardy as they are frugal, and making do is a kind of badge of honor."
The Saturday story on college grads scoffs at students who study "softer and more qualitative majors" such as literature, psychology, etc., and simply accepts that the university experience should be a kind of trade school experience aimed at landing a well-paying job. Not a word about the importance of a free (or even affordable), liberal higher education to the health of any democratic society. Instead of spending any time investigating why student debt has skyrocketed and who is benefiting from this scam, NPR's Jackie Leyden ends her report with this condescending bit of wisdom:
"So maybe it comes down to changing your expectations about what life is really all about..."Indeed!