What Does It Take To Escape Income Disparity?

            To investigate the disconcerting acuity of Branko Milanovic’s insight (this blog’s previous post), Analysis re-imagined a news story that appeared in the online In Plain Sight, Poverty In America by NBC news senior staff writer Tony Dokoupil (12-3-13); “re-imagined” because the report’s writing creates an imaginary of its own, despite any objective pretensions. The report is entitled “What does it take to escape poverty? Ask Karvel Anderson, American success story in the making”. The account documents a very gifted athlete’s exit from one catastrophe after another during the “Great Recession”, thanks to the help of a great many generous people. As he is “on his way” (attending college, with many potential opportunities available to him in the future), it is definitely “in the making”. The story rivals any written by Dickens. One could even say it reproduces the genre created by him. What happens to the reading when the title word “poverty” is replaced by “income disparity” or “income inequality”? Immediately the mega bucks world of big time televised college sports and bowl games/tournaments springs to mind; that the athletes are not paid  but must maintain “amateur” status, and that the organizers, promoters, media and future professional sports “jobs creators” are the prime beneficiaries of such a youth’s exit from income disparity, er, poverty. He doesn’t really escape income inequality (disparity), does he? Mike Tyson and Leon Spinks likewise come to mind, as do so many other “gifted” athletes from “tough” backgrounds who used their talents to pull themselves out of income disparity, er, poverty. When “poverty” is replaced by “income disparity” the story loses its Dickensian charm; no more Tiny Tim pathos. Memories of Karvel’s uncle, mother, siblings and totally absent father displace the Rocky theme, for these individuals are still inextricably caught up in poverty, er, income disparity. Change the word and the focus immediately shifts from a Horace Greeley “Me” (de rigueur for today’s have-it-all and have-it-on-demand marketing) to an almost uncomfortable Roosevelt “We” (so very fey, not at all PC!). “Because ‘my’ concern with the poverty of some people actually projects me in a very nice, warm glow”.  


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