Saturday, September 10, 2005

FEMA debit cards cancelled - do you smell a rat?

FEMA has not really given a coherent explanation for halting its debit-card program that gave each Katrina evacuee as much as $2,000 in direct assistance in Houston. Could it be because the banks and the usurious check-cashing companies that have long been allowed to exploit the poor weren't getting their share? (Let's keep those campaign donations rolling.)

With the pro-privatization crowd in power, it always pays to look for the underlying economic motive. But part of the challenge in investigating these issues is that reporters themselves rarely know what it was like to grow up poor, so they don't even know what questions to ask.

Do you think that Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper, ever had to worry about how high the check-cashing fees are?

Because we kid ourselves that we are a classless society, when there is talk about diversifying our newsrooms (and all too often it is just talk), they never talk about diversity in terms of class. We may see more women and people of color hired (and occasionally promoted), but they all come from the same narrow socioeconomic slice of society.

And as our colleges and universities become more and more expensive to attend, only the sons and daughters of the upper middle class can afford four-year degrees, which will further narrow the range of voices we hear and issues we address.

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