Poverty on the Front Page…Along With Other News

USA Today‘s cover story today (12/5/12) is a moving piece by Marisol Bello headlined, “For the Poor, ‘Recovery’ Is a Mirage.”

The kind of poverty, as Bello reported, that is

lived by Nancy Scott, a former stay-at-home mom working a temporary minimum-wage job, who says she had to choose between exhausting her paycheck on rent and utilities or living in her 1990 pickup.

She chose the truck.

Bello focuses one town in Ohio:

But for people in Troy–and the tens of millions of Americans like them–the daily hardships of poverty aren’t captured in statistics or healed by political promises. As lawmakers in Washington grapple with the “fiscal cliff” and Americans do their holiday shopping, thousands of people in Miami County are managing on little or no income.

Bello manages to write a moving, humane portrait of poor workers without a soundbite from someone like the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, who tends to show up in fairly often in such reporting to make the point that the poor don’t have it that bad.

And then, right beneath this story, another bit of front-page news: a glimpse of an entirely different world. In “A Calling Card for the Café Riche,” the paper tells readers that Starbucks has announced a super-limited $450 gift card:

Just in time for the holidays, the trend-setting coffee behemoth today will be at the forefront of what could be yet another cultural hot button: the super-premium gift card. The Starbucks Metal Card isn’t made of plastic, but steel. Each specially etched card, loaded with $400, costs $50 to make, which Starbucks says explains the $450 price tag.

The cards will “only be sold on the luxury goods website,” so you’re never likely to see one, or even care that they exist. An official with the website, of course, sees it differently: “When you’re waiting in line at Starbucks, the next person in line won’t have it.”

This is, of course, his business, so he’s bound to say something like that. And anyone who has $450 to spend on a fancy gift card can go ahead and spend their money that way.

But does anyone in the world really want to pretend this is news?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.