Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Poverty of ideas in Katrina's wake

My column this week considers the continuing problem of poverty in Louisiana. The column begins, "Donning his persona of supremely confident ├╝ber-anchor, comedian Stephen Colbert questioned a guest on the set of his Comedy Central fake news commentary show last week. When his guest referred to poverty in New Orleans, Colbert feigned astonishment, explaining that he thought Hurricane Katrina had taken care of that. The studio audience groaned as did, no doubt, several million people watching the show at home that night. But with that line, Colbert took a swipe at the media for failing to keep the spotlight on poverty in America and simultaneously shamed political leaders for failing to make poverty an issue at all." It concludes, "Louisiana has a poverty problem in more than the traditional sense of the word. It suffers from a poverty of priorities and a poverty of leadership committed to pursuing priorities in a way that will strengthen the state against future crises. Katrina should have been a wake-up call for Louisiana's politicians and media concerning the state's poverty problem. Instead, it looks like everyone just hit snooze and went back to sleep."