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Scapegoating the Poor

Program #SKLH003. Recorded in Raleigh, NC on October 29, 1994.

Scapegoating is a classic technique of manipulation and control. It deflects attention from those who benefit from the economic system. Right-wing politicians rail against welfare queens. Their counterparts on radio talk shows target the poor for causing economic decline. One thing is certain, there are serious problems, but scapegoating doesn't explain them. The economy has undergone drastic changes. The middle class is shrinking. Workers are putting in longer hours and earning less. Wages have been in a downward spiral for twenty years. Unions are fast disappearing, and with them workers' rights. Income inequality is increasing at a dramatic rate. In Manhattan, the income gap between rich and poor is greater than in Guatemala. People are suffering. So who is to blame? It must be unmarried black teenagers who are having too many babies and getting too many welfare checks. Or maybe it's gays and lesbians or immigrants? The entire public discourse is marked by distortion and propaganda. For example, Aid to Families with Dependent Children accounts for 1% of the budget, while aid to dependent corporations, which is much larger, is not even discussed.


Holly Sklar

Holly Sklar writes for The Nation, Z, USA Today, and other journals and newspapers. She's the author of Trilateralism, Streets of Hope, and Chaos or Community?: Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for Bad Economics.

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