NBC Radio – Second Sunday – “Poverty’s Children” – May 14, 1972 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Much as we like to look back on the past and cast it in the rosy glow of “the good old days”, some days have never changed – they have stayed the same, and they no doubt will never change.
One of those constants, it seems, is poverty. Though the gap between “them that’s got” and “them that don’t” is getting wider, the fundamental issue is the same – poor is poor no matter how you slice it and all those elements associated with poverty have not changed. Food, shelter, living conditions, education, race and ethnicity – those have been givens. Today the only marked difference is drugs and the huge uptick in emotional disorders – they have all been lumped together to create a not-too-accurate picture of the current state of poverty in America. But in the 1970s it was pretty cut-and-dried.
Then, as now and always, the ones caught in the nightmare’s crossfire are children – from newborns to early teens, the spiral of poverty and the social stigma of living below the poverty line surrounding it are relentless.
In this documentary, one of the monthly productions for NBC Radio’s Second Sunday series, the issue of poverty primarily centers on the children of poverty – those kids who were at or below the Poverty Line, yet go to school, have a home with one or two parents and perhaps even siblings, but try to carry on a normal life, pretending everything is “okay” – however, under the pressures and dysfunctions it’s next to impossible to maintain a facade. The fallout is that it creates a wave of dropouts – and in turn creates another generation of crime, alcohol and drug abuse and another failure of society.
The solutions run the gamut in this documentary – from the optimistic to the “tough love” (via Governor Reagan), but all have echoes to what we are experiencing now.
One would imagine that, in 50 years the story would be different. But the problems are the same and the solutions are depressingly familiar.
Perhaps it’s time for bureaucracy to start thinking outside the box. If only . . .
Here’s that documentary, Poverty’s Children as it was first aired on May 14, 1972 by NBC Radio.
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