“The Dirty Dozen”

Mike Niman

Mike Niman was a fellow college journalist back in the late 1970s and early 1980s at SUNY/Buffalo.  He was an activist in the true sense of the word — indefatigable and heading somewhere – and he founded a student newspaper (originally called, and wittily so, “The Other One,” and later titled “The Alternative Press”) to provide information and insight not found in the mainstream student newspaper, at which I was an editor.  Mike was adversarial but always very friendly and thoughtful, friendlier and more thoughtful, typically, than most of his adversaries, if I remember right. Mike (the photo above links to his Facebook page) is now a communications professor at Buffalo State College, and still an activist and author whom I admire. Yesterday he published a column called “The Dirty Dozen,” in which he laments that a number of important issues are being ignored or “downplayed” in the United States Presidential campaign. “These issues are engulfed in a deafening silence, both on the part of candidates and the media. This is inexcusable. This toxic silence prevents us from having national policy discussions about crucial issues at the only juncture, election time, where we the people have a voice.” Near the top of that list is *poverty*:

“Yes, it sucks to be struggling in the middle class today, with so many middle-class families descending into poverty. This is why we need to stop ignoring poverty, which sucks even more. Our social inequality numbers are off the charts, with the one percent amassing wealth at a greater rate than even during the Gilded Age, while the number of Americans in poverty skyrockets, and the desperation of that poverty continues to fester. Tens of millions of Americans regularly suffer homelessness, food insecurity or malnutrition, and a lack of access to healthcare and decent educational opportunities. This is more than an issue that true values voters should abhor. Such social disparity is corrosive to a democracy and threatens to unravel the very fabric of society. Poverty leads to desperation, violence, pandemic health issues, and social and political disengagement. It is shameful that candidates, in their rhetorical obsession with the middle class, choose ignore the poor—or worse, scapegoat them as if it were the scraps we throw to the poor, and not our wars and corrupt financial sector,  that crashed the economy and grew the debt.”

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