Poverty Is A Game of Musical Chairs

Monday, 22 July 2013 | A Public Affair

“The biggest, the fundamental problem is the shortage of chairs and the quality of some of the chairs. If you were to have a bunch of kids play this game of musical chairs and you were to say alright, all the girls have to compete by walking around on their knees and all the black people have to compete holding one leg behind their back and hopping around on one leg, all of us would say how terribly unfair that is… It’s not an experience that adults should be having with respect to the single most important relationship they have with society.”- David Riemer references the musical chairs analogy of poverty created by Mark Rank, professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“It’s not just an urban problem, it’s a rural problem and no matter whether you’re young or elderly, disabled or well-bodied you know poverty is impacting all sorts of people within the county.”-Heidi Wegleitner

On Monday July 22nd, host John Quinlan discussed solutions to addressing poverty with David Riemer, an advocate for Milwaukee’s Community Advocates Public Policy Institute and Dane County Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, a member of Dane County’s newly-established Poverty Commission. Over the course of the show, Quinlan, Wegleitner, and Riemer talked about poverty and how it is affecting the citizens of Dane County as well as how it is affecting the United States as a whole. Early in the interview, Riemer gave listeners a three-part breakdown of how poverty occurs. The first part consists of a group of people who want to work, but can’t find a job. The next part is made up of people that are working, but only make the minimum wage. In Madison, someone making the minimum wage would have to work 93 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Lastly, there are parents and grandparents that are trying to live solely off of social security, disability or other government assistance.

Other related topics that were discussed on the show were the contribution of class and race to poverty as well as how poverty in the United States affects our position on the world stage.

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A Public Affair is WORT's daily hour-long talk program. It aims to engage listeners in a conversation on social, cultural, and political issues of importance. The guests range from local activists and scholars to notable national and international figures.

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