3 Billion Dollars Later…

Posted: November 3, 2010 in Government, Homelessness, Housing, Money, Morality, Politics, Poverty

Thank goodness, Election Day is over!

This means that we will no longer have to endure the negativity all of the political ads we’ve been bombarded with over the past several months (or at least not until the next election cycle).

And, as if that weren’t bad enough, there are also the obscene amounts of money that were spent on those ads.

If you’re thinking along the lines of "hundreds of millions of dollars" — think again.  

According to an Associated Press article, The Campaign Media Analysis Group estimated ". . . that spending on political television ads will hit $3 billion this year." That’s $300 million more than was spent on political ads during 2008 (which was a Presidential Election year).

I noted one thing in particular: the $3 billion estimate was only for television ads. That cost doesn’t include newspaper advertising; digital media advertisements and so on. This means the overall amounts spent on political ads will certainly be much more.

All of which started me thinking . . .

How is it that politicians can be so aggressive at trying to win a political office, put forth enormous amounts of effort at raising capital so that they can spend ridiculously huge sums of money doing so — yet, they don’t seem able to expend that same amount of zeal and energy to solve homelessness?

I’m thinking about that $3 billion.

Would it completely end homelessness in America?

Probably not.

But, it would sure go a long way at helping some of the nation’s homeless families; homeless veterans and homeless seniors get off the streets and back into housing. Even half that amount, if properly channeled into programs to help the homeless back into housing, would have a significant impact at reducing homelessness.

What makes the spending of that $3 billion on political advertising all the more grossly excessive (and immoral) is that our nation is still in the throes of economically turbulent times. And, as a result, there are millions of Americans who are living hand to mouth — with some only one paycheck away from finding themselves homeless.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • The official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent — up from 13.2 percent in 2008. This was the second statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004.
  • In 2009, 43.6 million people were in poverty, up from 39.8 million in 2008 — the third consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 8.6 percent to 9.4 percent), for Blacks (from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent), and for Hispanics (from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent). For Asians, the 2009 poverty rate (12.5 percent) was not statistically different from the 2008 poverty rate.
  • The poverty rate in 2009 (14.3 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1994 but was 8.1 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available.
  • The number of people in poverty in 2009 (43.6 million) is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the poverty rate increased for children under the age of 18 (from 19.0 percent to 20.7 percent) and people aged 18 to 64 (from 11.7 percent to 12.9 percent), but decreased for people aged 65 and older (from 9.7 percent to 8.9 percent).

$3 billion for political television ads?

Considering that the majority of the politicians who were running for office were spouting claims of working toward bringing about fiscal responsibility in Government, spending $3 billion dollars on political campaigning is preposterous — and irresponsible.

In the meanwhile, there will be — literally — hundreds of thousands of Americans who will have no place to call home tonight.

In sharp contrast, every politico (even those who lost — despite all of the money they spent on their campaigns) will be going home and sleeping in their comfy beds.

Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

  1. Rev. Cynthia says:

    Hallelujah, Brother! This is totally obscene!!! It does seem like that amount of money might at least get U.S. children off the streets. Personally, I think we should make that point yet more public. As long as politicians had that much money to spend on their campaigns (feeding their egos), perhaps they should be personally held responsible & charged w/ child neglect & abandonment.

    Thanks for posting this info, Michael!

  2. Agreed, it is obscene. It would be interesting to know though how much of this money is ‘theirs’ and how much comes from lobbyists and interest groups, in which case the situation is much more complex.

    It would seem that in this analysis, for homelessness to rise up the political agenda, the homelessness industry would need to ‘donate’ obscene amounts of money to a political party too – something that I would not expect it to do.

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