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About a week ago, California Globe launched a marketing effort in which anyone could request a free bumper sticker. The sticker reads “Poverty is deadlier than Coronavirus.”
Happily, the offer has generated thousands of replies, comments and requests. That was predictable. The topic is surely on everyone’s mind as the unprecedented health challenges and economic challenges affect every single American household.
Although it’s pretty clear where we stand from our publication’s general pro-business, pro-growth point of view, we certainly acknowledge that there are reasonable arguments on all sides of this question.
Many have made the defensible point that even those who care primarily about the economy should favor a longer lockdown. Returning to work before it is healthy will ultimately do greater damage to our economy, goes the theory. We don’t agree. We believe that the shutdown never should have taken place, and that the modeling vastly overstated the risks to our health and all but ignored the risks to our economy, but fair enough.
What we didn’t anticipate, however, is that people would actually argue about the lethality of poverty versus coronavirus. On this, there really isn’t room for reasonable debate.
According to the World Health Organization, poverty-related diseases, also known as “diseases of poverty,” kill “approximately 14 million people annually.”
According to Our World in Data, worldwide deaths from Covid-19 as of May 4 have totaled 246,999.
According to a report by Oxfam titled “Dignity Not Destitution,” somewhere “between six and eight percent of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire economies to manage the spread of the virus. This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. This could mean that more than half of the global population could be living in poverty in the aftermath of this pandemic.”
It’s not the role of California Globe to surmise whose lives are most valuable. However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority – in the high 90th percentile — of Coronavirus related deaths have occurred among those with co-morbidities, with a median death age of about 81. Poverty-related deaths, including hunger, afflict much younger people who might otherwise lead healthy, long lives.
The world has passed peak Corona deaths in every country that’s been hit hard. Even assuming we are only halfway through at 246,000, the total will be less than half a million deaths in 2020. With 14 million dying annually from poverty each year, poverty is 28 times deadlier. And with the economic shutdown expected to force 6-8% more of the world into poverty, that 14 million figure will surely increase.
Therefore, the statement “poverty is deadlier than coronavirus” is accurate and factual.
Many commenters on our Facebook page have expressed the view that conservatives only express concern about poverty when it serves their broader political aims. California Globe is not conservative or liberal. We have excellent journalists whose personal points of view reflect a broad spectrum, and the news coverage should attempt to be neutral whatever their private views. However, it’s simply untrue to suggest in the case of this publication that it is newly or self-interestedly concerned with poverty.
Our editor has been covering the tragic and dangerous explosion of the homeless population as aggressively as any reporter in the state. We have run multiple stories on the crisis of affordable housing, as well. While our editors might propose solutions other than those suggested by progressive critics, the Globe is not a Johnny-come-lately to these issues.
One commenter on our Facebook page pointed out the invalidity of California Globe based on the fact that its owners live in New Jersey. One can only hope the great journalists at the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post or a thousand other American publications are exempt from this ludicrous standard.
In fact, California Globe’s full-time journalists are of course full-time Californians. And at a time when the New York Times reports that “36,000 workers at news companies in the U.S. have been laid off, furloughed or had their pay reduced,” Sea of Reeds Media has not laid off or reduced the salary of a single journalist, despite having to make painful cuts elsewhere in our business. So there.
The bottom line
Poverty is deadlier than coronavirus. That doesn’t mean either is a desirable condition. The smartest plan is to avoid both. But with one threat killing many millions around the globe and growing, and the other seemingly having reached its peak and proving far less fatal than frightening first reports, the path forward is clear. It’s time to get back to work.