Mired in Poverty

Expository Series: A Region Left Behind: Lost Opportunity in the Deep South (2015). In this series, courtesy of The Washington Post, the question is asked, “What went wrong with the deep south?” The writers, videographers, and photographers tell detailed stories about why many residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia continue to struggle financially.

The five states in the South are much worse off on economic and social measures than the majority of the country. How the region compares in measures such as Male Life Expectancy, Children Living With One Parent, Households Without Bank Accounts, Median Household Income and Upward Mobility for Poor Children is broken down by county, illustrated in maps by The Equality of Opportunity Project.

A Region Left Behind

Each story follows an individual and details how their financial well-being has been compromised by a system that rarely is concerned about the individual. The first in the series, published in July 2015, tells the story of lost unrealized dreams once legalized gambling and casinos come to Tunica, Mississippi – An Opportunity Gamed Away.

The second entry in the series, Graduating, But to What?, was published in October. Here the focus turns to the role local school systems and education play in lifting – or not lifting – people out of poverty. It is noted that poor students in the Deep South who somehow manage to successfully navigate traumas at home and dysfunction at school find few opportunities afterward.

Moving to Sunny South, Alabama, A Grim Bargain, the third story in the series (published in early December), observes that while the Deep South has mastered the art of attracting businesses, particularly foreign businesses, with tax incentives, most of the jobs they bring offer minimal benefits, are part-time and low paying … not exactly a recipe for lifting residents out of poverty.

Trailer Park_Black and White

Following a young, single mother as she seeks employment, A Lonely Road – the most recent publication – examines how difficult simply applying for a job can be and exposes the barriers of a pervasive and isolating form of poverty.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Thanks for posting links to these. I’ve found several of the expose articles from WAPO extremely helpful in my thinking even though I’ll never claim to come up with policy recommendations from them.

    • While I don’t have specific policy recommendations, my belief is that ultimately the answer lies in redistribution – sure to be fought tooth and nail by many – through the tax code and education, particularly that related to financial literacy.

  2. The whole issue of poverty is so complicated and sensitive. People who have never experienced it find it difficult to understand, and they often reason it away with simplistic platitudes and judgment. I think that telling the stories of individuals is probably the most effective way to convey the stark reality of poverty – and to engender compassion. Sounds like a worthwhile series.

    • Agree with everything you have said; well stated. Looking forward to getting your thoughts once you’ve had a chance to check it out. Enjoy the new year, my friend.

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