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Aldridge

Anna Aldridge
Mrs. Fielding
WRTC 103
11 October 2015
Comparative Rhetorical Analysis
Business and economics correspondent for Slate, Matthew Yglesias, in his article The
Official Poverty Stats Are Misleading: Were Winning the War on Poverty, argues that the
governments efforts to overcome poverty have been effective. This work was originally
published on September 14, 2012 on the website Slate, but later made an appearance in the 2014
book Poverty and Homelessness. The companion PSA, created by James Madison University
student Anna Aldridge, could be published on the website Slate, in support of Yglesias article.
Both the verbal text and the PSA call attention to the often misinterpreted poverty line statistics.
The rhetoric of both Matthew Yglesias The Official Poverty Stats Are Misleading: Were
Winning the War on Poverty argument and Anna Aldridges companion PSA, relies heavily on
ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade the audience that long-term investment in anti-poverty
spending has been successful.
The main claim in Yglesias article is that poverty is measured using an outdated method
which has caused the statistics to be very misleading. The poverty line was created in 1963, but
society has changed drastically since then (Yglesias). Yglesias argues that society can not
continue to evaluate living standards according to a methodology that is over fifty years old. If
the line were adjusted using a method that is appropriate to modern society, the results would
prove that America is indeed winning the war on poverty. The intended audience for this piece is
people who doubt the governments efforts to overcome poverty. The United States has been

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making progress in overcoming poverty by creating public programs to help benefit the poor.
These effective programs are changing the economy to make it more favorable to people affected
by poverty. In this informative style of writing, Yglesias wants the audience to realize the
legitimate efforts the government has made to battle poverty and to recognize the governments
success.
Ethos is present in this work before the article even begins. By including Yglesias title as
a business and economics correspondent for Slate, the credibility of the author is established.
In the first paragraph, Yglesias cites the research of both Bruce D. Meyer of the University of
Chicago and James X. Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame. Both of these sources are
credible, strengthening ethos. By referencing the work of these individuals and giving them
credit for their work, Yglesias is increasing his own credibility. At the beginning of paragraph
two, Yglesias explains that Neither liberals nor conservatives have been eager to embrace this
ideathe former to bolster support for new programs and the latter to dismiss the efficacy of
whats already been done. By describing the perspectives of both groups, he is less bias and
more credible. Yglesias use of ethos makes him more believable and reliable to the audience.
Yglesias uses logos very often throughout this work in order to provide background
information about the history of poverty. In the third paragraph, when Yglesias explains the
poverty line and how it was created in 1963 by food and nutrition economist Mollie Orshansky
and hasnt been updated since, he is stating what will form his whole argument: the method to
assess poverty is outdated. Yglesias continues to talk about logistics and in paragraph 7 he
transitions into explaining the governments actions to decrease poverty. He explains how the tax
code was made friendlier to poor people throughout the 60s and 70s and then explains how the
Earned Income Tax Credit, a form of wage subsidy for low-income families, further helped

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[push] after-tax poverty down substantially in the early 1990s. Yglesias continues to reference
government actions such as tax provisions of the 2009 stimulus bill which made the after-tax
situation of low-income households better looking than the official lines pretax numbers would
suggest. Yglesias is including all of this historical information to provide the audience with a
better understanding of the progression of the economy and to emphasis the success of
government efforts to reduce poverty.
Pathos is used in this article to encourage the audience to have a new perspective about
poverty. Yglesias uses pathos in paragraph 8 when he is explaining different factors that
contribute to assessing poverty; by stating things look even better, he is evoking feelings of
hopefulness for the future. Yglesias emphasizes the success of the economy in paragraph 9 when
he states The impact of the recession aside, were clearly winning the decades-long war on
poverty. Were doing so in part because the economy is evolving in ways that are favorable to the
poor, and in part because our government programs are effective. Explaining this progress
evokes feelings of satisfaction and approval of the government programs. Finally, Yglesias ends
his article with a call to action, at a time when many voters seem skeptical about the efficacy of
government programs its worth saying that these programs work. Long-term investment in antipoverty spending has done exactly what it is supposed to do. Here, Yglesias is challenging the
audience to have a change in attitude and to give credit to the government for the progress that
has been made.

Aldridge

This PSA was created by Anna Aldridge to call attention to the outdated
method used to assess poverty. The claims in this PSA are supported by
Yglesias article The Official Poverty Stats Are Misleading: Were
Winning the War on Poverty.

This PSA is trying to send the message that the United States governments efforts to
overcome poverty have been effective and successful. It reports to the audience how poverty
stats are misleading. The main claim for this PSA is that the method used to create the poverty
line does not apply to modern society. This PSA argues that using an outdated method to measure
the progress of the economy will not produce accurate results. The logistical information in this
PSA, along with the credibility, help to support the creators call to action, to Give Credit
Where Credit is Due.
This PSA incorporates ethos to make it legitimate and believable to the audience. In the
bottom right corner of the PSA, the logo for the non-profit organization National Law Center on
Homelessness & Poverty appears, making this PSA credible. The background image of a child

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is very professional looking. This high quality photo allows the PSA to appear official and
polished. Another aspect that strengthens ethos in this PSA is the language used. The majority of
the statements are taken straight out of Yglesias article, so it can be certain that these statements
are supported with evidence from the verbal argument. Also, the simplicity of the language used
makes it easier for the audience to understand the creators claims. The credibility shown in the
PSA increases the amount of trust that an audience will have in the information presented.
The logistical information presented in the PSA is straightforward and easy to
comprehend. The creator provides background information by stating that The poverty line,
created in 1963, has only a hazy relationship with modern living standards. Including this
information is crucial to enable the audience to understand that the method is old and not
reliable. The creator also includes the claim Our method of measuring poverty us outdated to
directly state the problem to the audience. The message of this PSA is clearly stated, to give
credit where credit is due. The evidence in this PSA is credible and specific to the problem of
the outdated method of measuring poverty.
The creator of the PSA uses pathos to call the audience to action. By including the
statement, Give credit where credit is due, the creator is encouraging the audience to better
examine the efforts made by the government and to be appreciative of the progress that has been
made. The background image of a happy child portrays the message that poverty is being
overcome. This photo creates a hopeful attitude within the audience by sending the message that
poverty is not a permanent condition and there is hope for the future. The use of bolding and
underlining the word winning emphasizes what the creator wants to communicate to the
audience. This news, that the United States is winning the war on poverty, will evoke feelings of
satisfaction and pride within the audience.

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The verbal argument and the PSA complement each other by both arguing from the same
position. The claims from the PSA are supported in the verbal argument; however, in the verbal
argument more description and evidence are provided to these claims. The PSA provides a
visually appealing summarization of the verbal argument. The verbal argument presents a more
effective argument because it has more details and supporting information. Overall, both the
verbal argument and the PSA effectively use ethos, logos, and pathos to argue that long-term
investment in anti-poverty spending has been successful.

Aldridge

Works Cited
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty - Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
<http://www.nlchp.org/>.
"The Poor Will NOT ALWAYS Be With Us." Reckless Abandon. N.p., 29 Apr.

2012. Web. 05

Oct. 2015.
Yglesias, Matthew. "The Official Poverty Stats Are Misleading: Were Winning the War on
Poverty." Slate. N.p., 14 Sept. 2012. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.