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Inaccurate Statistics

In last week's Reminder, you highlight a story lifted from Alternet with some staggering statistics about hunger, medical costs, etc. in the U.S. You don't say to what extent you were able to verify these statements, but I would like to point out to your readers that Alternet's mission statement on its website contains the following: "... AlterNet's aim is to inspire action and advocacy on the environment, human rights and civil liberties, social justice, media, health care issues, and more. Our aim is to stimulate, inform, and instigate." Advocacy and instigation certainly involve a biased point of view, which is borne out by such statements from the story as "Over 50 million people need to use food stamps to eat," which should more accurately say that 50 million people may be eligible for food stamps based on the government guideline of 133 percent-of-poverty-level income. Also, "In 2009, one out of every five households didn't have enough money to buy food." Since there are well over 300 million Americans, this "statistic" doesn't match up at all with the "50 million" statistic. This figure is pulled out of thin air. Hunger is a very serious problem, especially in Western Mass., and food stocks are dwindling at local food pantries, especially in Springfield, but the problem is not solved by grossly exaggerating the already troubling statistics as Alternet, with its aggressive social change agenda, is trying to do. Let's not discourage the generosity of the people of Western Massachusetts who contribute to the Food Bank, Open Pantry, etc. and have them throw up their hands in despair. Their contributions are making a difference, and the people who receive their help aren't going hungry. Pat Henry East Longmeadow
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