Fusion: poverty amid affluence

Rediffusion London’s house magazine, Fusion, on two productions on poverty and abundance in the USA

Intertel is a project for international understanding through television. The full title is the International Television Federation. The members of it are the National Educational Television and Radio Center and the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company of America, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Rediffusion Television Ltd, London.

The two Intertel programmes contrast poverty and abundance. The United States is the richest country in the world. Vast car parks full of automobiles reflect this richness. Consumer goods pour out. Yet as machines increasingly take over, the awesome surplus of people grows. So do the dole queues – and despair. Homes, too, range from luxury apartments to shacks.

From 'Fusion', the house magazine of Rediffusion London, issue 37 from Christmas 1964

As a contribution to Intertel for 1964/65 Rediffusion, London, has filmed two one-hour programmes in the United States on the contrasts of poverty and abundance. We have attempted these complex themes for two reasons. They are, firstly, the most fundamental problems which confront the United States. Secondly, they are likely to have a direct relevance to the peoples of a great many other countries. Poverty is. of course, the natural order of things in many parts of the world. But it exists mainly in the traditionally backward. under-developed or newly emerging countries. Poverty in the United States is something quite different. To a peasant in Asia or Africa or India, America’s poor would seem to live in luxury. Nevertheless, something like one person in four in the United States, the richest country in the world, is living well below the standards enjoyed by the majority of their fellow Americans. Because it is so wealthy, until America is able to solve the poverty problem it can hardly claim either to have an efficient economic system or a fair social order.

It almost seems a contradiction in these circumstances to put forward abundance as an urgent American problem. But in many ways it may prove more insoluble than poverty which, conceivably, could be solved within the framework of America’s present economic structure. Abundance is something else again. Already long past the stage of giving the majority of Americans enough, the United States now faces the staggering prospect of living with too much. The United States has already solved the problem of how to produce; it is only just learning how to cope with over-production and how to sell this great outpouring of consumer goods. And as America enters the automation-computer age. where machines are increasingly taking over the work done by human beings, it faces the prospect of having the most awesome surplus of all-people. Fewer and fewer human beings are going to be necessary to produce more and more things. Quite apart from the economic consequences, the social effects on a people whose ethics, from the beginning, have been bound up with the importance of work, and whose way of life is based on the principle that anybody with guts, determination, the willingness to work and the flair to make a buck, can get ahead – the effect and impact of this new situation will call upon Americans to make a major re-adjustment of every aspect of their lives.

Poverty in an affluent society and abundance creating new and infinitely complex economic and human problems – these exist in the United States now mainly because it has reached a point of such advanced industrialisation. As other nations reach America’s standards, it may well be that they will have to face America’s problems. How the United States solves the problems of poverty and abundance – or fails to do so – will have significant lessons for all of us.

Cyril Bennett

ON THE EDGE OF ABUNDANCE

THE DOLLAR POOR

Script
Research
Sound Recordists

Film Editor
Cameraman
Director
Executive Producer

Jack Hargreaves
Bryan FitzJones
Basil Rootes
Freddie Slade
Beryl Wilkins
Ron Osborn
Bill Morton
Cyril Bennett

Narration
Script
Research
Music
Sound Recordists

Film Editor
Cameraman
Director
Executive Producer

James Cameron
Paul Johnson
Bryan FitzJones
Fredrick Buxton
Basil Rootes
Freddie Slade
David Hodgson
Ron Osborn
Randal Beattie
Cyril Bennett

RESOURCES

America: The Dollar Poor has an American Archive of Public Broadcasting record

America: the Edge of Abundance has an American Archive of Public Broadcasting record

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