On Friday, Diane highlighted a NYT article that describes a different approach to poverty. The Family Independence Initiative encourages people to beat poverty by forming small groups to help one another make personal goals and to hold each other accountable to achieving results.
Diane scoped the problem with a quote from Time Magazine, "In 2009, 43.6 million people lived on the equivalent of less than $5,500 a year. That was up from 39.8 million Americans in 2008. The 2009 number means that more than 1 in every 7 Americans live in poverty. The actual rate was 14.3%, which is the highest that measure has been since 1994, and was up from 13.2% in 2008."
The conversation hit some key points,
- Defining poor - 'what do we mean when we say poor in America?'
- Yes there are poor in America, -"Dozens of individuals/whole families made it through the very hard winter---below freezing temperatures every night for months, snow, ice---living in tents. Tents were the most needed items at homeless shelters. Sorry, contempt for the very suggestion of the existence of poor people in America doesn't fly here."
- Conservatives may be evil - "anyone who wanted to argue that conservatives are evil people would have a lot of fodder from those comments"
Today, I would like to fan the flames by giving you a different perspective on poverty in America. PJTV's Bill Whittle does a remarkable job of highlighting some conclusions from a Heritage report that asks the question, "What is Poverty"
Bill goes into the fact that those who are considered poor are actually quite wealthy in absolute terms, to wit, more poor people (41%) had Air Conditioning in 1980 than the percentage of all americans (36%) had in 1970. The poor in America today have more living room (1228 sqft) than does the average European (976 sqft).
The Census data that the Time article uses to make its startling conclusion that (46 million living on less than $5500 per year) is misleading, because "the income and poverty estimates shown in this report are based solely on money income before taxes and do not include the value of noncash benefits, such as nutritional assistance, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, and employer-provided fringe benefits." I was completely unable to source the $5500 figure in the census report, the lowest threshold measure according to this excel spreadsheet provided by the census is, "$10,289" for a single person over the age of 65.
There you go Ricocheteers, the poor in America today are actually quite wealthy in absolute terms and even when you compare certain aspects of their standard of living to those living in other first-world countries - remind me why again it is moral for the 1/2 of the country that pays no income taxes (which includes ALL of the 'poor' by the way) to demand more from those of us who do?
Or am I just evil?