The poor in America aren't very poor.

Posted by: Barthélemy Barbancourt

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As scholar James Q. Wilson has stated, “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”[3] In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation.[4] In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill as well as to put food on the table. Their living standards are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media.

Regrettably, annual Census reports not only exaggerate current poverty, but also suggest that the number of poor persons[5] and their living conditions have remained virtually unchanged for four decades or more. In reality, the living conditions of poor Americans have shown significant improvement over time.

Consumer items that were luxuries or significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago have become commonplace in poor households. In part, this is caused by a normal downward trend in price following the introduction of a new product. Initially, new products tend to be expensive and available only to the affluent. Over time, prices fall sharply, and the product saturates the entire population, including poor households.

As a rule of thumb, poor households tend to obtain modern conveniences about a dozen years after the middle class. Today, most poor families have conveniences that were unaffordable to the middle class not too long ago.

Of course, rather than celebrate the fact that our economy is so rich that our poor have cell hones, Obama is trying to redefine "poor" to include more Americans.

Under the new measure, a family will be judged poor if its income falls below certain specified income thresholds or standards. There is nothing new in this, but unlike the current poverty income standards, the new income thresholds will have a built-in escalator clause. They will rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.

The current poverty measure counts (albeit inaccurately) absolute purchasing power (how much meat and potatoes a person can buy). The new measure will count comparative purchasing power (how much meat and potatoes a person can buy relative to other people). As the nation becomes wealthier, the poverty standards will increase in proportion. In other words, Obama will employ a statistical trick to give a new meaning to the saying that "the poor will always be with you.

Liberals are never happy, they always want to create the image of more misery and more need.

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Woody
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written by Woody , July 21, 2011

What a great country we live in where people with these possessions are considered poor. I've travelled to other countries and seen POOR people who are literally scraping by selling food/bread, etc on street corners. Funny thing is most of these people seem happy and content with their lot in life and finding joy in life and family. This was a good post Bart that was completely ruined by a ridiculous sentence at the end. Liberals are never happy??? That couldn't be further from the truth Bart and I think you know it but it makes for a dramatic closing statement I guess right?


Barthélemy Barbancourt
Actually I find it to be very true
written by Barthélemy Barbancourt , July 21, 2011

most of the liberals I know are only content when they have something to worry about. like global warming, and some plan to take away freedom, it's always for the kids.

If our poor are doing great, why then does the Democrat party insist on bankrupting our nation by growing social programs? We clearly can't afford them and most "poor" people aren't doing that badly.



Sequel
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written by Sequel , July 21, 2011

Currently the standard of living in America is dropping, with unemployment, house values down etc. Would this rubric then make fewer "poor"?
My guess: Not a damn chance, I'd bet this thing only goes one way.




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