Skip to comments.Understanding Poverty in America (Putting latest Census Number into Context)
Posted on 08/26/2004 11:49:23 AM PDT by QQQQQ
If poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the 35 million people identified as being "in poverty" by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor. While material hardship does exist in the United States, it is quite restricted in scope and severity.
The average "poor" person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines. The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
*** Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
*** Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
*** Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
*** The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
*** Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
*** Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
*** Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
*** Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
*** Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.
As a group, America's poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier that the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
The good news is that the poverty that does exist in the United States can readily be reduced, particularly among children. There are two main reasons that American children are poor: Their parents don't work much, and their fathers are absent from the home.
In both good and bad economic environments, the typical American poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year--the equivalent of 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year--the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year--nearly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty.
As noted above, father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly two-thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes; each year, an additional 1.3 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, nearly three-quarters of the nation's impoverished youth would immediately be lifted out of poverty.
And note above what the "poor" have. I think the definition of "poor" needs to be changed.
Here is the Reuters article:
I didn't want to put that in the headline, since it will be on the front pages of every news paper.
We need to put it in perspective and provide the context, which the Heritage Foundation has done.
The link to the Heritage Foundation article takes you to the Executive Summary of the report. But there is a link to the entire report, which has a lot of good graphics, which I would recommend reviewing.
The link to the full report is:
By Democrat standards, you are poor if you have a household income of less than $60,000, and mega wealthy if you have a household income of more than $80,000. Hope that helps.
ANOKA, Minn. - John Kerry wasted no time turning new Census data against President Bush.
The Census Bureau said today that the number of Americans living in poverty rose by more than a million people last year. And the number of people without health insurance jumped by nearly a million and a half.
Kerry told an audience at Anoka Technical College that the figures are "fact, not political diatribe." And he says his policies would be better.
Today confirms the failure of President Bush's policies for all Americans. While George Bush tries to convince America's families that we're turning the corner, slogans and empty rhetoric can't hide the real story. Under George Bush's watch, America's families are falling further behind. Family income has fallen $1511 under George Bush - declining for three straight years. 5.2 million people have lost health insurance under George Bush -- 1.4 million people this year alone. 4.3 million people have fallen into poverty under George Bush -- 1.3 million this year alone. All while good paying jobs are disappearing and families struggling to make ends meet are being squeezed by skyrocketing costs for health care, energy and college tuition."
And the Republicans aren't standing up to put these "poverty" numbers in context!
Bush's fault. Women, children, minorities hardest hit.
The "poverty standard" is only based on "income" and not actual assets. Really stupid. But hey, that's the government for you.
How can people who own their own home, have airconditioning, own a car, two television sets, has plenty of food, and so on, be classified as "poor"?!
But if that income is clearly comfortably enough for necessities and some, that is NOT poverty.
America; What a country!
This, I know from personal experience, is a fact.
Also seniors living in a multi-hundred thousand dollar house, all paid off, own investments, invested for appreciation, not for income, and their only expense is pretty much only food, utilities and incidentals, which are covered by Social Security, are considered "poor".
The definition needs to change!
"They aren't fools they know it just a pile of populist slogans carefully designed to manipulate most ignorant and envious part of Americans to vote for them."
Exactly. But the unfortunate thing is that there are way too many of these ignorant voters who think they are going to get free handouts from the Dems.
I recently went to Mexico. In the interior of Mexico, poverty is defined as 'living in a hut made of sticks, with a dirt floor and thatched roof, and with no electricity or running water or furniture, and sleeping in a hammock'.
It's all relative. I wish, though, that more people could see what real poverty is like, so that they could understand just how good things are in America.
"...put into context the census data, which the Dems will be using against President Bush, that the ranks of poor rose 4% to 35.9 million in 2003. We had a recession,..."
There was no recession during any part of 2003, the recession took place back a couple of years ago. In fact the economy was growing quite fast in 2003.
Jobs are a lagging indicator.
Not only is the "poverty standard" only based on income, I don't believe it counts 'home production', such as raising a garden &/or food-animals or eggs, either.
At one point, we had little income, but raised rabbits, meat & egg chickens, a pig, and 1/3 of a steer; grew most of our own veggies, a lot of our own fruit. We cooped with a couple of neigbors, keeping the jointly owned & fed steer on one piece of property; the pig pen on another, and the poultry and rabbits on ours. We all kicked in equally for feed & butchering; grew our own gardens; each had a few fruit trees, so shared/traded fruit; and, split the chores.
If each of us had had to keep our own animals on our own, less than 1 acre, properties, it would not have been feasible.
NONE of that was taxable or reportable 'income', so we were near or even below the poverty line (Thank you, Mistah Jimmah!) but certainly we were not in 'need nor want'.
1. Do the Census numbers, with regard to income, adjust the figures differently with regard to mortgage deductions on an IRS tax return? If so, wouldn't the fact that home ownership increased significantly in the last 4 years, technically adjust some of the population's income levels into the red? As far as I know, rent is not factored out of income as an adjusted expense.
2. Would the increased shift in the job market to entrepreneurship account for some of the reduction in the Health Care coverage numbers?
3. A baby boom has been underway for the last 3 years. This changes many factors in the demographic. Tax relief, home ownership, and improved economic conditions have encouraged us to consider shifting our lifestyles toward a single-income household. Many of our friends have already made a similar change.
Food for thought.
You are making excellent point.
Someone with a gross income of 40K, but a mortgage deduction of $20K plus a few other deduction could well fall into the below $18 taxable income and be classified as "poor".