by John Hawkins | October 13, 2003 4:22 pm
Of course, there are plenty of people who don’t have enough money to make ends meet in America. I’ve been there myself before and I’m sure plenty of you have been as well. But in truth, we really don’t know how many poor people there are in America today because the statistics we use to measure poverty are a complete load of bupkis that dramatically inflates the number of people who are supposedly in poverty. Ralph de Toledano explains what I’m talking about in an excellent editorial I’d recommend that you read in tote…
“Nearly 40 percent of all “poor” households owned their own homes, and the average home of those classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with a garage. More than 750,000 of the “poor” owned homes worth more than $100,000, and 71,000 owned $300,000 homes. Nearly 60 percent of “poor” homes have more than two rooms per person. That means that the “poor” have twice as much living space as the average Japanese. And the same percentage have air conditioning.
64 percent own a car; 14 percent own two or more.
74 percent own microwave ovens; 23 percent have automatic dishwashers; 91 percent have color television and 29 percent have two or more TVs.
“Poor” Americans are better off than the general population of Europe. “Poor” children eat more meat than do higher-income children and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have protein intakes 100 percent higher than middle-class children. The obesity rate is higher among the “poor” than among the middle class. The same report notes that the daily intake of such vitamins as E, C and thiamin among children in families below 75 percent of the poverty threshold is greater than among children in families 300 percent above that threshold.
…Analysis of Census reports by the Heritage Foundation notes three areas in which the government statistics are “radically” wrong:
1. “The Census Bureau fails to count most welfare benefits as income. For example, if a family received $4,000 in food stamps and $5,000 in housing aid, these benefits are treated as having zero income value.”
2. “The Census Bureau also undercounts household income because it fails to count the enormous ‘underground economy’ … consisting primarily of persons who perform work ‘off the books’ to avoid government taxes and regulations,” thereby increasing the number of the technically poor. These unreported earnings are estimated to be worth anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion.
3. “The Census Bureau ignores household assets. In determining if a household is ‘poor’ the Census Bureau counts only the household’s income in the current year. It ignores all assets accumulated in prior years. Thus a businessman who has suffered losses and as a result has a zero or negative income for the current year will be counted officially as ‘poor’ even if he owns a home and has several million dollars in the bank.” So in a period of recession, when many people suffer a temporary drop in income or take investment losses, the number of “poor” increases substantially, even though it does not reflect national impoverishment.”
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