Most liberals like to parade around as champions of the poor and the oppressed. They like to continually point out how bad poverty is in America, and how rich, greedy, corporate conservatives want to keep the poor people there by eliminating welfare, lowering taxes, etc. John Edwards pioneered the phrase “Two Americas”, usually best described by comparing, say, John Edwards’ house, or Al Gore’s house, to the homes that, for example, Hurricane Katrina victims are stuck in now.
But what is the reality of poverty in America? Are we really seeing Two Americas?
To start with, the poverty rate has just decreased drastically:
Five years into a national economic recovery, the share of Americans living in poverty finally dropped.
The nation’s poverty rate was 12.3 percent in 2006, down from 12.6 percent a year before, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Median household income increased slightly, to $48,200.
The share of Americans without health insurance hit 15.8 percent last year, the highest percentage since 1998. In 2005, 15.3 percent were without insurance.
So of course, considering there is some good news about a decrease in poverty in the United States, we have to throw in some bad news. There are people without health insurance!! This, of course, means that we should automatically socialize all healthcare.
But before we start to wring our hands too much, what makes these people living in poverished squalor, well, “poor”? The Census Bureau sheds some light on the horrible, horrible living conditions our poor are stuck in:
Forty-three 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.
Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, 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 average 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; 31 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.
Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than 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.
And we wonder why people in other countries look at us the way they do. No wonder people from third-world countries are clamoring to live here — people living in “poverty” get the kind of luxuries and amenities that people who live in genuine poverty can only dream of having! Not to mention they get free money and healthcare from the government, giving them no incentive whatsoever to lift themselves out of the position they are in. The number of people living in truly poverished conditions is relatively low. However, that doesn’t keep liberal politicians from continually exploiting that image. And for what? To give the government more control, more money, more power. They need those people to remain in the positions they are in; otherwise, they have no legs to stand on. They preach about “Two Americas”, but they are the ones keeping it that way.
Hat Tip: Liberty Pundit
And just for fun — John Edwards’ Poverty Tour!