Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The nation, as a whole, is doing very well. Even for the poor.

OK, this is required reading. And I invite anyone who can produce evidence dismissing the assertions made herein.

The economic health of the nation, as a whole, is doing well. Yes, even for the poor. Don't take my word for it; the following is based on Census data released today and is presented in an article by Robert Rector appearing at National Review Online:

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau,
taken from a variety of government reports:

  • 46 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.
  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; 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; 31 percent own two or
    more cars.
  • 97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions. 78 percent have a VCR or DVD player.
  • 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception. 89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

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, super-nourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

While the poor are generally well-nourished, some poor families do experience temporary food shortages. But, even this condition is relatively rare; 89 percent of the poor report their families have “enough” food to eat, while only two percent say they “often” do not have enough to eat.

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 far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as
representing all of the nation’s poor: There is a wide range of living conditions among the poor. A third of “poor” households have both cell and land-line telephones. A third also telephone answering machines. At the other extreme, approximately one-tenth of families in poverty have no phone at all. Similarly, while the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly a third do experience at least one problem such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care.

Yes, there are poor people, but they are not nearly as destitute as some would say (Paging Sen. John Edwards...).

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