America’s poor, are they really poor?

What is poverty? The definition we have in America differs substantially from what is widely viewed as poverty in other countries. Census officials estimate the number who are “poor” could be as high 40 million, but what the Census defines as “poverty” is not what most of us think:  chronically hungry and malnourished, homeless or barely hanging on in overcrowded, dilapidated housing.

In an article called “Understanding Poverty in the United States,” which was featured in The Heritage Foundation newspaper, revealed startling facts about America’s “poor”:

-Fully 92 percent of poor households have a microwave; two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR.
-Nearly 75 percent have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
-Four out of five poor adults assert they were never hungry at any time in the prior year due to lack of money for food
-Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television
-Half have a personal computer; one in seven have two or more computers
-Just under half — 43 percent — have Internet access
-A third have a widescreen plasma or LCD TV

What does this tell us about the majority of people that the census calls “poor”? The article revealed that a poor child in the United States is less likely to be hungry than they are to own a plasma television, satellite television or an Xbox.

The average poor family in America also has more living space than other middle class families in countries such as Germany, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The bottom line is that our poor families who make less than $21,954 may live better than much of the world.

What is poor? Consider the poor in India. It is not uncommon for them to use the restroom in a hole in the ground and walk to find water at the nearest municipal water spigot. Disease is rampant and includes malaria, felagia, and degue. One family I researched supported a 10 member family on a monthly household income of $36. The head of the family supported his family selling aluminum pots.

Poverty is real and we should be concerned about those who are truly needy in our society, but our goal should be more closely aligned to Lyndon Johnson’s goal to help make the poor self-sufficient and prosperous and less concerned with making sure everyone has a plasma, big-screen television.

Instead of bankrupting our country by expanding the welfare state we need to create more taxpayers “not taxeaters.” If we do not find a way to create more jobs and increase prosperity for others many welfare initiatives could be automatically reduced by the sequestration, a series of automatic federal spending cuts which are scheduled to begin next year.

The bottom line is that in America even the poor have won the “lottery.” Living in the greatest nation in the world has afforded a standard of living that much of the world does not enjoy. We better enjoy it; it may not last long.

 

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Beth

Beth L. is a content writer for Better Bankruptcy. Good content and information is one of many methods we utilize to bring you the answers you need.