Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How much wealth do the poor in America have?

A recently published paper from the Heritage Foundation.

Excerpt:

Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” In recent years, the Census has reported that one in seven Americans are poor. But what does it mean to be “poor” in America? How poor are America’s poor?

For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. For example, the Poverty Pulse poll taken by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development asked the general public: “How would you describe being poor in the U.S.?” The overwhelming majority of responses focused on homelessness, hunger or not being able to eat properly, and not being able to meet basic needs.[1] That perception is bolstered by news stories about poverty that routinely feature homelessness and hunger.

Yet if poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the more than 30 million people identified as being “in poverty” by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor.[2] While material hardship definitely exists in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity. The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines.

As scholar James Q. Wilson has stated, “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”[3] In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation.[4] In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill as well as to put food on the table. Their living standards are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media.

Regrettably, annual Census reports not only exaggerate current poverty, but also suggest that the number of poor persons[5] and their living conditions have remained virtually unchanged for four decades or more. In reality, the living conditions of poor Americans have shown significant improvement over time.

These are the people that the elites on the left are constantly making us feel guilty about. But keep in mind that it is very easy to avoid poverty in America (link no longer active). A person just has to make four decisions, as economist Walter Williams explains.

Excerpt:

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

If you graduate from high school today with a B or C average, in most places in our country there’s a low-cost or financially assisted post-high-school education program available to increase your skills.

Most jobs start with wages higher than the minimum wage, which is currently $5.15. A man and his wife, even earning the minimum wage, would earn $21,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Census, in 2003, the poverty threshold for one person was $9,393, for a two-person household it was $12,015, and for a family of four it was $18,810. Taking a minimum-wage job is no great shakes, but it produces an income higher than the Bureau of Census’ poverty threshold. Plus, having a job in the first place increases one’s prospects for a better job.

The Children’s Defense Fund and civil rights organizations frequently whine about the number of black children living in poverty. In 1999, the Bureau of the Census reported that 33.1 percent of black children lived in poverty compared with 13.5 percent of white children. It turns out that race per se has little to do with the difference. Instead, it’s welfare and single parenthood. When black children are compared to white children living in identical circumstances, mainly in a two-parent household, both children will have the same probability of being poor.

How much does racial discrimination explain? So far as black poverty is concerned, I’d say little or nothing, which is not to say that every vestige of racial discrimination has been eliminated. But let’s pose a few questions. Is it racial discrimination that stops black students from studying and completing high school? Is it racial discrimination that’s responsible for the 68 percent illegitimacy rate among blacks?

The 1999 Bureau of Census report might raise another racial discrimination question. Among black households that included a married couple, over 50 percent were middle class earning above $50,000, and 26 percent earned more than $75,000. How in the world did these black families manage not to be poor? Did America’s racists cut them some slack?

In America, poverty is self-inflicted. But that doesn’t mean that the Democrats don’t help the poor to stay poor.

Democrats wants to raise minimum wage, which promotes higher unemployment among younger workers – and more dependence on government programs. They want to subsidize single motherhood and enact no-fault divorce laws, to destroy marriage. And they want to push gay history and green propaganda in the public schools, to diminish the economic value of a high school education. They don’t want the poor to lift themselves out of poverty so that they are independent of government. Redistribution of wealth makes Democrats feel good about themselves – so they need the poor to stay poor. Democrats take money from the wealthy, causing them not to hire workers, and then give that money to the poor, so that they don’t need to work for anything.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How much wealth do the poor in America have?

A new paper from the Heritage Foundation. (H/T Brett Kunkle)

Excerpt:

Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” In recent years, the Census has reported that one in seven Americans are poor. But what does it mean to be “poor” in America? How poor are America’s poor?

For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. For example, the Poverty Pulse poll taken by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development asked the general public: “How would you describe being poor in the U.S.?” The overwhelming majority of responses focused on homelessness, hunger or not being able to eat properly, and not being able to meet basic needs.[1] That perception is bolstered by news stories about poverty that routinely feature homelessness and hunger.

Yet if poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the more than 30 million people identified as being “in poverty” by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor.[2] While material hardship definitely exists in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity. The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines.

As scholar James Q. Wilson has stated, “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”[3] In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation.[4] In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill as well as to put food on the table. Their living standards are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media.

Regrettably, annual Census reports not only exaggerate current poverty, but also suggest that the number of poor persons[5] and their living conditions have remained virtually unchanged for four decades or more. In reality, the living conditions of poor Americans have shown significant improvement over time.

These are the people that the elites on the left are constantly making us feel guilty about. But keep in mind that it is very easy to avoid poverty in America. A person just has to make four decisions, as economist Walter Williams explains.

Excerpt:

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

If you graduate from high school today with a B or C average, in most places in our country there’s a low-cost or financially assisted post-high-school education program available to increase your skills.

Most jobs start with wages higher than the minimum wage, which is currently $5.15. A man and his wife, even earning the minimum wage, would earn $21,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Census, in 2003, the poverty threshold for one person was $9,393, for a two-person household it was $12,015, and for a family of four it was $18,810. Taking a minimum-wage job is no great shakes, but it produces an income higher than the Bureau of Census’ poverty threshold. Plus, having a job in the first place increases one’s prospects for a better job.

The Children’s Defense Fund and civil rights organizations frequently whine about the number of black children living in poverty. In 1999, the Bureau of the Census reported that 33.1 percent of black children lived in poverty compared with 13.5 percent of white children. It turns out that race per se has little to do with the difference. Instead, it’s welfare and single parenthood. When black children are compared to white children living in identical circumstances, mainly in a two-parent household, both children will have the same probability of being poor.

How much does racial discrimination explain? So far as black poverty is concerned, I’d say little or nothing, which is not to say that every vestige of racial discrimination has been eliminated. But let’s pose a few questions. Is it racial discrimination that stops black students from studying and completing high school? Is it racial discrimination that’s responsible for the 68 percent illegitimacy rate among blacks?

The 1999 Bureau of Census report might raise another racial discrimination question. Among black households that included a married couple, over 50 percent were middle class earning above $50,000, and 26 percent earned more than $75,000. How in the world did these black families manage not to be poor? Did America’s racists cut them some slack?

In America, poverty is self-inflicted. But that doesn’t mean that the Democrats don’t help the poor to stay poor.

Democrats wants to raise minimum wage, which promotes higher unemployment among younger workers – and more dependence on government programs. They want to subsidize single motherhood and enact no-fault divorce laws, to destroy marriage. And they want to push gay history and green propaganda in the public schools, to diminish the economic value of a high school education. They don’t want the poor to lift themselves out of poverty so that they are independent of government. Redistribution of wealth makes Democrats feel good about themselves – so they need the poor to stay poor. Democrats take money from the wealthy, causing them not to hire workers, and then give that money to the poor, so that they don’t need to work for anything.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Supreme Court throws out anti-business class action lawsuit

You have to read this post by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

Except:

The Supreme Court took a big bite out of the pockets of class-action trial lawyers today, at least in the field of employment discrimination.  The court unanimously rejected a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart on behalf of 1.6 million female employees that attempted to argue that the retail giant purposefully and systematically discriminated on gender for compensation.  But a narrow 5-4 rulingon a companion issue promises to make filing any more such class-action lawsuits nearly impossible:

The justices divided 5-4 on another aspect of the ruling that could make it much harder to mount similar class-action discrimination lawsuits against large employers.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the court’s conservative majority said there needs to be common elements tying together “literally millions of employment decisions at once.”

But Scalia said that in the lawsuit against the nation’s largest private employer, “That is entirely absent here.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court’s four liberal justices, said there was more than enough uniting the claims. “Wal-Mart’s delegation of discretion over pay and promotions is a policy uniform throughout all stores,” Ginsburg said.

The contrasting opinions gives a good indication of what is at stake.  In mostcorporations (especially national retail chains), compensation decisions are almost always delegated to individual locations or regional management.  For one thing, the labor market varies from region to region, and what amounts to competitive compensation in one region might be insufficient in another, depending on the cost of living, labor availability, and so on.

Ginsburg’s identification of this as a prima facie indication of discrimination would have exposed virtually all US retailers to such class-action lawsuits.  Not only would that have sapped retailers of billions in capital, but it doesn’t make any sense on its face anyway.  If compensation decisions are decentralized throughout an organization, how can that possibly demonstrate a coordinated, centralized, and explicit effort to discriminate on the basis of anything?

Reining in judicial activism and trial layers is a good way to incentivize corporations to create jobs. If you want to lower unemployment, stop these frivolous class-action lawsuits.

It’s also worth pointing out that lawsuits like this are bogus in a free market, because if people really area being underpaid, they can always go to a different employer to get a higher salary – IF THEY ARE WORTH IT. We really need a national loser-pays law to deter these nuisance lawsuits.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ezra Levant on the new Sun News television network

Ezra Levant

Ezra Levant

Learn about the new Sun News television network and Ezra Levant’s new show “The Source”. Sun News launching in Canada on April 18, and it should provide some much needed diversity to the close-minded, economically ignorant climate of big government spending that dominates the news media up north.

Excerpt:

Do you want to get the Sun News Network on your TV? Then you’d better ask for it. Because we go live in less than two weeks. April 18th is the launch. And you don’t want to miss a minute of it, I can promise you that.

And maybe pick up the phone and add the power of your voice to your efforts.

If we were the CBC or CTV, you wouldn’t have to ask for the channel. It would be forced on you. In fact, under Canadian broadcasting law, every cable provider must carry CBC and CTV, and every single cable subscriber (that would be you) is forced to pay for it, whether you watch it or not.

These two companies have had a combined 30-plus years of this mandatory indoctrination — and taxation. As if the CBC’s billion dollars a year wasn’t enough, they ding you for 54 cents a month on your cable bill, whether you ever watch them.

It’s the David Suzuki tax. The Peter Mansbridge tax. It’s the Alberta-bashing tax. The gun registry tax. It’s a tax to pay for your own indoctrination.

We’re the Sun — a privately owned company. We don’t have the power of taxation. Which is fine. We’ll win our viewers the old fashioned way — by broadcasting interesting things that people want to watch.

That’s what’s so remarkable about the CBC-CTV duopoly. Despite all the subsidies and mandatory broadcasts, Canadians so often choose to get their news elsewhere — including a news station headquartered in the Deep South of the United States, called CNN. They’re headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the cradle of the Confederacy.

It’s a pretty damning indictment of Canadian TV news that a TV station in the heart of Dixie manages to draw more eyeballs than local offerings. Imagine if the biggest-selling newspaper in Canada were USA Today. How lame would Canadian newspapers have to be to allow that to happen?

One day, the CBC and CTV will have to compete on an equal footing with Sun News Network. One day the CBC won’t get the Sun’s entire annual TV budget — $20 million — in a single week. Seriously, do the math: with a billion dollars a year, the CBC burns through the Sun’s yearly expenses every seven days.

That’s a state broadcaster for you. And that’s why they have big government built right into their DNA: without big government and high taxes, they’d have to get real jobs.

[...]That’s my real beef with Canadian TV news today. Not that it’s liberal, which it generally is. But that it has such a dreary consensus. On everything from gun control to Omar Khadr to global warming, CTV and CBC are like Tweedledee and Tweedledum. There is the official, “acceptable” view that gets on the air, and everything and everyone else can go pound sand.

In this video, Ezra Levant explains his new show, and the vision of Sun News.

My understanding of Canadian news media from my Canadian friends is that all the mainstream media news channels ever talk about is how much taxpayer money to spend on various whiny special interest groups. They just talk and talk about stimulus spending, “equalization payments”, welfare, subsidies for green energy companies and so on. The political debates are big whining sessions where the progressive political parties complain that the other progressive parties aren’t spending enough money on the poor fill-in-the-blank group. The majority of the people vote for left-wing parties like the Liberals and the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, because the majority of the people get an economically ignorant view preached to them by the news media. They have been taught by the media to choose policies based on 1) their feelings, 2) greed for their neighbor’s money and 3) international opinion, especially the UN. They can’t think for themselves, and they are accustomed to depending on government to give them handouts.

Sun News will compete against the ultra-liberal networks like CTV and government-owned CBC. Unlike CBC and CTV, the Sun News network will feature center and center-right perspectives on the news, and will cover issues that the mainstream news networks cannot touch. (Yes, in Canada every province has anti-free-speech censorship panels that go after pastors and Christian business owners who offend left-wing groups with their inconvenient free speech). There really isn’t any free speech in Canada, the whole country is run like a liberal university campus with speech codes, where the governing leftists collect taxpayer money that is then used to silence dissenting voices, like those of Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn. They really need some different points of view so that they can be more open-minded and tolerant. They just get offended too easily because they only know one way of thinking about the issues and they find disagreement offensive.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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