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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Household incomes fell and number of poor hit record 46 million in 2010

Unemployment Rate (Not seasonally adusted)

Unemployment Rate (Not seasonally adusted)

From Reuters:

The number of Americans living below the poverty line rose to a record 46 million last year, the government said on Tuesday, underscoring the challenges facing President Barack Obama and Congress as they try to tackle high unemployment and a moribund economy.

The Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage said the national poverty rate climbed for a third consecutive year to 15.1 percent in 2010 as the economy struggled to recover from the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

That marked a 0.8 percent increase from 2009, when there were 43.6 million Americans living in poverty.

The number of poor Americans in 2010 was the largest in the 52 years that the Census Bureau has been publishing poverty estimates, the report said, while the poverty rate was the highest since 1993.

The specter of economic deterioration also afflicted working Americans who saw their median income decline 2.3 percent to an annual $49,445.

From Bloomberg:

Since the low point in the labor market downturn in February 2010, nonfarm payrolls have increased by 1.9 million, showing that without stronger growth, it will take years to recoup about 8.7 million jobs lost as a result of the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

The jobless rate rose to 9.6 percent in 2010 from 9.3 percent in 2009. Long-term unemployment, the percent of those without a job for 27 weeks or longer, increased to 43 percent from 31 percent, according to the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute.

This is the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Keep in mind that the Democrats took over Congress in January of 2007 and their first budget was in 2008, the beginning of the recession. But at least we had turtle tunnels to nowhere.

What about Obama’s new 447-billion stimulus? Will it create jobs?

Let’s see, using this article from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Excerpt:

Tom Porcelli, an RBC Capital Markets analyst, told The Wall Street Journal that he expected it to have “little” effect on hiring. “Mr. Porcelli was skeptical that the short-term employer tax breaks would prompt job growth. ‘I don’t think that you’re at the stage where small businesses are incentivized to hire,’ because demand is still so low, he said. ‘These companies are basically still trying to hunker down and hope that they’re around in the next year.’”  “Larry Schaffert, owner of Schaffert Construction, said Obama is ‘totally clueless of what it takes to run a business.’”

Business leaders do not think Obama’s plan would succeed in getting America’s economy growing, nor do they think it would get “unemployed people back to work”: “Business executives say it will take more than tax credits proposed by President Barack Obama to convince them to expand their payrolls to help get thousands of unemployed people back to work. Instead, they’d prefer an easing of the regulatory environment and an overhauling of the business tax structure, which would lead to lower operating costs.”

Employers cited in The New York Times said Obama’s jobs plan would not result in their hiring any additional employees: “David Catalano, who helped found Modea, a digital advertising company in Blacksburg, Va., said that he was wary of the president’s pledge to ask the ‘wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.’ His company was organized as an S Corporation, in which profits are passed through to shareholders, so it would face higher taxes under the president’s proposal, he said. He added: ‘My partner and I have reinvested 100 percent of the profits that our agency has made over the last five years back into the company. If the government takes a bigger share of that from me, it directly impedes my ability to grow the agency.”

[...]People should take Obama’s claims about “job creation” with a grain of salt.  His earlier claims about creating jobs turned out to be false.  The Obama administration said that if the $800 billion stimulus package passed, unemployment would not go above 8 percent, but it actually skyrocketed to 10.3 percent less than a year later.  The “green jobs” the Obama Administration promised to create in the stimulus package are  largely non-existent. Indeed, the stimulus package’s green-jobs provisions ended up inadvertently outsourcing American jobs to China.   As the Associated Press notes, Obama is also not leveling with the American public when he minimizes the budget-busting nature of his so-called “American Jobs Act.”  That lack of fiscal honesty is nothing new for Obama, who falsely promised  a “net spending cut” in 2008, only to immediately propose massive budget increases once he was elected, including proposed budgets that would add $4.8 trillion to the national debt.

This is from Hans Bader, so I removed all his links – he likes to put lots of links to lots of facts, because he’s a lawyer. You have to click on his post to get all the links.

I don’t think numbers like those will help the Democrats. I am watching the election results come in for Anthony Weiner’s seat right now and the Democrat has lost in BROOKLYN and QUEEN’S. Can you believe that? New York is Republican. I wonder if M.C. Spinster is still a Democrat.

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Walter Williams on the best place to be poor in the world

Walter Williams

His latest column is here.

Excerpt:

Imagine you are an unborn spirit whom God has condemned to a life of poverty but has permitted to choose the nation in which to live. I’m betting that most any such condemned unborn spirit would choose the United States. Why? What has historically been defined as poverty, nationally or internationally, no longer exists in the U.S. Let’s look at it.

And here’s what he finds:

— 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.

— 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.

— 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 a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

And he concludes:

Yesterday’s material poverty is all but gone. In all too many cases, it has been replaced by a more debilitating kind of poverty — behavioral poverty or poverty of the spirit. This kind of poverty refers to conduct and values that prevent the development of healthy families, work ethic and self-sufficiency. The absence of these values virtually guarantees pathological lifestyles that include: drug and alcohol addiction, crime, violence, incarceration, illegitimacy, single-parent households, dependency and erosion of work ethic. Poverty of the spirit is a direct result of the perverse incentives created by some of our efforts to address material poverty.

Instead of exporting foreign aid to poor nations, we should be investing and trading with them to encourage them to start businesses and hire people. We should also be exporting our Judeo-Chrsitian values and our economic/political views, e.g. – private property, capitalism, the Constitution, federalism,the rule of law, etc. Knowledge and good character are solutions to the problem of poverty – not wealth redistribution.

Walter Williams is my #2 favorite economist.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

Wintery Tweets

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 3,935,785 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,716 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,716 other followers

%d bloggers like this: