Are the poor in America really poor?

Let's take a look at the data
Let’s take a look at the data

This article is from the Daily Signal.


Today, the Census Bureau will release its annual poverty report. It will almost certainly report that over 40 million Americans “live in poverty.”

But what does it mean to be poor in America? To the average American, the word “poverty” suggests significant material deprivation. But the actual living conditions of those the government defines as poor differ greatly from this perception.

According to the government’s own reports, the typical American defined as poor by the Census Bureau has a car, air conditioning, and cable or satellite TV. Half of the poor have computers, 43 percent have Internet, and 40 percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.

Far from being overcrowded, poor Americans have more living space in their home than the average non-poor person in Western Europe. Some 42 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes; on average, this is a well-maintained three-bedroom house with one and a half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 4 percent of poor children were hungry for even a single day in the prior year because the family could not afford food. By its own report, the average poor person had sufficient funds to meet all essential needs and was able to obtain medical care for his family throughout the year whenever needed.

The left likes to claim that the U.S. has far more poverty than other advanced nations. But those claims are based on comparisons that set a higher standard for escaping poverty in the U.S. than elsewhere.

When a single uniform standard is used, the U.S. is shown to have poverty rates that are very similar to other advanced nations, slightly higher or lower depending on the exact measure used.

I think we definitely want to be careful about the outcry on the secular left about “poverty”. Their solution always seems to be that we need to move in the direction of socialism. And socialism means that the government gets bigger by taking money and liberty away from families, churches and businesses.

As a Christian, my goals are all gospel-centric. My interest in politics is because I want to live in a society that respects my right to work, earn and save, so that I can spend and give in a way that advances the gospel. My job is not to transfer my money to lazy people in their dependence on government. I go to work so that I can have the fuel I need to respect God in my decision-making. The secular government is interested in other goals – like getting elected. I don’t want them using my money for their goals. I have my own goals.

2 thoughts on “Are the poor in America really poor?”

  1. They look at income,if you make under a certain amount, I believe its $25,000 -i may be wrong but that is considered under the poverty line and thus people whether single or married with kids are considered poor.

    1. right, but that’s not the point of the post. If you look throughout history, the poor are generally those who cannot afford one or more of life’s basic necessities, which are food and water, clothing and a place to live. The American “poor” generally have all of these things, a 30 or 40 inch TV, cable connection, some variety of car, several pairs of shoes, and some luxury food and houseware items sprinkled among the other s and so forth. What Americans mean by poor generally speaking means they can’t afford fancy vacations, a brand new car, a huge house, organic food or some of the latest clothes. The vast majority of the American poor are rich by world standards. We have a few destitute homeless people, but by comparison with the world, not that many.

      It’s further complicated by living costs. $25,000 in rural America goes pretty far, you get a lot of bang for your buck and you make out just fine, a comfortable life with room for quite a few extras. It’s not poverty at all; they are probably better off than someone making $50k in California, to be honest. In New York or LA or the other urban centers across the west coast and the north east, you barely pay for your room with that same $25k. Further, $25,000 in almost any country in the world that isn’t America or Western Europe (which is something like 90% of the world) is a massive sum of money, so much that you’re almost Warren Buffet when put next to their average income. It’s part of the reason so many people want to come here. Even our poor are rich.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s