Walter E. Williams

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.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 2009 poverty guideline was $22,000 for an urban four-person family. In 2009, having income less than that, 15 percent or 40 million Americans were classified as poor, but there's something unique about those "poor" people not seen anywhere else in the world. Robert Rector, researcher at the Heritage Foundation, presents data collected from several government sources in a report titled "How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the 'Plague' of Poverty in America" (8/27/2007):

-- 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.

-- Only 6 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.)

Glenn Beck

-- 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.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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