Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's UnAmerican for Poor People to Have Refrigerators -Re-edit

The American Heritage Foundation, a Right-Wing-Nut "think tank" thinks the poor have too many luxuries.

Imagine a single parent working two jobs to earn $12,000 per year and raising three kids.  If this family actually has a refrigerator to keep a gallon of milk and some hot dogs in and if the kids have an xbox that they got at Goodwill, well, then they're not really poor.  Really poor people have sour milk and spoiled hot dogs because they have nowhere to keep food cold.  And the kids have a cardboard box to play in if they're lucky.

The report makes generalizations such as: "Father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly two-thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes; each year, an additional 1.5 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, almost three-quarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty."

If poor mothers married the fathers of their children?... I can think of a dozen reasons why this statement is nonsense, not the least of which is that it does not follow logically either that children in single parent homes "are born out of wedlock" or that their fathers will automatically bring in the bacon.

And I guess the idea of "Bring us your poor" is also un-American as the report states "As long as the present steady flow of poverty-prone persons from foreign countries continues, efforts to reduce the total number of poor in the U.S. will be far more difficult." 

The report goes on to make the case that the poor in the US are actually quite comfortable as evidenced by material possessions (cars, TV's, VCRs, dishwashers, air conditioning, refrigerators, microwaves), and overall living space.

The report uses charts with data references but does not show how the data from different sources is integrated or combined to produce the resulting charts.  I find this quite suspect.

The thrust of the report is that the US poor are not really that bad off compared to the really poor in other countries; the implication is that we need not worry about the poor in America, they are doing OK.  So perhaps all those social programs are not really necessary.  They are costing the "rest of us" tax dollars.

So there is no need to raise the standard of living for those with least - it is already higher than they deserve. And they are obese too, so they are apparently getting too much to eat.  Really poor people are starving.

The author makes statements that are unsubstantiated: "The most common problem facing poor households was late payment of rent or utilities. While having difficulty paying monthly bills is stressful, in most cases late payment did not result in material hardship or deprivation."

He dismisses the inability to pay for utilities and rent as merely "stressful" and just because it does not always result in the electricity being turned off or eviction, it has no resulting "material hardship or deprivation".

The report is clearly biased against the poor and low income families, is clearly meant to advance the agenda of the most conservative and privileged to cut government spending on social programs that have actually helped bring the poor up to the "high" standards that the report points to as evidence that the poor are not actually poor.  The reasoning is tautological.

I add the following because sometimes one just has to laugh at the stupidity that is all around us. Colbert reports on this new "study" that surely helps inform the tea party congress in their deliberations.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
"Poor" in America
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive


Bob said...

The idiocy abounds and astounds.

Russ Manley said...

There's some good stuff mixed in with the haughty attitude if you look at the charts in that report. No, poverty in America is not usually the same as poverty in Bangladesh. But it's extremely misleading to talk about the "average" poor person - just as it is to say that the "average" family has 2 and one-half children. (I suppose people like Glenn Beck were the "half" in their families.)

You might have a $25 microwave and a $100 TV set at home - but that does you no good if you can't pay the light bill. Or the doctor bill or the pharmacy bill. And then there's gas to get to work and back. I could go on, but I'm sure you get my point here.

Craig said...

Sounds interesting but the video is apparently blocked here in the UK for some reason :(

Frank said...

I have added commentary to the original post.

Stan said...

Why don't they do a study on the top 2% in the US enjoying all their tax breaks etc. How many cars and homes must you own to make you happy?


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