The "Poor" Poor

If you know me, then you know I have little to no sympathy for the supposed “poor” people living in poverty in this country. You tell me they’ve been screwed by big companies and evil Republicans. So imagine my outrage when I came across this article, outlining just how “poor” America’s poor really are.

  • Forty-six 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.
  • Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average 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; 30 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.
  • Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.

According to the US Census Bureau, 35MM Americans live in poverty. But only a marginal percent of those are actually poor. I like this quote from the article:

The typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.”

People say that I’m guilty of generalizing the poor, and often times I do. But for those that truly are victims of circumstance I do truly have sympathy for, and support programs to help them. But to support those people who could support themselves if they sacrificed a little is asinine.

People want me to stop generalizing the poor. I want them to stop categorizing the people in the studies above that aren’t poor! People don’t need televisions, extra cars, fancy DVD players and designer clothes. And if having those “wants” prevents someone from having “needs” then I have a problem.


Posted on February 5, 2008, in Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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