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  • New Poverty Measure Doesn’t Add Up

    According to the columnist Robert J. Samuelson, the new Obama poverty measure “fails.” It flunks the test of “political neutrality,” and is based on “misleading statistics that not one American in 100,000 could possibly understand.”

    That’s because the new calculation would measure poverty on a sliding scale. Thus, if the average income of families in the United States’ increases so too does the poverty threshold. Talk about keeping up with the Jones. This new measure provides the perfect climate for left-leaning politicians to promote equalization of wealth through redistribution. This new measure would bump poverty up 30 percent: more poverty equals more political fodder to argue for increased welfare.

    Unfortunately, the method currently used to calculate the poverty rate is already skewed, creating a “crisis” of poverty in the United States. This is because only a family’s pre-tax income is included in total income when determining their poverty level. Thus, despite the fact that the average poor household receives $28,000 dollars in welfare benefits annually, these benefits are not included in their income. Not surprisingly then, even though the United States has increased welfare spending by 13 fold (adjusting for inflation) since the war on poverty began in 1965, the poverty rate has stayed much the same.

    However, the standard of living for the poor has increased substantially. Today, 43 percent of the poor own their own homes (80 percent have air conditioning and only 6 percent say they are overcrowded), approximately 75 percent own a car, 97 percent own a television, and nearly 80 percent have a VCR or DVD player. This definition of poverty, as Samuelson notes, referencing the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, is scaled up. On the other hand, only about two percent of Americans report that they often do not have enough food to eat.

    Another reason for the ever-consistent poverty level, one that the Left does not like to address, is the increase in low-skill immigrants. According to Samuelson:

    “From 1989 to 2007, about three-quarters of the increase in the poverty population occurred among Hispanics — mostly immigrants, their children and grandchildren….Poverty ‘experts’ don’t dwell on immigration, because it implies that more restrictive policies might reduce U.S. poverty.”

    The cost of low-skill immigration to the United States is significant. Research by Heritage’s Robert Rector indicates that for every $1 that a low-skill immigrant contributes in taxes, he or she receives $3 in benefits.

    If the Obama administration is genuinely interested in reducing poverty, they should start by aiming at its root causes: low work rates and single motherhood. The welfare reforms of 1996 increased work among the poor and reduced child poverty, and Bush’s Healthy Marriage Initiative provided funding to promote marriage education for low-income individuals. The current administration has sought measures that deliver deathblows to both policies. Furthermore, it would be wise to promote measures that discourage illegal immigration, such as securing the borders and enforcing employment laws, among others.

    Rather than illuminating the problem of poverty, this faulty poverty measure will only obscure the most relevant facts. The result will be more government spending that we as a nation cannot afford and that does little help those in need.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to New Poverty Measure Doesn’t Add Up

    1. Jared (Orange, CT) says:

      Frightening. Is it possible to do an analysis that applies the Obama poverty standard retrospectively? ie What would be considered the "poverty level" today if his standard had been applied over the last 20 to 40 years. My guess is that would illustrate the utter ridiculousness of his standard; the income amount amount would be so high.

    2. Lisa chicago says:

      Skewed? If you have a VCR, you are in Poverty my friend.

      I want to see you goto a Redbox and get a VHS movie… :(

      Keeping up with the Jones?

      Guess what… the Jones' moved out and now is occupied by 3 hispanic families… all up and down my block… with the exception of the 2 Polish families on each side of me… and they are multi family.

      If 43% of poor families own their own homes, they are buying up the foreclosures of homes that Have Air Conditioning, that were built and maintained by the hard working americans, that now don't have jobs… myself included…

      My lender won't modify my loan because I "make too much money"…But NACA can get any Hispanic family in my neigborhood a loan to by my "Under water" home, but I can't get a loan mod from NACA… even tho I havn't received a raise on over 2 years.

      Talk about Skewed facts…

      This whole country is skewed… and it sucks…things are NOT better…

    3. Kz Paul Montana says:

      I'm absolutely incensed over this "poverty" issue. At $28,000 GROSS, is not what a family is living on, as we know, and with all taxes paid it is much, much less. However, I wouldn't know as I've never earned that much after working 55 years. That is NOT my point.

      My parents, now in Lord's arms, paid on their home for 25 years and then I combined two loans and paid it off over the next 10 years. You're damn right it's paid for …..by very hard working Americans who had integrity, worked hard, secured a future for their family and as an inheritance was able to leave a home to live in and pay less pmt than the normal rent. As for air conditioning, when it was installed in the 70's….these two hard working adults paid for it by the month till debt was paid. The VCR's sell for $9.00 and DVD's I'm sure below $50.00.

      Now for the car, the exact same character issues apply here. I worked hard and made car payments, never missing one, to sacrifice having an auto. It leaves one quite proud, indeed, to see a "job well done," which is more than I can say regarding the majority in WashDC.

      Is this not permissible here in the US any longer?? To be upstanding, with integrity and hard work to have these things???? I say clear the swamp..only this time don't use it as political lying to get oneself higher on the very sad, corruptable ladder to success? I use that term loosely.

    4. Bee Milwaukee says:

      to Kz Paul Montana,

      I would suggest you read the aritcle again, it said that …despite the fact that the average poor household receives $28,000 dollars in welfare benefits annually, these benefits are not included in their income.

      How did you get … At $28,000 GROSS, is not what a family is living on, as we know, and with all taxes paid it is much, much less.

      Do you need new glasses or someone to s'plain it to you?

    5. Jan says:


      Income before deductions:24K

      sources: SS disability (cancer)

      disability policy I held with former employer (my dime)

      no tv service, no cell phone, local calling only telephone, lowest cost internet

      service available ($25 mo.), 13 year old car (72K miles)

      AC set at 81 daytime 78 night.

      medicare, medigap policy ($300 mo and rising)

      NO social services. I don't qualify anyway. Income too high.

      Homeowner. meeting with realtor this week to sell home as I can no longer afford.

      Don't want handouts.

      Baby boomer who worked hard all my life until I couldn't.

      Tried to tell people NOT to vote for Obama. Our beautiful country destroyed before our eyes.

      Believe in personal responsibility and eliminating fraud and wasteful spending, fiscal responsibility.

      Obama needs to go as do most of the politicians in office both parasites ooops, I mean parties. Vote well.


    6. Pingback: One Hundred Percent or Zero : Smart Girl Nation

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