September 10, 2007
By Lisa Fabrizio
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The Heritage Foundation’s Robert E. Rector has written a fine piece cataloging the Census Bureau’s statistics and linked to all the pertinent data. If you’re anything like me, some of the highlights might not surprise you:
* 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. 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; 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 more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
The point being, that the depth of poverty that exists in too much of the world is basically nonexistent here. But although our poor are better off than those in most of the world — so much so that millions of impoverished foreigners are willing to risk their lives and break our laws to join them — some Americans do live in unfortunate, if not dire, circumstances. Of course, the major difference is that the poor in this country have the opportunity to improve their lot.
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Here are two reasons why we have to get the gooferment out of the “war on poverty”. (1) Poor in the USA is not the same as poor elsewhere on the globe. (2) They demotivate people from working — both the takers who could work and the makers who say why should I bother to make more.
I learned this lesson when some TV show interviewed an illegal from Africa and asked why did he want to come to America. His astute reply “here poor people are fat”.
How “fat” we don’t ever realize.
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