Saturday, August 20, 2011

How poor is poor enough?

Okay. I had said I wasn't going to think about politics, policy, or bloviating tinfoil hat types this weekend. I was going to purge my mind of all bad thoughts and just go to a happy place for a day or two. Then I made my usual weekend mistake. I turned on C-SPAN.

First up after open phones? A person from the Heritage Foundation who, in essence, was saying it's okay to shred social safety nets because you know what? Poor people in this country aren't really poor. Most of them are still living indoors and enjoying the benefits of being able to refrigerate perishable food. Jon Stewart ripped into this report a few nights ago on the Daily Show, and other bloggers have been going after it since these talking points started making the rounds on Hannity et al. -- "hey, the poor aren't that bad off -- they're not openly starving." "Instead of worrying about all those poor people, we should be proud that our poor people would be considered upper middle class in Europe."

You know what the Heritage mouthpiece was apparently basing a fair amount of that last bit of truly bizarre reasoning on? The fact that Europeans don't live in McMansions -- the average square footage of the typical European home is considerably smaller than that of the typical American (this isn't exactly news to anyone who's ever watched "Househunters International," although the American obsession with the en suite bathrooms and double sink vanities is creeping into newer construction globally). The fact that most European cities are really, really old compared to American ones and have always had to deal with higher population densities couldn't possibly have affected construction or living spaces -- the difference is solely the result of Americans always being better off than anyone else anywhere on the planet. We are number one. Even our poor people live in castles. And pigs can fly.

The other thing that struck me was that once again all the demographic information provided tended to be about minorities (x% of African Americans are poor, x% of Hispanics) without mentioning at all what percentage of the overall population those groups consitute provided more evidence that the reich wing loves to play to the racist fears of its base. You know, if one out of every 3 African Americans lives in poverty, but African Americans are only 12% of the total US population, that would make them a pretty tiny percentage of the folks relying on Food Stamps or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Ditto Hispanics -- if they're now 14% of the total US population, and they have a poverty rate similar to African Americans, then it's about the same -- 4 to 5% of the total persons in poverty. So if you take that 4% plus 5% and maybe round it up to 10% to allow for other nonwhite groups (Native Americans, for example), that would mean 9 out of every 10 people who are poor are also white. Ninety percent of the useless slackers on the dole, the folks too lazy to pull themselves up by their bootstraps because they're too busy enjoying the good life with their refrigerated food, are not minorities. [Note: percentages for US population breakdown are from the 2010 Census, and I remember the Reptile person saying 33% of blacks live in poverty. Hispanics are a guess, so consider the numbers theoretical. Bottom line is still that most poor people are white, but no one wants to admit that -- and the MSM cooperates in perpetuating the illusion only minorities are poor by almost always focusing on blacks or Hispanics when it covers anything related to programs like WIC or Food Stamps.]

I am totally convinced the Reptile people want to turn this country into Haiti. Or worse. This latest set of "fuck the poor, they're not all dying from starvation yet" propagandizing did nothing to change my mind.


  1. These marvelous statisticians using magic show numbers and making statements regarding minorities, poor people and what constitutes poverty ...

    I wonder, in a different lifetime did they wear brown shirts or white robes with pointy hats? Maybe they joined the 7th cavalry to chase down Native Americans? Or maybe they charged Chinese immigrants exorbitant sums for sailing to California? And, someone had to own the tenement slums in old New York.

    Things change? Right?

  2. I want to those people who bash the poor to lose everything they own and go live in a slum in Mumbai or Sao Paulo for six month.

  3. I want to those people who bash the poor to lose everything they own and go live in a slum in Mumbai or Sao Paulo for six month.

    Hey, I'm poor by the standards of this country but I get by just fine on my own, and I bash the poor here because they are so lazy and want a free ride.

    And I'm not stupid enough to go live in Mumbai or San Paulo.

  4. "Instead of worrying about all those poor people, we should be proud that our poor people would be considered upper middle class in Europe."

    For the record, I have lived and worked in Germany, have traveled to Europe for business and pleasure for 30 years, and poor people here compare in my opinion to being below the poor in Europe, since here they have no medical care beyond emergency room care if they can get that.


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