Midnight Rantings

Tired rantings in a tired world.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Poor in America?

If one has to be poor, America is the best place to be. In this study by the Heritage Foundation, we find that the poor live better than the middle class just one generation ago. Granted, the poor have less material wealth and maybe less opportunity than groups with more, but are they destitute? No. Overall, 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. To be poor is this country is not necessarily as bad as some make out. In my middle class upbringing, I wished for things the average poor person has today.

What is poverty? This quote sums it up: the "Poverty Pulse" poll taken by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in 2002 asked the general public the question: "How would you describe being poor in the U.S.?" The overwhelming majority of responses focused on homelessness, hunger or not being able to eat properly, and not being able to meet basic needs. Poverty does not mean we are dealing with Oliver Twist. The poor have more material wealth than middle to upper middle class in Europe. The poverty line is drawn based on a bell curve. Therefore, poor people are only poor relative to the population. That does not mean poor people are destitute.

What separates our poor from the rest of the western world? Freedom. Opportunity. We are blessed with freedom of upward and/or downward mobility. People can change their lot in life. They are not stuck in a caste system. Through dedication and hard work, people can improve themselves. Our great country is a shining example of what people aspire to. In this election season, watch how politicians use class to divide and conquer.