The Heritage Foundation has a fascinating new article which uses US Census data to explore the nature of poverty in America. While the article should be read in full, for the moment let us just focus on the following graph.
Basically, as the article reports, many poor people in America live better than many in the middle class in Europe. Yes, poor people in America have financial pressures, but they have full access to health care (despite Obama’s claims to the contrary) and plenty to eat. Indeed, one sign of poverty in the US is obesity. As someone who has been poor in the US, needed food stamps, and even experienced a brief turn at homelessness, we can attest that food and medical care are not serious problems for the poor in the US. Paying the rent and the utility bills are problems, however.
Compare this with those suffering from true poverty, in places like China. Poor people in China generally do not have microwaves, air conditioning, more than one TV, satellite or cable TV, a washing machine, etc. Indeed, most middle class people in China have no more than half the things on the list above. In a country like China, the list above does not describe poverty: It describes the filthy rich. Since the filthy rich make up less than 5% of the population of China, one could easily say that most Chinese people live in greater poverty than all but the very poorest people in the US.
This is not to dump on China or to say that many Americans are not struggling with money issues. It is to say that often people in America lack a proper perspective when they engage in political debates.