Poverty In America Versus Poverty Everywhere Else

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.

poverty in AmericaBasically, 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.

(H/t Instapundit)

This entry was posted in China, economics, politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Poverty In America Versus Poverty Everywhere Else

    • Jonathan says:

      Perhaps your comparison is far too simple to make. I lived in the second poorest country in the world (Liberia) for a period of time. I often had no electricity, but wasn’t worried about my well being because of it. A northern poor person in the US who has a utility shut off (especially during the winter) faces potential illness or death. I received stitches in Liberia for practically nothing at the hospital, but in the US, when I was uninsured, 3 stitches in my hand cost me $800, and there were no other services involved. I can buy a brand new laptop for less than that. If I had a more serious illness, I shudder to think what my options would have been. Childbirth and adequate prenatal care runs into the 10’s of thousands in the US. Making comparisons of well being based simply on access to material goods doesn’t tell much of the picture that the poor in this country face. I think it’s absurd that in this country, it’s easier to buy a bunch of gadgets than a year of college or one hospital visit.

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