O.K. — Who Are the Poor?

Apparently, the debate about who is poor in America has been going on since 1967, according to an interesting PBS report.

That surprises me because I have seen “poor” in many nations around the world and believe me, we do not have many “poor” in America and if we do, we have the richest poor in the world!

It turns out that just about everyone agrees that the current measurement is not reliable — it stands about 15% of Americans are defined as “poor” in America. The left complains that the number does not include the homeless, or those who live in college dorms, or those in other alternative living conditions.

The right complains that the use of income as a measure does not include any governmental assistance — welfare, housing assistance, “Earned(sic)” Income Tax Credit, and Food Stamps — are not counted.

There is a a standard statistical measurement that takes all of the left and right complaints into account, and instead of 15% of the population rated as “poor,” it is actually 16%.

Every decade there is a US Census, and every decade the Heritage Foundation culls the US Census data to find out how “poor” our poor really are:

“80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

92 percent of poor households have a microwave.

Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.

Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.

Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and 70 percent have a VCR.

Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers.

More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

43 percent have Internet access.”



Mind you, these are what we call “poor” and this is just a part of the report, the totality of which can be seen at the link above.

The left rejoins that these statistics may be correct, but they are misleading because not all of the poor have all of the things.  That is absolutely true, and of course there are some of the poor who have none of the “things.”


Nevertheless, we do have, relative to the richest nation on earth in general, those who have less. No question. We even have people who are homeless, and people who are hungry.

My contention is that the totality of that experience is small enough that 300,000 Christian churches, and 247 million Christians — who have been ordered by their Leader, Jesus, to take care of the poor, should do so. Jesus did not order his followers to have the government do it. He ordered HIS believers to take care of the poor.

Some Christians actually do take care of the poor, and they deserve credit — Father Joe, Brother Beno, the Salvation Army — good folks, all. (Just not that many.)

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