The Census Bureau of the United States released its annual poverty report on Tuesday. The report declares that 3.1 million Americans lived in poverty in 2015. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of The Heritage Foundation explained that the U.S. government is withholding facts about poverty in America from its citizens. The authors share the following facts about poverty in America. (They explain that the data on electronic appliances owned by poor household come from a 2009 government survey, and it is likely the rates are higher among the poor today.)
. Poor households routinely report spending $2.40 for every $1.00 of income the Census says they have.
. The average poor American lives in a house or apartment that is in good repair and has more living space
than the average non-poor person living in France, Germany, or England.
. Eighty-five percent of poor households have air conditioning.
. Nearly three-fourths of poor households have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
. Nearly two-thirds of poor households have cable or satellite TV.
. Half have a personal computer; 43 percent have internet access.
. Two-thirds have at least one DVD player.
. More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
. One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
There are activist groups who claim that hunger is widespread in the nation, but their claims do not apply to most of the poor. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture collects data on these topics in its household food security survey. For 2009, the survey showed: (1) Only 4 percent of poor parents reported that their children were hungry even once during the prior year because they could not afford food. (2) Some 18 percent of poor adults reported they were hungry even once in the prior year due to lack of money for food.”
The Heritage Foundation article includes similar type facts about poverty. Then it asks a very important question, “Why does the Census identify so many individuals as `poor’ who do not appear to be poor in any normal sense of the term? The answer lies in the misleading way the Census measures `poverty.’ The Census defines a family as poor if its income falls below a specified income threshold. (For example, the poverty threshold for a family of four in 2015 was $24,036.) But in counting `income,’ the Census excludes nearly all welfare benefits.”
There are other facts about poverty in the article, but the authors suggest that the work and marriage would help the poor to become self-sufficient. “Able-bodied recipients [of welfare] should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of getting air. Penalties against marriage in welfare programs should be removed.”
Poverty in the United States is not handled well, and reports on poverty are not honest. We should be encouraging people to get out of poverty instead of making them comfortable in it – like Benjamin Franklin suggested. As the authors state, we should have policies and regulations that encourage work and marriage. Work and marriage have long proven to improve financial situation of families.