Sunday, November 6, 2011

The "Poor'" Take A Hit From The NY Times

Don't panic! That's not a future New York Times headline. In fact, it's the front page the day after the 2008 presidential election. And it already contained a major inaccuracy. Not only did the racial barriers not fall, but after three years, Barack Obama has been busily rebuilding those barriers which were damaged by improving race relations. One of his ploys to divide by race and class has been the issue of poverty.

So imagine my surprise when the "newspaper of record" actually ran a front page article indicating that the "poverty problem" has been grossly overstated for years. It wasn't even an article on the editorial pages written by a token conservative. It was right there in front of God and everyone of the front newspage, written by two Times welfare beat reporters. After regaling us for months with horror stories of the rich getting richer and the poor getting children, these reporters actually addressed the issue of defining poverty up.

Poverty in America is generally equal to comfortable middle class status in about 90% of the world. But in order to promote class warfare and government dependency, the liberals have continually based the description of poverty on the family income of the "poor." Those claiming that extreme poverty is on the rise because of the undertaxed rich have left out a major factor regarding the "poor." Government largess has jumped in to replace income, and government social welfare programs and safety nets have more than filled the gap in lost or never-earned income. The socialist paradise hasn't yet arrived, but these people ain't starving nor are they out in the streets with no place to live.

The reporters open with: "When the Census Bureau said in September that the number of poor Americans had soared by 10 million to rates rarely seen in four decades, commentators called the report 'shocking' and 'bleak.' Most poverty experts would add another description--'flawed.'" When poverty is described as "only" having one car, one roof over your head, air-conditioning for the summer and heating for the winter, and a balanced diet, the term becomes meaningless. And when those perks are paid for largely by the government and not included in family income, the whole "poverty problem" becomes largely a myth designed to destroy the conservative doctrine of self-reliance.

The Census study also tends to put San Francisco and Manhattan prices together with Mississippi and Arkansas incomes. Reporters Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff go on to say that after its big "revelations" of the increase in "poverty," the Census Bureau is quietly going to offer an alternative version this coming week. The reporters say that an added Census study will address a different way of counting the resources of the alleged poor and their legitimate needs. "Similar measures, quietly published in the past, suggest among other things that safety-net programs have played a large and mostly overlooked role in restraining hardship. As much as half of the reported rise in poverty since 2006 disappears."

"Virtually every effort to take a fuller view--counting more income and more expenses--shows poverty rising more slowly in the recession than the official data suggests," say DeParle and Gebeloff. While the official national measure shows a rise of nearly 10 million newly-impoverished people, the revised Census measures put it at more like 4.5 million to 4.8 million--fewer than would normally be expected during a major recession.

De Parle particularly has had a seeming epiphany somewhere along the line. When Congress pushed Bill Clinton into welfare reform, he wrote: "Poor mothers will turn to prostitution, abandoning their children, or being forced to 'camp out in the streets and beg.'" We all know that such a thing never happened, but isn't it refreshing to have a liberal admit it (sort of)?

Now let's not get to too excited and start thinking that liberal thinking has changed. In the case of this particular New York Times story, the only thing that changed was how these liberals want to calculate poverty. Fairly enough, they added government assistance to income, but that's as far as it goes. They still draw the opposite conclusion from conservatives.

Liberals still think that skewing the poverty rate by throwing government money at the poor will solve the "problem." Don't hold your breath for them to decide that generational dependency on government redistribution of wealth destroys the initiative, creativity, and work-ethic that made this nation great. In fact, if they admit it at all, they'll tell you it's a good thing.


AndrewPrice said...

The problem is that if they go overboard in describing how bad things are, then it looks bad for Obama -- who needs all the help he can get from the MSM. So they need to walk a tightrope of firing up the base by talking about the need to help the poor, but they can't make the case strongly enough that the public gets nervous. Don't worry, once Republicans have the White House, the poor will be more miserable than ever.

Unknown said...

Andrew: LOL And the homeless problem that every Democratic president has solved overnight will immediateley reappear on our city streets. Poverty=Democratic votes. Too much poverty=time to redefine.

Tennessee Jed said...

great post, Hawk. I like Andrew's thought about a conundrum. Still, when we take back the government there will be, as Ann Coulter pointed out, a slew of stories about homelessness.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: I agree. The only town I've been in recently that didn't have a "homeless problem" was Las Vegas, and that was before the crash. Actually, they had some homeless, but they knew better than to hang out publicly. I wouldn't have known about it, like most tourists (I was there to evaluate the company's financial stance), but they were doing some reconstruction between my hotel and the business. The construction company had set up a covered walkway, not visible from the street. I walked inside it once because the route was a bit shorter, only to discover I was definitely not alone. I learned quickly that the locals walked outside the barrier or on the other side of the street to avoid the homeless people who are quickly escorted out of town by the police if the show up on they public right of ways.

T-Rav said...

I grew up in a hick town where about half the population was on welfare, unemployment, food stamps--whatever you want to call it, they had it. And I got to see how they behaved on a regular basis. Yeah, there's a reason why I'm not very sensitive about the "poverty problem."

Tam said...

I agree with T-Rav...from what I see, hear, read, etc. it seems the "poor" have more luxuries than I do. Not that I care for luxuries, but I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for the plight of "the poor" in America.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: That's generational dependency in spades. If you have no stake in something except to benefit from from the work and money of others, you have no incentive to change.

Unknown said...

Tam: And it's all "things." The people themselves don't become better people for it. My daughter works in the Child Protective Services division of a California County. Though she no longer goes into the field (she's a court officer now), her stories would singe your hair. Filthy kids, filthy houses, healthy cockroaches, plenty of booze and drugs, zero gumption, and two or three brand-new widescreen TVs decorated with fast food restaurant wrappers. Those living in rentals have only slightly less respect for their homes than those who have been favored with Section 8 homes. If the homes had lawns, they're long dead and gone, replaced by two or three inoperative vehicles where the lawn used to be. But they all know one mantra: "I know my rights, and I know what I'm entitled to."

Joel Farnham said...


My heart bleeds purple peanut butter for the likes of New York journalists, especially NY Times journalists. If it wasn't for shoddy reporting, they wouldn't have any reporting at all.

If the government wouldn't adjust the level of poverty stayed with some sort of standard such as, "How many work hours does it take to afford a loaf of bread?" Then there will be a solid basis for comparison. The poverty pimp politicians would scream bloody murder.

Also, the people on welfare have PC's, game consoles, cell phones, cable, in addition to cars, air conditioners, refrigerator, indoor plumbing, and electricity.

Unknown said...

Joel: And that brought back a memory that made me see red then, and now. Michelle Obama visiting a poverty center/dining room. Everybody (and I mean everybody) in the room was wearing new clothes, had just finished a good dinner, and they were taking pictures of her (and with her) using their smart phones. Poverty, my ass.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk: Yep, that sounds like some people up the street from my house. And they're more civilized than their parents were (i.e., they've learned how to minimize the chances of their meth lab blowing up).

Unknown said...

T-Rav: I've mentioned this before. My mother came from a struggling, lower middle-income German family in Chicago. By the time I was born, we were quite well off, but she knew what living on the edge of poverty was. There was no readily-available entitlement safety net back then. She once said to me that to be poor but proud was a virtue, and that to be poor and proud of it was a vice. Today, there's an entire generation of people who are not really poor at all, but rejoice in their "poverty" and their "right" to live off others.

tryanmax said...

Isn't that just the liberal way? Cry about the need for all of these programs but skew the results so the programs don't show up. Tax hungry libs want to define everything as income, so shouldn't gov't assistance count too? Oh, but I'm being silly, aren't I?

I have no sympathy for the so-called "poor." My income is ever-so-slightly north of "poor" and I'm living cheaper than most folks I know just on the other side. I've got no cable, no smart phone, a 12-year-old car, and my TV is a hand-me-down!

Plus, I have a special-needs child, so you'd think Uncle Sam would be just throwing money at me. Guess again! At least the public schools have a head-start program. (Oh, I guess I'm a mooch after all. Pthzzz!)

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