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How Poor is Poor Enough?


In sync with the NY Times report that poverty is down in the US though uninsurance rates are up, the Heritage Foundation has posted a maddening document: “How Poor are America’s Poor? Examining the “Plague” of Poverty in America.” Don’t you just love the use of scare quotes to tip us off, right off the bat, that the Heritage Foundation doesn’t think poverty is a problem.

Anyway, according to the Heritage Foundation, America’s poor aren’t really “suffering.” They’re eating enough meat, have air-conditioning, and even own VCRs! The real kicker: we can reduce the numbers of kids who are considered poor by making their lazy ol’ parents work more:

The remaining poverty in the U.S. can be reduced further, particularly poverty among chil­dren. There are two main reasons that American children are poor: Their parents don’t work much, and fathers are absent from the home.

Tell that to the thousands of people working several jobs to keep their families nourished and housed, but always one sick day away from disaster.

To the Heritage Foundation, the problem is not poverty, but how we measure it. We’re just too generous. The federal poverty level, $20,650 for a family of four in 2007 — is just too darn high. For the Heritage Foundation, if you’re not totally and utterly destitute, you’re doing just fine. What a crock.

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