Friday, June 24, 2011

Know Your Americans

It's time to play a new game here on My Two Cents.  I like to call it "Know Your Americans".  I'll give you demographic information provided by the 2010 Census--and you try to guess what population group I'm talking about.

  • 43% of these Americans own their own homes
  • 31% own two or more vehicles
  • 25% own large screen High Definition TVs
  • 63% subscribe to cable or satellite TV service
  • 33% have both landline and cellular phones
  • 47% are overweight
So which population group do you think I'm talking about?  If you guessed African-Americans--you would be wrong.  If you think those numbers describe senior citizens or retirees--guess again.  Those are the actual census finding for Americans who are living below the "poverty line".

Kind of gives you a new perspective on what it means to be poor in the US doesn't it?  43% of families living in poverty own their own houses.  31% drive two vehicles.  25% were somehow able to come up with the cash for the kind of TV that I couldn't afford to buy until I had saved up birthday and Festivus gift money.  63% can afford cable or sattelite service--which in my household is over 70-bucks.  And 47% can afford to eat in excess.

If you want to go deeper into the numbers, the living space for poor families in the US is 439 square feet per person.  That is more spacious living quarters than high income earners enjoy in Great Britain, France and Germany.  The average American living in poverty also consumes 184% of the daily recommended allowance of the 15 main nutrients humans need in their diets to stay healthy.  And only 2.6% of American children suffer stunted growth due to lack of proper nutrition.

Now, does that mean poverty is not a real problem in the US--no it does not.  There are certainly a lot of people who do not have the means or the opportunity to garner even the most basic necessities.  But keep in mind that eligibility for many Federal and State assistance programs starts at 150% or even 250% of Federal poverty income levels--meaning just as many who can make do are draining away resources from those who cannot make do.

Just keep those numbers in mind anytime someone tries to frame the debate on reduced government spending with the tired argument of "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor."

1 comment:

  1. I am tired of seeing news reports on TV about people who are down on their luck and struggling when the featured subject is clearly obese. Also, we are supposed to feel sorry for the single mom who is having a tough time financially. Where the hell is the sperm donor? Should have thought it through before you spread your legs. This nation makes it way too easy for people to be irresponsible. I am all for hepling those in need by my own accord, not by the government's hand. The truth is their are very few who are really in need. What ever happened to rugged individualism?