Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Are the Poor?

You have to admit, we Americans hide our poor well.  That, plus the fact that when you're tired, cold and hungry you just don't make it a priority to write to your congressional representative, much less get out and vote, making the ever-increasing number of poor in this country quite unheard from, and even less talked about.

The right-wing-nut Heritage Foundation, stranger to empathy that it is, published on July 19th, an article that smugly asserts that the poor in this country are far better off than most third world countries.  Thankfully, when FOX "News" leaped on this report, Colbert was not far behind.

In fact, if you search the web for "poor America refrigerator" you will find an abundance of appalled responses to the Heritage nonsense.  In July and August.  Here we are in September and I am afraid that all we are left with is Tea Partiers and other assorted right-wing-nuts that now know for a fact that poor people in America are living high.

And, if you look closely at that search -- wait!  Robert Rector, the Heritage Foundation dude that wrote that article, actually rewrote it from an article he wrote in 2007.  He did make some crucial changes, though.

In 2007, in his chart showing just how much stuff the poor really own, he listed homes first (42.6%).  In a clever marketing-type strategy, in his reworked 2011 chart, he drops home ownership entirely; hmm, could that be because a whole lot more "poor" don't own homes anymore.  No, that's not it,  because he's using the exact same data from 2005.  Must  be because that figure of 99.9% that own a refrigerator is far more impressive.  Like, all poor people own refrigerators!

As a matter of fact, 99.9 is such an impressive number, that he changed it from the 2007 article, using the same data, from 99.2.  Not to be picky.  Because Rector is so good at slinging charts and poll numbers around that the whole thing gave me a headache.

Bottom line, though, is that the Heritage Foundation is claiming that most Americans should not be considered poor if they own a refrigerator.  And they have been at it for years.

Deja vu all over again, if you are old enough to recall Ronald Reagan's presidency-winning nonsense about the black welfare queen.

Or if Rector reheats this data and serves it up again in a couple more years.

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