We hear how the richest 10 percent of Americans account for 50% of all income in America. This is a misleading statistic for several reasons. First, this is pretax income. Second, it ignores additional sources of support such as the earned-income tax credit, which is a cash rebate to low-income workers; it ignores Medicaid, housing allowances, food stamps and other federal and local government subsidies to the poor.
In 2006, according to the annual Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, reported purchases by the poorest fifth of American households were more than twice as high as reported incomes. That additional money might represent earnings from unreported employment, illegal activities and unreported financial assistance. A proper measure of well-being is what a person consumes rather than his income. A huge gap has emerged between income and consumption at lower income levels.
— 43% of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage and a porch or patio.
— 80% of poor households have air conditioning.
— The poorest American has more living space than the average middle class individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe.
— 72% of poor households own a car; 31% own two or more cars.
— 97% of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
— 78% have a VCR or DVD player
— 62% have cable or satellite TV reception.
— 89% own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
— a third of poor households have both cellular and landline telephones.
Poor American children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
The poor of this country have nothing to complain about. America is the only nation in the world where the poorest ten percent of its citizens hear about an upcoming government handout on cable television through their big screen TV, call their friends on their cell phones, and then they drive to the government office to complain that they are poor and are not getting enough assistance.
The average poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year: That amounts to 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year-the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year- nearly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty. The reason for this is obvious: The government is taking a third of my pay, and more than half of that confiscation is being used for paying people to not work.