Poverty in America
Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” IN RECENT YEARS, THE CENSUS HAS REPORTED THAT ONE IN SEVEN AMERICANS ARE POOR. But what does it mean to be “poor” in America? How poor are America’s poor?
For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. For example, THE POVERTY PULSE POLL TAKEN BY THE CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT ASKED THE GENERAL PUBLIC: “HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE BEING POOR IN THE U.S.?” THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF RESPONSES FOCUSED ON HOMELESSNESS, HUNGER OR NOT BEING ABLE TO EAT PROPERLY, AND NOT BEING ABLE TO MEET BASIC NEEDS. That perception is bolstered by news stories about poverty that routinely feature homelessness and hunger.
Yet if poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the more than 30 million people identified as being “in poverty” by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor. While material hardship definitely exists in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity. The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines.
AS SCHOLAR JAMES Q. WILSON HAS STATED, “THE POOREST AMERICANS TODAY LIVE A BETTER LIFE THAN ALL BUT THE RICHEST PERSONS A HUNDRED YEARS AGO.” In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker….
The chart at the left tells us globally what poverty in America is like and it appears to be a lot better than many would lead us to believe.
Obama says "willing to take spending down"
Something remarkable occurred in President Obama's press conference on Friday (July 15). It was so astonishing that I was not sure I had heard right, and had to wait until the press conference transcript was posted on the White House website to be sure. But there it is in the sixth paragraph. Here is the quote in full:
Now, what that would require would be some shared sacrifice and a balanced approach that says we're going to make significant cuts in domestic spending. AND I HAVE ALREADY SAID I AM WILLING TO TAKE DOWN DOMESTIC SPENDING TO THE LOWEST PERCENTAGE OF OUR OVERALL ECONOMY SINCE DWIGHT EISENHOWER.
I, at least, have never heard this before, but "before" is not really important; President Obama has said it now. Republican negotiators, the Tea Party, indeed the country must hold him to it. THIS IS THE ENTIRE GAME, THE ENTIRE PROBLEM, IN SPENDING AND THEREFORE THE DEBT CEILING QUESTION.
Spending has exploded to 25+% of GDP on president Obama's watch, six percentage points above where it "should" be at 19% of GDP! If the president is willing to take spending back to 19% of GDP, which is the level implied by the Eisenhower reference, the game is won.
THIS IS A STATEMENT THAT SPEAKER BOEHNER SHOULD GRAB ON TO AND HOLD ON TO FOR DEAR LIFE. EVERY DISCUSSION FROM NOW ON SHOULD BEGIN BY HOLDING THE PRESIDENT TO THIS DECLARATION. With this statement as the predicate for discussions, we can get a satisfactory agreement on the debt ceiling.
What Obama has said (though I doubt he meant it) was that he is willing to decrease spending by 8.4 trillion dollars over 10 years. If he comes through with that, Republicans should agree to tax increases in the neighborhood of $2 trillion over 10 years.
Presidential flummery and questions left unasked
BRAVO, JAKE TAPPER.
Finally from a member of the increasingly supine White House press corps came a question that demanded of the president specificity as to his alleged willingness to "upset his base."
TAPPER ASKED THE PRESIDENT ON FRIDAY TO "TELL US ONE STRUCTURAL REFORM THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO MAKE TO ONE OF THESE ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS THAT WOULD HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT ON THE DEFICIT?"
The president spoke a long time in response but PROVIDED NO SUCH SPECIFICITY ABOUT EVEN ONE SUCH REFORM, revealing again that the would-be Emperor of the Big Deal has no plan beyond a political operation to assign blame for any unpleasant consequences of a collision with the existing debt ceiling.
Tapper prefaced his excellent question with the not-so-excellent statement that "we have an idea of the taxes that you would like to see raised on corporations and on Americans in the top two tax brackets," and that really isn't true. WE ACTUALLY DON'T KNOW THE SPECIFICS OF THE PRESIDENT'S TAX HIKE LIST AND WE DON'T KNOW WHAT SORT OF "REVENUES" HE THINKS THESE TAX HIKES WOULD BRING.
Most suspect that all of the president's tax agenda wouldn't raise anything close to the amount of money he implies it would, and the impact on economic growth of another round of tax hikes is never discussed by the president or pushed by the overwhelmingly left-of-center, recovering JournoList fraternity covering the debt crisis in detail.
The question from the previous article is whether or not that comment is also just flummery.
The Daily Show: Unbiased?
It was contentious and dramatic. On Sunday, June 19, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace grilled funnyman Jon Stewart on his obvious liberal bias and Stewart replied, “… THERE IS NOT A DESIGNED IDEOLOGICAL AGENDA ON MY PART TO AFFECT PARTISAN CHANGE ...”
The exchange got heated when Stewart held that line, telling Wallace, “You can’t understand, because of the world you live in, that there is not a designed, ideological agenda on my part to affect partisan change, because that’s the soup you swim in.”
Well, “designed” or not, Comedy Central’s “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART” MOCKS THE RIGHT FAR MORE THAN IT DOES THE LEFT, AND A SURVEY OF THE 16 BROADCASTS SINCE THE WALLACE-STEWART RUN-IN PROVES IT.
CMI found that Stewart went after Republicans and Fox News (which he labels “conservative”) almost FOUR TIMES AS OFTEN AS LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS IN JUST TWO WEEKS OF SHOWS. However the next eight broadcasts proved that Stewart just couldn’t help but show his true, partisan colors.
Whether he was poking fun at Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her perceived Waterloo/John Wayne gaffe or calling Fox News a “lying dynasty,” Stewart’s ever-present bias comes awfully close to that of an “ideological, partisan activist.”
If I know my liberals they would say it’s because the right deserves to be mocked four times as much as liberals.
Bill Maher: Liberal hatred on display
From everything I’ve read, the only factor remaining in Governor Palin’s decision-making process about a 2012 presidential run is the impact the campaign would have on her family — which is why I think Bill Maher went here:
Now, I’m not saying that sexism doesn’t exist and isn’t real. And we can’t, but we can’t throw around the word “sexist” just to stop people like me from pointing out that Michele Bachmann, now running second for the Republican presidential nomination, isn’t a dangerous nincompoop. And when I point out that SARAH PALIN IS A VAINGLORIOUS BRAGGART, A LIAR, a whiner, a professional victim, a scold, a know-it-all, a chiseler, a bully who sells patriotism like a pimp, AND THE LEADER OF A STRANGE FAMILY OF INBRED WEIRDOS STRAIGHT OUT OF “THE HILLS HAVE EYES,” THAT’S NOT SEXIST. I’M SAYING IT BECAUSE IT’S TRUE, NOT BECAUSE IT’S TRUE OF A WOMAN.
Really, Bill, this is “true?” Who has it in them to look at this photo of Tripp and Trig Palin, two beautiful and perfect children, and make jokes about “inbred weirdos?”
Maher’s slant is bigoted and misogynistic despite the rationalization he’s only saying it because it’s true. What self-delusional idiocy.
Hints that CLOUD experiment supports cosmic ray climate impact
I have been following the results of the all the experments that infer cosmic rays have an implact on the earth climate ever since reading Chilling Stars by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark. The book was about his research into the effects that cosmic rays have on cloud formation and resulting inpact on climate change. Chilling Stars co-author was Nigel Calder.
HERE IS THE LATEST FROM CALDER ON THE STATUS OF THE CLOUD EXPERIMENT THAT WAS TO PROVE OR DISPROVE SVENSMARK'S THERORY ABOUT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN COSMIC RAYS AND THE EARTHS CLIMATE.
…Although still very busy with other work, I keep looking out for results from the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva, which is testing Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis that cosmic rays help to make clouds. They are due for publication this summer. All I have just now is a startling remark by Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN, in an interview by Welt Online a few days ago.
Here is a tidied-up Google Translate version of the relevant exchange.
Welt Online: The results of the so-called CLOUD experiment, exploring the formation of clouds, are awaited with great excitement. COULD THESE RESULTS STILL BE IMPORTANT FOR UNDERSTANDING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE?
Heuer: This is indeed a matter of understanding better the formation of clouds. In nature there are many parameters at work – including temperature, humidity, impurities and also cosmic radiation. IN THE EXPERIMENT, CLOUD INVESTIGATES THE INFLUENCE OF COSMIC RAYS ON CLOUD FORMATION, USING RADIATION [MEANING PARTICLES] COMING FROM THE ACCELERATOR. And in an experimental chamber one can study, under controlled conditions, how the formation of droplets depends on the radiation and particulate matter. The results will be published shortly. I HAVE ASKED THE COLLEAGUES TO PRESENT THE RESULTS CLEARLY, BUT NOT TO INTERPRET THEM. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. ONE HAS TO MAKE CLEAR THAT COSMIC RADIATION IS ONLY ONE OF MANY PARAMETERS….
This is important. It may represent another nail in the global warming canard. The statement, “one has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters” certainly looks as if they have found that cosmic rays indeed seed cloud formation.