Poverty and Income Distribution
By Arnold Kling
Robert E. Rector and Kirk A. Johnson offers some interesting facts concerning poverty in the United States, including
Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes…The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe…
Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a
microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is
in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential
The take-away is not that America is without poverty. However, only a subset of the people classified as poor by the Census Bureau experience what most of us would think of as real poverty–crowded housing conditions, hunger, and the like.
As for the relative wealth of the rich and the middle-class Phil Bowermaster offers this perspective.
comparing the difference in lifestyle between the average person and the richest of the rich. If that delta could be quantifiable, it would almost certainly show a consistent downward trend over the past two hundred years.
Is it because rich just doesn’t buy you as much as it used to? Just the opposite, really. Poor buys a lot more than it used to.
…I can declare myself richer than, say, William the Conqueror. Actually, that’s a tough one. He had more land and horses than I do, and was much better off in the precious metals department. And in terms of being able to raise armed forces, I’ll have to concede that my Posse might have a hard time with the Norman invading forces. Still, I sleep in a more comfortable bed, eat better food, and have Tivo.
For Discussion. The ratio of the highest income to the lowest income has widened in the United States. What has happened to the ratio of consumer goods and services enjoyed at the top to that at the bottom of the income scale?