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America's Poor

I was going to attempt to refactor this page, but gosh, it seems too difficult still. Perhaps we can reach some consensus about what should appear here?

TimShell would like to make the point that America is so wealthy, that even people we consider poor would be considered middle class by the standards of much of the world. That's certainly a valid point.

There are also valid other questions here, too. What about the availability and quality of health care available to poor people in America as compared to countries with socialized medicine? What about crime, which tends to affect the poorest segments of society most?

Poor people in America are middle-class by the standards of much of the developed world and upper-middle class, even wealthy, by the standards of the ThirdWorld?.

The poor in America own many luxuries.

62.5% of America's poor own at least one automobile per household, while 13.6% own two or more automobiles per household. There are 344 automobiles per 1000 poor Americans, roughly the same ratio for the total population of the UnitedKingdom?. A poor American is nearly 50% more likely to own a car than the average Japanese.

Over 95% of America's poor households own one or more televisions. 49% have air conditioning. 30.7% have microwave ovens. 56% have washing machines. 99.1% have refrigerators. 81.3% have telephones. (Data from 1987)

America's poor enjoy indoor plumbing. 98.2% of America's poor households have flush toilets. In this respect America's poor compare favorably to the average household in other developed nations: 94% in the UK, 93% in West Germany, 89% in Italy, 88% in Spain, 83% in France, and 46% in Japan. (Data from 1980)

America's poor are well fed. In almost all cultures people's first choice of food is meat, while other foods are eaten when meat is not available. Meat consumption is therefore a good measure of how well people are eating. America's poor eat more meat than the average person in other devleped countries. As a percentage of consumption by poor Americans, West Germany totaled 75, France 70, Italy 62, UK 57, Japan 39. (Data from 1977)

TimShell, I know you mean well and are trying to provide some decent data on standard of living. But a good deal of this was clearly selected to lead to a particular impression which it doesn't directly support. For instance, fewer people have cars in the UK. However, the UK is a lot smaller than the US, and could quite conceivably have a better system of public transport, so that cars aren't nearly so useful, even as luxuries. And on the other side of the coin, I suspect that there are many omitted statistics that would go the other way - for instance, how do America's poor compare in education?

I glanced at some of Simon's work and the man clearly has a bias. That's not to say that anything the man says is wrong, or shouldn't be discussed, but it certainly should be handled with caution to make it somewhat more neutral. A brief search reveals that there are many criticisms of his obviously popular works available for comparison purposes. I think what might be a good idea is to put AmericasPoor? as a subpage of JulianSimon, and there sum up his arguments and those of his opponents.

The contents of the page are more or less derived from what statistics Simon decided to publish, and were selected to support his conclusion. Since the statistics don't actually have much reflection on anyone's living conditions (see my and Woj's comments below) I think it has more to do with him than with anything else.

The European stereotype on US Standard living is the following:

1. No public healthcare ( ever seen ER w/ GeorgeClooney?).

2. Primitive Social Policy - large number of homeless people (that's probably Hollywood's fault).

3. Everyone drives their car to the next Mall - no public transport.

4. EVERYONE has a gun and is willing to shoot you at sight.

PLEASE NOTE: the above is not my view and is NOT intended to offend anybody. I was just trying to give you an impression of what a standard European thinks when asked about the the US Standard of Living. Expressions like the above America's poor are well fed just make things worse -- it is clearly a biased opinion (Please define poor??? Define "well fed" ??? Ever seen a homeless person with a microwave and an A/C??? -- It is humans you're talking about not pigs, see AdolfHitler for more). Please remember this is an open project and it is every one of us that has the chance to change people's views -- please take care when doing so. -- WojPob

A: My point is that stats will not do the job. The whole industrialised world has got a problem. -- WojPob

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Last edited February 7, 2001 3:37 am by JimboWales (diff)