Are you like me? If you are, you're constantly amazed by and grateful for the bountiful opportunities this country affords to anyone willing to work for them. Living as I do in the New York metropolitan area, I've seen places that were formerly considered the ''wrong side of the tracks'' transformed into beautiful apartment complexes. And in my own previously all-white neighborhood, we have a great assortment of families of all colors and creeds living in houses that only a generation ago would have been impossible for them to afford.
Go into almost any store or shop and you're likely to see all types of folks walking around on their expensively clad feet, swiping their credit and ATM cards with their carefully manicured hands. Drive through any neighborhood in any town -- even in run-down areas -- and check out the crowded restaurants while perusing the satellite dishes adorning the homes; homes filled with purchases that were once considered luxury items that now grace even the most humble of abodes.
So maybe you, like me, experience confusion when politicos like John Edwards incessantly trumpet two Americas; one of which apparently contains those living in dire poverty and despair. Take his comments on the newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division on poverty:
The reality that we have two Americas was confirmed again today by new data from the Census Bureau. These statistics show what most Americans know: tens of millions of our fellow citizens are completely left out of the economic progress enjoyed by the individuals and corporations on the very top.
Can this be true? Are there that many people in this country who live without the most basic of comforts and have no access to the American Dream? The Heritage Foundation's Robert E. Rector has written a fine piece cataloging the Census Bureau's statistics and linked to all the pertinent data. If you're anything like me, some of the highlights might not surprise you:
- Forty-three percent 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.
- Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
- Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
- The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
- Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
- Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
- Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
- Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
The point being, that the depth of poverty that exists in too much of the world is basically nonexistent here. But although our poor are better off than those in most of the world -- so much so that millions of impoverished foreigners are willing to risk their lives and break our laws to join them -- some Americans do live in unfortunate, if not dire, circumstances. Of course, the major difference is that the poor in this country have the opportunity to improve their lot.
All Americans used to know the way to prosperity for themselves and their families. It was, and is, pretty basic: a two-parent family working as diligently as possible. In his piece, Rector concludes: "In good economic times or bad, the typical 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 through the year -- nearly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty."
This, of course, is a truth that Edwards and friends cannot bear to hear or admit. To placate their diverse voting blocs -- feminists, race-baiters, gays, and socialists -- their aim is to keep the "lower" classes low by demeaning marriage, exalting "single moms", encouraging race and class envy, and subsidizing all of the above under the guise of "helping the poor."
Incredibly, this plan works so well, that the very people who are most damaged by the Democratic Party are some of their most reliable voters. The true poverty of America's poor is not their economic plight, but their lack of knowledge that those who would free them are really those who seek to keep them in chains.
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