Jonathan Darman at Newsweek sulks at America’s “inability to be moved” by the suffering spotlighted by the John Edwards’ poverty publicity tour:
“There is something tragic about Edwards’s failure to break through. Today, 37 million Americans live below the poverty line, 12 million more than at the time of Kennedy’s death. And yet Edwards’s call of conscience has not resonated. By all rights, Edwards, the son of a millworker, should have an easier time talking about poverty than did Kennedy, the son of a millionaire. His difficulty speaks to the candidate’s inability to connect. It also speaks to the nation’s inability to be moved.”
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Going by Newsweek’s figures, when Bobby Kennedy was murdered in 1968 the population was a bit over 200 million. Today the US population is over 300 million.
So, if you go by Newsweek’s figures the poverty rate has declined from 12.5% in 1968 to 12.3% in 2007.
Also… To give you a better idea of how things are today, according to US Census Bureau Figures the poverty rate during the Bush years is much lower than during the Clinton years!
No wonder Pony’s “Poverty Tour” tanked.
So… Maybe the reason America is “not moved enough” by John Edwards’ theatrics is because America knows better!
And, then there is this from The Heritage Foundation as noted below in the comments:
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For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. But only a small number of the 35 million persons classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity. Most of America’s “poor” live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago. Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of households equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.1
The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
** Forty-six 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.
** Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, 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; 30 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.
** Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
Update: In related news the US economy grew faster than expected over the past three months (3.6%) recording the best quarterly performance since early 2006- BBC.
Update 2: President Bush spoke about the excellent economic numbers today in Washington.
The White House reported:
Americans Are Working And Taking Home More Pay
** Real After-Tax Per Capita Personal Income Has Risen By 9.9 Percent – Nearly $3,000 Per Person – Since President Bush Took Office.
** Real Wages Rose 1.1 Percent Over The 12 Months Ending In May. This is faster than the average rate during the 1990s, and it means an extra $729 in the past year for the typical family with two wage earners.
** The Economy Has Now Experienced Over Five Years Of Uninterrupted Growth, Averaging 2.9 Percent A Year Since 2001. Real GDP grew a strong 3.1 percent in 2006.
** Since The First Quarter Of 2001, Productivity Growth Has Averaged 2.8 Percent. This is well above average productivity growth in the 1990s, 1980s, and 1970s.
** Purchasing Managers Reported Manufacturing Expansion For The Fifth Consecutive Month In June. The Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index rose to 56 in June.
** Strong Economic Growth Has Helped Produce Record Levels Of Tax Revenue, Which Is Helping Reduce The Federal Deficit And Meet Our Goal Of A Balanced Budget. Record tax revenues helped us reach the President’s goal of cutting the deficit in half three years ahead of schedule. Receipts have increased nearly 35 percent since the tax relief was fully implemented in 2003, and the deficit has declined by $165 billion in the last two years.