Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about the latest numbers on worldwide poverty.
The article reports:
Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, recently reported that in the United States, “[a]bout 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in third-world conditions of absolute poverty.”
He further argued before the U.N. Human Rights Commission that “one of the world’s wealthiest countries does very little about the fact that 40 million of its citizens live in poverty.”
That would be very serious if it were true. Thankfully it is not.
The article further reports:
Such claims do have a veneer of legitimacy, however, because when compiling the U.S. government’s official poverty statistics, the Census Bureau considers only the cash income each family reports in an annual survey.
These “official” income figures exclude substantial off-the-books earnings among low-income households and omit roughly 95 percent of the $1.1 trillion U.S. taxpayers provide in means-tested cash, food, housing, and medical benefits for low-income persons each year.
Fortunately, the Census Bureau also conducts, on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a survey of household expenditures, in which families are asked to report how much money they spend each month on each of up to 594 categories of purchases. Poor families routinely report spending an average of $2.40 for each dollar of official cash income.
…Alston claims that 40 million Americans have incomes below the official U.S. poverty level of roughly $24,000 per year for a family of four. However, the reality is that at most 25.9 million Americans live in poverty, based on reported spending less than the official poverty threshold. And, the official U.S. poverty threshold is far higher than the living standard for most of the world’s population.
The article explains what poverty looks like in America:
The severe shortcomings of income-based poverty measures are made clear when one considers the actual living conditions of those whom Alston considers to be in “extreme poverty.” American families living in “extreme poverty” typically have air conditioning, computers, DVD players, and cellphones. They rarely report material hardships such as hunger, eviction, or having utilities cut off.
The article notes that we need to find a better way of compiling our poverty statistics in America so that they actually reflect the truth. An accurate reporting of poverty statistics would help the government gauge exactly what our spending on poverty needs to be.