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The Best Place to be Poor

Have you ever been approached by a "poor" person on the street begging for help because of their desperate condition, only to notice the $125 Air Jordans they were wearing? To be fair, most beggars aren't dressed that way, but it's certainly not rare in downtown Chicago to see that sight.
That kind of story provides anecdotal evidence, a type that's extremely popular with politicians and other power seekers because it can be reliably used to mislead many people. And although the tales usually have an element of truth, you can't draw broad conclusions based on them because it might be like looking at the Mona Lisa as a profile picture.
Without the other half of her face, she would be about as compelling as the notion that most beggars prefer Nikes to Mad Dog 20/20.

Having said that, consistent observation by interested parties can turn the anecdotes into actual evidence, if not proof. And the evidence shows that a different type of begging is becoming a real problem in our current American situation.

In order to attain the objective of placing more and more of our private institutions under government control, (and even ownership) we are being bombarded by a nonsensical caricature of people without private health insurance. Many of whom, we are told, live in such frightful conditions that they cannot afford food much less healthcare.

A step back from the edge of that rhetorical cliff reveals a different tale, one that most people know intuitively. The actual story reports on the spending behavior of the very people who we are supposed to be saving from calamity by irreversibly changing our entire healthcare system and squashing the attendant rights we currently enjoy. So first, let's have a look at the "poor" people, sans the emotional response the "changers" hope we will have.

In 2007 Robert Rector updated his work on poverty using the most up to date government figures available, (many from the 2005 US census) and what it shows is that to be "poor" in America is the aspiration of the truly poor in the rest of the world. Here are a few facts he gleaned as he admired Mona's whole face:
(I paraphrase his work)

•A little less than half of all poor households actu­ally own their own homes, and that average home has three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
•The vast majority, 80%,  of poor households have air conditioning. He notes that "by contrast, in 1970, only 36 % of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning."
•Only 6% of poor households are over­crowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
•"Poor" Americans have more living space than average individuals living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens,  to mention just a few cities. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
•Almost 75% of poor households own a car while 31% own two or more..
•97% of poor households have color television; over 50% own two or more.
•78% have a VCR or DVD player; 62 % have cable or satellite TV reception.
•89% own microwave ovens, more than 50%  have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
His findings and their presentation, "How Poor Are America's Poor?" can be found here and are worthy of your time.

So as it turns out, the poor aren't as destitute as we have been led to believe, but more importantly, they not only have access to healthcare, and even health insurance (as provided by various failing state insurance plans for the needy), but they, like the rest of us, would rather spend the money they have on other things. And it seems they do just that according to Dr. Linda Halderman, who wrote an article concerning it for the Web magazine American Thinker.  Which brings me to the second thing we should have a look at, courtesy of her commentary.

Her article reveals much about human behavior while giving us a peek at what is in store for us if we allow "progressives" to jam socialized health insurance down our throats to help those who would rather spend their own money on Body tattoos, Botox injections, Boats, BlackBerrys and every other "B" necessity they perceive, while leaving the rest of us to pay for their true essentials.
I strongly urge you to read her first hand account of ABUSE OF SUBSIDIZED HEALTH CARE: THE VIEW FROM ONE EXAM ROOM as published in the Investors Business Daily on Oct. 5th.

As I pointed out in my earlier essay, the problem with health insurance in this country is that we want more from it than we are willing to pay for with our own money. And the "poor", with plenty of money for the above "B"s, are no different, except when being used as anecdotal evidence.

President Obama, who has confessed his preference for, and plan to get to a single payer system, says we need socialized medicine in this country to address the problems of the "anecdotal people", but with all due respect Mr. President, I BEG to differ.


Marissa said...

When I used to work for Community Rebuilders, I sat in on a few meetings with individuals that were seeking rental assistance through MSHDA. The deal with getting the assistance is that it was a one time deal . . . you had to be able to prove that you were able to pay your rent the rest of the time as a condition of getting it. Part of that process required each applicant to outline all of their expenses to show proof that they were able to afford to live in their housing on their current income. When the numbers didn't jive, my coworkers and I would suggest places where they could spend less so they could afford their rent. An overwhelming majority of the people were paying car payments on brand new cars and/or had cable TV. When it was suggested that they cut these expenses out of their budget and live without, oftentimes the response was ugly. As if we, on our salary working for this tiny non-profit, could afford either of those things ourselves. I do think there were some legit cases where an extreme circumstance that wasn't going to happen monthly put someone behind on their rent. Sadly, more often than not, even in those cases it hadn't occurred to many of the people that if they decided to give up cable TV they could afford to pay their rent. Amazing the small sacrifices NOT willing to be made to use the money you already have to pay for your own basic needs.

Geez. I don't have more than 2 channels myself and it's football season. You think I've made sacrifices to pay my own bills? I don't. I think I'm just doing what you gotta do, ya know?

Grant Davies said...

My favorite anecdote from the letter was; "A friend of mine sells private health insurance plans. He told me of the 39-year-old father of two whose family was quoted a monthly insurance premium of $250."

"Are you kidding?" he said, refusing the coverage. "That's almost as much as my boat payment!"

Brian Jennings said...

Geez Grant - It's a good thing that you don't work for a newspaper, because you would be receiving a little pink slip today. Bye Bye! How dare you pull back the curtain on the left's argument that we must enlarge an already bankrupt government with more ineptitude. 45 Million! 30 Million! Whatever. It's a whole bunch so drink the Kool-Aide baby. One can only pray that Putin, Chavez, Castro, and Khadafi will continue to stoke the foreign affairs embers and ironically steer the US ship of state clear of more domestic woe.

Brian Jennings said...

One more thought....please don't ever take Svetlana Kunin's letter off of this blog. We could all write until the end of time and never approach the brilliance and authenticity of her words.

Grant Davies said...

It's staying right where it is. The truth never gets boring to me.