Professor Walter Williams is an African-American economist at George Mason University who is nationally known for his scholarship and original approach to economic issues. Let me share with you one of his new articles. He said, Imagine God has condemned you to a life of poverty but permits you to choose the country you will live in. He is betting that you would surely choose the United States because what has historically been defined as poverty no longer exists in the U.S.
According to government statistics, the poverty guideline is an income of $22,000 a year for an urban four-person family, so 40 million Americans are classified as poor. Now, here are the facts about those 40 million so-called poor Americans.
The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Europe. 43% own their own homes, and the average home is a 3-bedroom house with one-and-a-half bathrooms, a garage, and a porch or patio. 80% of poor homes have air-conditioning. Three quarters of poor households own an automobile, and 31% own two cars. 97% of so-called poor households have a color television; more than half own two or more color TVs. 89% own microwave ovens, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
What our government defines as poverty is misleading in another way; it ignores additional sources of support such as Medicaid, housing allowances, food stamps, and other federal and state subsidies to the poor. Professor Walter Williams says: Yesterday's material poverty is all but gone in the United States. But in "too many cases, it has been replaced by . . . poverty of the spirit that prevents development of the work ethic and self-sufficiency."
Listen to this commentary: