Read that fact very carefully. The magnitue of poverty in the U.S. is comparable to other Western nations, meaning "the percentage of Americans in poverty is relatively identical to that of other Western nations."
Overlooking this fact, stormy petrels cry out, "There are more people living in poverty in the U.S. than in other Western nations."
Well, yes, that is a fact--there are anywhere from 45M-50M identified by various agencies as "poor." However, their standard of living is much higher than the stormy petrels would have people imagine because the U.S. Census ignores the value of any social welfare benefits a family receives when calculating income. Yes, there are impoverished people in the U.S., but most of those 45M-50M poor are not impoverished.
But, the stormy petrels cry out, "There's disproportionate poverty because 27% of Blacks and 25% of Latinos are poor. Only 9% of Whites are poor. That's unfair!"
Again, that is a fact. However, because Whites constitute such a large percentage of the nation's population (their number is disproportionately larger), that 9% makes for more poor Whites than there are poor Blacks (27%) and Latinos (25%).
The stormy petrels conveniently overlook yet another fact.
A study conducted by Robert Rector of the Heritage Institute indicates the U.S. spends more on programs addressing poverty than those other comparable Western nations because there happen to be more poor people in the U.S (again, the number of people in the U.S. is disproportionately larger than in those other comparable Western nations). The two sources of that funding are government (federal, state, and local) and a larger private-sector/non-government component which provide the poor with healthcare, education, retirement benefits, and other government transfer payments.
- Combining those two sources, ~33% of U.S. GDP is spent on assistance for the poor.
- Exclude the non-governmental component and the U.S. still has the third highest level of per capita government social welfare spending among affluent nations.
The U.S. spends a lot to provide assistance to the poor, more than other comparable Western nations. Isn't that something about which the nation should be proud not maligned?
But, government entitlements and charitable hand outs don't raise people out of poverty.
Rector notes that the key to getting people out of poverty is to improve their self-sufficiency by increasing their opportunities to work (expanding the economy) and building healthy marriages (expanding personal responsibility for self and others). He argues that increased self-reliance will lead to an enhanced sense of self-achievement, a principal component of human well-being. Restoring healthy marriages will sharply reduce poverty, improve child outcomes, and increase adult happiness.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Robert Rector's study, click on the following link:
"Poverty and the Social Welfare State in the United States and Other Nations."