Sunday, February 01, 2004

Stats

The NRO article linked to in the previous post gets its statistics from this Heritage Foundation paper. It's interesting reading. I've long known that being poor in the wealthiest nation in human history isn't that bad, but reading the statistics in this paper still surprised me. The average poor American, at least according to the Census Bureau's definition of poverty, owns enough stuff to be what I thought was middle class, or at least lower middle class. (It's possible that my impression is skewed by my own economic background, so you may want to read the stats yourself.) I don't see how such a broad definition of poverty can serve any purpose other than deception.

A society should help its truly destitute members. This is the compassionate thing to do, and every almost every nation does this. Even a small-government conservative like myself supports such charity at the level of local government. However, in America and Europe, subsidizing the middle class is a much higher budget priority. This is the selfish thing to do. It may be popular, but it's just another selfish use of public funds, like corporate welfare and all the rest, and it's just as wrong.

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