|The War on Poverty is over. America won – poverty, hunger and homelessness lost.|
Victory in the War on Poverty!
By: George Noga – September 30, 2018
We have written for years that poverty per se barely existed in America; now, it’s time to declare victory in the War on Poverty! The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently issued a report which included the following: “Based on historical standards of material well-being . . . our War on Poverty is largely over and a success.” Predictably, progressives and poverty pimps won’t accept victory; they continue to rant that anti-poverty programs are insufficient and must be expanded.
Please note we use the term “per se“. There are about 8 million Americans, or 2.5%, living in material poverty. The normal distribution of human IQ dictates 2.5% will have IQ below 70, which is de facto retardation. That means there are 8 million Americans in that category – the same number as in material poverty. It should be incandescently obvious that those two cohorts are one and the same; a Venn diagram would show the two circles nearly 100% overlapping. This is the basis of our statement that there is no poverty per se, because the real problem is retardation, not poverty.
In addition to poverty, low cognitive ability accounts for hunger, homelessness and a host of other social pathologies. Venn diagrams for these also would mostly overlap with low IQ. As with poverty, hunger per se has been eliminated. Nearly 40% of Americans are obese and food insecurity has replaced hunger in the liberal lexicon. We have reversed the centuries old paradigm; today, the wealthy are thin and the poor fat. Homelessness also is extinct, apart from low IQ and untreated mental illness.
By far, the biggest flaw with usual measures of poverty is that they are based entirely on reported income. When we look at spending instead of income, the picture changes dramatically. The poorest quintile of Americans spend $2 for each $1 of reported income. Official measures of income fail to take into account benefits such as SNAP, EITC, public housing, Medicaid and many others. They ignore the underground (cash) economy estimated at $3 trillion and concentrated among low income groups. They also fail to account for quality changes and shifts to uber low-cost stores.
Today, the bottom quintile of Americans live as the middle class did a generation ago – as measured by size of homes, number of rooms per person, air conditioning and other amenities. The top income quintile spend only about twice as much per person as the bottom quintile, showing low inequality. The poorest 10% of Americans live equal to or better than most Europeans. If Sweden, touted by many as a socialist paradigm, were a US state, its per capita GDP would be similar to Mississippi, our poorest state.
No discussion of poverty is complete without noting relative poverty, defined as less than 50% of a nation’s median income. By this stilted metric, the US has more people in poverty than many third world countries. A country uniformly and utterly destitute has less relative poverty than America because in places where everyone is dirt poor (Haiti, Congo, Guinea), no one is relatively poor. When you see news stories asserting high poverty rates in America, they invariably are based on relative poverty.
America has extinguished poverty, hunger and homelessness per se. Nonetheless, there are 8 million still living in material poverty – many of whom also are hungry and homeless. These people deserve our compassion and assistance. We do not help them by being politically correct and ignoring the true cause of their predicament. Instead, we need to tailor solutions to deal with low ability and untreated mental illness.
We also should recognize our victory over poverty. This truly is a great American accomplishment and worthy of being honored and celebrated throughout the land.
Next: The definitive account of socialism in the Nordic countries.