Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Why Don't They Just Die?

“Bleak Portrait of Poverty Is Off the Mark, Experts Say,” blared the Friday headline in the New York Times. The traditional strategy for measuring poverty, we were told, did not include the benefits of federal programs like food stamps and tax credits that were helping to keep Americans above the poverty line.


But on Monday the census unveiled its report, and a first look at the numbers suggests that the Times’ preview was a bit off-base. According to the census’s new interpretation of the numbers, the total number of people living in poverty America is higher than the traditional approach indicates.


The new supplemental measure does not just take into account the positive effects of tax credits and food stamps, it also calculates the negative effects of paying for childcare, out-of-pocket medical costs, geographic differences and a rising overall standard of living. Out-of-pocket medical costs alone outweigh the helpful effects of either the food stamps or the Earned Income Tax Credit programs.


One conclusion is inescapable: The sorry state of healthcare in the United States is driving aging Americans into indigency.


The Brookings report illuminates the changing face of poverty in America. Residents of the new extreme-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to be white and less likely to be Latino than a decade ago. Poverty is increasingly a suburban phenomenon; “new clusters of low-income neighborhoods have emerged beyond the urban core in many of the nation’s largest metro areas.”


In an era where large swaths of the population and one major political party believe that government is the problem, not the solution, it’s hard to see how we are going to make progress on progressive zoning and land use issues, not to mention regional economic development strategies. But there’s one thing, at least, that we should know by now, not to do: cut the programs that are currently keeping Americans above the poverty line.


Sorry, Charlie. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Let them eat cake.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. There may be some delay before your comment is published. It all depends on how much time M has in the day. But please comment!