Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The war on poverty, lost

Here's some serious discussion of poverty in the US in the American media, which you don't usually see.

To pull out just one part from this article, it's widely known that the poverty rate has jumped under Bush's reign, but what is not discussed much is how that rate obscures the reality of the situation:

Academic experts also say the government's figures minimize the true scale of poverty because they are outdated. The formula for the poverty level was set in 1963 on the assumption that one third of the average family's budget was spent on food.

This is no longer true. Housing has become the largest single expense and tens of thousands of the "working poor," the label for those who work at or near the minimum wage, are forced to sleep in cars, trailers, long-term motels or shelters.

..."Every August, we Americans tell ourselves a lie," said David Brady, a Duke University professor who studies poverty.

"The poverty rate was designed to undercount because the government wanted to show progress in the war on poverty.

"Taking everything into account, the real rate is around 18 percent, or 48 million people. Poverty in the United States is more widespread, by far, than in any other industrialized country."