Every time a report is issued by a government agency that shows how 40 million Americans live in abject poverty, some elitist group will come along and argue that they are not living in poverty, they're just poor. In almost the same way that the oil companies try to muddy the waters by claiming the jury is out on global warming, there are actually far right groups that decry the poverty figures on the basis of idiotic notions. Notions such as the fact that a poverty stricken household owns a television proves that they are only poor and not poverty stricken.
Even as that same family who owns a television stands in a long line in the hope that there will be enough food left at the food bank when they reach the front, the elitists spout the nonsense that even with rising food and fuel prices, the nation's poor should be receiving less food stamps, because entitlement programs make them lazy.
The National Review Online is one of the worst of the elitist publications that likes to distort the issue of poverty in America by coming up with incredibly stupid arguments that 'prove' there is no poverty in America at all. Arguments that claim if a household owns a DVD player, or has air conditioning in their apartment, they are not living in poverty. By claiming to cite unnamed 'government sources', they go on to say that only six per cent of Americans living at more than 100% below the poverty level live in over crowded conditions, and actually claim that America's poor have at least two rooms per person in which to live.
Owning a $30.00 microwave oven disqualifies you from being classified as living in poverty, as does having telephone service. And in one of the most galling and telling statements of their elitism, they claim that one of the ways out of the poverty they claimed the paragraph before didn't really exist is for one to get married. That marriage will lift one out of poverty. Oh. I didn't realize it was that simple. They also spew the tired old nonsense of the poor not being willing to work for a living, conveniently leaving out the fact that millions of poverty stricken families in the United States have parents with two jobs, but still can not gain any ground.
There are others who buy into this whole idea of there being a difference between living in poverty and just being poor. They explain away massive poverty in America by claiming that the poor are just jealous and covet what those with super wealth have. And I would have to agree with them on that last point. The poor do covet what the rich have. Things like sufficient heat to stay warm in the winter. Or a refrigerator with enough food in it. A car that runs so they can get to work. A movie to actually put into the $20.00 DVD player, so they can watch it on the $30.00 television they bought at a thrift store, and maybe even a bag of popcorn to burst in their cheap Wal-Mart microwave.
Those who wish to make the distinction of who is poor and who lives in poverty are obviously not paying attention to the world around them. Using a standard of living index such as comparing the lives of those in poverty in America with say, those in Asia who live like animals is disingenuous, and done to give the impression that everything is just fine, while American children go to bed hungry. They don't like to talk about the $1.3 trillion given to the already wealthy Americans by the elitist President and his right wing co-conspirators. They don't want you to remember that these are the very same people who advocated a pay cut for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, because of what they claimed was the overly generous combat pay. Or that this administration has so decimated social safety net programs that more Americans slip below the poverty line every day.
So to those who try to shove aside the issue of poverty in America with asinine arguments or questions as to who is living in poverty and who is 'just poor', I say they do not understand there is no difference at all. What is the difference between a homeless man or woman scrounging for food every day, and the single mother who can not afford food for her children even though she works two jobs? Oh. Right. A DVD player. The difference between a child in a homeless shelter and a child from a middle class family who is about to lose their home due to Dr. Phil Gramms destruction of the economy? Ahhh. That color television and telephone will get you every time.
The entire argument is baseless, a distraction technique perfected by those who don't want you to think about or worry that your neighbor is so poor they have to choose between medicine and electricity. Worry about yourself they say. Leave the poor to fend for themselves. It's not really your problem. These things have a way of working themselves out.
Until the time comes when it's your turn to take a ride on the poverty express. Then and only then will Americans begin to understand the devil in the classifications of poverty and the poor. That when there's no food on the table, people could care less about the apples and oranges elitist world view, they'd just like to have those apples and oranges to eat. The sick and the disabled would like to be able to go to see their doctor, but can't afford the co-pays placed on the Medicaid program by the HMO's who rip off the taxpayers every day. Working families would like to not have to choose which bill they'll put off paying in order to keep the lights on.
No. There is no difference, no difference at all. Go and take a good hard look at those who tell these tales and see how they live compared to the rest of the country. Look at all the red herrings they throw into their stories to confuse you and distract you from what's really happening. Mainly, the largest redistribution of wealth in our nation's history, from poor and middle class families to the ultra rich. The biggest heist in world history going on right in front of your face in the form of corporate subsidies, no bid contracts, and the privatization of government programs. And then come back and tell me the difference between the poor and those living in poverty.