Modern Poverty Includes A.C. and an Xbox

Ken McIntyre, National Review Online, July 18, 2011

When Americans think of poverty, we tend to picture people who can’t adequately shelter, clothe, and feed themselves or their families.

When the Census Bureau defines “poverty,” though, it winds up painting more than 40 million Americans–one in seven–as “poor.”

Census officials continue to grossly exaggerate the numbers of the poor, creating a false picture in the public mind of widespread material deprivation, writes Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector in a new paper.


Data from the Department of Energy and other agencies show that the average poor family, as defined by Census officials:

● Lives in a home that is in good repair, not crowded, and equipped with air conditioning, clothes washer and dryer, and cable or satellite TV service.

● Prepares meals in a kitchen with a refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave as well as oven and stove.

● Enjoys two color TVs, a DVD player, VCR and–if children are there–an Xbox, PlayStation, or other video game system.

● Had enough money in the past year to meet essential needs, including adequate food and medical care.



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19 Responses to “Modern Poverty Includes A.C. and an Xbox” Subscribe

  1. Question Diversity July 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    One more:

    * Smartphones. A typical smartphone has way more computing power than the computers that powered the Apollo program. With everyone running around with all this computing power in their pockets, it makes me wonder why we haven’t been back to the moon and gone even farther. Actually, I do know the answer, it’s just too depressing to ponder much less type.

  2. sbuffalonative July 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    It’s been noted that only in white, western nations are the poor fat.

    An obese Hispanic woman with her two obese toddlers ride the bus with me as I go to work. Her EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card dangles from a lanyard around her neck.

  3. Uptown July 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    This is nothing new. Remember Will Rogers commenting that the US would go to the poorhouse in an automobile? Many have commented on how well shod modern day flash gang bangers are. The poverty inheres in how these modern appliances are used, not for playing Peter and the Wolf I presume.

  4. Mark July 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    27 June, 2011Love those Texans!

    Sent to me by a friend today. I cannot confirm that it actually was in the paper, but it doesn’t matter if it’s a hoax. If it is, just pretend I wrote it because I agree with every word. Pay special attention to the last paragraph, if that actually happened the Dems would loose their primary voting base! How do you think they get all those votes that WE pay for?? ti

    This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco ,TX May 10, 2011

    Put me in charge . . .

    Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

    Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercing’s. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercing’s, then get a job.

    Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

    In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good.”

    Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

    If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

    AND While you are on Gov’t subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov’t welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job!

  5. Jake Prufrock July 20, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    The federal government defines poverty based on annual earned income, not on one’s actual standard of living, nor even on the amount of money actually passing through the family members’ hands in the course of the year– including government benefits!

  6. Spartan24 July 20, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    There is a welfare benefits receiving subculture. I saw a woman on television getting disability for a “bad back” and also getting a full food stamp allotment. She complained that she was going to run out of food stamps with 10 days left in the month. I noticed that she had expensive manicured nails and could afford a three hour drive twice a week to see her husband in prison. She was white but such behavior is generally lpoked down upon by other whites. Unfortunately for blacks it is an integral part of their culture.

  7. SKIP July 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    Has everyone here had a visit to the local ghetto? One can’t help but notice the amount of beer cans and beer bottles tossed into and around the dumpsters, the number of SUVs in the parking areas (I mean Escalades and the Lincoln SUVs, NOT the KIA Sportage ones)) and the $10-$20,000 motorcycles being ridden by people wearing $500 Jordan sneakers!! Can’t overlook the $500 dollar POS cars with $7000 HOOPDEE rims and tires though, some with paint jobs costing $THOUSAND$ of welfare check money, paint shops, Wheel and tire shops are taking EBT cards I’m sure. Everyone should take a tour of their local black ghetto, but do it early in the morning since the animals are usually still passed out and don’t begin moving around till around 4pm to start the process all over again. Poverty sucks for sure in America.

  8. SF Paul July 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    I must be really poor because I do not have air conditioning, clothes washer and dryer, cable TV or satellite TV. I also only have one TV. Maybe I need government assistance to raise my standard of living.

  9. flyingtiger July 21, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    I have a full time job. Icannot afford cable Tv. I do not have AC. I have to go to a laundry mat. My DVD player broke down and I cannot afford to replace it. How can I become poor so that I can increase my standards of living?

  10. Sylvie July 21, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    Lives in a home that is in good repair, not crowded, and equipped with air conditioning, clothes washer and dryer, and cable or satellite TV service.

    ● Prepares meals in a kitchen with a refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave as well as oven and stove.

    ● Enjoys two color TVs, a DVD player, VCR and—if children are there—an Xbox, PlayStation, or other video game system.

    ● Had enough money in the past year to meet essential needs, including adequate food and medical care.

    I would have thought that if you could tick a ‘yes’ for the above four points you would NOT be considered poor.

    Particularly if a family has some sort of videogame system; that is a luxury. Oh and two televisions with satellite or cable? More luxury.

  11. HH July 21, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    I grew up in a house with no AC, no cable-TV, no washing-machine(let alone dryer), no coffee-makers(unless you count the old perculator)or similar gadgetry, no video-games(they were still new, but were available if you had money), etc. And we didn’t consider ourselves “impoverished” by a fair margin.

    Only in post-modern America can Obese people in designer clothes, with cell-phones, computers, huge flat-screen TV’s, video-games, ipods and what have you, be said to live in “poverty.”

    It is the new land of “make-believe.”

  12. John Prewett July 21, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    MAKES ME WANNA HOLLER by Nathan McCall [born 1955]

    [Prof Afro Am studies – Emory U] Published 1994

    page 94

    “The main reason we hustled and stole so hard was to pick up money to buy clothes.”

    page 25

    “To avoid being cracked on, you had to learn what was hip and how to dress. We called it “gettin’ clean.” When dudes got clean, they wore the latest styles: starched, high collar shirts, sharkskin pants, and Stacy Adams wing tip shoes. The tag on their clothes revealed that they were shopping in all the hip places. Everybody who was cool shopped at Arthur’s Men’s Shop on High Street downtown or at Fine’s Men’s Shop at the Mid City Shoppin Center.

    One of the sharpest dressers at Waters, a guy named Kenny Banks, who was a few grades above me, had the best of everything. He had sharkskins in every color, nice knit shirts, and several pairs of Stacy-Adames. When Kenny Banks got clean, he wore suits, matching knit shirts, and wide brimmed hats to school. He could also dance, shoot hoops well, and fight. The girls in my class gossiped about him all the time and shrieked like groupies when he came near. I scrutinized Kenny Banks and wondered why God favored some people over others.

    Watching guys like him made me painfully aware of how plain I dressed.

    I hadn’t cared about gettin’ clean at Alford J. Mapp,

    where fashion wasn’t a major issue with the white kids.

    My wardrobe consisted of hand me down clothes my brothers had outgrown, and three pair of pants, which I rotated through the week.

    My mother bought our pants at the Navy Exchange and ordered our other clothes from the Speigel catalog. I wore buckled Buster Brown looking shoes that she bought me and prayed that nobody at Waters joned on my feet.

    Page 94

    The main reason we hustled and stole so hard was to pick up money to buy clothes.

    Among the cats who hung in the streets, Cavalier Manor had a tradition of slick dressers: Carbo Earl, Count, Kenny Banks, and others. When I was much younger, I’d always watched a particularly smooth dressing guy who often went to the bus stop near my house. I never learned his name, but every time I saw him, he was dressed seriously sharp, from head to toe, in a perfectly matching outfit. If he wore green pants, he coordinated them with a green shirt, green shoes, and a green fedora with a green feather. He’d do the same with black, red, purple, and other colors. If I saw a guy dressed like that today, he’d look like a clown to me. But back then, I thought that dude was the essence of cool…… End quote

    “Required reading for anyone interested in American race relations.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  13. American Son July 21, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    These types of people will cause the downfall of our once great nation. Once the balance of the population tips towards the takers, the givers are finished.

    I see people at WalMart everyday using their food stamp cards to buy cartloads of groceries for their fat offspring, that happen to be wearing Nike’s, FUBU, Polo, and the other expensive retailers. After paying with my tax dollars, they push the carts out to their large SUV, complete with $2000 rims.

    All the while I am working my butt off, paying for myself to go to graduate school, paying taxes, driving a 13 year old stock truck, and eating what I can afford, which is not much.

    America has turned from “what can you do for your country” in the 60s to “I gots to get minez” today.

  14. Up to my neck in CA. July 21, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    This reminds me of the Michelle Malkin article “Shut up white boy.”

  15. Anonymous July 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Of course it is even worse than they are saying. Two points:

    First, a report a couple of months ago that a single “mom” with three children making $14000 per year has more disposable income than one making $60000 per year. (

    I can add an anecdote. I was present when a woman on SSI for disability was asked how and where she got the money to pay for some crack. She responded that she took her SSI debit card to an ATM and got the money. Our tax dollars at work.

  16. Jim Morrison July 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    The federal government defines poverty based on annual earned income, not on one’s actual standard of living..

    Posted by Jake Profrock

    There is a hidden, cash-based culture in California, some estimate that in certain parts of the state, 40% of all business transactions are in cash. This means no tax base, also no income, allowing families to collect humongous benefits from a dead-broke system that they don’t pay into. Another huge expense that must be factored in is education, what it costs to educate millions upon millions of illegal immigrants and anchor babies because the schools must take all comers, no questions asked. Hospitals too.

    This is a far cry from when I was alive in California.

  17. Kytim89 July 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Last night I watched a film on Youtube about the fall of the Roman Empire. In one segment there was talk about the “bread and circuses” that was rampant during the twilight years of the Roman empire. The similarity to modern America’s welfare/nanny state/entitlement system was astounding. What the Roman government did was give bread, money and other freebies to an ever increasing number of non-working consumers who eventually buckled the system. The pool of producers who were assigned (without much choice) to sustain this system shrunk smaller and smaller until finally there was no more revenue to sustain the masses and everything went to hell.

    Fast forward today to modern times and we have our own bread circuses here in the US. Yes, times are undeniably hard, but America’s welfare nanny state is unsustainable. How long can we keep giving welfare check to “baby mammas” to buy rims, sound systems, LCD big screen TVs and other luxuries? Not long if you ask me. Within the next five years you are going to start seeing state governments falter and cut programs.

    The video quality of this video is a little poor, but it explains the fall of Rome pretty well. Try and compare what the gentleman says to what is going on with the fall of the American empire.

    Now compare Obama’s modern day bread and circus system:

  18. rjf101 July 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    I just got back from McKean County in Pennsylvania (visiting family), a 97%-white county where few people have jobs and many are on welfare. I saw firsthand that those in poverty do have many basic amenities – good food, washer/dryer, TVs (although most houses in this county only had one, and few people had plasma TV’s or cable or satellite service), a game console, refrigerator, microwave, stove, etc. But, the homes in this county were definitely not in “good repair.” The disrepair ranged from peeling paint to collapsing ceilings. Most homes had visible imperfections, like broken windows or rotting wood. And, even though most people have the basic necessities, many don’t even have cars (neither my father nor my step-mother, who lived in separate homes, had a vehicle).

    Although many people look down on the poor, and accuse them of being lazy or stupid, keep in mind that poverty isn’t always a person’s own fault. When most people think of welfare recipients, it conjures up images of black baby-mamas or fat, lazy Mexicans. But when I think of poverty, I also think of hard-working white people, unfortunate enough to be stuck in the Rust Belt as the few jobs left there continue to be exported to China or Pakistan.

  19. Jefferson July 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    The majority of the so-called “poor” in America would be considered middle class by Sub Saharian African standards.

    Very few people in this country would be considered poor by Sub Saharian African standards, probably less than 1% of the U.S population.