Framing the Dialogue

Update – Rich Man Poor Man

About two years ago I wrote a post about what “poor” really means in America and what amenities many of those below the poverty line have.  I don’t want to delve back into that because you can read the original post at this link.  I was somewhat perplexed by the fact that the poverty line in the United States seems rather static in that we always have a certain percentage of folks below the line and I believe that there is political incentives to always have the poor.  The poor seem to be a handy voting block for whoever will promise them the most entitlements.  I generally stopped there in my deep thoughts, but there is more.

In his book, Return to Prosperity, author Arthur Laffer makes three HUGE POINTS THAT are important to this dialogue,

  1. The statistics on the poor in America do not show how many poor people work hard and move to the middle or upper class.  When they move up, they are no longer considered poor.  Their net gain in wealth is not reported with the poor. 
  2. So how do we still have around the same percentage of poor people?  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 1 and 1.5 million new immigrants enter the United States each year.  I am assuming that they mean LEGAL immigrants and most of these people are starting at the bottom income levels as “Immigration helps create the statistical mirage that poor people do not make progress in the American labor force.”
  3. Lastly the average number of wage earners in a low income family is only equal to one half of a person working versus two for the high-income family, “It’s hard to have much of an income if no one in the family works.

As politicians tweak our emotions about the less fortunate they may just be a little self-serving as they ignore the many success stories, discount the affects of immigrants, and keep many low or no wage earners from working enough to pull themselves out of poverty.

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