John Edward's standard political speech has been to say that there are two Americas, one for the rich and one for the poor. The liberals eat it up. But just how poor are these 35 million people he talks about? Executive Summary: Understanding Poverty in America by Robert E. Rector and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D. http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/BG1713es.cfm If poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the 35 million people identified as being "in poverty" by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor. While material hardship does exist in the United States, it is quite restricted in scope and severity. The average "poor" person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines. The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:  Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.  Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.  Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.  The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)  Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.  Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.  Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.  Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher. Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.