The War On Poverty

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Currently, there is a thread in the political forum on the failure of LBJ's war on poverty.

I've tried to keep up, but to many people are like me...prone to flame instead of debate.

One reason is the frustration of getting an agreeable set of definitions.

I want to know more about what it means to be in poverty.

In a new report, Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield lay out what the U.S. government’s own facts and figures really say about poverty in the United States. The results might surprise you, especially if your view of poverty is the conventional one, perpetuated by the media–namely, destitute conditions of homelessness and hunger. In reality, though, the living conditions of those defined as poor by the government are much different than that popular image. The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau:

80 percent of poor households have air conditioning
Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks
Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television
Two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR
Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers
More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation
43 percent have Internet access
One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD television
One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo
As for hunger and homelessness, Rector and Sheffield point to 2009 statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that 96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food, 83 percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat, and over the course of a year, only 4 percent of poor persons become temporarily homeless, with 42 percent of poor households actually owning their own homes. Want an international comparison? The average poor American has more living space than the average Swede or German. You can read even more of those facts in their report, “Understanding Poverty in the United States.”

https://www.askheritage.org/what-does-it-really-mean-to-be-poor-in-america/

**************

I assume that Heritage mixes poor with "in poverty". I've heard some of this before.

So....just how do we define the poor. And have we changed he defintion of poverty such that LBJ's war was on a moving target. Did it really do a good job ?

I'll be looking to flesh this out some more.
 

S.J.

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LBJ's War On Poverty was not a war on poverty. It was a massive wealth redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the blacks for the purpose of enslaving them to welfare, thus insuring their loyalty to the Democratic Party. Guess what? It worked.
 
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S.J.

I understand this claim.

But when it comes to economics, the one thing that is missing in all these discussions is numbers and standards.

Are those in poverty really as bad off as those who were in poverty 50 years ago ?

I don't know. That is what I am asking.

We see these charts on % poverty, but it seems the standard for poverty is changing.

Looking for some clean discussion (trying to break the flame habit....in a week or two :lol:
 

Asclepias

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Poor is a mindset. This comes about by having opportunity around you but not taking advantage of it for whatever the reason may be. 1 of those reasons may be people telling you that you are impoverished.

Poverty is a real condition. This comes when you do not have opportunity at all no matter how well adjusted you are. I once thought that people in the US were in poverty. Once I went overseas I saw what real poverty was in some of the countries i visited.
 
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Poor is a mindset. This comes about by having opportunity around you but not taking advantage of it for whatever the reason may be. 1 of those reasons may be people telling you that you are impoverished.

Poverty is a real condition. This comes when you do not have opportunity at all no matter how well adjusted you are. I once thought that people in the US were in poverty. Once I went overseas I saw what real poverty was in some of the countries i visited.
So do you have an opinion on the OP ?

Do you think we need to really look at how we report poverty over the years ?
 

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I beleive that the goal posts for what is considered poverty are continually moving. Last time I expressed this opinion I was demonized by another poster who said that he went hungry as a kid. I believed that poor kids should be fed. However, that being said, our poor would be considered very well to do in comparison to the most of the world's current population. Our poor would be considered very well to do when compared to almost all people of centuries prior to the twentieth century.
 
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I beleive that the goal posts for what is considered poverty are continually moving. Last time I expressed this opinion I was demonized by another poster who said that he went hungry as a kid. I believed that poor kids should be fed. However, that being said, our poor would be considered very well to do in comparison to the most of the world's current population. Our poor would be considered very well to do when compared to almost all people of centuries prior to the twentieth century.
And I guess what I am asking is....did all boats rise together....did LBJ really win or what ?
 

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I beleive that the goal posts for what is considered poverty are continually moving. Last time I expressed this opinion I was demonized by another poster who said that he went hungry as a kid. I believed that poor kids should be fed. However, that being said, our poor would be considered very well to do in comparison to the most of the world's current population. Our poor would be considered very well to do when compared to almost all people of centuries prior to the twentieth century.
And I guess what I am asking is....did all boats rise together....did LBJ really win or what ?
If we define poverty as not having the basic needs of food, water, shelter, and clothing, then we have won the war on poverty (with the exception of a very small percentage of the population). If we define poverty as not having the same standard of living as The Jone's, then the war on poverty will never be won.

Many people have their basic needs met because they receive entitlements. Without those entitlements, many may truly be poor.
 
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S.J.

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The standard for poverty is a whole lot different than it was in the 50's, I know that. We may have some poverty in the U.S. but nowhere near as severe as in some other countries.
 

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Poor is a mindset. This comes about by having opportunity around you but not taking advantage of it for whatever the reason may be. 1 of those reasons may be people telling you that you are impoverished.

Poverty is a real condition. This comes when you do not have opportunity at all no matter how well adjusted you are. I once thought that people in the US were in poverty. Once I went overseas I saw what real poverty was in some of the countries i visited.
Americans have absolutely NO idea what poverty is. "Poor" is an extremely subjective concept. Many Americans consider themselves "poor" when their primary impoverishment is one of spirit.
 

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The typical Hatian (in Port-au-Prince) has running water in his/her house only when an uphill neighbor pisses in the gutter.

That is NOT an exaggeration.
 

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Currently, there is a thread in the political forum on the failure of LBJ's war on poverty.

I've tried to keep up, but to many people are like me...prone to flame instead of debate.

One reason is the frustration of getting an agreeable set of definitions.

I want to know more about what it means to be in poverty.

In a new report, Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield lay out what the U.S. government’s own facts and figures really say about poverty in the United States. The results might surprise you, especially if your view of poverty is the conventional one, perpetuated by the media–namely, destitute conditions of homelessness and hunger. In reality, though, the living conditions of those defined as poor by the government are much different than that popular image. The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau:
XXXXXXX

Poverty figures come from the Census Bureau. For a good overview see: How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty - U.S Census Bureau

There is an excellent study in Current Population Reports by Kathleen Short dated November 2013 (Report 60-247) titled "The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2012". You can find it here: http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-247.pdf

In a nutshell, the official poverty levels are based entirely on food costs. The alternate measure looked at a wider range of goods and services and came up essentially the same results with less than a 1.5% variation, so the official figure which seems suspect in methodology is statistically extremely reliable.
XXXXXXX

Read the Census reports and let me know what you think.
 
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oldfart

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I beleive that the goal posts for what is considered poverty are continually moving. Last time I expressed this opinion I was demonized by another poster who said that he went hungry as a kid. I believed that poor kids should be fed. However, that being said, our poor would be considered very well to do in comparison to the most of the world's current population. Our poor would be considered very well to do when compared to almost all people of centuries prior to the twentieth century.
The definition of poverty has not materially changed in fifty years. It has been based on the cost of a Department of Agriculture minimally adequate diet. See my reference above.
 

oldfart

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I beleive that the goal posts for what is considered poverty are continually moving. Last time I expressed this opinion I was demonized by another poster who said that he went hungry as a kid. I believed that poor kids should be fed. However, that being said, our poor would be considered very well to do in comparison to the most of the world's current population. Our poor would be considered very well to do when compared to almost all people of centuries prior to the twentieth century.
And I guess what I am asking is....did all boats rise together....did LBJ really win or what ?
In the first six years the rate of poverty dropped almost by half (19% to 10%). After that it has risen (to 15%). It worked as long as it was funded.
 

BillyZane

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Currently, there is a thread in the political forum on the failure of LBJ's war on poverty.

I've tried to keep up, but to many people are like me...prone to flame instead of debate.

One reason is the frustration of getting an agreeable set of definitions.

I want to know more about what it means to be in poverty.

In a new report, Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield lay out what the U.S. government’s own facts and figures really say about poverty in the United States. The results might surprise you, especially if your view of poverty is the conventional one, perpetuated by the media–namely, destitute conditions of homelessness and hunger. In reality, though, the living conditions of those defined as poor by the government are much different than that popular image. The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau:

80 percent of poor households have air conditioning
Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks
Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television
Two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR
Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers
More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation
43 percent have Internet access
One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD television
One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo
As for hunger and homelessness, Rector and Sheffield point to 2009 statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that 96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food, 83 percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat, and over the course of a year, only 4 percent of poor persons become temporarily homeless, with 42 percent of poor households actually owning their own homes. Want an international comparison? The average poor American has more living space than the average Swede or German. You can read even more of those facts in their report, “Understanding Poverty in the United States.”

https://www.askheritage.org/what-does-it-really-mean-to-be-poor-in-america/

**************

I assume that Heritage mixes poor with "in poverty". I've heard some of this before.

So....just how do we define the poor. And have we changed he defintion of poverty such that LBJ's war was on a moving target. Did it really do a good job ?

I'll be looking to flesh this out some more.
For purposes of defining poverty , I look simply at a dollar amount per year. The USG sets that standard at around $14K in earnings per year for a single person.

Now, understanding that, yes many many people who earn less than that are wasteful of what they do have. We've all seen the people choosing beer over milk at the grocery store, or the person loading a $1500 TV into a $500 truck, etc etc.

Which all that does is lead to MORE poverty. It's a never ending cycle that probably no one can fix.
 
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I am not going to defend Heritage as Heritage. Everyone knows where they come from (except of course when it comes to one paper published on the Individual Mandate....a long time ago).

I have not read the Heritage article in depth. It simply states what others have been saying for some time. True or not, it is an allegation that raises questions that are worth asking and answering.

The first question that was asked was: Was LBJ's so called war on poverty a success or failure.

First:

I am not sure anyone set the bar for what success or failure would be. That would be a debate in itself. But since we don't know the standard...we can't answer the question.

Second:

How is poverty measured ? Has it been consistent ? And...does it really say what poverty is. I recall from past readings that the so-called poverty line is a function of the price of a bag of groceries. I'll read your article.

Third:

Does this metric really measure poverty ? I have not read his book, but Ben Stein wrote something similar to Heritage in one of his books stating that the "average" poor person has more, in terms of material goods, than the "average" solid middle class person had in the 1950's.

Now, I recognize that this is something of a propaganda statement. Somehow it implies that is wrong or that something is wrong in our metrics if that is the case.

And so.....

Not taking Ben Stein's word for it (or Heritage's) nor taking for granted the validity of any othe rmetric...I am asking what is a good metric ?

People won't agree. That is why I think it will be a debate.

Taking this further, but not necessarily germane to the point, the question someone else should ask (which isn't being addressed on the other thread) is how would you determine if an improvement in poverty was really the result of LbJ's war.
 
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oldfart

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I have not read the Heritage article in depth. It simply states what others have been saying for some time. True or not, it is an allegation that raises questions that are worth asking and answering.
I have read the Heritage article. My thought is that the Census has a definition of the poverty level. Other people (most notably the Institute on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin, a rather liberal leaning but still mainstream organization) have developed alternative measures. The Current Population Report (P60-247) I referenced found that the existing measure looks very suspect, but stands up well as a proxy for much broader definitions.

The Heritage piece is really just a jeremiad that says that because "poor" people can afford, X they really aren't poor. I have three objections to this approach.

1. The Heritage Foundation provides no alternative definition of poverty to compare the official definition to. How many people do they think are "truly" poor? The implied definition from their discussion is a true level of destitution not often seen in this country (although I have seen it and it is more common than most people think).

2. The Heritage Foundation has misused the Census data. The Census study gave percentages for ownership of a given asset for people below the poverty line and for a general population. The percentages for most items for poor people are half or less than for the general population. You wouldn't know that unless you fact checked the Heritage Foundation sources.

3. The underlying reasoning of the Heritage Foundation report is profoundly anti-liberty. Milton Friedman famously promoted the "negative income tax" in the 60's while advising Barry Goldwater on the basis that it was more cost efficient than specific welfare programs and that poor people could be trusted to determine what they needed better than government bureaucrats. The Heritage is a big-government Big Brother anti-libertarian advocate apparently when it comes to the poor. Or maybe they want the poor to simply starve to death outside emergency rooms in the freezing cold after being evicted from their homes while being denied medical care. While that might be satisfying to Republican presidential primary debate audiences, I think it smacks of libertarianism for only the rich and "please die quietly" a la Alan Grayson's famous speech for everyone else.

The first question that was asked was: Was LBJ's so called war on poverty a success or failure.

First:

I am not sure anyone set the bar for what success or failure would be. That would be a debate in itself. But since we don't know the standard...we can't answer the question.
To me the bar is obvious: LBJs goal was to reduce the number of people in poverty as rapidly as possible, looking toward a day in the foreseeable future when it would be eliminated. By that definition, he was relatively successful, decreasing the portion in poverty from 19% to 10% over six years.

Second:

How is poverty measured ? Has it been consistent ? And...does it really say what poverty is. I recall from past readings that the so-called poverty line is a function of the price of a bag of groceries. I'll read your article....Does this metric really measure poverty ?..... I am asking what is a good metric ?
I referenced the Census website for both the historical development of the measure from Mollie Oshansky on and the recent study looking at alternative measures. You are correct that the official measure continues to be a multiple of food cost. The study compares that to broader measures.

I have finessed one issue so far which is indirectly raised by the Heritage Foundation. The official measure is statistically reliable and valid with reference to the broader alternative definition. But if someone wants to argue that both definitions are "wrong" and we should look at mortality rates or other measures of extreme deprivation, the floor is open to such a debate. The Heritage Foundation avoids this as I assume they realize those measures (compared to other developed countries) would weaken their argument. For example, according to OECD statistics, the death rate for ALL major causes of death used to gauge effectiveness of health systems is higher in the United States than the median OECD country. Assuming that the affluent have access to better medical care, the higher death rates for everything from infectious diseases to congenital abnormalities is concentrated in the poor.

Now I sometimes get the impression that some folks think that as long as our death statistics are better than Somalia, we have no reason to complain. Who wants to set the bar that low? If our comparison is to Switzerland, Germany, or Japan, it would be an interesting measure, but we have statistics worse than Ireland and Portugal in that regard. The same thing is true of measures such as income distribution (Gini coefficients), economic mobility, and educational attainment as for health statistics.

In fact, I think that a lot of the whining on the Right reflects the case that they are playing a shell game; they know that any remotely reasonable measure of how we treat the lowest quartile or so makes America look bad. You have good questions, for which I commend you, and I think that when you look at it, you will realize that much of this is an attempt to divert attention from measurable facts and replace them with emotionally and politically loaded anecdotes.

Again, all the best!
 

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