America’s poor are in the right place

Alan HitchcoxAmerica’s poor people may not be in the most desirable economic situation, but if you are poor, America is the place to be. Why? Because 43% of America’s poor own their home — and almost half of these are single-family homes. More than 70% own a car or truck; nearly 80% have air conditioning; more than half have one or more color televisions; and 43% have satellite or cable TV.

These figures come from a report by Robert Rector, senior research fellow in Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC. Rector’s report reveals that “most of America’s ‘poor’ live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago. For example, only 36% of Americans (all Americans, not just the poor) had air conditioning as recently as 1970. In contrast, more than three out of four of America’s poor enjoy air conditioning today.

But America’s poor have more than creature comforts. The average home owned by poor people has three bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms, a garage, and a porch or patio. In fact, the average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, or other cities throughout Europe.

These comparisons are for average citizens in foreign countries, not the poor.

Another interesting statistic is that a typical poor household with children is supported by only 800 hr of annual adult employment — roughly 16 hr/week. However, if each of these households had an adult working 2000 hr/yr (40 hr/week), nearly ¾ of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty.

But don’t poor children often go to bed hungry? Not according to Rector. He reports that “The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children. . . Most children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, 1 in. taller and 10 lb heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.”

One statistic not mentioned in Rector’s report is the 99.7% of poor people in America whose lives have been improved by the many benefits of hydraulics and pneumatics technologies. Okay, I made that one up myself. But when you consider how much fluid power has done to improve the production of the food we eat, the homes we live in, and even the caskets we get buried in, it’s hard to ignore the impact hydraulics and pneumatics have on the civilized world.

Alan Hitchcox