Government Defines Poverty Upward, Media Don’t Notice the Trick
While the reliable and original formula for the government to calculate who lives in “absolute poverty” is still in place, another measure has been introduced that enables the government to determine how many people live in “relative poverty,” a term often used to describe the concept of “income inequality.”
According to Mickey Kaus of the Daily Caller website, this new “supplemental” concept is “an audacious, slimy bait-and-switch by liberal activists inside the government anti-poverty bureaucracy.” And, as would be expected, it's gone almost totally unnoticed in the establishment left-wing press.
Kaus added that the new system is “a complicated measure produced by formulas that are barely understood by poverty experts” and includes millions of people in a new “near poor” category, a loaded term designed to “suggest to most people a level of material hardship that doesn’t exist.”
Of course, “the regular old, still-official poverty line is simple and understandable,” Kaus stated:
It is the level that bought a minimal market basket of food in 1963-4, adjusted for subsequent inflation and multiplied by three. As such, it measures what people think a poverty line measures -- how many people fall below certain absolute living standards, whether basic human needs are being met.
“We’ve been using it for decades,” he added, “so while it may be too high or too low, people have a rough feel for what it is and what it isn’t.”
“For most Americans, the word 'poverty' suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter,” said Robert Rector of the National Review ...