[lit-ideas] Re: [lit-id] The Poverty of Heritage
- From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
- To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 24 May 2006 19:56:17 -0700
Lawrence Helm wrote:
But the evidence doesn't agree with your assertions. Statistics don't
support your prejudices. Anecdotal evidence doesn't trump statistical
I must have missed the part about who actually measured the ground here.
The Heritage Foundation's naive assumptions are that one can live as
well on $700 a month in the US as one could in Paris or London for
$10,000 or more a month. I say their 'assumptions,' for nowhere that I
can see do they bother to investigate how much it really costs to live
well in a major West European city. In this silly debunking of the very
idea that there's any poverty in the US, the fact that people own 'color
TVs' and microwaves is evidence of the good life. They fail to note what
Julie and others have already pointed out—that these days, every TV is a
color TV, and that a set can be bought through the classifieds, as
someone has already said, for about $50. They also neglect to ask, as
Judy did, whether the microwave is the only cooking appliance in the home.
The raw claim that the poor claim that have access to health care says
little. If they have reliable access to it without going first to an
emergency room, I'd be surprised.
My prejudices may be one thing, but simple arithmetic, an example of
which I set out here for your examination, is another.
Income (pre-tax): 700
Shelter (rent): 250
Groceries and food. 220
‘Cable TV’ 50-80*
Gas (3 refills per month mid-sized middle-aged US car): 3x40 =120**
At this point there is $60 left to cover:
Utilities: heat/oil/electricity/gas/water: 150
Incidentals (newspapers/coffee/books/candy bars/): forget it
Savings: forget it
Car repair: forget it
Wear and tear on rugs, furniture, etc.: forget it
Appliance replacement/repair: forget it.
Light bulbs: (see ‘Groceries’)
Movies/DVD rental/new CDs for ‘stereo music system’: see ‘Entertainment’
Entertainment: forget it.
Health care: Oops!
*Our costs for cable and a high speed Internet connection through
Comcast is over 100 per month. We don’t get HBO or other fancy channels.
**Other transportation costs might be considered here. An all-zone
monthly Tri-Met (Portland Metro Area) bus pass is 72. For ‘honored
citizens’ it’s only 21. (But of course no honored citizen in the US
lives below the poverty level.)
The rent (250) figure I’m using will get you nothing in Manhattan, San
Francisco, Seattle, or other major ‘desirable’ cities. It won’t get you
anything _in_ Portland, either although you might find something this
low an outlying area from which you’d be likely to have a long commute
(see ‘Gas’ and ‘Car repair’).
Supposedly, many people who are considered income poor own their own
mansions. If so, 250 is a very low figure for property taxes,
maintenance, local assessments, and the like. I assume, along with the
Heritage Foundation, that nobody polled mentioned mortgage payments.
I’ve seen better special effects in B movies.
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