We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
As I have discussed frequently here, people in America who fall into the poverty income stats (which significantly do not include govt and charity help - or take assets into account like our Maine blueberry famer with a 200-acre farm) because:
1. They do not function well or adjust well in civilized society, for whatever variety of reasons. 2. They don't care and are content with - or at least not motivated by - their economic condition (eg organic farmers in VT, moonshiners in the Kentucky hills, starving artists and actors, people following their hearts, blueberry farmers in Maine, Maine Guides, Indians on reservations where there is little work, ski bums, real bums (including San Francisco runaway kids), welfare and disability addicts, Vermont farm hands, people who remain in the old town after the jobs have left, old hippies in N. Calif., etc.). 3. They don't report their income (there's a huge cash-only economy in the US - not to mention "real" crime). 4. They are the temporary poor - students, new immigrants, people between jobs or people starting out in life or new careers. 5. They ran into some bad luck or made some bad financial decisions and life choices (eg getting over their heads in debt, crushed by medical problems, being single moms, having no savings and living on Social Security, drug addicts, folks in jail, etc.).
Furthermore, as long as poverty income stats are based on the lowest X%, it will never go away - even if, as it appears now, American poor have large-screen TVs, air-conditioned homes, and cars - and tend to be overweight.
Somebody - not a sociologist - should go out there and interview some poor people and get their real stories. It would be revealing. I know plenty of their stories and know what poverty is about because I work one day a week, pro bono, at a charity medical clinic in Boston - but I cannot tell those stories here.
The subject comes up because Steve Malanga has written the definitive report at City Journal: Getting Poverty Wrong, and it turns out that family structure accounts for the main problem. One quote:
The Census Bureau’s study on the living arrangements of American children appeared in mid-February. The data show that the number of children now living in two-parent families has dipped just below the 70 percent mark for the first time since the Census began collecting data on family formation nearly 130 years ago. After peaking in the 1950s—when about 87 percent of all children lived with two parents—the traditional family went through a rapid decline beginning in the 1970s and has continued to shrink over the last three decades, though the rate of decline has slowed somewhat. As part of this sweeping change, the percentage of children living with married parents has fallen more rapidly, down more than two full percentage points, to 66.6 percent of all kids, in the last 10 years alone. Consistent with these decreases has been a sharp rise in the number of children living with single parents and with unmarried parents.
The economic impact of this breakdown has been profound. Researchers estimate that the entire rise in poverty in America since the late 1970s can be attributed to “changes in family formation,” a euphemism for the decline of families headed by two married parents. The latest Census data illustrate the problem. Only one out of ten American kids living in two-married-parent families is in poverty—and about one-third of these families are recent immigrants whose poverty is temporary. By contrast, 37 percent of children living with single mothers are impoverished.
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that's what they decided to do.
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.
'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beers by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost
just $80.' The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected.
They would still drink fo r free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so
that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share,
then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22 % savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savi ng s).
Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free, but once outside the restaura nt, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"
Yeah, that's right, exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got TEN times more than I!"
That's true!! shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
Wait a minute, yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay
the bill, they discovered something very important....they didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works.
The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible!!
Last night I went to billiard tournament, The libbers, Bush basher table sods next to our table were talking and complaining about the price of gasoline at $3.19---while sucking down 3-4 beers an hour at $3.00.