The federal government has just decided that poverty for family of 4 in New York City means an income of up to $37,500, not $22,500. Quite a leap. As before, the figure excludes earned income tax credit cash checks from the government and also medical and other non-cash assistance.
The change in the definition of poverty may have a link to Obamacare; it may make more people eligible for Medicaid under that legislation. It may affect eligibility in other ways.
One would like to think of poverty programs as being unaffected by crony capitalism, the merger of special interests and government. But the facts suggest otherwise. Big agri-businesses and convenience stores have a lot of say about the food stamp program which now covers 47mm Americans. When cell phones were handed out in recent years by the government, it turned out that a disproportionate number were going to Ohio, the presidential election swing state, and the phones were being made by a large donor to and fundraiser for Obama.
When we look at these government statistics, let’s also remind ourselves to take them with a grain of salt. Just as the definition of poverty has now radically changed, the definition of inflation and unemployment has also radically changed. When people say that unemployment is not as bad as in the Great Depression, they are comparing one definition to another. Computed the same way, we do have Depression levels of unemployment.
(From The New York Post)
This means it will be difficult to reduce poverty in America no matter how much the living conditions of the poor actually improve. Imagine a sprinter in a race where the finish line is moved back four feet every time the runner takes a step.
Look at it this way: If the real income of every single American were to double overnight, the new measure would show no drop in poverty because the poverty-income thresholds also would double. Under this new definition, we can reduce poverty only if the incomes of the “poor” rise much faster than those of everyone else.
The goal of fighting poverty is no longer about meeting physical needs; instead it has been covertly shifted to equalizing incomes, or “spreading the wealth.”