Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stop whining and eat your gruel!

A faithful reader sent me the link to Bob Herbert's column in today's New York Times. It is exactly what I would have written had two counter-factual conditions applied: 1) that I was a good writer, and, 2) that the Times would ever pay me to write something. I encourage everyone to read his fine piece, inspired by events in Egypt. Here I'd like to focus instead on one of the online comments to his column. A commenter called lure1 cites a number of "statistics" (no source provided) meant to show that, far from being ignored, the poor in America are really overindulged:

97% of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
78% have a DVD player; 62% have cable or satellite TV reception.
73% own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that these numbers aren't simply made up, what do they mean? It means that for those poor Americans who aren't actually homeless, life isn't quite so grim as it is for the poorest inhabitants of the Third World. This makes sense, as the U.S. is the wealthiest country on the planet. But shouldn't we aspire to something more than not being quite so bad as Haiti? Would poor people in Denmark or France want to trade places with our poor people?

The U.S. Census Bureau will not define an individual as "poor" unless he or she has an income of less than $11,400/year. If "lure1" thinks the poor have it so good, then he would be delighted to enjoy the princely income of $18,000/year, no? Here's my challenge: without any cheating, lure1, document what a fine time you have surviving on $18,000/year with no help for food, transportation, housing, medical, heat, utilities, etc. If you come out the other end of that year with the same attitude, lure1, I will personally shake your hand. If you decline this challenge, I'm afraid I'll have to decline to take you seriously.


tbelwin68 said...

This twit sounds like he couldn't make it on $18k/month! He's no doubt overcompensating, for the guilt he feels for only putting one measly buck into the collection plate on Sunday.

averytx said...

What's this guy going to do with the rest of his money Ulysses? Give it to the rich? How about a fund to give private school kids free helicopter rides from the mansion to the yacht club?

Cletis L. Stump said...

Remember the Monty Python scene where Robin Hood is punching out the poor.

Ulysses said...

I've spent more hours of my life enjoying Monty Python, than I have on any productive activity! Thanks for the memory Cletis!