Sunday, September 2, 2007

Wurlitzer Prize of the Week for Wingnuttery™--9/02/07

It is Labor Day Weekend. Typically a dead time in the news cycle, when we all have something better to do, even the Mighty Wurlitzer. However, can even a holiday weekend pass when the MW is not putting in a bit of overtime by watching the wingnuts? Not bloody likely.

For this holiday, when we are supposed to support and identify with all the working men & women of years past, present and future who really make this nation function, Robert "Wrecked Her, Hell I Don't Even Know Her!" Rector, a fellow of the Heritage Foundation (natch!), penned a little essay informing the poor that, hey, y'all ain't really poor after all, so quit yer bitching!

Rector begins by citing the Census Bureau Report of August 28, that is, it's annual report on poverty in the United States. He then takes swipes at Democratic presidential contender John Edwards, advancing the argument that Edwards' call for a renewed effort in the war on poverty is just a tempest in a teacup. Rector's simplistic & transparent assertions would have him laughed off a 5th grade debate squad; obviously his wingnuttery is a blinding impediment, therefore his award for this week.
In the past, Edwards has claimed that poverty in America is a "plague" which forces 37 million Americans to live in "terrible" circumstances. According to Edwards, an amazing "one in eight" Americans lack "enough money for the food, shelter, and clothing they need," caught in a daily "struggle with incredible poverty."

However, examination of the living standards of the 37 million or so persons, the government defines as "poor," reveals that America’s poverty "plague" may not be as "terrible" or "incredible" as anti-poverty crusader Edwards contends.

If being "poor" means (as Edwards claims it does) a lack of nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, then very few of America’s 37 million official "poor" people can be regarded as actually poor. Some material hardship does exist in the United States, but, in reality, it is quite restricted in scope and severity.
"Some material hardship?" Gee, thanks for that admission, Bob. That's mighty big of you.
The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from a variety of government reports:
  • 46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
A three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths? With a garage, and a porch or patio? Yowza! I'll betcha that all of these palatial manses are in solid, upwardly-mobile neighborhoods with wide sidewalks, well-funded public schools and zero potholes in the streets. I'll betcha the garages are three-carwidths at least and sitting on the porch or patio is never a problem, because there is absolutely no gang prescence that might make an evening in the night air your very last on the planet. And, whaddaya wanna bet that not even one of these hot properties was purchased with a subprime mortgage?

  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning

They just don't make poor people the way they used to. What's a little heat, anyway?
Hot, sticky summers have always defined living in the South, but experts believe that injuries and deaths caused by extreme temperatures have been drastically reduced by the wider availability of air conditioning.

About 91 percent, or 36 million, of Southern households now have central air conditioning units, a number that has grown considerably since the late 1970s, when about a quarter of Southerners didn't have air conditioners, according to the U.S. Census figures from 2005.

Another 5.7 million have window-mounted units.

While air conditioning has always been more widespread in the South, Dr. Robert Hutton, chief of emergency medicine at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, said decreasing prices for units and better education on heat-related illnesses have helped reduce heat casualties.

"People have better access to air conditioners now," Hutton said. "The cost of air conditioners has come down significantly so that even our poorest houses, or at least people in extended families, have air conditioners."
But, ya know, if a few people die because of the heat, what of it? They were just poor people, right Robert?
  • Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; two thirds have more than two rooms per person.
Two rooms per person? Wow! Personally, the MW needs very large rooms, since we are a large organ. And just two rooms separation between me and Rector seems hardly enough.
  • The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
Mmm, mmm! Apples & oranges, delicious and nutritious!! Whining poor Americans, don't even realize that they have all that extra space to be poor in. Losers!
  • Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
And you just gotta know that these are some cherry automobiles, with incredible fuel efficiency. Some of these autos are probably even less than 20 years old! But truly, I cannot see a reason why more than one car would be needed. It couldn't be that in a two-parent household, that both parents work? That the children don't attend the same school, and they don't qualify for a school bus ride? That perhaps only one of these cars is up and running at a time? Hmm, I wonder if all these modes of transport are insured fully?
  • 97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

Well, it seems that the cost of your typical color television has dropped just a wee bit in the past 30 years. Of course, I must wonder how many of the color televisions in these 97% of poor households may actually be from 1976, as opposed to 2007, since there is no mention as to how old the average television in a poor person's household may be.
  • 78 percent have a VCR or DVD player.

Good luck even finding a new, standalone VCR anymore. Yeah, those poor people are on the bleeding edge of technology, all right. I think I'm beginning to sense a pattern. Need I go on shooting down his assertions that access to a few consumer toys do not exclude one from membership in the "poor?" I didn't think so. So let's move one...
As a group, America’s poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100-percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, super-nourished [emphasis mine] and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
"Super-nourished?" To Rector, heavy consumption of high-caloric foods is the same as "nutrition."
While the poor are generally well-nourished, some poor families do experience temporary food shortages. But, even this condition is relatively rare; 89 percent of the poor report their families have "enough" food to eat, while only two percent say they "often" do not have enough to eat.
Isn't "enough" a rather subjective term? And, is there any chance that one of the reasons these super-nourished poor indeed have "enough" food for themselves may include a government subsidy of some sort? Surely not...
Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR, or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.
So, you poor people and all of you trying to help them, shut up, shut up, shut up! Because if you're a member of the poor in the richest nation the planet has ever known, then you should have no expectations of a few creature comforts whatsoever. You should not use any of your limited resources to aspire to better your living situation. And never should you give off the slightest air of happiness in your daily situation. So, that asshats such as Robert Rector might be better able to identify you as "poor," you should live a life of utter destitution, like a bushman.

Enjoy your award, Bobby.