Re: Kofi Annan's Amazing Facts: the true parameters of the

John Boyer (
Mon, 28 Sep 1998 15:40:20 -0500

> Rohitsan spake:
> [As for the facts below, I'm merely depressed. The only point to reiterate
> is that at least our definiton of poverty is rising, if slowly...]

Amazing indeed, but there are 'facts' that support the glass-is-half-full view,
at least for the US anyway. I'm not denying that there are serious problems, but
guess what, the have-nots will always have less than the haves! I remember being
in Vietnam a few years ago to get my wife's family out. The upper middle class
there would be considered dirt poor here. I'm sure you've had similar
experiences in India. So I guess it all goes back to what you define as "poor".
I am definitely in the "rising tide lifts all yachts" school of thought.

BTW, a tangent to the topic, but there was a great article about debunking doom
and gloom in the 12/20/97 Economist.

also see

"The old maxim that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is simply
untrue. Material conditions of lower-income Americans have improved dramatically
over time. In fact, living conditions in the nation as a whole
have improved so much that our society can no longer clearly remember what it
meant to be poor or even middle class in earlier generations."

In 1995, 41 percent of "poor" households actually owned their own homes. The
average home owned by a person classified as "poor" has three bedrooms,
one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

Over three-quarters of a million "poor" persons own homes worth over
$150,000; and nearly 200,000 "poor" persons own homes worth over $300,000.

Only 7.5 percent of "poor" households are overcrowded. Nearly 60 percent have
two or more rooms per person.

Seventy percent of "poor" households own a car; 27 percent own two or more cars.

Ninety-seven percent of the "poor" have a color television. Nearly half own two
or more color televisions. Nearly three-quarters have a videocassette recorder,
and more than one in five has two VCRs. Sixty-four percent own microwave ovens,
half have a stereo system, and over a quarter have an automatic dishwasher.

Two-thirds of "poor" households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years
ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

As a group, the "poor" are far from being chronically hungry and malnourished.
In fact, poor persons are more likely to be overweight than are middle-class
persons. Nearly half of poor adult women are overweight.

Despite frequent charges of widespread hunger in the United States, 84 percent
of the poor report their families have "enough" food to eat; 13 percent state
they "sometimes" do not have enough to eat, and 3 percent say they "often" do
not have enough to eat.

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

Most poor children today are in fact super-nourished, growing up to be, on
average, one inch taller and ten pounds heavier that GIs who stormed the beaches
of Normandy in World War II.