That the people who write Salon, or Vox, might not be all and entirely up to date with reality isn’t that much of a surprise. After all, how much reality to you get to encounter living the nice Brooklyn Life?
But we would rather hope that those who write the New York Times have a slightly closer relationship with the truth than the arts graduates who can’t do art. Bryce Covert shows us that there are still things the NYT needs to know though:
I agree with her on one point: It is the American way to champion individualism over collective obligation. In 2019, 34 million Americans officially lived below the poverty line in this country, with many millions more struggling just above it — and that number has only increased since then. We could lift every family out of poverty by sending out regular checks; other countries use taxes to fund benefits that significantly reduce their poverty rates. Poverty, then, is a policy choice.
Near none of that is true.
The American poverty line is a description of who would be in poverty if it weren’t for the help that governments sends those could be poor. It isn’t a listing of those poor after the aid they get – it’s a listing of those who require aid given the standards in use.
This matters for the latter part of the paragraph. Near all other countries measure poverty after the effect of all the money, goods and services that government sends out to people who would be poor without it. The UK measure of poverty includes the effects of housing benefit, working tax credits, money for food and so on. The same is true of every other European poverty measurement. “X millions in poverty” is after the effects of poverty alleviation.
In the US this is not true. “Poverty” is a measure of those who would be in poverty if it weren’t for the aid. Or at least it’s very much closer to that. The US poverty measure, the official one, doesn’t include the effects of Section 8 – housing benefit – or the EITC – working tax credits – or food stamps – freebie food. Al of those benefits in Europe significantly reduce poverty. All those same things in the US also significantly reduce poverty. Except they’re just not counted when poverty is measured.
The US system does not count goods and services delivered in kind, nor any sort of aid through the tax system, as reducing poverty. Which is a pity, as their rent subsidies are in vouchers, not counted, their food ones in food stamps, not counted, their wage subsidies through the tax system as the EITC, – not counted. Then there’s the biggie, health care through Medicaid – not counted.
The US shuffles near a trillion dollars a year to the poor. And in doing so reduces the poverty count by pretty much nothing, on the basis that they don;t count the poverty thereby reduced.
Sure, we don;t expect the grievance studies majors at Salon to grasp this but we did, rather, expect the New York Times to. Didn’t we?