Friday, July 02, 2010

“Poor”: Just a Four-Letter Word?

PHOTO: Children sleeping on Mulberry Street, New York City, 1890. (Jacob Riis)

If you travel to some parts of the world, you see what poverty really looks like. To be sure, there are people in America without work, without a home, not knowing from where their next meal will come. But if that is to be our lot in life, where better to endure it? Walter Williams explains:

What's defined as poverty is misleading in another way. Official poverty measures count just family's cash income. It ignores additional sources of support such as the earned-income tax credit, which is a cash rebate to low-income workers; it ignores Medicaid, housing allowances, food stamps and other federal and local government subsidies to the poor.

I heard a story years ago, of a Vietnamese man who came to America as a refuge, who lived in homeless shelters and ate in soup kitchens, until he was able to get on his feet, and eventually become a successful entrepreneur. He said that America must be a great country, to be able to provide all this to him without cost.

Williams goes on, not to deny the existence of poverty, but to show its true face. Mother Teresa spoke of the "poverty of the soul." We are bombarded with images on television and in magazines, of people who want for nothing. Is this the complete picture? The "Real Housewives" do not seem to be "real" happy, don't you think?

Or don't you?

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