Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” In recent years, the Census has reported that one in seven Americans are poor. But what does it mean to be “poor” in America? To the average American, the word “poverty” implies significant material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter, and clothing. The actual living conditions of America’s poor are far different from these images. But an effective anti-poverty policy must be based on an accurate assessment of actual living conditions and the causes of deprivation. In the long term, grossly exaggerating the extent and severity of material deprivation in the U.S. will benefit neither the poor, the economy, nor society as a whole.
The typical poor household, as defined by the government, has a car and air conditioning, two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. By its own report, the typical poor family was not hungry, was able to obtain medical care when needed. The typical average poor American has more living space in his home than the average (non-poor) European has.
With these facts in mind, there is still a huge gap between the middle class and the poor here in America and to take a complacent view on poverty is insensitive and callous. I heard a speaker recently, who was sharing his story about getting out of Mexico, jokingly he said “now that he is out, they can build the wall.”
As a music consultant, I thought of how this mentality is all often pervasive with famous artists who would like to build a wall in the entertainment business, now that they are on the this side of it. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to see a well-known artist mentoring the new artist just trying to break into the industry. Yes, they do exist, I have worked either directly with them or have a close association with them, folks like Donny Osmond, Lionel Richie, Garth Brooks, Taj form SWV… immediately come to mind.
Anyway, that is my rant for this week – have a wonderful Thanksgiving, maybe share it with someone not quite as fortunate.