Here's an Interesting article from the Economist I came across while surfing today (I think via Clicked): The Mountain Man and the Surgeon: Reflections on relative poverty in North America and Africa.
The author compares two men making about $500/month each - one a former coal truck driver from Kentucky on public assistance, and the other a doctor in the Congo.
The overall gist seems to be "what are poor Americans complaining about?" and it's definitely slanted to the right (highlighting how the Mountain Man & family take advantage of gov't assistance), but it does provide an interesting "slice of life" comparison. And to its credit, it also highlights the high rate of domestic violence in the Kentucky subjects...
This, however cracked me up:
"How, then, to account for the apparent rise in poverty? It is partly a matter of definition. Some non-cash benefits, such as food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid, are excluded from the calculation. And the raw data must be wrong. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, notes that while reported annual income for the poorest fifth of households in 2003 was $8,201, their reported expenditure was $18,492. Nobody can explain this vast discrepancy." Um, HELLO???? Have you looked at the crime rate lately??
Hint to conservative think tanks: Maybe you should try factoring in UNREPORTED annual income: Record Washington marijuana harvest makes it state's 8th largest ranked agricultual commodity. How in the hell else do you explain that "A typical poor household in America has two televisions, cable or satellite reception and a VCR or a DVD player." ???
Which makes me wonder - how much does illegitimate criminal activity such as selling drugs contribute to the legitimate GDP? Which leads to... I wonder if that might not be why we don't crack down more on property/drug crime in this country?? It supports the economy in a sick and twisted way...