There is a poverty problem in America, but it’s not because of “systemic racism” or lack of jobs. In fact, there are more jobs available in the United States than there are workers.
Democrats bemoan the minimum wage, saying it must be raised to $15 an hour or more to end poverty. Interestingly enough, if you work for minimum wage, and actually work, you won’t be living in poverty.
Don’t believe me? Too bad, the numbers don’t lie.
A recent economic study highlighted the shocking fact that essentially nobody in the United States will be poor if he or she merely works full-time at the minimum wage, even if that person has children.
“The main reason people are poor is because they aren’t working,” said study author Peter Ferrara, a senior fellow at the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research, in a press release accompanying the study. “The welfare state deserves a lot of blame for that.”
A single mother who has two children and works merely 30 hours per week at the minimum wage will earn enough income to place her family above the federal poverty level, the study says.
Without two Republican-instituted measures that subsidize lower-income Americans through the tax code — the Earned Income Tax Credit and the child tax credit — that mother would have to work 55 hours a week to pay her family’s own bills above poverty level herself at a minimum-wage pay level.
That means she’d have to spend 46 percent of her waking hours working to support herself and her kids without tapping other Americans’ earnings at all, assuming eight hours of sleep a night.
What a concept! Actually working instead of pretending you’re entitled to other citizens’ earnings. A couple wherein each partner works full time at the minimum wage, the study says, “won’t be poor no matter how many children they have” (emphasis added).
Yet the narrative we constantly see in the press and from politicians is that many Americans are in poverty and because of this require ever-increasing amounts of money from fellow citizens who do work. The latest official poverty rate, for example, is higher than it was when President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty began, although living standards are far higher.
As the study notes:
[Census Bureau] data show that nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; nearly a third own two or more cars. In addition, 80% of poor households have air conditioning, while in 1970 only 36% of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
Moreover, 97% of poor households own a color TV, with over half owning 2 or more; 78% own a VCR or DVD player, 62% have cable or satellite TV, 89% own microwave ovens, more than half own a stereo, and more than a third own personal computers and automatic dishwashers. A third of poor households have both cellular and landline phones.
Press run with scary figures from organizations that stand to benefit from public perception of high poverty, such as “one in five American kids lives in poverty,” “1 child in every 7 will be born into poverty in the United States,” and “Kids in the U.S. experience higher poverty rates than most developed nations.” That’s preposterous.
The U.S. poverty rate is only as high as it is because it is calculated based on income from work. It leaves out welfare income, which is actually a pretty good take.
If the cost of living and welfare income are included in the poverty rate calculation, the Goodman study says, the American poverty rate was approximately 4.8 percent in 2013. The federal government annually spends about $1 trillion on more than 200 poverty programs, which amounts to about $20,000 per so-called poor person, or $60,000 for a single mom with two kids. That’s more than the median annual U.S. income.
“The welfare state offers generous benefits to people so long as their cash income is small,” Ferrara noted. “Essentially, we are paying people not to work.”
The Goodman study underlines that America’s so-called poverty crisis is actually a work and marriage crisis, as lack of work and pre-marital childbearing are not just the two leading causes of U.S. poverty, but almost the exclusive causes.
As Brookings Institution research has shown, Americans who graduate high school, work full time (even at minimum wage), and marry before having kids are essentially guaranteed to not live in poverty.
These are all choices, not happenstance. Heaven forbid people actually hold themselves accountable for their own actions and choices, right?
Economist Nicholas Eberstadt has spent years investigating Americans’ flight from work. When he testified before Congress in 2016, he showed the graphs below, which further underscore that in America poverty is the result of individual choices.
This shows the dramatic decline in able-bodied, working-age male employment rates. There is nothing wrong with these men — they are not old, sick, handicapped, or bearing children — except they are not working. One might suggest they are unemployed or handicapped, because there’s been an explosion in unemployment and Social Security Disability use.
Except the use of those public resources has increased as jobs have gotten far safer and regardless of the state of the economy.
So it’s quite apparent the problem is not the economy, not the minimum wage, and most certainly not systemic racism.
The problem is lazy people unwilling to hold themselves to a high standard and going to work.
To read details on the study, click here.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
May 25th, 2018